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  • Writer's pictureBev

Managing Memorabilia

When I’m working with clients, one of the things I frequently encounter in the home or office is memorabilia. I’m referring to items from your family, childhood, kids and friends including:

  • family heirlooms such as china, jewelry and collectibles;

  • childhood mementos like yearbooks, souvenirs, books and collections;

  • clothing, artwork, crafts, school papers, or toys from our children;

  • gifts we have received from friends and family over the years.

These are the most difficult items to organize for several reasons. They’re usually packed with emotion and therefore difficult to let go of. Sometimes we feel obligated to keep them in honor of the person who gave them to us. As a result, we postpone decision-making because it’s difficult. Moreover, this stuff takes up space we could use more effectively. So what can we do with it? Here are some ideas to manage your memorabilia.

  1. Keep only what you love! Let go of items you retain out of guilt. Be thankful for the joy it once gave you and pass it along for someone else to enjoy. You may be able to sell some valuable items (like antique furniture, china, silver) or there are many charitable organizations you can make donations to. This will eliminate clutter and make room in your life to celebrate the things that currently bring you joy.

  2. Slim large collections down. Perhaps you’ve inherited sets of china that you don’t intend to use but they have some sentimental value. Save a few special pieces such as a plate, serving bowl, and teacup & saucer. Rather than storing away in a box, put these few pieces on display so you can enjoy the memories they bring you.

  3. Along that line, find a way to view and enjoy your memorabilia. There are endless ways to display them. Mount precious items in a shadow box on the wall. Photograph children’s artwork and crafts to create a bound picture book (check out, or on the web). Display mementos and curios in cabinets or on shelves. Enjoy them!

  4. Contain paper keepsakes in a special box. Last year I wrote a blog about managing paper keepsakes such as greeting cards, ticket stubs, postcards, notes or letters. These items often lack a “home” and find themselves in random locations throughout the house in drawers, desks, cabinets and shelves. Create or purchase a special “keepsake” box to store these items in. I call it my “feel good” box because it contains only items that touch my heart. Keep in mind that this is not for every note, card and letter you receive – only the ones that are special or meaningful to you.

  5. Change your buying habits around souvenirs and trinkets. Release yourself from the need to purchase a memento from every trip or special occasion. Consider how you will use and display the item. These things often end up in drawers and we feel the obligation to keep them, as if the item contains the memory. If you must, purchase things you will use such as a t-shirt, or something useful like a serving dish you have need of and a place to store. When you’re finished using the item, let it go to keep clutter under control.

Consistent with professional organizing principles, only keep memorabilia you use and love. Eliminate that which causes you distress. Display those that are meaningful. I’d love to hear any success stories or methods you’ve found to manage your memorabilia!


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