When Hand-Me-Downs Go Wrong

by Kim Rose

Some people refuse to take hand-me-downs. But, for a lot of us, it’s a huge help and we can’t afford not to. Unfortunately once it gets out around town that you’re willing to take secondhand items, the junk floodgates open. Your neighbor started with some T-shirts (a gateway drug of sorts). Next you get some useful pajama pants and mismatched toys. Then all of a sudden the mail carrier tries to hock her couch on you. It’s always, “If you don’t use it, give it to someone who will.” What? We know the same people, and no one we know needs it. Listen, we’re all pinching pennies, but we’re not your dumpster. Here is an ever-growing list of things you shouldn’t “donate” to your friends.

Your Baby Furniture

If someone comes out and says, “Let me know if you’re giving away your furniture,” awesome, perfect, that’s great! But if they already have furniture, they probably don’t want yours. That’s right—we don’t need a spare crib in our tiny apartment. Cut the crap. We know you’re moving and don’t want to deal with it. You’re not trying to help us—you’re trying to make us get rid of it for you.

Your Teenage Daughter’s Clothes

When the kids aren’t out of preschool yet, giving away clothes that are six sizes too big isn’t helpful. We appreciate that you thought of us for the size 8 Abercrombie hoodie, but what the heck are we supposed to do with it? Of course we’d use it eventually, but by the time it fits, we will have no idea where we put it. Pass.

Your Kids ’80s Christmas Dresses

Listen, any red-blooded Jersey girl loves velour, but the puff sleeves and bib on that ’80s Christmas dress isn’t doing it. I know it “still has a tag on it,” but if you didn’t want her to wear it then, who is going to wear it now?

Mismatched Socks

Why? If it’s driving you crazy, why would you assume it’s not going to drive us completely crazy? We each have an entire drawer of single socks with no match; we don’t need yours. Maybe start a craft project. I’m sure Pinterest will be a great jumping-off point.

Books With Pages Missing

Books are awesome. Most of us will take any book any day of the week, except the ones with pages missing. There’s a reason you’re getting rid of it—it’s not readable anymore. My kids really want to know what happened to Mickey and Goofy after the road rally. I’ve had to make it up, and the kids aren’t buying it. Also, don’t act like that 10-year-old copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting just got in the bag of books by accident—you don’t know what to do with it, and now we’re stuck with it.

Your Exercise Bike

Um, no. Since we’re friends, we’re going to assume this is not about a need to lose weight. Even so, this is the worst. The bike you keep your laundry on in your room will get just as little use in our house. Don’t try to play like we mentioned we wanted to join a gym. We never said that. Now you’re hallucinating. Just throw it in the garbage.

Bath Toys

The bath is where toys go to die. Their half-washed-off faces are the stuff of nightmares. Everyone’s goal is to get rid of them as soon as they dry, but we inevitably get sidetracked and the toys remain in their net to bathe another day. We applaud you for your ability to remember to get rid of them, but our tub is full, thank you.

The Giant Ride-On Toy in the Middle of Your Living Room

Yes, our kids love playing with it when they come over—it’s a toy you can ride in the house. It’s like eating candy for breakfast. Every kid is going to love it. That’s probably why you bought it. We know it’s actually doing you a favor to take it. That doesn’t make it easier on us. Because we feel guilty we’ve taken all your clothes, we now have to dispose of this for you. Please don’t do that to us.

Your Folding Chairs

None of us plan on having an impromptu dinner for 12 any time soon. I know your grandmother gave them to you and you don’t want to just throw them out. But ask yourself: Is the chairs sitting in a pile in my hallway really what your grandmother would have wanted? No, it’s not.

We all know beggars can’t be choosers—that’s how we end up with more junk than everyone else. So try to not take advantage of your friends in need. Next time she says, “No thanks, I don’t need bed sheets,” don’t assume she’s being humble. Just assume she doesn’t want it. But seriously, thanks for the winter coats—those are great!