What your purse contents say about your homemaking style Your purse. It goes everywhere with you. Always by your side, it’s disguised as a fashion accessory. But what is it really? It’s a little piece of your home.

And what might surprise you is that its contents are saying a lot about you and your homemaking style.

“I’m thinking balls are to men, what purses are to women. It’s just a little bag but we’d feel naked in public without it.” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City Tweet This.

Learn about your homemaking style by taking a peek into your purse.

If your purse contains: Hand sanitizer

It means: Cleanliness (not just tidyness) is important to you. In your home, you should: Trust yourself. Trust your instincts when it comes to cleaning. If something is dirty, you’re likely to notice. So let yourself throw away the cleaning schedule that’s always taunting you and making your feel guilty, and trust yourself to knock out the germs and filth as appropriate. Read more about trusting your intuition, being present, and cleaning in this beautiful post by Josie Huang at elephant journal.

If your purse contains: Multiple pens or writing instruments

It means: If one is good, more is better, right? In your home, you should:  Maybe it’s time to scour the house for extra pairs of scissors, redundant spatulas or wooden spoons, multiple hairbrushes, and…well…pens in various states of dried-up-ness. Declutter all but your very favorites. If you designate one specific home for each item, you’ll be able to find it in seconds. You won’t need duplicates to be scattered around like confetti at a kid’s birthday party anymore. Andrew J. Mellen, professional organizer and author of Unstuff Your Life says,

“One Home For Everything means exactly that – everything has one home and only one home.”

If you designate one specific home for each item, you’ll be able to find it in seconds. You won’t need duplicates anymore. Tweet this.


If your purse contains: Mints or gum

It means: You notice lovely scents and horrible odors everywhere you go. In your home, you should: Ditch the chemical air fresheners and “refresher sprays” (addicted to Febreeze?) for good. Open the windows to let in some fresh air. Learn to use essential oils around your home, to replace scented cleaning products, body perfumes, and air fresheners. You already know that scent is important. Aromatherapy is so powerful, and once you learn how each essential oil makes you feel, mixing your own scents for various moods is a lot of fun.

If your purse contains: Feminine hygiene products, even though it’s not “that time of the month”

It means: Were you a Girl Scout? You’ve taken “Be prepared” to heart. In your home, you should: It’s time to turn a critical eye to all of the things you’re storing in your home “just in case.” Preparing for a hurricane or earthquake makes sense, depending on your location and the time of year. Having a car emergency kit is a no-brainer. But preparing for every store everywhere to run out of deodorant is probably a bit of a stretch.

“Be Prepared” – Every Girl Scout ever Tweet this.


If your purse contains: Receipts and scraps of paper

It means: You’re aware that you need to save some papers and notes, but you don’t have the best system.

In your home, you should: Have a plan for every piece of paper that comes through your door. When you take control of it, it can’t control you. A system for mail, a place to keep great ideas, files for work stuff and tax documents, a place for business cards and return addresses, and a plan for all of the kids’ school stuff and artwork.


Have a plan for every paper that comes through your door. When you take control of it, it can’t control you. Tweet this.


The contents of your purse are saying a lot about your homemaking style.If your purse contains: Makeup or Jewelry

It means: Outward appearance is something you notice and appreciate. In your home, you should: Make sure not to over-decorate. Just as Coco Chanel advises ladies to remove one accessory before leaving the house, scaling back the home decor can keep your home looking lovely, not overdone. Declutter a few tchotchkes, remove a picture frame or two, maybe choose placemats or a centerpiece (but not both) in the dining room. When you remove the things that don’t mean as much to you, the remaining items take center stage. Joshua Becker of BecomingMinimalist.com goes even further, suggesting,

Halve decorations. No seriously, I mean it. Grab a box and walk through your living room. Remove decorations from shelves, tables, and walls that aren’t absolutely beautiful or meaningful. You may like it better than you think. If not, you can always put them back.”


“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Coco Chanel Tweet this.


If your purse contains: Zipper bags, containers, and organizers

It means: You’re into organizing. You want to keep similar objects together, and you want everything contained. In your home, you should: Remember to use containers, bags, boxes, and baskets as tools to help you organize. Resist buying them until you know exactly what size/shape/style you need for holding a certain category of object. Organizing is great, but the paraphernalia of organizing can easily become clutter if you aren’t careful. Matt Baier of ClutterGuys podcast (and professional organizer) is on board with my thoughts about containers, saying,

“When you buy the plastic bins first, you might not have enough, you might have too many, and they might be the wrong shapes and sizes. You just don’t know.”

Organizing is great, but the paraphernalia of organizing can easily become clutter if you aren’t careful. Tweet this.


