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How I Stopped Being a Craft Hoarder

This blog post is part two of a series in which I explain my journey from being overwhelmed by my craft supplies to being a practical, conscientious, and happy crafter and artist. This is the story of how I stopped being a craft hoarder.

Related Article: Why I Almost Threw All of My Craft Supplies Away

Previous to nearly losing our house and being faced with a terrible decision to make about our family's future, I thrived on feedback I got from other people about my home. As a child, I imagined I would have this grand home and fabulous life and awesome husband and everything that everyone else ever dreamed of as being the perfect fairy tale life. I didn't have my own dream – I had everyone else's dream life. I worked hard and was an entreprenuer from a young age.  I had the perspective that I could do anything I put my mind to and I took the world head-on, even when I faced opposition. As a young adult, I decorated my barracks room in the Army, and later my apartments and house with fabulous pieces from Pier One and other home decor stores. I thought that if I had just the right stuff, positioned in just the right twee way, that my life would click and happiness would ensue.

My crafting pursuits and motivations in terms of THINGS were equally as shallow. I had to have all of the latest and greatest things and I spent money on them in ridiculous fashion. My natural skepticism at new things helped keep some of my spending at bay (“Cricut? That is stupid, I don't need that, stickers are cheaper”) but I was a good enough, $400-a-pop craft supply customer that local stores kept me on their speed-dial to alert me when new product came in. I would complain that they were taking advantage of me by calling me but I'd totally show up to the store within a couple hours if not reserving and paying for the thing over the phone, sight unseen. I was the ultimate sucker for limited edition anything. The more scarce and more expensive something was, the more I needed to have it. Once I started amassing all of this STUFF, I needed a place to put it. I invested thousands of dollars into storage solutions that never fully worked or that I outgrew quickly. I passed on those storage items to other people and bought new ones. I moved to larger and larger homes … 700 square foot apartment to 900 square feet to 1400 square feet to 2100 square feet and so on. It was never enough. Harder bigger faster stronger.

On top of this need to buy stuff all the time, was this constant turn-over of things in my house and craft room. To make room for the new, I would get rid of SOME of the old. I was more apt to get rid of home decor items and furniture than craft supplies but I got rid of both. I usually gave it away. It would have been smarter to sell it but I did not want the hassle. Out with the old and in with the new, weekly it seemed. I look back at it now as completely and utterly ridiculous. I could part with things easily because I had little attachment to them – they were someone else's dream, something I bought after envisioning how everyone else would say it was “so cute” or “perfect!”. After some remarks made by my family and a visit to my sister's new house in the midst of the chaos of almost losing my own home, I realized I had been supplementing their decorating budgets with my cast-offs. I am in no financial position to do that. My mom always wanted to be the first to look through my yard sale or donations pile so she could “shop” for her house. Yeah, it sounds totally ridiculous now that I am writing that but it's true. In the craft arena, I would do things like buy 20 organizing baskets so things would all look the same and in 6 months decide they weren't working, get rid of them, and buy another new solution. My insanity was fed by praise from others. I loved it! I still do love getting compliments and there is nothing wrong or nefarious about anyone who gave me compliments. This was my own internal battle. I bought things for the wrong reasons. I had no idea of the long-term effects of making the decision to sell things off to raise money to save our house. I had to act quick – every 30 days the reinstatement amount increased so the longer we took to raise the money, the more money we'd need. As I looked at each item in my house I had epiphanies where I relived the bad decision making, chastised myself for the waste, and felt like a failure. This experience was even more intense in my craft room. I couldn't craft during this time. I hated everything. I literally was angry at my stuff and wanted to throw it all away. The only thing that stopped me was that I needed the money from selling it. If it were not for that, we might not even have a Hydrangea Hippo craft blog right now. I might be working some desk job, still miserable, wondering where the heck I went wrong with my life. (hey, desk jobs aren't bad, they're just not for me).

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50 Comments

  1. This is the first honest article I’ve found that reminds me so much of me. The buying because I just might do this project, the guilt when I don’t. The donations to charity. The depressing loss of so much money I really didn’t have and the plans that I just knew were going to be so perfect…once I got the plans from my head to the actual project. That again never happened. What gaps in our lives are we trying to fill with things we can touch rather than be happy, or at least contented, with what we already have. This gathering of items to act as a barrier against whatever our fears are? I don’t know. But I sure do empathize with you. It has helped to know I am not alone in this hoarding frenzy that needs to be reined in. Thanks for your article.

