Keepsakes: What to hold on to + how to store

Updated: May 6, 2019

Special greeting cards, your child's first pair of booties, award certificates, a wedding favor from a best friends wedding, photos from high school, old love letters, gifted china or trinkets passed down to you from a loved one no longer with us. All these are various items that may be taking up prime real estate space throughout your home that you do not use regularly or wish to see on display. These keepsakes, memorabilia, nostalgia, or treasures, no matter how you label them, fit into one group and can be sorted and stored together neatly in one place.



If you have chosen to hold onto these items and are still not ready to part with them, it is not a terrible thing. As professional organizers, we are often saying "Be easy on yourself".  Getting organized does not always have to be about purging. You may feel that you want to keep, what some may consider, a large amount of nostalgia.  And that's totally okay if:

  1. you have adequate space in your home to store it

  2. the items bring you positive memories (not negative ones)

  3. the quantity of each item is reasonable (keep the best representative sample)

  4. you've really stopped to ask yourself why you are keeping each item, and your answer is one that serves you today (not for a no longer helpful reason of the past)

Try taking a big picture look at your home, and the stuff in it, from a whole systems view. Reducing the quantity of items you own can be looked at from a larger perspective. If you keep a little extra in one category, then you'll have to let go of a little extra in another. Everyone usually has something of a collection, and one collection is alright.


When you're ready to do another 'edit' of your treasured possessions, try starting with these categories first. Knowing that it can be emotionally draining work to go through piece by piece, dealing with whole categories at a time will give you the confidence of accomplishment from the start.  Grouping items this way may make purging a little easier:


  1. memories of others like wedding favors from a friend's wedding

  2. short term saves like greeting cards

  3. free stuff like conference swag

  4. oversize items like sports trophies and school projects

  5. negative memories like journals or love letters (even a wedding dress) from a failed relationship

  6. inherited mementos like grandma's china

  7. souvenirs that do not age well like crumbling dried flowers

Finally, for how and where to store your keepsakes - create and label a special box for each family member. Try a clear plastic tote for this purpose, so you can easily see what's inside.  However if you have no need for stealthy protection from dust or the potential of a flood or you'd just prefer something more aesthetically pleasing, try storing these items in a decorative cardboard box, wooden crate, wicker basket with a lid or even a vintage suitcase or trunk.


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