Hoarding's been having a wild time as of late. Not content merely to make a name for itself by providing the basis for several award-winning and delight-inducing shows — did you see the one with the CATS — hoarding's ditched its previous DSM classification and has burst, debris flying everywhere and smelling faintly of dog poop, into a disorder of its own. That's right, friends: hoarding's not a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder anymore and it's doing its own thing.
Having been accused of being something of a hoarder myself — I will defend to the death my right to buy a new shirt to avoid laundry. So what if I have ten Alfani-brand crew necks littering my floor? They're comfortable and an everyday low price value and I haven't done laundry in WEEKS! — and having spent several years working towards a degree in clinical psychology (got it, parents still not proud, now I write about anal prolapses on the internet), I feel I'm more than qualified to give you shopping tips for all the hoarders and hoarders in your life.
Here are some ground rules:
- You can't get anything big or that takes up too much room. If your loved one's home already feels like everything's on the verge of collapse due to the crippling weight that all those phone books are placing on its foundation, you probably don't want to burden them with anything heavy or useless — like your presence, so mail the gift — for fear of literally bringing down their house.
- You can't get them a gift card. Some hoarders are all about acquisition and giving them cash money (even in the form of cash money to one place such as hot topic or Victoria's secret) is going to be a problem. Don't do that. Be the solution, OK? Be the solution.
With that said, here are some excellent gifts you can give that won't break your bank or accidentally crush one of your favorite hoarder's numerous feral cats. Haha, just kidding. Little joke. Those cats are dying under the weight of their owner's crippling depression. Not your fault at all!
Real Simple Magazine
For the hoarder who's only beginning their journey to getting lost in their kitchen but not someone who's at the level of an intervention, this magazine is an excellent way to remind your loved one that nothing beats organization, a scintillating expose on how to keep your eggs fresher than the inside of a motherfucking hen and out-of-place cover stories about how one couple in their mid-to-late fifties (they'll never tell!) overcame their infidelities.
The best part is that Real Simple has a digital edition so it can, depending on your choices, actually take up no space at all. And, if you're so inclined, you can spend some time every month clearing the debris off your loved one's coach and sitting down to discuss the finer points of efficient use of shelving together.
Method Home Products
Cheap, effective and not too overpowering. A hoarder's home, unsurprisingly, isn't usually the most sweet-smelling home in the world. Method products (sold at Target, on Amazon, at school bookstores sometimes) don't mask scents perfectly, but they do give any room a delicate natural smell. My favorite scent is clover, because it feels like you're outside, even when you're inside. Crazy how nature make dat.
Egyptian Magic Moisturizer
It feels like a silkworm jizzing all over your face and they wouldn't let me write about it anywhere else. Next!
Furniture Security Straps
Overflowing houses are the most dangerous places to be during an earthquake — least dangerous place? Underneath one of those tiny grade school desks — so if some kind of natural disaster hits you want to make sure your loved one survives to hoard another day. Get them a pack and call it a day.
A Visit with An Organization Specialist
True hoarding is a psychological problem, so if that's what's happening you may want to suggest a therapist, but many amateur hoarders don't even know that too much stuff is a problem. Book them an hour with an organization specialist and I guarantee their house will be just a little less cluttered the next time you visit (if only because they had to clean it before the specialist came over.)
A Full Day Of Cleaning
Fuck a specialist. If the problem is big enough, they may need to start things off with a deep clean of their own. Most cleaning services have seen worse than you can imagine so a mini-hoarder's home should be nothing. Just provide a good tip and you're golden.
A Digital Download of The Little Mermaid
Ariel may be the little mermaid, but she's also the
original little hoarder. Children watching the movie may be amused, but adults should view it as a cautionary tale about lugging all sorts of junk home and cluttering up the ocean (killing sea life and murdering fragile coral reefs). And since Disney movies are all about symbolism, a few watches of this timeless classic may make your hoarder change their mind about all those thingamabobs and dinglehoppers they may have laying around
One Year of Storage
If a deep clean just isn't possible due to the amount of stuff your secret santa has lying around and you're independently wealthy, you can help them with their space woes by renting them a storage space and helping them move their hoard into it. In fact, you can rent them two. And, since no one checks on storage spaces unless they're not being paid for, it doesn't matter if your loved one just throws shit in there until the entire thing is stacked from floor-to-ceiling.They can visit their collection any time without endangering others or making their home look untidy.
Dust Ruffles for Beds
Not too much hoard? Just shove it all under the goddamn bed and cover with a decorative ruffle that looks like it came from a colonial-era whorehouse. ( This is what I've used. My room is ugly, but the floors are clean.)
Stylish and classic, these holders will inspire anyone to turn their life around just so they can have people over to look at their collection of yellowing JC Penney catalogs displayed properly. These take up relatively little space and can be put anywhere. They won't remove clutter, but they'll focus it, which makes everything just a little safer. Many different sizes and colors to choose from! I like the orange ones from Ikea.
Animal Crates, Self-Cleaning Litter Boxes and Other Assorted Pet Supplies
For the hoarder who has pets (and pets and pets), you may need to think not only of the person you love, but also their beloved companion. If the animal doesn't have a crate or a litter box that sifts itself, or even a litter box, the kindest thing you can do is purchase them one so they can sleep and/or go to the bathroom safely and without embarrassment. This is also the best way to get the animal to like you, as everyone knows that pets are very partial to people who give them presents. (Not cats.)
Self help books and motivational videos
Men are from Mars, He's Just Not That Into You, Live Your Best Life — they're all good ideas. Likely the hoarding's going on for a reason, so whether it's because someone isn't Feeling the Fear... and Doing It Anyway or not following The 48 Laws Of Power, a selection of self help merchandise may help the person realize that the hoarding is a symptom, not the actual problem. So consider helping your loved one move toward getting to the root of the actual problem with a few books about how to feel their feelings. And then help them find someone with whom to talk about their feelings, if that's something they want to do. Perhaps you? (DVR Clean House and watch together!)
A Guide to Selling Things On eBay
People on eBay will literally buy anything that is inexpensive, including broken Hummel figurines and dust-encrusted N64 cartridges that never worked. I don't know what it is about this stuff with "sentimental value" — "I had a mangled Barbie just like this one when I was a kid!" — but I bet half the stuff your friend refuse to throw away could fetch a pretty penny on the world's best auction site. Best of all, it'll be going to a good home. Possibly the home of another hoarder, but hey, it's not your problem anymore.
Happy Hoardidays! (I've been waiting a lifetime to use that joke.)
Images via Shutterstock and Method