  2. Love this blog post Jennifer. I too have purchased stuff because I just “had to have it”. Now I look back and realize all the money I spent to just end up giving the furniture or supplies away or selling them for pennies on the dollar. Several of my friends have furnished their craft spaces off of all the stuff they got from me. I purge my supplies once every six months or so and I’m always disgusted with the items I purchased and still haven’t used. When I first started stamping I would easily drop $250-$300 at a Stampin’ Up party. Not anymore. I’m trying to do better. It’s really hard when you see all these companies with these cute stamps, dies, ink, etc. But I am now medically retired and my income has dropped significantly. I have to be mindful of what I purchase now. And I try to only use cash. No more credit card debit for crafting supplies.

      1. I have so much less stuff … I need to do an update. I moved to a 788 sq ft apt by the beach. No more “craft room” though I have a closet and craft supplies stored throughout my apartment. I am much happier and continuing to downsize …

  3. Oh my gosh Jennifer, I totally relate to your having to fight the urge to buy one of each of those cute little Target bowls…argh!! I used to be just like that and have a garage full of quilting fabrics, soap making and candle making supplies and every craft supply known to man or woman to prove it! I finally sold or gave away all of my yarn about 5 years ago when my daughter had a yard sale. Honestly, who was I fooling?? I was never going to learn how to knit! Now I limit my purchases to paper crafting goodies only and have been refusing to go to Michael’s crafts even when they have a great sale or coupon. It’s just not as fun to have all that stuff if you can’t even find what you want to use.
    My mom was a terrible hoarder and having to clean out her house when she passed away was a wake up call to me. When your “things” stop being a joy and start being a burden, it’s time to change the way you organized your life. I am really loving your posts on your own struggles and journey and your tips and hints on how to make better use of what you already own. Thanks so much!

  4. Thanks for sharing…what a wonderful story; I’m happy to hear you “survived” your craft hoarding days and have come up shining on the other side!! 🙂 I love the idea of using the standing in line time as “review time”!

  5. Jennifer, I’m so glad you’re still here!!! I took your class on MCC and have been following you ever since.

    You go girl! You light up my life!
    SharonK~Crystal MN

  6. I appreciated your honesty in sharing this dilemma that faces so many of us crafters. I recently moved and had to downsize my craft room. I still have a craft room, but it is much smaller and now shares space with my desk and other work/school/business stuff. My craft “drug of choice” is tools; unfortunately tools often require lots of storage space, something I no longer have. Every time I go near Michaels or other craft stores, I have a stern conversation with myself about all of the stuff I have at home that I don’t even have time to use. I’ve stopped trolling the craft aisles at Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Tuesday Morning too. So far, it’s been going pretty good and I have your post to thank for that! You are an inspiration!

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much! Yes, it is hard to fight that urge but gets easier with time. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Loved your essay! I don’t think I’m ready to stop being a craft hoarder, but I have put a ban on buying yarn, and I’ve used three skeins in the past two weeks.
    Cracks me up that I’m getting yarn pop ups as I read this.

  8. Bless you for having the courage to share this process with the world!! I too have this serious problem and have lived with the shame for years. (we also lost the house…)
    I am better now – the urge is still there, but the control is growing.
    I no longer grab every item that I just “know” someone else would love – I send them a picture and tell them it’s on sale somewhere instead…
    thank you for helping me to remember!

    1. Thank you Michele! I saw you followed me in a few places online 🙂 Thank you. I look forward to connecting. Sadly, we are not alone but I think letting people KNOW they are not alone is the first step 🙂

  9. My story is so much like yours. Loads of craft things from fabric to paper and everything in between. I thought the same things that if I made it and someone else approved of it, then they must approve of me. It was a vicious cycle of making things for other people to get their approval. OR buying things to make that I never followed through with. I have just gone through the lightening of my load and it feels wonderful. If I have not touched it in 1 month, it goes. If it is not a birthday gift or Christmas gift, it goes, or doesn’t get purchased. I get it. Been there done that and finished with it. Congratulations on your epiphanies, I hope that you continue to grow!

