In our previous post about decluttering and downsizing, we talked about some general tips to start the process.

Of course, part of downsizing is deciding what to do with some of the family heirlooms you may have been holding on to in hopes that your children, grandchildren or friends will one day enjoy them. The unhappy news is that it is likely they won’t treasure certain things the way you do.

Heather Johnson from HouseLife Services (, a downsizing, removal and moving management firm has a great list of 6 items she shared with us regarding pieces you probably will find no one wants to claim.  So, it’s best to start thinking about alternate plans for some of these precious possessions.

Here’s the list of items that are not in demand any more and some suggested solutions for removing them:

1.Books: Unless they are of some intrinsic value in terms of age, binding, or unique subject matter, most books are hard to give away.  With ebooks and readers, hard cover page-turners have lost their value.

Solution: Donate to any organization that accepts books.  Usually they need to be in good condition and relatively recent.  Check out your local library, donation centres, or recycling depot to see what they accept.

2. Paper Keepsakes: These include photos, greeting cards, postcards etc.  These can really accumulate so you should be sure to review everything and decide what you want to keep and what you’d like to recycle.

Solution:  Heather recommends photos etc. be digitally photographed and the images saved. Usually a family member or friend can do this for free and then transfer the images to a USB stick.  You can take the USB to Costco or Staples to have prints made – they offer framing solutions too – and you can store the rest on your computer instead of holding on to the paper. The website Next Avenue has a good article entitled 8 Ways to Preserve Family Memories that you might find interesting.

3. Steamer Trunks, Sewing Machines and Film Projectors:  Unless any of these are in “mint” quality and still usable, it’s probably best to part with them. (Even mint condition sewing machines and film projectors have no value – only a collector MIGHT be interested…it is only steamer trunks of notable designer names such as Louis Vuitton, Goyard etc – even in less than great condition these have value and a market)

Solution:  Some things can be repurposed to more current uses with a coat of paint and a bit of imagination.  If they aren’t useful however, it’s best to donate or recycle.

4. Porcelain Figures and Bradford Exchange Plates: These used to be very popular but, today are not treasured by the younger crowd.

Solution:  Depending on the type of porcelain you may find a buyer on ebay or Kijiji, otherwise a donation is probably in order. (if the Figurine is a limited edition, e.g. Lladro or Royal Doulton,  it may have value and be auctioned through an organization such as Transition Squad).

5. Silver-plated items: There’s a big difference between silver plated items and solid silver.  Anything plated has lost its value and may be difficult to sell, unless you have some unique items.

Solution:  This is a tough one as these items may hold sentimental value – you can hold on to them or give away to a family member or friend who would value them.  Otherwise a donation to Habitat for Humanity or other organization might be best.

Note: Next Avenue has a good article How To Value Your Stuff that provides tips for determining whether your possessions are valuable.

6. Sterling Silver Flatware and Crystal Wine Services

Unless the scrap value for silver is high enough for a meltdown, matching sets of sterling flatware are hard to sell because they rarely go for “antique” value. Formal entertaining is not a priority these days and of course, sterling and Crystal must be hand-washed and dried, so is often not valued as its care takes extra time and effort.

Solution: Sites like offer matching services for folks who DO enjoy silver flatware and have recognized patterns. Because they sell per piece, and therefore buy per piece, sellers may receive a good price.

Note: also sells and purchase dinnerware and other decorative items, so you could consider either increasing your existing set or selling your set to them.

Do you have any tips for how and where to recycle, reuse or dispose any of these items or other common household items?  Let us know in the comments box and we’ll share with the community.