Hand Me Downs…A Blessing or Curse?

Last Tuesday, at 6:45 AM, my house descended into chaos.  It was game day for my soccer-playing son, and on game days, athletes need to wear khaki pants to school.  As it happened, the same pants that had fit just three weeks before were way too short.  And if you have a teenager, you’ll understand that somehow, this was all my fault!  I half heartedly tried to convince him that the pants were fine, since he didn’t have a choice other than to wear them, until I remembered the box of hand me downs from his cousin at the top of his closet.  Disaster was averted, as I pulled out a pair of khaki pants in just the right size.  Lesson learned…if you have a teenage son, always have the next size ready to go just in case you’re faced with a rapid growth spurt, as I was that morning.

When you’re super organized, hand me downs can be a blessing.  You can save a ton of money and avoid buying the items that are worn infrequently.  On the other hand, if you’re the type that is likely to forget what you have only to realize your child outgrew the beautiful, almost new clothes a friend gave you before you remembered where they were, the hand me downs are a curse.  In this case, they just take up space, are stored for years, and then frustrate you when you find them.  So, if you want to avoid the curse of the hand me downs, here are some simple tips to follow.

  1. Have set times of the year when you pull out the hand me downs to see what fits.  The best times to do this are in August before buying new clothes for school, in April before buying new clothes for spring and summer, and in December just as things are getting a bit small.
  2. Only keep things that are in good condition. Sometimes, well-meaning friends who just want the bags out of their own homes, don’t check the quality of what they’re giving.  Make sure nothing is torn, stained, or otherwise in disrepair before you store the clothing.
  3. Consider the amount of time you’ll need to save the clothing before it will fit your child.  If you only need to store the clothing for a year or two or even three, then by all means take it.  But, if you’re looking at holding onto the clothing for many years, be much more discriminating about what you take.
  4. The best hand me downs are the seldom worn blazer, outerwear, and the special occasion dress.  Not as worthy…nylon athletic shorts and t-shirts that are relatively inexpensive when new.
  5. Contain and label the hand me downs.  For example, use stackable containers with labels like “Winter, Size 4”.
  6. If you need to return the clothing to the giver after your child wears them, think twice.  The effort involved here may be too much to justify keeping the clothes.

 

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