  10. So. So. Good.

    When I think of the money I have tied up in my craft room, it makes me physically ill. Thanks for sharing what so many of us rarely admit.

    1. I so, so identify with this and I’m so glad I came across this Article and discover I’m not alone in my shame and guilt of over collecting. I’m still in the long process of decluttering but it really makes me feel better when I’ve managed to get some sort of order and donate to good causes where stuff will actually be used.

  11. This is totally me. I have a garage full of stuff that I just don’t want to bother to sort and clear out. I also feel the ugh, moment. I read this and so could related that I would spend a lot of my paycheck on buying things I didn’t need. I would order from DS reps and of course they would benefit from my BIG ORDER. Now, to tackle the problem and start selling and giving the things away. I buy for others to reap. Thank, goodness I have stop buying most likely because I stop working. However, those friendships have diminished as i’m no longer a buyer. Yes, no one force me to place big orders. I know..

    Jennifer, I’m sorry that certain people made your life not nice.

    1. The good thing is that now you know 🙂 Yeah, things were hard at that time but it is so much better now. You can do this!

      1. Thank you so much for your honesty and hard-hitting ‘whistle-blowing’ article. What’s both reassuring and concerning is that sooooo many of us can relate. Shows there’s an issue to resolve. I know I’m way late to the party on this article, but wondered how are things for you now. What prompted the transition, was it divorce or stress or something else? Would be good to know, and how you’ve bounced back.

        1. Thanks for your comment … yes, this is a huge problem no one really wants to talk about. I believe it is leading to a slow down in our industry unless we deal with it … maybe even a death of sorts.

          To answer your question: The transition was really prompted by me deciding to close my etsy shop … it rocked my whole identity and made me really assess my life.

  12. Thank you, Jennifer, for this post. As I am unpacking at this moment a huge order of crafts supplies, I googled crafts hoarding and I found your post. I see myself on your words and I deeply thank you. I am finally admitting it to myself and I think this can be the beginning of my new journey. Thanks to you, I think I can do it now.

  13. I share the pain. During our last move I was literally sick when I began to pull out my hoard. Money wasted on unfinished projects. Sold lots of t for pennies on the dollar at our yard sale and wound up donating lots of boxes full to a local charity.
    I have learned a lot of my shopping is a result of depression, trying to ‘feel’ better or brighten my day. I have the talent and skill but not the time to accomplish everything I think I can!
    My daughter warned she would hire a dumpster! Enough said!

    1. I do hope you’re doing better now. We all can relate and I’m encouraged by the support so many of us are giving one another over hoarding issues. All the best, to all. :-]

  14. How timely it is for me to find this post. Hubby and I have just spent two days packing my art and crafts supplies and completed projects, moving them to off-site storage. This is just to make room for family to visit ~ stay in our home at Christmas … !!! There’s no time to sort and donate now because of the short timeframe, but I WILL do so very soon.
    It is shameful, I am guilty: with so much “stuff” I can’t possibly even remember everything I have. I do use many of my supplies & tools (often daily) for my seasonal, tho’ very SMALL business, but I’ve always needed “more/better/trendy” and it’s taken over our home.
    Thank you, Jennifer, for speaking out ~ it is extremely helpful to me seeing this in print. I really admire your courage … and in turn, I’m encouraged to change.
    I had started recently to re-think my selections to avoid impulse buying. Reviewing my NEED for items is now my top priority. And since I make myself return rejected things to their correct shelf ~ I hesitate to even choose them!
    Blessings, Jennifer … (and I’m sorry for such a long comment!)

