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How To Declutter Memorabilia & Keepsakes

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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?

How to declutter memorabilia and keepsakes, including how to deal with the emotions of sentimental clutter and strategies to use when getting rid of some of these items {on Home Storage Solutions 101} #Declutter #SentimentalClutter #Declutteringuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
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.

There are a lot of emotional reasons we keep things in our home that are clutter, and sentimentality
is one of them. You can read my article here about letting go of some of the emotions which are keeping you chained to your clutter, so you can break free. Sentimental clutter is, quite literally, the first thing I discuss for a reason.

How Much Room Do You Have In Your Home & Heart?

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.

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Strategies For How To Declutter Sentimental Items

Strategies for how to declutter sentimental items, so you keep what your home and heart can keep, but get rid of the rest that is holding you back or takes up too much room in your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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.

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Are You Ready To Declutter Your Keepsakes & Memorabilia?

How to declutter memorabilia and keepsakes to get it down to a manageable amount that allows you to keep good memories without taking up too much space in your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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!

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

Get This Sentimental Items Decluttering Checklist + 32 Other Decluttering Checklists For Your Home

Right now you're decluttering sentimental items from your home, and it's one of the hardest categories to work through. Make sure to take your time with these items, while using this checklist to make sure you don't forget about anything.

Get your 1 page sentimental items decluttering checklist, plus 32 other decluttering checklists, to help you declutter your entire home here.

Get this sentimental items decluttering checklist and 32 other decluttering checklists for your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

I've done the hard work of breaking down these tasks into smaller more manageable steps for you, so you don't get overwhelmed or worry you're forgetting a task, and you can go at the pace you want, whether that's fast or slow.

In addition, you can tackle these decluttering tasks in whatever order you want when you use these checklists!

Click here to learn more about 33 Decluttering Checklists Pack

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Your Clutter Hall Of Fame

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Comments for Are You Ready To Declutter Your Keepsakes & Memorabilia?

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Family keepsakes
by: Carol Weldon

I've had to start thinking about where family keepsakes will go due to the fact that neither of my children seem interested.
Great grandfather's Bible with notes
Grandfather's college track medal
etc etc

I don't think throwing them away is right so I've started thinking outside the box. Would the college that he went to or historical society where they lived be interested?

Sentimental items and heirlooms
by: Debbie

I have a lot of sentimental items and heirlooms. I use and display many of them. I wear my great grandmother's jewelry, especially her engagement ring. Recently I had to get rid of my grandmother's dining set. It broke my heart. Fortunately I was able to save the buffet, but the table and chairs had to go. I used it for 30 years, then we moved and had to combine two houses. We just had no place for it nor did it fit with the decor or use as an everyday table. I do have her kitchen table and use that to wrap Christmas presents every year. I have and use kitchen equipment and dishes from both my grandmothers and great grandmother.

Yes to Historical Society
by: Kitty

I just read the comment about giving a family Bible to a historical society. Yes, please do, you never know how much this could be used and appreciated! In doing family research any and all information is appreciated! Best of luck to you in your organizing and decluttering!

here's what my husband and I do
by: Anonymous

My husband and I have adopted a way to declutter keepsakes and memorabilia. It's easier if the item is about to fall apart or something like that. We tell each other what the item meant to us and then we can toss it. It really helps!

Thank you
by: Anonymous

Excellent post. Thank you. Lots to think about.

Photo journaling old keepsakes
by: Anonymous

I have a journaling app that allows you to attach photos. You can also tag entries with any sort of word to categorize entries, such as "memorabilia" or "London."

So, if I am decluttering memorabilia, I will take a photo of the item and describe it as fully as I can remember with names, dates and why the particular item is so important to the memory. Then I feel much better when the item is repurposed, given away or discarded.

This method is just a variation of the photo logging described in the article, but allows me to add my memories and feelings (while I can still remember them LOL). When I revisit the entry, any photo(s) serves as the visual trigger and the journal entry fills in the details.

If I am traveling, I will make a journal entry for each day and add relevant photos. Instant travelogue while everything is fresh on my mind! I have access to the app on my desktop computer, phone and tablet and all sync to the cloud as a safety net.

