Collections are a personal and precious thing, and it seems like every messie has several precious collections. The question is what to do with your collections when they start to seem more like clutter than collection.
First of all, if you are still desperately messie, it might be best if you pack away most of your collections while you’re digging out. If you don’t still have the original packaging, wrap the collections in bubble wrap and store them in bins. Keep out a couple of the items out and try to keep the display area neat and dusted.
Look for a place in your home that you can set up for a good display. Imagine you’re a store owner or an interior decorator working in someone else’s home. Focus your display… come up with a theme. If you have a large character collection, such as Pocket Dragons or Precious Moments, display the ones that are appropriate for the season. Or display items with a certain color or size. Make a little scene with your collection. Use other household items to draw the collection together. Have fun with it!
Rotating your collectibles will help you cut down on dusting (or feeling guilty about not dusting.) It will also keep your displays fresh and interesting.
For example, I have a collection of about 70 Pocket Dragons (about salt-shaker sized ceramic dragons.) Usually I only have about ten out at a time. Try this if you have a large collection, but you don’t have a good display case for it. Eventually, I hope to get two large lighted glass cabinets to hold my dragons and my dolls, but for now, my dragons stay on one shelf and my dolls stay in their boxes.
Rotate your collections for the winter holidays as well. Instead of piling your seasonal decorations on top of all your normal displays, pack away all of your normal displays, unless your displays are festive for the holidays. This will give you a fresh, clean “canvas” for your holiday decorating. I put away my collectibles in the week before (US) Thanksgiving, because I try to do my holiday decorating during that four-day weekend.
When you put away your holiday decorations, you have another fresh chance to redecorate with your collectibles. You can even consider leaving entire collections in their boxes for six months or a year. It’s like a special treat to rediscover a collection after you haven’t seen it for a while.
Think very carefully before acquiring new collectibles or starting new collections. I have a tendency to “collect” anything that I end up with more than three of. I have to fight that tendency all the time, though being on a limited budget helps with that fight. Decide which of your collections bring you the most joy right now. I collect cows, Pocket Dragons, ceramic baby dolls, Barbie dolls, German beer mugs, mugs… the list is endless. But, for right now, I’m only actively collecting Pocket Dragons. I get enough cows as Christmas presents to feed that collection quite well… my husband gets mugs for me whenever he travels… and the other collections are on hold until I have more space to display them and more money to acquire them.
If you “collect” things only because someone else gives you them for special occasions, see if you can find a tactful way to let that person know what you really like and need. This can be difficult, so otherwise, feel free to rotate the items and just display a few at a time. I knew a woman who had a huge Precious Moments collection that she didn’t even really like only because her mother-in-law sent them to her for every holiday. (And vice versa: if you’re feeding someone else’s collection, make sure that’s what that person really wants.)
Don’t collect things you’re tired of collecting just because you feel like you “should.” People grow and change and so do their tastes. What you loved in your 20s might not appeal to you at all in your 30s or 40s. If you don’t love a collection any more, try selling it online or at a garage sale. You’ll make someone else very happy.
Don’t let other people make you feel bad about your collections. They might look at collections as being just dust collectors, but if they bring you joy, they’re doing their job. I got a lot of grief from a roommate over my large book collection, but they gave me joy then and they still give me joy.
To clean your displays, use a feather duster every couple of days on the area. Every week or so, move everything and dust underneath with a damp cloth. You can clean ceramics with canned air and a very soft new toothbrush. Wash your glass collectibles in hot soapy water and let air dry. Consider investing in a cabinet that closes to help keep the dust out. If you go over your collections with a feather duster regularly, they’ll be easy to keep clean.
In short, only collect what makes you happy, keep the displays small, focused, and easy to clean, and enjoy your collections.