20 Ways to Create Clutter — A Guest Post from Simpler Living’s Naomi Seldin

by Katy on January 20, 2011 · 22 comments

The following is a guest post from the delicious Naomi Seldin over at Simpler Living. She had e-mailed me yesterday asking for a few joke methods to add clutter into our lives. I contributed numbers 5, 11 and 20. Although sadly, Naomi did not included my favorite cluttering tip, which was:

“Why let the recycling crew have all the fun? Gather up all your neighbor’s newspapers and magazines and throw a periodicals party. Newspaper hats, magazine collages and the excitement of an indoor maze constructed entirely from stacks of Wall Street Journals. Your only limitation is your imagination. Your great aunt Hilda never threw away a newspaper, and neither should you!”

Seriously, how could she not have included this little gem?! Oh well, geniuses are never appreciated during their lifetime.

Do you have any cluttering tips to add to the mix? Please share them in the comments section below, I know we’re a creative group and can come up with some real humdingers!

20 Ways to Create Clutter

Most days I share ways to minimize clutter. But not today. No, sir. Today, I’m giving you 20 ways you can add stuff to your life instead of subtracting it:

1. Whenever you stay at a hotel, take the tiny shampoos and soaps home with you. Don’t use them, though. Hoard them in your bathroom for the coming zombie apocalypse.

2. Treat your home like a museum. Be sentimental about everything, from your first-grade report card to family heirlooms.

3. Agree to store things indefinitely for other people, including your children.

4. If someone offers to give you something you don’t really need, like an extra set of dishes, say yes. It’s free, isn’t it?

5. Combining households with your sweetie? This is the perfect opportunity to bask in the thrill of double ladles, DVD players and litter boxes. Don’t be tempted to get rid of a single object; you never know when you might need those extra dining room chairs.

6. On to your wardrobe. Don’t weed out old things when you buy new ones, and keep clothing in a wide range of sizes in case you shrink or expand like Alice in Wonderland.

7. Solve all of your organizational issues in one fell swoop with a quick trip to The Container Store. Buy loads of stuff, but don’t measure spaces beforehand or create a clear plan for how you’re going to use them.

8. Deal with every stray emotion by going shopping. Spend more than you planned to so you can get the free gift at the cosmetics counter, even if you never use eye shadow or flavored lip gloss and already own enough toiletry bags to last a lifetime.

9. Take your “miscellaneous” pile of papers.
Sort papers according to category/subject/urgency.
Label each pile as such with a sticky note.
Paperclip each pile together.
File under “miscellaneous” in your filing cabinet.

10. Instead of appreciating what you have, dwell on the nagging feeling that you’re missing something important.

11. There’s nothing in a “free pile” that can’t become your new best friend. Broken TV’s become objects d’art, and rain-soaked couches transform into guest bedding for the in-laws!

12. Buy sale items because they are such an amazing deal, regardless of whether you actually need them.

13. If you can’t sell your old things for what you think they’re worth, keep them instead of donating them.

14. Take up a hobby or activity that requires lots of specialized gear or supplies, like ice hockey or scrapbooking. Oh, sure, it seems innocent now. Just wait until an entire room in your house has been devoted to your spouse’s model-train collection.

15. Out of sight, out of mind. If it’s tucked in a container or hidden away in a cupboard, it’s not clutter.

16. Speed up your impulse shopping by signing up for “flash sale” sites like Groupon.

17. Value quantity over quality.

18. Subscribe to half a dozen weekly magazines and a couple of newspapers, and refuse to get rid of anything until you’ve read all of them. Stack them until you can get there, ideally on tables that are slightly too small for them, enhancing the likelihood of landslides.

19. If you have a yard sale, put everything you can’t sell back in the basement until next year’s yard sale. Repeat annually.

20. When in doubt, box it up and put it into paid storage!

Many thanks to my all-star team of contributors to this post: Teri Conroy, Ruth Fantasia, Danby Minor, Liz Rotundo, J. Eric Smith and Katy Wolk-Stanley.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane January 20, 2011 at 9:04 am

Join every Freecycle group within a 30 mile radius of your home and say “YES” to every item offered.


Katy January 20, 2011 at 10:28 am

Ooh . . . good one!



