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Stop Saving Your Stickers

I was a pretty cautious kid.

I didn’t want to make mistakes, disappoint anyone or regret a decision. I prided myself on being the “good girl” and remember the sting of doing the wrong thing at school or with my friends.

I distinctly remember crying at night for at least a week because I decided I didn’t want to do gymnastics anymore and was terrified mum and dad would be upset.

(They weren’t.)

As a kid, I loved nothing more than getting a new pack of stickers. Big, round ones. Tiny, shiny star-shaped ones. Love heart ones. So pretty. So brightly coloured. So…finite.

Once a sticker was peeled off the backing sheet, stuck on the page and admired for a moment, it was done. And I’m sad to say that once they were no longer usable, the enjoyment dissipated.

Don't save your stickers

Photo by Brooke McAlary

Do you know what happened to the vast majority of my stickers?

I left them on their backing paper and tucked them away somewhere safe. Saved them for a special occasion or a project worth using them.

And guess what?

I never used them.

It didn’t matter how pretty or rare or shiny or sweet they were. I was scared to use them because, well, they’d be used up.

(And, as every sticker aficionado knows, trying to prolong the usefulness of a particularly delightful sticker by peeling it off the page and re-sticking it means you’ll just be left with a ripped page and a useless sticker. Trust me on this.)

When I was older and being forced by my mum choosing responsibly to tidy up and declutter my bedroom, I found boxes and boxes of these abandoned stickers and admired them once more. But the time to use them had passed. I was a grungy teenager. I was into Smashing Pumpkins, thrift shopping and basketball (an enigma is what I was). Sweet, shiny stickers had no place in my life.

The opportunity to experience the joy and beauty and creativity of using them had passed me by.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Don’t discover too late that you had something of joy and beauty at your fingertips, only to let it slip by, too afraid to “use it all up” or break it.

Even if the joy of using something precious is a fleeting one, don’t you think that fleeting joy or momentary beauty is better than none at all? Using a pretty batch of stickers to make a gift for a friend would have been better than letting them sit, unseen, in a box for years.

If you keep one thing in mind today, it’s this:

Don’t save your stickers. 

Use them up. Whenever the mood strikes. With wild abandon and stunning regularity, if possible.

Enjoy the rush. Embrace the feeling of living in the moment. And so what if they get used up?

It’s a well-covered cliche, but important enough to state again, particularly to my own cautious inner-child:

  • Use the “good” china. So what if it gets chipped? It’s being used. That’s what it’s for.
  • Drink your cheap wine from the gorgeous glasses you received as a wedding gift. Otherwise, they just gather dust.
  • That perfect-coloured lipstick? Put it on! You will look beautiful, even if you’re in your pajamas.
  • Let your kids create freely. Isn’t the paint and glue and glitter there to be used?
  • Wear your fancy perfume, even if only to playgroup.
  • Jump in muddy puddles. And stop pretending you don’t enjoy it. And the laundry? It will need doing anyway.

Stop saving your stickers.
Otherwise you may just rediscover them, only to realise the time to use them has passed.

p.s. – Use the Good Stuff

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Tori

    I may still have a sheet of Lisa Frank holographic animal stickers that I would never use (I think I used one? Maybe two. Living on the edge, obviously) that were just too beautiful to be used unless I was 1000% positive they were going on EXACTLY the right thing/spot, which explains why I still have almost all of them. This trait was modeled intensely for me by my mom, and at almost 30 years old now I’m finally beginning to see how silly it is to have things “too good” for everyday use, as if every day isn’t just special enough, even though it comprises the same amount of time in my life as every other day does, whether a special event is occurring or not. I’m with you, use up those stickers! 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Pleasure, Tori! And I hope you enjoy using up those “good things” on these, the ordinary days. 🙂

  2. SuseFish

    I’m surprised to find myself sitting at the kitchen table tearing-up at this post… must have hit a nerve! Thank you so much for sharing x

    • Brooke McAlary

      It’s funny isn’t it, Suse? Something so innocuous can often represent so much more in our lives. Who knew stickers were one of those things?!

  3. Mandy Dunne

    You certainly hit a nerve. I know my mother was so proud that she had a box of glasses she got for her wedding and never used them. I often hear her say things like, ‘save it for later’ and have often repeated it to my children.

