A Decorating Idea for Crazy Hoarders


If you’re like me, you sometimes love, sometimes hate to throw things away. I feel so satisfied after clearing stuff out, but on the other hand, I just love things, especially old things and memories. And I love that smug feeling when I’m able to pull out that random dish, hat, book—whatever—to use at the perfect time. I loved growing up in a house where you could find anything. In high school, if we needed an item for a skit, video, or activity, my friends would say, well, the Rotes probably have that. And we did: from wigs and costume clothes, to arrowheads, to books, to a (non-working) motorcycle in our garage, which is just an entirely different story, having to do with my oldest brother, my dad, and which one had the higher level of testosterone.

These days, I’ve grown better at simplifying. I try to make good decisions about what’s necessary and what’s clutter, and I try to be sure that whatever new item we acquire is something that we love (or is really useful—see this post about good souvenirs). (And, let’s be honest, things that can’t fit in our apartment I ship off to—you guessed it!—my parents’ house!)

But as much as I like an uncluttered life, I hate when good things go to waste. I think it’s from Dad. If you know him, you know that he doesn’t own a polo shirt other than those he received in swag bags at golf tournaments. (They’re perfectly good!! Why buy others?) For Christmas last year, Israel and I just saved up all the free promotional items we’d received from work, fundraisers, etc. and gave them to Dad: pens, notebooks, shirts, coffee mugs, keychains, handcrafted souvenirs from a delegation from Guatemala.

Some of the worst offenders in the area of swag that you’ll never use are lapel pins. Unless you work for the organization, or it’s an American flag (because, ‘Merica), will you really wear it? They just seem to be a waste of resources. I don’t even have lapels.

BUT don’t let this cause you anxiety! I’ve found the perfect solution. Toss the backs and use your lapel pins as push pins! When I appointed myself as Israel’s office decorator, I found several commemorative lapel pins among jars of coins and drawer dividers and abysses of forgotten paper and business cards. Repurposed on his bulletin board, they’re functional and create a built-in professional scrapbook.

So I feel somewhat crazy to blog about this, but it’s this kind of epiphany that really makes my day sometimes. Is that pretty sad, that I’ll go to such lengths to feel good about hoarding? Or will you go get your secret stash of lapel pins and implement them on your bulletin board, STAT?

P.S. To be clear, I draw a pretty strict line about what’s appropriate office decor versus home, but that’s another post another day. For now just know lapel pins, the swinging hips Elvis clock, and the Bruce Springsteen poster fall under office.

P.P.S. This year for Christmas, we got my dad a goat. For the gentleman who has everything.