Van January 20, 2011 at 10:20 am

I LOVE this. I stop myself from taking free fliers and pens these days. I probably have enough pens for the rest of my life in my house! I’m very careful about the crap I allow to come in now.


clutterzapper January 20, 2011 at 10:26 am

Funny! We once rented not one, but two very large storage bays. We’ve given away more stuff over the years than I can possibly remember, and we’re still schlepping it out the door. We’re still on the road to the clutter free life we seek, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been.


fairy dust January 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

In spite of how proud I am of all DH and I have decluttered out of our home this past fall and winter, I’m still alarmed by how many things on that list apply to me. The make-up one especially. I scored so big on FREE Cover Girl cosmetics at Rite Aid and CVS this past year with coupons and BOGO deals that I have a mess of unopened wonderful makeup that I doubt I’ll ever wear.

And yes, we’re now storing stuff for our son while he figures out his future after college. LOL!

Great list (scary, but great)


WilliamB January 28, 2011 at 5:38 am

You could donate (unopened) makeup to a battered women’s shelter or an organization that helps women into the workforce.

This is what I did with the dozen containers of floss that my grocery store paid me to buy.


Heather January 20, 2011 at 11:43 am

Fantastic list.


Bluefrog January 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Even if it has a place, don’t bother to put it there. Leave coffee cups on the table, plates by the computer, groceries on the chair, magazines on the bathroom counter. Hey, it’s a flat surface, right?


Ann January 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Terrific…I am going to print this post and highlight MY traits! I can also see a few relatives in there…I have a sister-in-law whose favorite term is: “Score!!” when she gets something for free…even if she has 10 of them already!


Lisa P. January 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Gulp – I’m guilty of many…. amazing how those little bars of soap add up along w the hotel packets of 4 q-tips – not like I don’t have well over 1000 somewhere LOL. If I didn’t have them though, what would I do w/ the little plastic storage baskets?? 🙂


Dusti McLain January 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

take 900 napkins from the dispenser at a restaurant. Keep them in your glove box to use with the soap you’re saving for the zombie apocalypse.


winst January 21, 2011 at 2:22 am

I am guilty of number 15 I must confess “Out of sight, out of mind”


Carla January 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

This is one of my biggies, too. If the main house looks good, who cares if the closets are so crammed as to be practically unusable?


Tracy Balazy January 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I used to be guilty of #2 and #4, but while I’m not there yet, I’ve come a lot closer to being clutter-free; in the past year, in dispersing the contents of that personal museum I was running in my basement, I’ve given away two manual typewriters, a unicorn I cross-stitched in high school, many Easter figurines, and my wedding gown.

This is a great list!


Raffaella January 22, 2011 at 5:02 am

Ha! Very clever and funny list.

“Instead of appreciating what you have, dwell on the nagging feeling that you’re missing something important.”
This is an important point, and it feels so good when you’re over this!


Carla January 22, 2011 at 6:10 am

Start a collection of something. Better yet, start several…


Kristi January 22, 2011 at 11:05 am

Keep the original boxes – for EVERYTHING. Nest boxes inside boxes for bonus points.


Lilypad January 24, 2011 at 10:44 pm

“12. Buy sale items because they are such an amazing deal, regardless of whether you actually need them.”

When my dear grandfather, may he rest in peace, passed away in 1980, my grandmother had to deal with 20 some bottles of Aqua Velva aftershave that he’d bought because the price was so good. At his age, that was probably more than a lifetime supply even if he’d lived another 10 years! So I always think of this when tempted to buy something when it seems too good to pass up…Only chocolate should be stockpiled in this fashion, and only because 1) it’s so darn important and 2) any of your heirs would be happy to take it home, provided the expiration date has not passed. (Some would eat it still, but that’s another story.)


WilliamB January 28, 2011 at 5:43 am

“7. Solve all of your organizational issues in one fell swoop with a quick trip to The Container Store. Buy loads of stuff, but don’t measure spaces beforehand or create a clear plan for how you’re going to use them.”

The Container Store will take just about anything back – anything unused and most things used if they break or don’t work. So if I need to organize a hard to plan/measure space I buy several solutions, try them in situ, and return the ones that didn’t work. Two examples: small flat boxes to organize kitchen drawers, and pull out drawers for a very small under-sink space. A Container Store employee told me that many of his best customers do this.

Lilypad: chocolate never expires. Additives might (fruit might, milk in milk choc not) but chocolate doesn’t.


Carrie March 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Haha! LOVE this. Found you from Gretchin Rubin’s blog, and you have a new subscriber and fan. I am the antiClutter, but still recognize myself in a couple of these! Hotel shampoo… guilty! (I do pour them into our liquid hand soap pumps though.) Off to unsub from Groupon… email clutter!


Katy March 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm




Cathyhaden December 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm

The moral of the story is not to just go brutally cheap on everything, but to avoid buying entirely when you don’t really need it, go cheap when you can, and consciously choose the expensive item when the difference between it and a cheaper item actually makes a difference. 


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