    I now renounce that habit and will use what I have, and if it breaks, well at least I’ve got great memories of using it, rather than ‘saving it for later’.

    • Brooke McAlary

      YAY Mandy! We received 6 gorgeous crystal goblets for a wedding gift and started using them regularly about a year ago. When a guest knocked one over and broke it, all I though was, “I’m happy to have enjoyed using that glass.” No need to get upset, and no need to save for later. 🙂

      • Guest

        Absolutely love your mental response to that. I feel like I’ve been in a period of reflection for several years and am moving into the growth and change part. I associated feelings/memories with things for so much of my childhood and early adult years. i find myself telling my kids now that our memories aren’t in things. They’re in our hearts and in our minds. I hope that they really, truly believe that and treat their stuff accordingly.

  4. Bek @ Just For Daisy

    I too was a sticker saver. And loved when my parents bought me a sticker book whcih meant I could ‘stick’ and unstick them easily. I loved that book and those same stickers bring me the warmest memories!
    Even now, I’ve had to train myself to let my girls let loose wtih stickers and ‘waste them’ so that they can have a simply marvelous time! ANd they do! 🙂

    • Brooke McAlary

      I agree, Bek. It can be hard to let our kids loose on things that we always held close. But I’m finding increasingly that the joy of seeing them using things without a second thought is such a joy.

  5. Jerilyn

    This is me: soaps, lotions, even gift cards! Ugh. But i am changing!! And now i use the soaps right away. Or i wore my special necklace so much that the inner part of the locket broke (my son was very fond of opening it!) and that is ok 🙂

    • Brooke McAlary

      So happy to hear that, Jerilyn. 🙂

  6. Sarah

    I was much the same, as a child. I had my treasures that I had to make last. As an adult. I found a pencil box with at least 20 pencils with cute designs on them. I handed them over to my girls, who have no problem using them.

    A few months ago I was hired to help set up estate sales. One thing my co-workers and I have found is the “family” of the estate often sell things they never used. There is no connection to that china set if Mom never used it. The quilt that is carefully wrapped up and never used because it’s to precious…. Gets sold off because nobody knows anything about it.

    I am all for getting rid of clutter, and no longer hoarding pencils. But, I also want to use things that are special. My house isn’t a museum.

    • Callie H

      What a relief to know I’m not the only one passing down 20-year-old pencils to my kids (who used them in a week)!

    • Brooke McAlary

      YES to all of this Sarah. I particularly loved your point about the precious quilt that no-one knew about, because it was kept so tightly under wraps that the story wasn’t even shared. How sad, when the joy is in the sharing.

    • Laurie

      So funny you should bring up the pencils! I just found my collection of coveted pencils from 20 years ago about 2 weeks ago, sharpened them and gave them to the kids. They were delighted, and even though over half of the pencils have disappeared already I’m ok with that. It’s funny that when I came across them I laughed at myself for keeping them and never using them all this time….yet the sheets of stickers remain safe in my drawer still. Time to use them up!

      Thanks so much for this post!

      • Brooke McAlary

        You’re welcome, Laurie! Isn’t it strange the things we hold on to? So happy to hear the kids enjoyed the pencils though, and I’m sure they’ll love the stickers too. 😉

  7. Sarah M

    I have actually thought about my sticker-saving habit as a kid, too. I have a box in my closet with all of them, that has moved with me over 7 times. I’ve been slowly eeking them out to my daughter, who is completely uninhibited with her stickers. She finished those jumbo-sized sticker books very quickly. I wish I wouldn’t have saved them, too. So funny, the quirks we all have that are from our personalities.
    Sarah M

    • Brooke McAlary

      Who knew there were so many of us, Sarah! Glad to hear I’m not alone, and glad to hear your daughter is loving the stickers this time around.

  8. Amy

    I did this exact same thing! When I was in college, I found a whole sheet of puffy, Little Mermaid stickers at my parents’ house that always seemed too cool to use on ordinary, every day things. And I think, as a twenty-year-old, I went ahead and threw the whole sheet in the trash. Such a waste!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Oooh, they would have been fun, Amy!

  9. Jamie

    Such a great reminder! Great post, Brooke! =)

  10. Annaleah

    This brings back so many memories of my elementary years! I, too, was a sticker-saver, and I had a big plastic “Caboodle” box (anyone remember those?) that I kept them in, and I would trade them with friends. My favorite stickers were the fuzzy ones.

