You Give Me Fever — Dutch Tulip Fever!

by Katy on October 30, 2008 · 6 comments


My friend Diana came over today for a visit. The plan had been to go for a walk, but I had a few errands to run, so she tagged along.

I do feel that the test of true friendship is:

A: Will help you move, even though you sport a hefty collection of vintage dishware.

B: Will listen to you rant, even though you both know you’re in the wrong.

C: A willingness to accompany you on boring errands.

We stopped in to the main Goodwill thrift store, as we were just a stone’s throw away. I picked up a few holiday gifts, (which will have to remain secret as certain family members have been known to read my blog).

I go to thrift shops frequently, so I am fairly immune to the wealth of available merchandise. Such was not the case for Diana.

Diana kept picking up, well . . . crap. A questionably ancient air popper marked at $5, and a so-so basket peaked her interest.

I knew the time had come to explain:

Dutch tulip fever.

Dutch tulip fever is the tendency to buy a certain theme of useless crap that seems exciting at the time of purchase, but is instantly regrettable once taken home. (This term is used frequently in my family, and has prevented many a crappy purchase.)

Like going to Holland and buying a bunch of tulip theme gifts for all your loved ones. 

And Diana was burning up with fever.

She did eventually put back the basket, and left the popper there as well. She ended up buying a like-new Monopoly set and a large new stuffed animal for her son. 

And I no longer fear for her health.

Have you ever been overcome with Dutch tulip fever? Aran sweaters in Ireland? Chili pepper lights in New Mexico? Dolls in Japan? Crap in a thrift store? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Magdalena Julie Bragdon Perks October 31, 2008 at 10:40 am

Good name – because this maniacal collecting is also somehow tied into speculating (this will be worth money some day!) I’m an herbalist and kind of got caught in tea making gear for a while, but managed to jettison 3/4 of the teapots when leaving the big kitchen behind. (Yea for me!) I raised sheep, and people kept giving me sheep-related items, mostly tkotchkes (crap) that filled shelves and mantels and windowsills…you know. They are all gone (as are my much-missed real sheep.) So many of my friends get caught up in all that – vintage this or that, quilts, cow-deco, etc. Are we trying to buy an identity?


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl October 31, 2008 at 10:44 am

I’ve never heard of that fever before! lol

I think the only time I get this is when I’m shopping clearances. If it’s a $2 item that used to be $70, it’s still not a very good bargain unless I need it, you know?


CanadianKate November 1, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Because I travel so much, I’m at risk for the fever. I treat myself using homeopathy (a small dose to build up resistance.) In my case, it is a Christmas ornament from each new country or special trip. As I travel by air, I’m further limited to unbreakable things. As a member of the Compact, I try to buy only handcrafted items.

We also don’t bring presents home to our friends and family unless something completely ‘speaks’ to us. The kids have got used to it (they are grown now.) Their taste and mine is often very different and it made no sense for them to have to be appreciative of something I gave them.

This makes my travel life so easy. Instead of spending our time traipsing in and out of touristy shops, we get to walk around the neighbourhoods, checking out the library, the architecture, the grocery stores, all to get a feel of how people live.

In Alaska last spring I could find nothing I wanted to buy until the last stop where I bought a Wrangell Garnet from a child selling them from a card table near the cruise port. Turns out the kids dig them up from a special camp, accessible only by boat and the proceeds go to the Scouting program there.

Each Christmas, decorating the tree is a wonderful chance to relive our trips and the people we’ve met along the way (often the ‘ornaments’ are gifts from our hosts that we hang from the tree.) It adds an extra level of blessing to the season.


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