Whether downsizing to a smaller home, preparing for a big move or simply decluttering, confronting years of accumulated stuff can be daunting, especially when that stuff carries sentimental or emotional weight. If you know that you don't plan to use the family dishes and are ready reclaim your storage space, here's our best advice for what to do next:
Step 1: Ask around the family
Even though you're the one who's stored the china for all these years, perhaps there is someone else in the family who feels a connection to the dinnerware who might want it. You never know until you ask. Especially if you also don't like the pattern and want it to disappear, how easy would it be if someone in the family just came to cart it away?
Step 2: Get Creative! Repurpose it.
Professional organizers we've worked with say that one of the barriers their clients face in parting ways with family china is that they think it's an all or nothing proposition.
In reality, there are plenty of opportunities to simply repurpose items that've been sitting in storage into unique decor or unexpected serving pieces. We're not talking about crafting or DIY projects with old china (that can often lead to more of the same clutter that folks are trying to get rid of!) We're talking about practical, stylish solutions that add something pretty and meaningful to your everyday routines and spaces.
For example, we love the way this client uses fancy teacups as part of her morning coffee routine--and stores them over her very modern wine fridge!
Whether it’s using a teapot in lieu of a vase for fresh flowers, arranging plates to hang as decorative wall art, or upcycling your teacups or a gravy boat into scented candles, there are many way to infuse your home with cherished memories without kicking all of mom's or grandma's old dishes to the curb.
Step 3: Upcycle your china set...even just a few pieces!
Upcycling gives you the best of both worlds: you keep some of the china to turn into pretty and practical items you'll actually use and you regain your space. At The Brooklyn Teacup, we take great joy in giving new life to vintage treasures. It's our honor to help keep family memories in the family and spark new traditions with these pre-loved pieces.
Step 4: Give it One Last Hoorah!
If you've decided to part with your old family china but still feel reluctant or guilty about giving it away, Washington Post writer Jura Koncius offer this fun solution: In her article "Five fresh ideas for the family china nobody wants" (which features The Brooklyn Teacup!), she suggests throwing it a party.
That's right. As Koncius puts it: "If you’ve emailed every distant relative and canvassed your friends and can’t find anyone who wants it, it’s time to party."
Libby Kinkead, professional organizer and founder of Potomac Concierge who was interviewed for the article concurs. She advises, “Unwrap it all and set your table, invite your friends and have one last great time with your china...Take lots of photos and post them on Instagram. Then, get over it and kiss the china goodbye."
Step 5: Give your Old China Set a New Home - Donate or Sell it
Having celebrated with the china and picked out which pieces you want to repurpose or upcycle, you should feel free to give it a new home. Fine our list of places to donate or sell your china with a clear conscience.
Addressing what to do with sentimental objects like the family china, especially in the midst of downsizing and decluttering one's home, can be a challenging and emotionally exhausting process. With creative thinking and perhaps a little help from a professional, it's easy to preserve pieces from your past while making space for the things that matter in your present.
Want to learn more about upcycling your old china set?
If you're contemplating what to do with your family china or are helping someone through the process, we’d be delighted to chat. Visit our website to learn more about our unique china transformation service and the various options we have available.