    This is such a great reminder. I have taken this message to heart over the years and now most of the things we have are things we use on a regular basis. Every once in a while, though, I find myself hesitating to use, or let my kids use, something that is “special”. Thanks!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such a pleasure, Annaleah. So happy to hear that you now use what you own – that’s where we’re at too. Feels good, doesn’t it?

  11. Jane

    I figured out early on that a used sticker was no where as fun as the potential of a used sticker. So I stockpiled any and all stickers I got as a kid. The problem then was I had a stockpile of stickers that, while fun to look at & imagine the potential, always ended up back inside a little box I kept tucked away.
    Another problem was that once I used a sticker, I immediately regretted it. The sticker looked junky, out of place, awkwardly placed, not near as cute as I had imagined it would stuck to my Trapper Keeper, etc. so it got to the point that stickers actually started to irritate me.
    I didn’t want the responsibility of warehousing the stickers anymore, and I didn’t want to junk up my folders sticking stickers on them randomly, and I wasn’t getting a good return on my sticker enjoying investment – so I made the decision to ditch stickers past, present & future. I haven’t futzed with a sticker since & am soooooo relieved. Haven’t missed the potential, haven’t missed the responsibility & haven’t had to deal with the residue that comes from the regret of an ill-placed sticker.

  12. Jlynn

    I too saved stickers and little notebooks. I never wanted to use them because I didn’t want to ruin them. I took the boxes of stickers and notebooks to a children’s hospital. Others have taken their stashes to daycare centers, preschools, etc. At least someone gets to use them.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such an awesome idea, jlynn! Sharing the love, sharing the stickers, sharing the fun. Perfect!

  13. Liz

    This is beautiful. We all have so much of joy and beauty at our fingertips – let’s savour it. And jumping in puddles is one of my favourite things!

  14. Tricia Paoluccio

    Great post. I STILL have my little sticker book of Grossman stickers that I loved from the 80’s…and as a paper hoarder and collector it took me some time to realize I could really be ok USING it up, sharing it, giving it away… And now that I have kids my whole perspective has changed. In fact I consider it a successful year if we use up all our art supplies! I know that its a great thing to ask for Michael’s Art Supply gift certificates for the boys birthdays and so it has helped me to let go of the fear that I’m wasting good materials if I let the boys create and we end up throwing those creations away. I guess it was the way I was mom would have never let me use watercolor paper so casually or use hundreds of stickers on a single piece of paper.. I think there is a balance for sure. But your post is totally hitting a nerve for me too and I thank you for helping me to implement this in all aspects of my life. Recently I started doing this with food even! I love to can and the impetus is to save it all…it looks so pretty doesnt it? in the cupboards?! BUt they will go to waste if they aren’t used up! SO even if there is no special occasion for it, I open up the prized jellies and the special olives and I serve it now freely. But its funny how it took time for me to be able to do this! thanks for writing!

  15. julia

    This is wonderful advice!!!!! Please incourage your kids to have fun now, waiting only means missing out.

  16. Meredith

    You just described my life! Stickers, crayons, lotion, soap, stationary, good dishes, just to name a few. I nearly had a panic attack when upon receiving an art kit for her birthday, my daughter opened it up and started USING it!!! I am going to go open up the package of my favorite color of Post-its right now and put reminders around the house for myself to stop saving the stickers.

  17. Dee

    Oh, my gosh! I have those smiley face stickers in a drawer right now. (They come from Highlights or some such, don’t they?) If I had time to writer letters maybe I would use them. My son has no interest.

    Thankfully, I learned the lesson of using what you have. I grew up in my grandmother’s house and she had a drawer full of brand new nightgowns (because that’s what you give grandmas) that she had never worn. Instead, she wore threadbare ones that should’ve been tossed years ago. Same with towels – beautiful towels hung for “show” while we used the beat up holey ones.

    I figured it out when my mom gave me a beautiful and very expensive pair of gloves. For the first year I never wore them. What if something happened to them! But I realized I was not getting that wonderful feeling of wearing them so I started wearing them. Everywhere. All winter long. It was divine. I felt special every day! In 2005, Katrina flooded our house and the gloves were among the many things lost. Thank God I had worn them to excess (they were just beginning to show wear – proving that paying more for things is sometimes well worth it). I missed them but I had really used and loved them. Think of how I would feel if I hadn’t worn them but had “saved” them instead!

