We're constantly being blitzed with advertising about all sorts of wonder gadgets and appliances that promise to make our lives easier, reduce the time we spend on household chores, or make us a whiz in the kitchen. But how many of these things really enhance our lives? Apart from enhancing our credit card debt or enhancing the amount of junk in our cupboards Ė very little I would say.
We all need the refrigerator, washer, iron, kettle, heating and cooling and so forth, but where do we draw the line?
How many of us have seen some sort of gadget advertised and succumbed to the very clever marketing strategies that convince us we can't live without it, only to find that itís more trouble than itís worth when we get it home? Not only do we regret that moment of weakness or naivetť that makes us buy it in the first place, but then we have to suffer the feelings of guilt or failure every time we open the cupboard door and see it sitting there like the proverbial white elephant.
Sometimes though, itís a bit more complicated than that. Often itís well-meaning friends or family who excitedly buy us these things as gifts. I have a relative whose husband bought her a bread-maker one Christmas. You can probably guess that she was less than excited about feeling obligated to churn out loaves of fresh bread every day.
In hindsight I was very lucky that I taught my children when they were young that gifts are meant to be a personal gesture designed to let the receiver know you value them on a personal level. Thankfully they have grown up to be very good gift givers. I've never received a rice cooker or a waffle maker or any such cupboard clutter.
So what do we do with these white elephants? How do we decide what is a keeper and what is not? How do we convey the message that we would like our gifts to be more personal?
- courtesy of goodbyehousehellohome.com
The first challenge is to assess what we already have. What appliances or gadgets make us feel guilty every time we look at them? What is taking up valuable space and not earning its keep? Should we weigh up the level of convenience versus the amount of cleaning or washing up required? For example, I'd rather wash up one vegetable knife than a magic slice, dice and julienne contraption with six parts and several rows of sharp teeth.
In my own kitchen, besides the basic whitegoods, I have a kettle, toaster, sandwich maker, electric frying pan and hand held mixer. Thatís pretty much it. I'd rather have the free space. In the bathroom itís a hair dryer. In the laundry itís the dryer, iron and rechargeable vacuum cleaner. No white elephants here.
Perhaps itís time to do a stocktake of your appliances. You may be surprised at how much cupboard space (and money) you can save. The final challenge is to find subtle ways to let friends and family know that we are trying to keep our appliances to a minimum, or to drop hints about what we'd really like as a gift. They'll eventually get the message.