Today's mission is to declutter memorabilia and keepsakes from your home, but don't panic when you read this, I don't think you should get rid of all of these things.
Instead, in this article I will help you determine for yourself how much room you've got for these types of items in your home, and then how to winnow it down to get rid of the excess so you're only saving the amount you have room for in your home, and that has the most sentimental value.
What Are Keepsakes & Memorabilia?
A lot of things can be classified as keepsakes and memorabilia, such as small souvenirs or trinkets, and tokens of affection or remembrance. Examples include old letters and postcards, ticket stubs, scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, a lock of baby’s hair, a napkin from a wedding, a dried flower, and much much more.
In this article and this mission I’m specifically referring to mostly papers and small items for you to focus on, like things you’d place in a memory or keepsakes box, but honestly you focus on whatever you’ve got. The reason I’ll be using papers and small items as examples is because we’ve got other missions as part of the Declutter 365 missions that focus on some other items that also could be considered keepsakes and memorabilia, including:
The discussion below will help you declutter any of these types of items, but know that we’ll tackle some of those specific things in other missions, if you’re following along daily. You can wait to deal with photos, or jewelry, or collectibles, or whatever else is on the list later so the whole task of dealing with your keepsakes doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Today, instead focus on items that fit the smaller criteria I mentioned.
Decluttering These Items Requires You To Deal With Emotions About Sentimental Clutter
When focusing on this mission more than dealing with the actual objects and papers themselves you’ll really be wrestling with your own emotions when deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. It can be tough, no doubt, because you kept this stuff for a reason, it meant something to you.
The first thing you’ve got to tackle when decluttering keepsakes and memorabilia is deciding how much space you have in both your home and in your heart for these types of items. There is nothing wrong with keeping some of this stuff, and in fact, it’s wonderful to save some of it. I definitely don’t think all keepsakes and memorabilia are clutter. Instead, keeping some is important to help you feel some connections to the past that you want to remember.
However, if you’ve got a lot of sentimental clutter, like memorabilia and keepsakes, practically the specialness of each item is diluted because of having too much. You’ve got to have both room in your home for storing these keepsakes, and room in your heart to get them out, somewhat regularly, to enjoy and appreciate them, or you might as well not have them.
As I stated in my article linked above, about the emotions that keep you holding onto clutter, this is where actions, in my opinion, speak louder than words. If these items aren’t important enough for you to display proudly, or to be kept in a special place that you can access easily, and relatively frequently (at least once a year) then you need to consider whether it is as sentimental to you as you say it is. Things we love and cherish we take time to store properly, and then to look at periodically and enjoy. If you have too much memorabilia to do that, then some of it is clutter and you should get rid of the stuff that is holding you back from enjoying the truly special stuff.
Figuring out how much room you’ve got for these types of items in both your home and heart are very personal questions that only you can know the answer to, ultimately. However, anything that brings up negative emotions instead of something more positive is a much bigger candidate for decluttering. Of course, even things that have more neutral or even positive emotions attached may still need to be decluttered if you just have too much, but if you’re looking for any easy place to begin decluttering it is often best to start with the stuff that is weighing your down emotionally.
When it’s time to declutter some of your old keepsakes and memorabilia the first step is to be emotionally prepared.
Second, many people (including me) have already somewhat sorted and contained their memorabilia, keeping it in keepsake boxes, like from a wedding, a baby box, or from high school, for example, so just go through one of these boxes or piles of items at a time, because you don’t want to get overwhelmed. You definitely don’t want to spread it all out and then not have time to adequately sort through everything.
As always I suggest working 15 minutes at a time, giving yourself permission to stop, if you feel like it, when the time period is up. Make sure though you give yourself adequate time to clean up so you’ve not made a mess when you do stop.
Sometimes 15 minutes is all you can take at once when tackling the task, and other times you start to get on a roll. The first item is always the hardest to declutter, and it gets easier after that, so if you have time and are on a roll you may want to consider keeping going while you have momentum, always in 15 minute increments.
It is very important, with all decluttering, but especially with these types of items, to go ahead and get them out of your house quickly, by putting them in the trash or recycling bin, or whatever other method of disposal you will use, once you’ve made your decisions, so you don’t second-guess yourself.
After doing this task many people tell me how they feel so much more emotionally free and less heavy, like they’ve gotten rid of stuff they didn’t even remember or care about and wasn’t actually sentimental at all, and also let go of negative emotions that had been holding them back. Sometimes the sentimental stuff, and keepsakes, aren’t actually making us happy at all, but holding us back. Only keep the good stuff (that you have room for!)
Strategies To Help You Get Rid Of Keepsakes & Tokens
Here are some strategies to help you declutter excess memorabilia and keepsakes from your home and life. Use which ever ones will work for you, in your situation:
Limit yourself to a certain amount of space or storage, and then only keep that amount of stuff.
Decide, ahead of time, how much space you’ll devote to memorabilia and keepsakes and then stick to it. Typically this strategy works best when you’ve got some type of container to store items in, and you can only keep what will fill up that box or container, and then the rest will have to go. That helps you prioritize and decide what is most important and to give yourself permission to let go of the rest.
Display some of the items instead of storing them.
Instead of keeping things hidden away, if it brings you a happy memory use it as part of your decorating instead. One example of this that I love is the idea of framing and displaying certain objects, such as a wedding napkin, or one of your grandmother’s handwritten recipe cards. You’ll enjoy it more if you get to see it often than stuffed into a box. (Please note this strategy could be taken to extremes, and I’m not suggesting displaying every nicknack you’ve got.)
Take a photo and discard the bulkier object.
Sometimes a keepsake is really big, such as a large piece of your child’s art, for example, and you can remember and smile at the memory just as well from a photo, while taking up a LOT less room.
Save one thing representative of the event, person, or memory, instead of all of them.
Sometimes you really want to keep something, to help recall a specific memory, but if you can do that through one representative item, while getting rid of the rest of them, this can help you with excess clutter while still allowing you the positives of keeping one keepsake.
Pass along items to others who would appreciate them.
If you’ve got a whole lot of items, for example, from a deceased loved one, it may be too much for you to have it all in your home, but passing on some of these items to others who also loved that person can help you get rid of excess stuff, while also allowing others to treasure something special to help remember that loved one.
Good luck with this mission, it can be a tough one, but can also be a really positive experience for you. Below I’ve got a photo from a reader whose already done this mission, showing her results, to get you motivated to do it for yourself. Scroll down to check it out.
Are You Ready To Declutter Your Keepsakes & Memorabilia?
I know it can be tough, but you can do it.
To give you a bit of inspiration, here's a photo sent in by a reader, Elisabeth, who has already done this mission. She stated, "I went through my memorabilia the other week and condensed it from two overflowing boxes and a stuffed crate to a partially empty crate for the papers and a box for the trinkets. That felt good!!"
You can do it too! And once you do it, make sure to show me what you've accomplished!
Are You Ready To Declutter Your Home?
I hope seeing these pictures and these tips have inspired you to get rid of excess keepsakes and souvenirs.
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!