    When we got married, we got one set of china that we use every day. No one understood why we even got china. Why not get stoneware. But stoneware chips easily. China is expensive but it’s remarkably durable. We use the best stuff every day.

    Absolutely awesome post!

  18. Sharon Holbrook

    Thanks for this. Sometimes I’m just too much of a grown-up, and not as fun as I could be.

  19. Breanne

    Loved this so much. I’ve been saying yes to my girls wearing their ‘fancy’ clothes for play or library outings because they will grow out of them and they get so much pleasure from wearing a twirly skirt.
    I’m trying to make that habit stick in my own life- drink the wine, wear the clothes, order the fancy drink and just enjoy right now.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  20. Shannon

    Never been a sticker saver, but the analogy is appropriate for many things. My way of sticker saving has been to procrastinate about doing things I want to do, should do, until all of the circumstances are perfectly aligned. Whatever gifts we’re hoarding, enough!

  21. brianne

    I love this article!

    The concept of “using it all up” was first introduced to me in The Happiness Project as “spending out”. It wasn’t something I’d ever thought about, being so used to saving up things I loved, from candles to clothing to beautiful notebooks too perfect to mar with my imperfect writing. So many times I never ended up using the things I’d cherished simply because I didn’t want to “ruin” then or run out. What a waste.

    It is really a whole new approach to living – finding enjoyment as often as possible through using and appreciating things you have that you love. It’s transforming.

  22. Susan S.

    I think you are writing about me. I can totally relate to this post. We are doing some purging and organizing. I came across stickers left over from a Babysitter’s Club calendar. They are probably 25 years old. I need to remember to enjoy things (and people) while we have them. Or let my daughter have theM

  23. FERNIE


    • Brooke McAlary

      Sounds like you were wise beyond your years, Fernie! 🙂

    • Catherine

      LOL!!! What a wonderful, amazing perspective!!!
      This is one I have to share!

  24. nee

    I can relate on all accounts – saving pretty things for ‘later’, not wanting to waste, ruin, run out or use in less than perfect circumstances. Brother, that is a flawed perspective! That can change today. The other application that I gained from this is in relationship…being more lavish with a hug, a touch, a kindness, sharing my heart in little ways, instead of saving it for later, and possibly robbing the people around me of a much-needed gift for the moment we are living in.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Nee – all of this is gold. I love both sides of your point of view and will be taking them away with me today. Thank you! x

  25. Kimberly Monaghan

    This was a wonderful post! I used to HOARD my stickers like there was no tomorrow and then I found the perfect solution. Every year, I buy a new planner for the coming year and I decorate the pages with stickers. I then can refer back to these pages for event dates and details when I am working on a smashbook or scrapbook. The stickers do get used up but I cannot tell you how often I flip through my planner just to enjoy the stickers.

    Oh….and I LOVE to drink any beverage out of the ridiculously expensive wine glasses we got for our wedding! Everything tastes better from a fancy glass!!!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Perfect all-round, Kimberly. If not for enjoyment, why do we have these things? I love your approach!

  26. Tacy Williams Beck

    This is inspiring! Off to retweet. Thanks!

  27. Lindsay

    Beautiful post. I’m definitely one of *those* people. I have personalized stationery I received as a high school graduation gift that I never used b/c it was so special. I think it’s time to send some notes 🙂

    • Brooke McAlary

      YES Lindsay! I bet the people you write to will be thrilled to get a hand-written note from you. So special and so rare these days.

    • Catherine

      My stashes of special stuff have been lost/parted with many times: each time we moved, I had to leave them behind. Always managed to collect again. Now I’m staying in one place, but finding it necessary to downsize. This blog is bringing me new ways of looking at the process, jogging some kind of releasing mechanism in my thought patterns! An amazing thing, which I will look at again, everyday!
      Thank you for sharing this.

  28. kimberly

    And I thought it was just me….

