Inside: Learn why millennials don’t want stuff and what to do when your kids don’t want your stuff.

If you’re the parent of a millennial, I’ve got some bad news.

They don’t want your stuff.

If you have plans to gift your children your antique furniture, fancy dishes and flatware, or your beloved collections, it’s time to reconsider those plans. Because chances are good that your kids don’t want your stuff.

Instead of buying larger and larger homes, many millennials are renting smaller spaces close to urban areas. And instead of filling their homes with stuff, many prefer to fill their lives with experiences and adventures.

Why are millennials rejecting prized family possessions?

Keep reading to learn why!

millennials don't want stuff

Why Are Millennials Refusing Treasured Family Possessions?

As a parent, it can’t be easy to accept the fact that your kids don’t want your treasured family heirlooms.

These things may have been passed down through generations. They may have survived historical moments – and pivotal moments in your family history. 

Those things have meaning. They hold memories. They’re important.

Well, they’re important to you.

Your millennial kids may have other feelings about them.

Younger generations care less about stuff.

It’s true. Kids these days – broadly speaking – have grown up with the world at their fingertips through the Internet.

They can access photos and videos of cherished memories, their favorite songs and movies, and the answer to virtually any question they could ask via the Internet.

They no longer need stacks of VHS tapes and shelves filled with photo albums. They’ve moved beyond CDs and home editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Instead, they’ve embraced a modern, clean aesthetic. And they’ve decided to place more importance on making memories than collecting stuff to fill their homes – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

millennials don't want stuff

Millennials Don’t Want Heirlooms. What’s On The List?

Unfortunately, quite a few things seem to fall into the “No, thanks!” pile for many millennials. If you’re trying to get rid of any of the following, bad news – your kids probably won’t want these:

  • Wedding dresses. Sorry, Mom. She probably doesn’t want to wear your vintage wedding gown down the aisle when she gets married. Styles change, and unless you’ve picked a true classic, chances are she’d rather get a dress of her choosing.
  • Dinnerware of all kinds. Fine china, crystal stemware, silver-plated serving pieces, and other items intended to impress the guests aren’t really on-trend anymore. They take more effort to wash and who has the room to store all of that extra stuff?
  • Dark, heavy, antique furniture. Your millennial son or daughter doesn’t want your curio cabinet, entertainment center, or 300-pound coffee table. 
  • Antique dolls or figurine collections. While some collectible items never go out of fashion, some do. Your antique dolls and figurines may win you big points at an antique auction, but your kids don’t want to inherit your collection.
  • Steamer trunks or suitcases. Luggage has made some serious progress over the last few decades. While old luggage is certainly reliable and sturdy, the suitcases on the market today are lightweight, durable, and easy to navigate through a busy airport. 
  • Sewing machines and film projectors. Unless your millennial has embraced a sewing hobby, they probably don’t want to house your old sewing machine for nostalgia’s sake. And there’s a good chance they wouldn’t even know what to do with a film projector.

Why Millennials Don’t Want Stuff

Why don’t millennials want your stuff?

It may not be obvious at first, but there are a few reasons that they may pass on your prized belongings when given the chance to take them. 

Stuff Depreciates and Creates Clutter

While the things around your home may grow in sentiment over the years, they probably aren’t growing in value. Unless you collect fine art or antiques, most of your stuff is, well, just stuff.

Your millennial kids may hesitate to take it in because they can see that a bit more clearly. Without any sentimental value or monetary value, it may not be a very appealing idea.

Stuff can also pile up quickly, especially in small spaces. Most millennials are living in smaller homes and apartments, not McMansions.

Stuff can quickly accumulate, leading to clutter, which can be very overwhelming.

Styles and preferences have changed over the years as well. While some millennials may love the midcentury modern style, others want something more contemporary.

They Don’t Have Enough Storage Space

Another big reason your millennials don’t want your stuff?

They have nowhere to put it.