Local archives
by: Ellen

Please consider your local historical society as the recipient for family items you choose to discard.

Christmas Finds
by: Anonymous

Several large losses in my family in the last 2 years and I've acquired even more sentimental stuff. I have many sentimental small trinkets that I have a hard time parting with. The larger stuff was almost easier to part with. Christmas was/is hard. But now on my tree, there are new treasures. I have converted some of my memories and trinkets into ornaments. If it's small enough to hang, it's now an ornament. Or just tucked into the branches. My Grandmother's first shoe, circa 1910 complete with a handwritten note from her inside, hangs on the tree. A zoo key from childhood, a crystal from a chandelier, yep they're hanging there on the tree. A cork pop-gun from my father, Lucky Louie lures with corks in the hooks, the silver spoon from the doctor who delivered my daughter, pictures, postcards, letters rolled up and ribbons, they're all there on my tree now. It gives me the chance to look at them and remember them every year. I've had to add to them a lot this past year. Next year will be hard too. But Mom's gaudy 1970s brooches, a train whistle in remembrance of my sister, and a Cracker Jack sailor from a friend and Navy sailor friend will all be on my tree too. So they may be gone. But - (tears) they are small trinkets and have earned a place in my heart and on my tree.

Old yearbooks
by: Donna Chapman

Please send your old yearbooks to! I mailed all mine to them and I still get to see them.

my biggest obstacle is me
by: Anonymous

I've been getting rid of "stuff"--When I have a box with old school items-my kids say toss. So I did. When I ask about pictures--they say to toss. I kept some, and have some ready to give to sisters, although some are the same as pictures they are storing that my Mom had. I do put trinkets in the donate box--places like goodwill do put them out to sell. Some go into the discard box--my kids aren't interested.

So, my biggest obstacle is me. I do have a sister who would gladly take everything--but I hate enabling her hoarding. I think there are some nieces who have expressed interest in items that came from my Mom or my Grandmothers.

Decluttering to prepare for son
by: Khendra

I just did some decluttering to prepare for my son (37 weeks pregnant). My mom passed away in 2018, and she hoarded a bunch of family stuff. My dad and my older half sister and I went through and decluttered a bunch back then in 2018, but I found I still took on a bit too much of it when I recently went through the closet that will be part of my impending son's room. The hardest part was going through my older brother's stuff. He would have been my son's only full uncle on the maternal side, but he died tragically in 1997 when he was a teenager. Mom had big hopes and dreams for him and held on fiercely to a lot of his memories in particular because of that. Despite some challenges, I went through more of his keepsakes today and managed to clear a bunch more closet space for my son's room. Thankfully my husband hasn't collected too many family keepsakes of his own, so that makes it easier. This is really more for me since I doubt my son will be especially interested in an uncle he was never able to meet or know. I think I have just enough of my brother's stuff now as a memory mostly for me, and if my son wants to learn about or keep any of it when he gets older, and as I near my own passing, it's all up to him as to what he decides to do with it. I've made peace with all that.

Travel memories
by: Ren

I travel to wonderful places, and I've always loved bringing back a piece of art paintings, sculptures) or folk art (carvings, clothing, knick knacks.)

As I've gotten older, I realize that someone will one day have to dispose of these cherished items - which are cherished only by me. And I've no more display space, not even for paintings on the walls! Plus, while I once loved to bring back small items as gifts, I've realized that the memory of that artisan or that exotic garden holds meaning only for me. To a friend or family member, it may be an instant garage sale item!

Now I buy only things I can use and use up. In Japan, I learned that small homes mean: give only gifts that can be eaten, like local sweets or breads. In Australia and South Africa, I found beautiful dish towels and tea cloths with exotic artistic designs. Lovely, affordable, lightweight/packable & useful gifts for friends, family and myself - and beautiful on display in the kitchen or dining area when I am using them. I find these all over the world, and I don't need to feel guilty about figuring out where to put them after I bring them home!

