Organizer’s How To: Suggesting Organizing Services Gracefully

Theresa Cashman
April 5, 2021

Have you ever given a gift that you thought would go over well, but then flops? One year, I had this idea to get my Mom a really nice frying pan. She was always complaining about hers (the salmon skin stuck, the onions burned) and I thought I had a great gift opportunity. So her birthday rolled around and she opened the gift and collapsed into tears, and not the happy kind. (Apparently, my Dad had gotten her kitchen items as well, and she took the whole thing a little personally.) 

Let’s say you know someone who has a hard time finding their keys. Their home is often in some semblance of disarray, and you’ve noticed the piles are growing. Some decluttering assistance or organization strategies would really make their life easier. You see an opportunity to help your loved one. Picture it. Your best friend opens the birthday card you sent. She’s so happy to hear from you, and what’s even better, she finds a Gift Certificate!! Then, her heart sinks as she notices what it’s for. “Personal organizing service?,” she thinks, “I know my house is messy, but has it really gotten that bad? She thinks I need an intervention!? Who does she think she is!?” 

Obviously, your best friend, spouse, or daughter-in-law would NEVER react that way. (Ha ha.) But personally knowing that feeling of wanting to crawl under a rock after giving a less-than-tactful gift, I’d like to suggest some alternatives. 

When folks ask me if I do gift certificates for personal organizing services, I politely decline. While I completely trust that that person has the best intentions for their loved one, and I’m honored that they would entrust them to me, I also know that is not always a well-received gift. 

A better option I offer these kind and caring folk, would be to wait for a moment when your friend/spouse/daughter-in-law appears stressed or overwhelmed. Then you can gently mention that you know someone who helps folks in overwhelm get out from under it. Would they like to be connected? Please please please! Respect your friend/spouse/daughter-in-law’s answer. Folks who aren’t ready to work with an organizer won’t gain anything by forcing themselves. 

Also remember that just because YOU would be stressed in their situation doesn’t mean they are. Folks have all sorts of brains that thrive in all sorts of environments. 

Lastly, understanding the shame that some folks feel about organizing issues, it can be much easier if I reach out to them directly. However, I’ll obviously only do that with their say-so.

I wish everyone had a friend like you 😉