Some millennials have chosen to take up smaller living arrangements than their parents; others simply can’t afford a larger space due to the rising cost of living.

But many millennials simply don’t have enough storage space to accommodate the furniture and collections you’d like to give them.

They’re renting apartments and buying starter homes – not spaces with basements, attics, and plenty of closets. 

Experiences Matter Most to Millennials

It’s not just a matter of having the space.

For many millennials, experiences are more important than anything else. Instead of spending money on things, or adding more stuff to their home, they would rather enrich their lives through experiences and making memories

Millennials value grabbing dinner with friends, going to concerts and comedy shows, and taking vacations – not spending more time on the weekends dusting and cleaning the stuff in their houses.

millennials don't want stuff

Millennials Value Freedom in Life – Not Belongings

Many millennials consider travel and freedom a priority. It’s become more common to choose simpler lifestyles.

Some millennials are opting to convert school buses and vans into livable spaces, or to buy an RV and travel the nation.

Some take it a step further, choosing to travel full-time around the globe. 

Others don’t travel as much as they’d like – but they want the flexibility and freedom to do so if they decide they want to.

The more stuff you have, the more difficult it can be to embrace that sense of freedom. You can’t just pick up and go.

You can’t just sell your stuff and travel. You’ve got a house full of things you need to make arrangements for instead, which can be a big barrier.

Which is why many millennials don’t want stuff.

What Do Baby Boomers Do With All This Stuff?

So, what should baby boomers do with all of their stuff? If you can’t give it to your children, what can you do?

Luckily, you have options. You aren’t stuck with it forever, and you don’t have to just throw it away. Instead, you can…

Have honest conversations with family.

The best way to figure out if your kids want your stuff? Ask them! An honest conversation can go a long way.

Just make sure you let them know that they can be honest. Tell them it’s OK to say no. Your kids may not know how to tell you nicely that they just don’t want your stuff.

millennials don't want stuff

Declutter what you don’t want. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you own and you can’t find family or friends to take it off your hands, get rid of it!

Find someone else who will treasure it like you do. Sell it – online, at a yard sale, or at an auction – or donate it to someone in your local Buy Nothing group or to a local charity.

Spend some time decluttering your home. You’ll be amazed to see just how much lighter you feel. 

Decluttering is a gift to yourself, your family, and your loved ones.

When parents push their stuff on their children, it can cause more anxiety than intended.

Sorry, parents. Millennials don’t want your stuff.

They may struggle to tell you. They may not even be able to – leaving them with tons of stuff they don’t want and a healthy helping of anxiety to boot.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.,

By encouraging an honest conversation with your millennial kids about whether or not they want your stuff, and finding other ways to pass along that legacy and family history, everyone will end up happier.

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4 Comments

  1. This article is so important Julianna! We moved in with my parents during the pandemic. They were not only keeping their lifetime full of stuff but also my grandmothers stuff! Our house was so full and they kept trying to give it to me as a solution. I accepted some useful items but most things I moved along through Facebook marketplace. I helped them realize that sentimentality in a dusty box in the garage isn’t getting anyone anywhere but cramped and stressed.
    I am not quite a millennial, I’m a bit older than that, but I value freedom and time over anything and I don’t want stuff weighing me down. I actually like having simple kinda cheap things that are easy to drop if I need to. If anything the pandemic has taught me more so that flexibility is security and having a bunch of stuff is like being chained to the railroad tracks.

  2. Several years ago I bought composition books in four different colors for our four grown children. I asked them to list the things in our home that they wanted with the understanding that if no one wanted it, I could get rid of it as I saw fit. I then copied the lists from the four books into my black master book.

    The kids are free to add things and hope it isn’t gone yet. They don’t have to be concerned that a sibling has also asked for it – they can duke it out after I’ve gone. The point is that I know what I can part with and what I shouldn’t. I may keep a few things they don’t want – and they will have to dispose of after I’m gone, but I shouldn’t have to fee like I am the caretaker for family heirlooms that no one considers important!

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