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How one family coped with Christmas catalog overload

Published December 28. 2009 05:00PM

Every Christmas, coffee tables across America get buried under catalogs.

They cover countertops, fill baskets and stack up on shelves. A single online purchase seems to launch a new onslaught.

Seann Rooney found an ingenious way to cope with the catalog tsunami.

Rooney, a community planning consultant, and his wife, Angie Tate, live in Walnut Grove, Calif., with their three children.

They enjoy shopping from home, but last holiday season, that computerized convenience landed them on mailing lists for scores of catalogs.

"We were so fed up ... we decided to collect the catalogs from September through the holidays, and collected hundreds," Rooney says.

"It was so incredible that we had an iron artist build us a 6-foot stand that we could use to display the catalogs."

They made a hole in the center of each catalog and slid it onto the center rod. Before December began, the rod was full.

"Our friends were amused ... and alarmed," Rooney says. "We almost literally have a tree of catalogs in our living room."

Based on an average of 12 catalogs per inch, the catalog tree boasts at least 864 catalogs and weighs about 180 pounds, not including the iron frame.

"Sure, it was a bit of an environmental-political statement," Rooney says.

"And it led us to trying to do something about it. (After Christmas) we spent the next three months trying to get removed from every mailing list. In short, it worked for about four months."

The catalogs started coming again, and this season, the family has a second stack growing by the day.

"It will probably be taller than the first," Rooney says. "It took a dolly to move (that one)."

For folks trying to get off catalog lists, Rooney recommends the Web site "This has saved us," he says, "at least our sanity."

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