  29. Polly

    We had a quilt that we got for our wedding. I kept it safely tucked away in a box thinking it was handmade from one of the quilters in our family. After 4 years, I finally took it out of the box to put it on our guest bed because we had no comforter. Turned out it had a tag that it was made in Taiwan or something. I had the biggest laugh over that.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Hahaha Polly, that is hilarious! Glad you didn’t qwait 50 years to get it out. 🙂

  30. Sue

    This brought up so many memories. I had an extensive sticker collection that was untouched, including personalized stickers with my name on them. I found them in a box during my college years, many yellowed from the passing of time. And I felt immense regret that I didn’t use them to decorate my pencil boxes and notebooks and lockers as I had always longed to do. I couldn’t bear to throw them away, and now that I have children it has been a wonderful gift to see them go through them with reckless abandon as they create art! I bring up a sheet at a time from the basement and it is a special surprise to them and fills me with joy. The stickers were redeemed! They love the ones with my name on them too 🙂

    • Brooke McAlary

      Awesome, Sue!And almost invariably, our kids are not as reserved with these things as we once were. It’s so refreshing to see them using these things with such freedom. I know it’s just a little thing, but such a great lesson to pass on to your kids at a young age.

  31. se7en

    This post is perfect… I love it!!! I used to save games, and art supplies for a rainy day until I realized my secret stash was too big to contain in the closet, not to mention that winter had passed, the summer and another winter. Why wait for a rainy day – I am all for “Embrace the now.”

    • Brooke McAlary

      Why wait for a rainy day indeed. Today is as good as any other!

  32. Robin Steinweg

    You struck a chord here! Thank you. With wild abandon!

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such a pleasure, Robin. And wild abandon – yes!

  33. Aimee Mulligan

    Beautifully written. And a great reminder 🙂

  34. Ally

    I never tire of hearing this… Is this a re-post, it felt like I’ve read it from you before?

    I made my daughter a flower girl dress, very intricate and I’d never made anything like it before or after… after the wedding, at first I wanted it to stay in perfect condition, but then I thought, she’ll grow out of it and will never remember it, she now wears it to church, to fancy playdates, and playing dress-up all the time. It definitely is a bit beat up, but now it has so many memories tied to it. I’m so glad I didn’t tuck it in the back of the closet to be forgotten.

    • Ally

      I just realized that you, Brooke, are posting at Art of Simple, now I think I have read this before on your blog… love it, thank for sharing with this community!

      • Brooke McAlary

        Hey there Ally! You have a good memory – I did write about my sticker-saving habit about 2 years ago. Such a pleasure sharing it here too. 🙂

  35. Deb@asimplelife Quilts

    I can’t stop thinking about your post. I feel like I’ve turned the corner on my habit of waiting for “someday” but this was a well timed reminder that I need to keep at it. Time flies and I should live in the moment more. Thanks so much!

    • Brooke McAlary

      That is so wonderful to hear, Deb. Time, she certainly does fly.

  36. Emily @Random Recycling

    I saved my stickers so long, I was able to give my daughter my sticker book. I agree about using the good things, but encouraging the family to take care of those things may let generations of users to come enjoy them.

    • Brooke McAlary

      You’re right, Emily. I think the things that can be passed down, used time and time again and generally treasured should definitely be looked after. I think there is a balance somewhere between saving little things for a “special day” and using the fine china for target practice. Somewhere in the middle lies a place where we enjoy our things in the present moment, and can also pass them on to someone else if or when the time comes.

  37. Laura @ Little Bits of Granola

    This is such a great message. I have the tendency to save all kinds of things for “just the right occasion”. From stickers, stationery, and pens, to the good glasses, cutest outfits, and best lotions. It is such a waste. Thanks for the reminder to take joy in TODAY rather than save joy for a “better time”.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such a pleasure, Laura. And thank YOU for taking the time to comment. I agree wholeheartedly that saving these things for some mythical “better time” really is a waste. Today is a great time to celebrate!

  38. Karen

    I have beautiful fabric I have never cut and expensive yarns never crochet. I’m going to start using them, better than to see them sold for pennies on the dollar to someone how cares not for them.

    • Brooke McAlary

      I bet the beautiful things you create with those fabrics and yarns will bring untold happiness to both you (in the making) and whoever is lucky enough to receive them!

  39. tn lizzie

    My Grandmother had a friend who loved to use her “good stuff.” She kept her dry laundry detergent in a cut-glass bowl on top of her dryer, and used a glass ice scoop to measure it.