      1. Hi, thank you for the nice reply.

        I’m still on my journey to get rid of stuff. I like to find inspiration – incentive to continue. Found something that gave me that little push. Thought I would share it with you. 🙂

        http://estatesales.org/sale/768267

        I might look at this on a regular basis when I falter. 🙂

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have tried hard not to accummulate too much stuff and too much craft stuff (a move abroad helped a bit), but my possessions have ballooned. I actually even received a huge box of fabric from my mother. She sent it from her massive collection of things–overseas–for a small fortune. Several boxes of stuff got moldy in a damp room in my house and I had to throw it out. I had been battling mold and washed fabric over and over. But one time I threw it out and felt so relieved! I couldn’t figure out why I was so relieved to see so much money go down the drain. But I realised that while I had that fabric I wasn’t just being an artist with lots of material to create at a moment’s notice. I was a busy mother with a massive to do list which included trying to figure out how to make use of boxes and boxes of fabric. Throwing it out cut my to do list massively. I continue to declutter and I feel so much better every time. I also experience anxiety and panic. Real panic attacks. But I also know that I am on the right path.

  16. Needed your posts and the comments. My weakness is thrift stores and yard sales. I love any type upcycle. Retired 2 years ago and the hoard is going down. More time, less money forced me to get around to completing some projects, but long way to go. I have drastically reduced a mount of incoming and increased outgoing. Yesterday I went to grocery for 2 items. Once they were in my cart, I felt a strong pull for clearance/ reduced areas. I caught myself, uttered out loud, “whatever is there, cannot afford it , and you don’t need it!” I wheeled the cart around like a mad woman, and went raced to checkout.

  17. I was about to scroll through Pinter estate and came across your article. I must say it hit home. I too am going through this very same thing. Craft hoarding is real! I would walk stores and be overwhelmed with colors that I needed it every color possible. The projects that I had in my mind to make and sell that either never got made or never got sold. I am now going through everything and either giving away or selling it off. Tired of seeing things sitting around and looking like a heap of trash. I thank you for this blog. It is so real and truthful. I needed to hear this.

  18. Thank you so much for this honest and insightful post. I spent many years in a stampin’ up “club” where we met monthly with a demonstrator and committed to purchasing a small amount of supplies each month, rotating the hostess benefits among the members. It was a fabulous business model for our demonstrator and a wonderful, creative time for socializing, and it filled a need for me at the time…but of course I *always* overspent, and in the years since, I’ve had MASSIVE guilt about parting with all those supplies I acquired. I have bins and totes full of supplies that are still in their original packaging from 12+ years ago. We are moving and I am finally coming to terms with the guilt and the longing for times gone by. It’s too mortifying to sell it all for pennies on the dollar and deal with the hassle of storing, shipping, etc…I’m boxing it all up to donate to a charity shop and allowing myself to feel the guilt and shame, and move beyond it. Thank you for your wise and honest words.

    1. I am so glad to hear that you are working through this. I belonged to a similar Stampin’ Up! club- you described it perfectly.

      What are your plans for a craft space on your new place?

      1. I honestly don’t know. Our new home-to-be has a bright, cheery sunroom that I intend to claim, but I hate to commit it for any single purpose yet. I would love a space for sewing and quilting — my forever love — but even that comes a distant second to my desire for a clear, peaceful, uncluttered space to just sit with a cup of coffee and a good book, without the pressure of unfinished projects weighing on me. We will also have a basement that we intend to finish. My craft space may wait until then, so I’ll have time to really think about what’s important and plan accordingly, instead of just filling a space with this home’s old hoard. My creative impulses have been set aside by the demands of five busy kids — I’ll get my mojo back someday, but in the meantime, I find so much joy in a quiet space. And a new home is a blank canvas, so I’ll find a creative outlet just in moving and redecorating. 🙂

  19. This post made me want to cry. I can feel every bit of it as I struggle with the same thought processes. I am hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel to buy compulsively. I keep “starting over again” and giving myself another chance – sooner or later, I’m hoping it will stick. Purging the old is the first step… it really makes you look at the store shelves differently when you have to get rid of so much. Thank you – I know this was written years in your blog’s past, but thank you. 🙂

  20. Your post was very inspiring. You basically took the words out of my mouth about my own experience. I am still constantly destashing supplies and always still feel I have to much left. I came across your post because I’m looking for tips on destashing because I plan to move to another state in a year, into a smaller apartment to save money. I need to downsize my stash so it’s not so much to move AND because I won’t have a craft room, just a bookcase or two for storage. You helped me realize that I am NOT the only person that has gone through this process of buying and having to destash and the feelings and emotions of wasted money. I’ll have to look into whether or not I have some place to donate craft supplies since I usually just take them to Goodwill. I have a year to get through everything and I appreciate your post giving me the push I need 🙂

  21. Wow. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought you wrote this article about me. I’m in the process of moving from state to state and I knew I had a lot of stuff. But “a lot” was nowhere near the immeasurable amount of crap (oops, I mean “crafts”) I have unearthed.

