I'm not a hoarder.

But I get tempted.

And I bet you do, too.

Let's discuss — but I'm going to avoid using the verb hoard, since that's so judgy.

Instead I'll say retain.

As in I retain water, which used to be my excuse for an extra five pounds. Like I'm a swimming pool with legs.

Then I would say I was bloated instead of chubby.

Words can be magical, can't they?

Anyway, as I got older, I started to hate clutter and I threw out a lot of stuff, so my house looks neater.

I even have a mantra: When in doubt, throw it out.

But there are four categories of things that I cannot bring myself to throw out, which might fall within the technical definition of hoarding, if you're the judgmental type.

If you're not, read on.

The first is the spare-button-and-matching-thread packet that comes with a new piece of clothing.

I retain all those packets.

I can't throw them away.

Yet I have never used one, ever.

Usually it's sweaters that come with matching threads, and I save each of those, too, as if I'm going to start darning.

Leave aside the fact that I don't know how to darn, and if I had a sweater that developed a hole, I wouldn't have any idea how to sew it so it looked seamless.

And I don't even feel bad about that.

Guess what — I don't churn my own butter, either.

Why do I save the spare-button-and-matching-thread packets?

Because of my other mantra: You never know.

You never know is a terrible justification for anything, but I use it all the time.

My second group of hoarded/retained items is gift bags.

First, whoever invented the gift bag is a genius.

Wrapping a gift is annoying, and the only thing more annoying is carrying home rolls of wrapping paper, where they will — guaranteed — slide out of your bag like a gaily colored logjam.

When the gift bag was invented, I hopped on it, fast.

I loved that you could throw a gift inside a bag and seem generally well-mannered as you handed it over.

Extra points for tissue paper, which I never have.

Newspaper doesn't count — not even the comics.

I'm not exactly sure why I can't give my gift in the bag from the store, but I assume that wouldn't prove my love to my friends.

So I spent three dollars on a gift bag.

Wow; that's a lot of love.

When people give me a gift bag, I cannot throw it away, so I have approximately 3,000 gift bags stuffed in other gift bags, just waiting for me to give out 3,000 gifts.

I don't have that many friends.

And last week, I gave one of my friends a gift in the very same gift bag that she had given me last year, which would be a new friendship low for me.

I didn't regift, I regift-bagged.

The final category of things I hoard/retain is boxes.

I love a good box.

If I get one, I can't throw it away.

There is so much to a box, much more than a box.

I sound like Dr. Seuss, but bear with me.

First off, you can put things in a box, and if it's a really good box, the things will keep forever.

I've had marriages that didn't last as long as a box.

I should have married a box.

But instead I married an inanimate object.

Secondly, if you put things inside a box, they won't show and will look neat.  In other words, you can hide things in a box.

How great is that?

That's why drawers are useful, and also cabinets you can't see through.

My kitchen has cabinets with glass fronts, and, believe me, they suck.

Because after I start shoving things inside, like recipes from the newspaper for dishes I'll never make, you can see the mess right through the window.

I save the recipes because you never know.

Except with the glass cabinet, you know.

That I'm a hoarder.

Sorry, a retainer.

And I'm sucker for a box from a fancy store.

Yes, I save snobby boxes.

I display them prominently in my bedroom to shore up my self-image and hide my mess.

For example, I keep my spare-button-and-matching-thread packets in a Chanel box.

That's high-rent hoarding, friends.

And I have an Hermes box that contains nothing but a Prada box.

Because you never know when you need a really pretentious box.

The final category of things I save but expressly do not hoard is the vase that flowers come in when someone sends you flowers.

Luckily for me, I don't get flowers that often.

But when I do, I keep the glass vase.

It's pretty, useful, and also free.

But recently I decided I have too many vases, and from now on, I'm going to make myself throw them away.

I can't let myself save something just because I got it free.

Even if you never know.


Because, sometimes, you know.

Look for Lisa and Francesca's new humor collection, "I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses," coming July 10, and Lisa's new Rosato & DiNunzio novel, "Feared," coming Aug. 14. Also, look for Lisa's number-one best-selling domestic thriller, "After Anna" in stores now. lisa@scottoline.com.