    She set a “nice” table with mis-matched china, mixing up sets so that no place had pattern duplicates. It was such fun to be invited to her house!

    We’ve got some “wedding china” in our attic. It’s been 22 years – I think it’s time to sell it and get some more Fiesta Pottery that we use every day.

    <3 Thank you for this post! <3

    • Brooke McAlary

      FUN! I may just adopt the laundry detergent in the cut glass bowl idea, Lizzie! And enjoy the new Fiesta pottery. 🙂

  40. Robyn

    My grandma always taught me to use the stuff you love. And I DO! I even have some stonewear and glasswear and pretty vases from her that I use daily (she passed away almost 15 years ago). And, as much as my kids annoy me with their sticker habit (like, sticking them to EVERYTHING)… i find myself sticking little motivational stickers (like from a chore chart or potty chart) on my light switches and door knobs. LOL Gives me joy. 🙂

    • Brooke McAlary

      Two things, Robyn:

      – your grandma sounded like a very wise lady
      – I love the stickers on the light switches idea – nothing like a little boost of happiness or motivation every time you enter a room!

  41. Debbie Davis

    Great article – very moving! Thanks for writing it and sharing your great thoughts with us!

    • Brooke McAlary

      So happy you enjoyed it, Debbie. 🙂

  42. Greg

    Thank you for this article. I have been saving “stickers” for too long now. Time to go peel some off and put them on a few pages. Thank you again.

    • Brooke McAlary

      My pleasure, Greg. Enjoy sticking those stickers all around. Remember – wild abandon where possible!

  43. Hannah

    How true is this! You know I sold my favorite china set because I didn’t use it! Wishing I would have donated my old plates and kept the china for regular use:) Great reminder!

    • Brooke McAlary

      The 20/20 vision of hindsight! So many things I never gave myself the opportunity of enjoying, but no more. Sounds like you’re in the exact same place, Hannah. Enjoy it. 🙂

  44. De Arn

    As I read this post my 5 year old had just pulled off a huge sheet of old computer paper & was proceeding to cover it with stickers!! God’s timing is so perfect! She promptly discovered that the alphabet stickers she wanted to finally use were more sticky on the front than the back, as they had been sitting in the sticker folder for who knows how long!!!??? Thanks for the object lesson, will keep your words & my daughters timely illustration in mind 🙂 PS LOVE YOUR BLOG – THANKS FOR ALL THE INSPIRATION.

    • Brooke McAlary

      Such amazing timing there De Arn! I hope your daughter LOVES the stickers. 🙂

  45. Diana

    I was a sticker saver too! Love this. I’m doing much better at enjoying my stickers now 🙂

  46. Guest

    I don’t have a sticker saving habit or really any other precious possession. The area in which I’ve had to really push myself is not waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to do something. When we lived on the east coast, I wanted to take sailing lessons but my husband traveled full time. I kept telling myself that we would take them when he stopped traveling. By the time he did, our situation was such that we couldn’t. There were also things I wanted to do to our first home that I never did until it was time to sell. It all looked so nice and I only got to enjoy it for a month or so. I told myself I wouldn’t do that again. Now if I want something changed in the house, we save for it and do it so we get the enjoyment!

  47. Lisa

    Great post! I often have to mentally remind myself not to stress over my boys using stickers ‘frivolously’. I rearranged their art supplies recently so that they now have access to all the good supplies to be used up when they’re in the mood 😉

  48. Melanie

    What a great reminder! I had to laugh at the Lisa Frank comment, I probably still have some of her notebooks I never used!

  49. Omib

    This is SO me! Just the other day I found my sticker notebook from the 80’s – the neon pink cover with the Lisa Frank unicorn gracing the wraparound spiral notebook. And inside . . all of the special stickers from that time in my life. Unused!! What a great post – it’s brought tears to my eyes!!

  50. Alissa

    This is a mental change I have been trying to make for some time. A few years ago, I started using those lotions that I had received as gifts, but was “saving” for some unknown special day. I was actually so happy the other day to have to purchase my own – all the special ones have been used… for me! Now, I wear my jewelry, use my lotion, spend the gift cards. Still trying to turn the corner on things like nice craft supplies and clothing. I have lovely shirts sitting in my closet, waiting for an appropriate occasion. You know what? Spending the day with my kids is a wonderful occasion!