    I have chuckled all the way to the end of your story! Smh. This process of moving/donating/pitching an ungodly amount of supplies is a real good look in the mirror. Live & learn!

    Happy unbuying ?

  22. Thank you for sharing this struggle. I have never found anyone who relates so well. I’m currently trying to turn my life around after a the worst year of my life (including a divorce and a bad accident that put me out of commission for several months, right after I bought my first home). I am a craft hoarder and a total sucker for exclusive/limited edition! I “sell” Origami Owl because of that obsession with limited edition, and I’m trying to get out of it but I inadvertently built up an inventory that now I’ll probably have to sell at cost or below. I dabble in so many crafts that I have a 400 sq ft craft room in which every wall is lined with storage. I have an obsession with tools. Real tools and craft tools. I have a Cricut AND a silhouette. And a Minc. And an overhead projector. And a zutter. And 4 different kinds of paper trimmers. And the new cricut lightpad. And the new cricut iron-on thing (that’s still in the box 3 months later). And the list goes on. Every time a new tool hits the market, I just have to have it, to make all these crafts (that i don’t actually do) so much easier. It finally occurred to me around the end of last year that I spend so much time shopping for craft supplies, then making the room to store said craft supplies, which usually involves pouring through old craft supplies and buying more storage solutions, that I never even actually have time to USE the craft supplies! I do the same with home decor. Now I do remodel and stage homes for a living, BUT I don’t need the excess of home decor items in my own home. Late last year I spent around $500 to put shelves in my guest room closet to house all of my extra home decor pieces. Which doesn’t include the boxes in the attic and garage that I still haven’t gone through since the move. Shopping is a hobby, and really, an addiction for me. I’m happiest when I’m spending money. On just about anything. Until the guilt and anxiety kicks in. After the divorce and the move into my new home, I’ve racked up twice the amount of credit card debt that I’ve ever had in my life. Within a matter or just a few months. To the point that I’m now a single mother working a second job to make ends barely meet. I’m scared, for the first time in my life. So thank you for sharing. It’s good to know I’m not alone, and that you’ve come through the other side.

    1. Oh! I forgot to mention, another part of your story I related to was the friendly local scrapbook stores. I was a “VIP” customer at one of them. I finally asked what that meant, and I was shocked to find out that it meant that I spent OVER $3,000 with them in the previous year. I ended up working for a couple of the stores in my area and the first thing I did was look up my account. If was appalling. Between the 3 stores I had spent over $10,000 in the matter of a year or two. Once I started working there, I never really received a paycheck. It went straight to the tab I kept racking up. But boy do I miss those stores, the ladies, the crops, the BLTs at the sandwich shop next door, teaching classes, playing with brand new inventory, making friends… and spending inordinate amounts of money on crap that’s still being stored in my house years later.

    2. You can totally get through this. The first thing is to just see that you want a change in your life. The next is to stop shopping. Selling off my stuff to help fix the debt issue really helped too. I felt better about it that I did just hanging on to things. I’d like to invite you to join our Facebook Group and share your story to get support from other people who are on the other side and who are going through this as well. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/463395007358618/

    3. You are not alone. I’m a gadget hoarder. HSN crafters events don’t help my cause. I have 5 electronic cutters and 3 manual die cutters. I’m so very tempted to buy the newest brothers scan and cut machine because it does more than the other one I already own. I’m telling myself I’m going to try to sell at least two machines to justify buying a new one.

  23. My stomach (and heart) actually hurt after reading your blog and especially all the comments from your readers. How can there be so many of us!! It is scary, and upsetting to read and recognize myself in all the comments. I have known I need to stop for awhile now, but it is so hard to not crave the feeling of “retail therapy”!

    I too, have collected way too many craft supplies, paper, tools, stamps, ink, and projects to repurpose! as well as dishes, glassware and entertaining ware, and now am struggling with the piles as I down size from a larger house with a craft Studio to a small extra bedroom for crafts in my new smaller divorced mom of 3 grown girls house.

