Hello Frugal Girl,
I was curious for your insight. My family is going through a move to a house in a better area for us. During the process of packing up and assembling our belongings, I was frankly shocked when I realized how much of the stuff we own is for guests, holidays, and entertaining.
This includes things like guest linens, folding chairs, serving platters and dishes (oh so many serving dishes), glassware, large pots, etc. We do occasionally entertain and certainly value making memories by gathering with those we love.
At those times, we certainly do make use of these things, but it is only a few times a year. With this in mind, I couldn’t help but think about the amount of money and resources that had gone into making, shipping, buying, and storing these supplies. It seemed like we had things that everyone else had and that seem to be “expected” for big dinners and gatherings.
But, looking at it all together, it just felt like so much stuff. Certainly most of the world cannot live like this and have so many things. It got me wondering how to get by with less? Would we have been smarter to have just met those we love at restaurants and foregone entertaining at home? Or asked guests to stay at hotels instead of investing in beds and linens for guests to use a few times a year?
I love your motto that what is enough stuff for any family is measured by what gets used, but what about things like this that don’t get used often, but may get used for memorable holidays and gatherings? What is the right amount, if any? What is too much? (And just since it seems really obvious, we definitely borrow and ask family to bring things like dishes and chairs when it makes sense…and yet, still so much stuff.)
Your question seemed like an appropriate one to answer in December, given that it’s a month where people typically host guests for meals and overnight.
I do think that the whole, “Will I use this item regularly and enjoy it thoroughly?” thought is a really good way to figure out what’s essential and what’s clutter, and it’s a helpful way to avoid owning too much of any one thing.
But there definitely are exceptions because some occasions don’t happen super regularly (like holidays!).
I certainly own several boxes full of items that we only use in December, for example. 😉
From your letter, it sounds like hosting people for dinners and housing them overnight is important to you and your family and it seems like you do this more than once a year. Given that, I don’t think you should feel guilty about owning things that make entertaining and hosting possible.
If you didn’t have room to store these items, it would be one thing, but since it sounds like you live in homes with space for overnight guests, I’m guessing that you have storage space too.
And since you already own the items, I see no harm in keeping them. If you were writing me asking if you should go out and buy entertaining items, we could chat about ways to minimize what you need to buy, but you’ve already purchased things you love and use. I say keep ’em!
I definitely do not think sending family members to hotels or meeting up only at restaurants is a better option, especially if that’s not what you want. And besides, that costs a lot of money too (probably more than entertaining supplies, if you add up the costs over the years).
You could certainly get rid of items that don’t seem to be getting much use when you host, but I’d keep whatever you consistently find useful as you welcome loved ones to your home. And don’t feel guiltry about that.
I love that you open your home to people, and I hope you make fun memories with your guests this month!
Readers, I’m sure Kasey would love to hear your thoughts as well. How do you decide how much to purchase and keep for entertaining/overnight guests?
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