    • teresa o'keefe

      oh The gift cards! that’s a good one. I tend to hang on to them too… and store credits! The times I’ve pulled them out have ended up being such a great treat, I should do it more often 🙂

  51. Elizabeth

    Such a great reminder! I was also a sticker saver when I was little and originally was almost appalled when my daughter turned out not to be. Stickers can be found on almost anything she owns. There are even torn coloring pages and writing worksheets where stickers have been whisked away to a new home commemorating something she is newly proud of. Her joy and utter happiness to use stickers reminded me of just what you are saying. Life is too short to save the stickers!

  52. teresa o'keefe

    This post resonates strongly. It was a lesson I learned following the death of an elderly relative and discovering DROVES of brand new things (that were in many cases now vintage) that were awaiting “some day”.
    To what you’ve said, I would add to remember to DO the things you want to do. Make those scrapbooks, organize that family reunion, take the class for glass blowing, learn an instrument. Life will continue to happen and there is no more perfect time than NOW.
    Now I’m off to use some stickers on the beautiful monogrammed stationary I’ve been saving and write some good old fashioned letters to a few loved ones who shun social media and would LOVE to hear from me. Thanks for the post! It’s a great reminder!

    • teresa o'keefe

      oh and PS – this reminds me, I better use the COUPONS I got from the MR. for Valentine’s day! we’re almost 1/2 way to next year. Thanks!

  53. Ali

    The message behind this post is so beautiful. I love the examples you gave of how to use the good stuff in our lives. My personal favorite one: Use your cloth napkins often. Put them on the table in a fun napkin fold, even if it’s just your family having dinner. It helps make any meal feel special.

  54. Adelina

    Oh gosh, I have SO many stickers saved as a kid. I think I eventually did start using them, but there are so many still on their papers. I’m still guilty of doing this. Saving things for later, for a better time. I need to just get over it and indulge, but it’s so hard to break years of habit.

  55. Eric West | Rethinking the Dream

    Shortly after I started the process of decluttering my kitchen I found some beautiful glasses that we received as a wedding gift. Instead of using those we had been using some cheap junky ones. I decided to toss the junky ones and start using the good ones. Three years later we are still using the nice glasses.

  56. Sarah Shotts

    I was a sticker hoarder as well. By the time I rediscovered mine after college they weren’t even sticky any more and just fell right off the backing… 🙁

    It’s always a good reminder to enjoy what we have now. Thanks for that.

  57. Carmen

    Thank you for the post, I felt like I was reading something that was written by my future self. In raising my two boys I feel my younger cautious self holding them back…

    I started reading this book called Boys Will Be Boys by Meg Meeker – exact same message…but more for boys. 😉

    Let them play and let yourself play it’s a sticker not the end of the world. 😉

  58. Elita

    Wow, I was that little girl and now am that woman. I needed to hear this! Thank you. I want to teach/show my children different.

  59. Lea

    Love this post!

    I am so grateful that my mother taught me from a very early age that if we don’t use or love something we don’t need it. I have a lot of heirloom items from both of my Grandmothers that we do use everyday (or at least when appropriate to use) and love. Now I just need to apply this to all the other “stuff” in our lives – like paper, stickers, and all the rest – both miscellaneous papers and craft supplies!


  60. Jessica

    Thank you so much for this! I too saved stickers (as well as Sanrio school supplies) as a child. After reading this post I was inspired to enjoy more of my special things. My children and I dove into my stash of scrap booking supplies for a few hours of creativity. I was able to make a large stack of greeting cards to use for gifts. My children loved being allowed to use mommy’s special tools and materials. It was a wonderful time. Thank you for encouraging us all!

  61. SONIA

    It felt just like reading into myself. During my whole childhood and even for a period of time as a grownup all I wanted to get was the approval of others and of course of my parents. In my whole family the lesson everybody taught was not to waste things and always keep the good ones for the best time to use them. I find myself thinking about how many things have been wasted and kept into boxes without ever using them. My mom still has many good sheets that she keeps inside the wardrobe just waiting for the right moment to come and I still have my “book” of stickers.. shiny, beautiful, new, never used, never fully enjoyed.