    My most recent obsession is thrifting and repurposing of furniture and Pinterest has only added to my problem. Its the treasure hunt and score that feeds my addiction. I have to frequently talk myself out of stopping by the local thrift stores, ESPECIALLY during happy hours (1/2 PRICE SALE)! the temptation is insane! I suppose it is a little better than being addicted to happy hour at the local pub, but barely!!

    Like several of your other readers, I am trying to understand WHY I do what I do!? the holes we are trying to fill!? I am sure each of us have a different reason or need, however similar underlying emptiness that we are trying to fill with stuff. I am trying to pray about it and refocus my obsession and thoughts on myself in a way to focus on my health and working out instead of shopping! Its not as fun…YET!!

  24. Wow! Thanks for being so honest. My story is very similar, as is the growth from having looked and handled every piece I own and remembering the stories associated. It’s amazing the kinds of emotional ties we can have with STUFF, and the emotional maturity which comes from facing and releasing the shallow attachments, including the releasing needing to OWN a bunch of things which only create baggage. Recommended reading, anything by Marie Kondo (Spark Joy). Thanks, again!

  25. Thank you Soo much for this article. I really needed to hear your realizations about affording other people’s crafts, decor, etc.

    I have been known for years as the person to call when you need something…anything, because I would have it or get it while out shopping or salvaging for deals.

    I found great pleasure in “helping” people fill their needs for things like the perfect custome made (expensive) Halloween costume. Labored over by yours truly for weeks so they could feel just perfectly convincing in their costumes. Ready to wow the judges with their presentation or guests at their party.

    I did all with absolutely zero compensation for supplies or even credit as costume designer when they won (often large cash sums) prizes for their costumes. Then to find they sold the costume to someone else immediately while the market was hot for next year’s events. Profiting Twice on what I gave away.

    This same situation applied to custom furnishings, home and garden decor, specialty projects.

    I shopped scavenged and hoarded anything that could be used in my next great creation, because Somebody might just need that.

    Finally when I made things for my own home or yard and folks wanted it for theirs I would be so flattered that they liked my work I would send it with them, no charge.

    Leaving gaps in my home where my custom built storage solutions, home furnishings and usable art had been. My life became piled up in boxes marked in dark permanent marker so I could know if I had work supplies or household sundries in the large stack of boxes against my living room wall. Or plastic tubs cintaining my clothing draped with a pretty scarf became my coffee table, ottoman or dresser.

    What I realize through your article I afforded every bit of cost and effort it took to create these items and gave it away out of affection and for them and the need for praise that I had done a good job.

    Although I have already begun the path of not being devalued by others and clearing out my property of stored rubbish and supplies, I was still missing the connection as to why I was doing this.

    After reading your article, the connection that has come with this is that I have forgotten to have valued Myself enough to realize I deserve nice things too. I can enjoy being a priority in my own life. I can let them admire my work in my home while it does the job it was created for. I do need to have to sell my soul for a few ego boosting moments easily trampled on when they resale what I’ve made or handed out at an astonishing profit.

    Also that I do not have a responsibility to obtain and store items in anticipation of people’s wants and needs. Perhaps I am even cheating them out of the joy of doing their own hunting for just the perfect item?Maybe even stifling their creative juices for manifesting their own beautifully crafted pieces?

    Either way, it’s a changing of the guard. I am no longer the gate keeper and will be freeing myself of the burden I have been carrying by being their go to person. It is time I build my perfect space, just for me and hold on the what I have done.

    Thank You!

  26. Still so timely and helpful. I’m on vacation but there will be a major purge when I get home. I need some coping mechanisms for when the buying urge strikes, maybe a waitlist. I find when I put something on a wishlist and come back to it a week later I tend to have lost interest. For me it’s definitely an impulse thing that passes if I can get past that first hou or sor. I hesitate to label it addictive behavior but it certainly seems to smack the same reward centers in the brain. Meditation is a way of coping with destructive thinking patterns so I need to get back to it and see if it reduces the craft cravings over the long haul. I don’t like experiencing the guilt which follows overbuying.

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