Hope chests to give away heirloom items
by: Megumi

Having 3 daughters setting up housekeeping made the missions for decluttering china and silver very easy: hope "chests". Each daughter got a large cardboard box and an invitation to choose from my cupboards what she wanted/needed for her new home. Fortunately they have very different tastes, from each other and from me!

So now, instead of one very cluttered place, we have 4 suitably equipped and rather streamlined homes. Each girl has a few heirloom pieces to enjoy from the beginning, according to her taste, as well as more ordinary ones. As a bonus I have an excuse to use the "good dishes" more of the time, because that is about all I have left!

Shadow box frames
by: Anonymous

I have shadow box frames which is where I put all the little memorabilia from days out, holidays etc. like tickets, wristbands hotel door cards. All this stuff was just in a bag and was never looked at so now they hang in the hall and every time I go down/up stairs I see something different and when dusting I give the frame a little shake to move items around. I also had tons of baby stuff I kept and have now got a frame for each child on the wall as well with hospital bracelet, scan photo, lock of hair from first hair cut first outfit. I now have a space for these things and over the years can add items and once becomes full will then decide to remove items to replace with new ones or decide to add another frame but it's manageable and on show.

Help with letting go of Mementos
by: Anonymous

Mementos for me are paper items, e.g. playbills, informational sheets, like guides to historical sites.

I've kept them because they are happy memories and I like to be reminded of them.

I don't "need" them. I don't want to forget those experiences.

I'd appreciate suggestions of how to relinquish them.

Re-Home the good stuff
by: Mary

Warning my method is not cheap and it requires trips to the Post.

I have several generations of special family items that the current generation of family has no interest in. I hate the idea of these things in a miscellaneous pile at the Thrift but I also dislike the energy suck of trying to sell them.

On social media you can find people who collect and love these things - I reach out and Re-Home them so

grandmothers fox stole is with the Viking Festival folks

Mom’s yellow and orange high quality Tupperware lives in that bright colorful kitchen

Those vintage lace table cloths and crystal candle holders are used by a wedding reception vendor

Great Aunts commemorative spoons and PreWar made in Japan Dragonware are now part of someone’s treasured and DISPLAYED collections

The energy lift hearing from someone who really loves these things makes parting with them into a new type of sentimental memory.

Sometimes people want to reimburse me for postage and I say send a donation to my favorite charity instead.

Everything but memorabilia/photos are decluttered
by: Kim

I have been decluttering my home so my children will not have to do it or before I cannot do it because of age. I left the memorabilia/photos to the end. Like mentioned in the article it can become overwhelming sometimes. I like the 15 minutes at a time idea and I am going to try it. Also I have down time at work I am going to load a box and take it to work to declutter and sort when I am waiting for people to assist. I tried that with my home files and it worked great. Thanks for the ideas. Good Luck to everyone.

Memorabilia - lazy woman's scrapbook
by: Anonymous

My solution for incoming memorabilia - a manilla envelope labelled with the year. (movie ticket stubs, play program covers etc.) If we take a
significant trip that gets its own envelope. I did this once to start saving things for a scrapbook I never made, then realized it was enough just to have the envelope. :)

When my mom was in hospice a few years ago, I brought out the envelope from a family trip to Europe and we looked through all of the programs, dinner receipts etc. and had a wonderful time remembering the trip.

Before our latest trip, the envelope held all of our travel docs and had all reservations written on the front. We shoved every bit of paper in the envelope during the trip, and once we got home, I went through and cleaned out stuff that wasn't important, and we have one slightly bulgy manilla envelope of memories.

These envelopes go into a file drawer. If the drawer gets full, it's time to spend an evening reminiscing and tossing the things we no longer want to keep. The thinner envelope goes back in the drawer.

Collecting New Memorabilia
by: Vivian

Recently moved from a 3000+ Sq ft. house to a 700+ square ft. apt. Trying to figure out how to fit all into it from 40 ft storage unit. It isn't going to happen.

Currently on a small vacation to regain my life and wanting to purchase new memories, I decided that a KEY CHAIN would suffice and save me space and would work perfectly for my new mail box key. Plus save me a lot of space. In addition, I'm able to view daily. Only other memories include coffee to drink or chocolate to eat. Plus they'll be gone in a short period of time.

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