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Giving away things that are important to you – and the recipient – is an inevitable part of sorting through a Lifetime of Possessions.  Sometimes you’ll need to combine the Wisdom of Solomon with a dash of Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic skills, but giving something you love to someone you love is a very special experience for both of you.  Here are some Good Sorts tips to help you.


  • Don’t make big decisions when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  Keep Calm and Give Away is your mantra.
  • Planning ahead makes everything easier.  Ask your family to make a list of things they’d like from your Lifetime of Possessions.   It’s never too soon to do it.  Tell them if anything is ‘out of bounds’ because you’ve made your own decision.
  • It’s best if they write their lists separately and give them to you.  You’ll see if there are overlaps.  You may need your Wisdom of Solomon and diplomatic skills but you’ll have time and space to make decisions without pressure.
  • Choose the time to give.  It might be a practical decision – when you’re downsizing – or to mark a special event such as a milestone birthday or marriage.  Or it may be something that they know will be given ‘in the fullness of time’.
  • Be fair and kind, not just financially but emotionally.
  • Explain your decisions. If you’re calm and rational, it’s much more likely everyone else will be too.
  • Give the receiver the history of the gift.  Who it belonged to, where it came from, why it’s important to you
  • Think very carefully before giving anything that adds to the recipient’s responsibilities.  It may not be fair to give someone something that takes time or money to look after.
  • If you want to give things to wider family or friends, be specific rather than saying ‘I’d like to you to have something.’  It saves misunderstanding and embarrassment.  Select a small number of items you think they’d like and ask them to choose one.  If there are strings attached – such as not selling the item – tell them.


  • Be fair and kind when you’re receiving too.  Unless there’s a very good reason to refuse a gift, accept it.  If it’s impossible to accept, explain why.  It’s important that the giver understands that refusing the gift has nothing to do with how you feel about them.
  • Advice specifically for young people….a box of Granny’s ‘old junk’ may mean nothing to you now, but it will one day.  Try to imagine when you’re Granny’s age and you’re giving it to the next generation.


Lastly, spontaneous gifts can be the very best.  Sometimes you’ll just know the moment is right to give – but have the handkerchiefs ready!