If your purse contains: Food

It means: Maybe you have a special diet or you want to be sure you can steer clear of fast food if you (or the kids) get hungry while you’re out and about. Either way, you don’t want to be caught off-guard with a growling stomach. In your home, you should: Create a weekly menu in order to avoid being stuck without a plan. There are a lot of different styles of menu planning, so there’s definitely one that will fit your personality and schedule.

She had the loaded handbag of someone who camps out and seldom goes home, or who imagines life must be full of emergencies. – Mavis Gallant Tweet this.


If your purse contains: A diaper

It means: You have a baby or toddler. Right? I hope? In your home, you should: Remember that kids need love, not stuff. You can never replace your presence with presents. Spend less money on toys and clothes for your children, and you’ll have more time and space for making memories. Live freely with less. Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net writes about how to embrace minimalism with kids (he has 6),

“In the case of Christmas gifts, we were going to save the money we would have spent on useless things they didn’t need … and use it for really fun experiences. We’ve gone to water parks or taken family vacations, as our holiday gift to the kids, instead of buying toys.”

Remember that kids need love, not stuff. You can never replace your presence with presents. Tweet this.


If your purse contains: Nail file, nail clippers, or tweezers

It means: You want to take care of small issues (a torn fingernail, a splinter, a rogue eyebrow hair) as soon as you notice them. In your home, you should: Make sure you have an easily-accessible tool kit and medical emergency kit. You don’t need the ultra-mega-uber kits with 1027 pieces. Just the basics, stored together in a place you can access without digging through clutter. This way, when you notice a loose drawer knob or a wobbly table leg, you’ll be able to fix them right away instead of letting them bother you for months. For some inspiration, check out Tami’s organized tools at I Heart Organizing. Jen Jones says,

She organized her tools.  In her garage.  And did it by adding style.  My kind of girl.  My kind of project.”

If your purse contains: A camera or printed photographs

It means: Capturing and re-living memories is important to you. In your home, you should: Display your favorite photographs and memorabilia in areas where you can enjoy them every day. Get rid of decor that doesn’t have any sort of special meaning. When you remove the “noise,” your family memories will be in the spotlight. Jennifer Borget of Baby Making Machine discusses her favorite methods of displaying photographs, including one really innovative way you may not have heard of or seen before. She writes,

“No lie, I’m blown away. I even got teary eyed as I unrolled his huge display. Even my husband who is VERY hard to impress, is in awe. They’re all photos I’ve taken. Photos that woulda taken who knows how long to get hung on my wall. To be honest, I probably never would have gotten them all up, much less as beautifully organized.”

A woman’s mind is as complex as the contents of her handbag; even when you get to the bottom of it, there is ALWAYS something to surprise you! -Billy Connolly Tweet this.


Make a purse-based homemaking plan today.

15 minutes is all it takes to get started decluttering, organizing, and homemaking If your purse contained everything I listed above, you might not be ready to implement all of the purse-based changes in your home right away. That’s okay. Just choose two or three of the suggestions above to implement this week. Write down your goals (remember, just two or three at first). Each day, set your timer for 15 or 20 minutes, and work on one implementing one of those changes. Stay focused! Even if you don’t finish everything, you’ll have made progress. Before you know it, you’ll start to notice a big difference in your home… …and in your purse.

What was in your purse? Did I hit the nail on the head? Or was I totally off?

Share your purse-based homemaking insights in the comments.

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  1. The cleanliness, just in case, and capturing memories all hit home here. That pretty much nails all I have in my purse besides my phone and wallet 🙂

    My husband and I always differ our opinion on something, and it sort of hits for me in your blog post. He always thinks we have too much stuff in our house (son of an undiagnosed hoarder), whereas I am okay with some stuff (not too much), but want the house to be clean. Just last week, as I was scrubbing the bathroom sink while muttering under my breath that I feel like we live like animals, he tells me we should be getting rid of all the extra stuff. I don’t know which way is the right way, but I’d rather be cluttered than dirty. I can see past the toys, books, stack of bills to be paid, but can’t see past the dirt. Thoughts from you on that?

    • I used to have piles of things everywhere… never anywhere near hoarder-levels unless you peeked into my “office” (junk room) in our old house. I was constantly trying to tidy things so that I could get to the actual cleaning. Now, I’ve decluttered SO MUCH stuff that I can actually do the cleaning I want to, easily and quickly.

      So basically, I’m with both of you. I totally agree with you on the filth factor… I do NOT want to be cooking in a layer of grime in my kitchen, or slipping on mildew in the bathtub. But owning less means that it’s far easier to maintain cleanliness. Have you read my ebook yet? It might help you find a good place to start.

  2. You hit that nail so hard! Paper and receipts are my BIGGEST area of downfall. I have to clean up before school starts so I can start the paper stacks over again!

