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You Can't Keep it All. How to Deal with Memorabilia

“Junk is the stuff of our lives.”

As I was cleaning out my attic the other day, I came across old birthday cards, my high school letter jacket, an outdated dress from my honeymoon and a collection of record albums – even though I have no turntable on which to play them!

Sentimental objects like these instantly stir up fond memories from years ago and transport us back in time. Sometimes we hang onto things because of the person who gave it to us. We may even remember the specific day we got it. It’s common to hold onto mementos like these. These are things we treasure and can’t imagine letting go because they have become a part of us.

It’s easy for sentimental clutter to pile up over the years. If you find it difficult to let go of your treasured keepsakes, you’re not alone. When you are ready to downsize and declutter, grab that box and consider the following:

  • Does holding that object give you that same surge of emotion that you had when you first got it?

  • Are you keeping it out of habit because you have held onto it for so many years?

  • Know that if you decide to get rid of an object, you will still get to keep the memories forever.

Here are 6 ways to reduce the amount of memorabilia and still retain the memories:

Make a digital memory book or scrapbook

Take pictures of your treasured items and things you don’t have room for anymore.


Repurpose your collectibles

Make a quilt out of old t-shirts, jerseys or travel brochures. A friend of mine took pictures of all of the playbills she has kept and had them made into a quilt. There are several companies that can help you preserve your memorabilia.


Turn an heirloom necklace or ring into a piece of jewelry you can wear. Upcycle an old piece of furniture into a side table or serving tray.


Display collectibles on a wall to create a great conversation starter

Hang record albums, vintage instruments, an old pair of skis or frame a treasured piece of clothing to instantly bring personality into a room.


Pass it on

Donate the clothes to a charity or ask family members if they would like to have it.

Make it easy for family members

For personal mementos that only have meaning to you, label a box with the words, “toss this box if I die” so your family members won’t have to go through and decide what to keep or toss.


Let go of guilt

Give yourself permission to let go of your grandmother’s china that you will never use or just keep one teacup. Let go of gifts that aren’t your style, framed family photos and other clutter that has collected over the years. If you are not using or don’t love the item, it is simply taking up valuable space in your home.

When you are ready to let go, check out this link for websites and apps that will help you sell your new or used items:

Keeping things for sentimental reasons is perfectly fine and completely normal. Deciding what to keep and what to throw away or donate can be tough. Give yourself plenty of time and take breaks along the way. As you are sorting through your memorabilia, you can still achieve peace of mind knowing that even though the physical things are gone, the enduring memories will always safely stay in your mind.

What we hold onto through the years tells our story. What do you have that you just can’t throw away?

Happy organizing!



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