  62. Kayla

    I was this kid! I recently realized that I am this adult as well and I’ve been working on it. It extended to *everything* – don’t eat the last brownie right now, because I might want it later! Well, the brownie wouldn’t get eaten, it would go bad, and I’d have to throw it away. I’d save the “fancy” soaps and lotions for “Fancy” occasions, which I never had. And then they’d go bad (well, the lotions would at least). So now I eat the last brownie. I use the fancy lotions and I don’t even buy fancy soaps :).

  63. Malinda

    This was me, as a kid, teenager, adult. I am daily reminding myself of what matters, especially with little ones under foot. I enjoy your writing and how it always seems to center me. Thank you!

  64. Naomi

    Perfect topic! I’m all about using up my expensive perfume and my “good undies” !!! I think I’ll take down my fancy tea cups and make my family a spot right now!

  65. Aubrey

    This post is fantastic! I, too, am a serial sticker-hoarder. In fact, I got this really awesome sticker from my Dad when I was in 1st grade. I remember it vividly. I never found the PERFECT thing to put that sticker on. When we moved last year, I found it still attached to its backing. I posted it with a magnet to my dry erase board (is that ironic?) as a reminder to myself. So needless to say, your words really spoke to me! Here’s to using the good stuff! 🙂

  66. Kay

    This is a great reminder. I collected pencils in elementary school. I still have the box today… pencils never sharpened, never used. The same could be said for photo albums. I was afraid to let my toddler look through some photo albums because he’d wrinkle or tear the pages, especially my wedding album because he’d get his messy hands on it, but pictures are meant to be enjoyed. And yes, the wine we save for a special occasion. Just drink it now! Thanks for this… I can think of a bunch of things I’m just “saving” for what? I liked the comment about the estate sales too. What unused junk would be sold at my estate sale? Hrmmm…

  67. Jen

    Oh I so needed that! I have such a hard time letting the kids waste … err, enjoy things like stickers and crafts! I have been challenging myself to enjoy their enjoyment and not think about how the craft is messy, the sticker misplaced, the pretty decoration no longer available for if I find the perfect place to put it. So nice to know I am not the only adult that has to let go of this childhood hoarding tendency!

  68. Laura

    I’m going to comment on this old blog post to add that…let’s just say, my youngest is 13. My kids are getting old fast.
    All those beautiful dishes, china, crystal, or whatever are just taking up space. You know, the stuff you got for your wedding? I’m going to start using it more often. My kids are male, and I don’t think they will want to inherit it, anyway.
    If I breaks, at least I will have gotten to use it. And I’ll have more space in my cupboards 😉

  69. Annette

    I learned the hard way about not saving things. I had a dog who absolutely love tennis balls. I bought several in a package and kept them in the cupboard only to get one out now and then but I always wanted to “save them”. After my beloved dog passed away I looked in the cupboard one day and found the package of tennis balls with several left in it. What a waste! She could’ve been enjoying those tennis balls but I wanted to save them for some stupid reason. So my new saying now is don’t save the tennis balls!

  70. Molly Miners

    I have one item from my Dad’s mother, she died right before I was born. A beautiful vintage tea cup and saucer made in Japan that I drink coffee from each morning, it may break or get worn but it’s part of me living life here and now and connecting me to family I never met. Plus, a cup collecting dust…boring.

  71. Kelli

    I am a late commenter, but I just wanted to say that this post really struck home with me.

    After doing much soul-searching after a major life crisis 5 years ago, my outlook on “things” has changed in ways I would NEVER have imagined when I was a child or teenager (long story short-being the executor of two estates within a year’s time=LOTS OF STUFF). I was trained (like many of my generation) to “save” nice things for later. I remember hearing my mother say, “Oh, that _____ is too good to use.” There was never a specified “end date” in which an item was to be used. We had many brand new towels, sheets, pencils, pens, socks, underwear, dinnerware, utensils, etc. stuffed in drawers that were being saved for a more appropriate time, while we continued to use threadbare and worn out items in our daily life. I now realize how silly that statement sounds: “That is too good for us to use.” What in the world does that even mean! 🙂

    Would it not have been wonderful to use those special items each and every day? And when they broke, would it not be fun and exciting to search for a new special-to-us item to fill it’s role?

    The shift of mentality between the last generation and this one is amazing.

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