    • Sounds like a plan! Do you have a way to manage the papers that come in from school? I have a school file for “official” stuff and then a schoolwork file for each kiddo. I just drop the new stuff into the front of the file when they bring it home. Before school starts again, I’m going to go through it, photograph things, and make a book of the best work (or stuff that shows the most growth) from each of them. 🙂

      • That is what I aim to do. This year will be 1st grade though, so idk how I will handle it. I put all of it in a box all year long, then at the end of the year I weeded it out. I may do the book still and add some pix that I took throughout the whole year- first & last days, sports, Halloween, Christmas, Mardi Gras, etc.

  3. eeek–so accurate! Especially the be prepared one… Thanks!

  4. I think this has been my favorite post so far…and totally accurate (at least for me)!! Thanks for writing it! 🙂

  5. I only have one thing in this purse on my list. I carry gum, as I’m an ex smoker. My vice when I first quit was gum and it’s stuck. I don’t have air fresheners in my home though. 😉

  6. I disagree that if everything has a home then you do not need duplicates. If your one scissor breaks, then having a second on hand is nice. If you’re alone with all the kids and someone has a project due the next day, it’s not just nice – it’s necessary!

    Duplicates are also for the other members of your family who are not as good about returning things to their homes as you are. Only one scissor and your husband or child borrows it but does not return it to its place? If you have a second pair, you won’t need to get frustrated about their lack of responsibility.

    Duplicates are also great when you have duplicate people. Five kids doing a project together (not at all unusual in our home!) need more than one pair of scissors! Having enough to go around for everyone is not a waste!

    • How you define duplicates or excess is up to you though. If one pair of scissors per person in your household is the number that works for you, there ya go!

      Though if your husband won’t put them back where they belong, then later can’t find his own and swipes yours… you’re just as frustrated. And now there are two pairs of scissors floating around. So I try to get everyone on board with putting things back where they belong once they’re done. Kids, husband, self.

      Just as having more than one dish or bowl wouldn’t count as too many … same goes for scissors if you’re finding that your family uses multiple pairs simultaneously. I’m not trying to get you to throw things away if you need them. Just to think about what is actually needed and what is excess.

      • Then I guess we’re really on the same page 🙂
        I would love to hear more about how you enlist everyone in returning things to their places. It drives me crazy when others don’t, but I am far outnumbered by the other members of my household and cannot be on top of everyone at all times (nor do I want to be!).

        • With the kids, I know it sounds like it wouldn’t matter, but instead of saying “Please put this away,” I use the word “belong.” I’ll ask “Where does this belong?” or say, “Please put this where it belongs.” Then if they don’t know where it belongs, they will ask me, and I can show them. “Away” could mean anything… but everything only belongs in one place in our house. My 3-year-old daughter will now find things that aren’t where they belong and say, “Hey! Why is this on this table???” as she returns it to its home. It’s kind of amusing. She’s probably better about it than I am.

          With my husband, I help him out by using labels. He isn’t in the kitchen as much as I am, but he does empty the dishwasher in the morning before he goes to work. So if he wasn’t sure where something went, he would either shove it somewhere where it would fit, or leave it on the counter for me to put away. So I started labeling the edges of shelves, so that he would know what went where, and if something was in use, he wouldn’t fill that item’s spot with another thing.

          I kept finding his sunglasses everywhere, so I made a tray in our laundry room (where we come in from the garage) just for that purpose, and labeled it “Sunglasses.” Stuff like that… it works, and he likes it too, since he isn’t always searching for his sunglasses or feeling lost in his own kitchen.

          • Ooh. That’s good.

            I have to totally disagree on pens, though. For some reason they vanish, like socks get eaten in the wash. I don’t have a CLUE what happens to them, but I can seriously buy DOZENS of pens, and they just…disappear.

            Apart from that, when we have duplicates of something (that I consider to be a good use of duplicates, not just more junk), it’s for designated purposes or places. For instance, we do have a bunch of scissors, but they’re all designated. The kids each have their own pair of scissors. Daddy has a pair of scissors in his office. Mama has office scissors, kitchen scissors, and sewing scissors (all very *different* scissors, to serve different functions in different places). But we don’t (to my knowledge) have any “random” extra scissors floating around. I hope not, because if so the 16-month-old is the one who will manage to find them, I’m sure!

            Other items we don’t have so many “extras” of. Like the notorious spare-spare umbrella from the other post. 😉 I have ONE super-compact umbrella that lives in my diaper bag. That’s it. No other umbrella.

            (Although, I do have EVERYTHING from the list in this post in my bag, except the camera – which is often with me, anyway, just not in my bag. I’m pretty sure that means I just have too much crap.)

          • “I’m pretty sure that means I just have too much crap.”
            Hahahaha you found the one I missed! I love it.

            What is it with scissors, Rachel? I have a billion too. I think different ones for different purposes don’t really count as duplicates though, you know? I have some I prefer for snipping thread while I sew, a pair for cutting fabric, a couple of small pairs for the kids to use, a pair in the kitchen for food stuff, and so on.

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