There is some part of each of us that longs to hold on to things from our past we value. Whether it be awards, trophies, trinkets from special people, items we inherit, ornaments, kids drawings or even ticket stubs. Many of us find these items highly sentimental and so we keep them tucked away in boxes under the bed or in the attic for safe keeping.
Somewhere inside we find comfort in knowing that these items are always there for us. That we can retrieve them, hold them and be taken back to a time, place or person in our life that made us feel a strong emotion.
However, some of these items are more like emotional dead weights. When we start finding everything sentimental those boxes of trinkets, tickets, awards and everything else start to fill up fast. We have to make more and more room in storage for them. These mementos and keepsakes may mean a lot to us, but ultimately I’d like to challenge the way we think about them.
The real question I want you to consider as you declutter your mementos and keepsakes is this:
Is the memory of the person, place or time found in your mind or is the memory found in the physical objects?
Granted, physical objects do play a part in reminding us of things past that our mind might not remember without looking at them. But in truth, a good bit of what matters in the grand scheme of life are the people and experiences we hold in our actual mental memories.
So as you dive into Task 2 of the De-clutter Your Past 21 Day Challenge, I encourage you keep that thought in the forefront of your mind.
Now, let’s begin!!
Task #2- Tackling Mementos and Keepsakes of Your Past
About 2 years ago I went through a trunk that have traveled with me from my youth. Inside it were all kinds of weird things. As an adult, I decided to go through it and here is what I found.
- I had rocks and sand stored that I couldn’t remember a thing about.
- I saved weird buttons, bobbles and junky toys.
- I had t-shirts from my Elementary school field days, yearbooks, silk flowers, awards, trophies, mugs and so much other clutter.
And not much of it meant anything significant to me at all. So I donated or properly disposed of most it.
Then I found boxes from my teen years full of ticket stubs to movies I didn’t remember going to see, concerts, napkins and all sorts of things that must have important at the time but now seem useless. So I ditched them.
Mementos and keepsakes are different from photographs. We will tackle the massive project of old photos as Task #4 so just don’t even mess with those yet.
For now, I want you to gather your boxes, trunks, trophies and anything you put together to store physical items from your past. I’m talking stuff that’s from 8 years ago and older.
This project is not about throwing away things you collected. It’s about deciding what’s worth keeping, storing it properly, giving it a new home or putting it somewhere out in the open where you can enjoy it at moment’s notice.
This Week’s Free Printable:
Keepsakes From Your Travels:
Keepsakes are titled keepsakes for a reason. It’s something you want to keep in order to remember a special event in your life. When it comes to travels, you may have kept ticket stubs or play bills. Those items really don’t take up a lot of space, so there are several ways that you could store those.
First off, you could organize them by the vacation or year in a large Manila envelope. Mark the envelope with the year/trip destination. Put all those items to the side so that when you go through your old photos, you can put those keepsakes in with your photos. This is a quick way to get your memories organized.
You can also paste these items down in a nice acid free scrapbook alongside your favorite pictures. This would make your memories more accessible so you can enjoy them. Just keep in mind that this is a major project so you’ll want to take that into consider before you start. Starting with the manila envelope system I mentioned above might be a good place to start and then move into creating scrapbooks as you have time.
If you feel like getting really crafty, consider making some ornaments from your travel adventures like my fried Rhonda does! Check out the guest post she wrote with picture tutorials here.
Keepsakes From Your Life Events:
Do you have tons of keepsakes from your wedding day? Are they stored well enough not to change color, disintegrate or get damaged? Here are things to consider:
- Fabric Items Need to Be Cleaned- If you’ve got quilts, blankets, gowns or dresses and they have any kind of stains, skin oils or other “dirt” on them that you can or can’t see they pose potential risk to the garment while in storage. Consider getting items that can be dry-cleaned- cleaned and washing anything else either by hand or on the gentle setting of your washer being careful not to wash anything that could be damaged by your machine.
- Control the Light- Ultraviolet rays can cause colors to fade and whites to yellow.
- Control the Temperature and Humidity- Often times storing your items in your attic or basement leaves them susceptible to extreme temperatures, moisture and humidity. Not a good combination for fabric articles that you hope will last a lifetime.
Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer-
As you go through items you’re storing from major life events, consider how much you actually need the physical item around to enjoy memories from that day. Could you take a picture of those items (which takes up far less space) and sell or donate the rest?
Just Use It
I have a few quilts around my house that have been handed down to me. Instead of storing them away for safe keeping, I just use them. They are folded in my linen closet and when we have guests or I need an extra blanket, I just pull it out and put it to use. It’s why they were artfully crafted to begin with!
Use It as Home Decor
If you prefer to keep your gorgeous patchwork quilts as art, consider hanging them on the wall! I knew a lady who had inherited some really elaborate antique earrings and she arranged them in all in unique ways within frames and hung the frames of earrings, collage style, in her home! It was something that she treasured that she put out for the world to see!
Keepsakes From Your Kids:
Some parents did a great job of archiving their kids memories. They may have put them in a scrapbook already or they may have had a year by year simple book that they kept everything in. On the other hand, some parents stored their kid’s stuff in boxes.
With your first kid, you probably saved every coloring page, painted handprint and report card! Here are the questions to ask yourself:
- When was the last time I looked at these?
- Will my kid want all this stuff when they move out?
The easy thing to do is just keep everything. The harder job is going through each box, folder and envelope and deciding what few things matter.
If you decide to purge here are some things to consider as you go through each piece:
- Does this have some kind of keepsake aspect to it?
- Does it talk about your child’s favorite things or hobbies at the time?
- Does it have a hand or footprint on it?
- Is it “Cute” or something they made that you really loved to read or look at?
- Was it really good artwork?
- Was it a really good story they wrote?
When my mom gave me my folders from childhood, there were tons of things that I purged immediately.
- Sunday school coloring pages.
- Old report cards
- Old test papers
- Anything that was art that didn’t have my handprint, footprint or wasn’t a “cute” or really outstanding piece of artwork.
When you are done, consider creating a simple 3 ring binder with acid free protective sleeves and acid free paper to store what you decide to keep.
When you are done, you will have a “scrapbook” style book with just the items you love the most!
Keepsakes You “Inherited”
The inherited keepsakes are the hardest things to go through because they meant something to someone that you care about. That person may be alive or may have passed away but either way, you are left with something of their life in your home. In fact, you may be left with a box, a whole room, a house or even a storage unit of their lives depending on what they left you. That’s a lot.
Since these items often make us feel connected with a person of past or a person we may not see anymore it can be hard to let those items go because you feel like you are letting go of them. However, I would like to ask you the same question again, “Is your memory of the person in your mind or is your memory of the person found in the stuff?” I’ll phrase it like this, Can you remember them or think of your happy memories without having the physical “stuff”?
Go through and purge anything that is meaningless. You could sell them, give them away or throw them away depending on what they are and what condition they are in.
Getting Them Out In the Open:
There are several fun ways to display items that bring you sentimental value. Rather than tucking them away in some box in the attic, consider arranging them in a shadow box. Shadow Box themes are endless and they make for amazing home decor. You could build shadow boxes around your families favorite vacation, one for the 5K or Marathons that you have run! There’s lots of ways to get mementos out of storage and in a place where you can enjoy them.
My mom made this frame for all my dad’s Disney Marathon keepsakes. He has it hanging in his man cave in the basement!
Otherwise it’s kind of just a bunch of dusty old boxes of meaningless stuff that someone will have to go through after you die. Enjoy these things while you’re living!
Maybe update the items with spray paint and some TLC and make it a decorative addition to your current home.
One thing my friend Rhonda does, is create ornaments out of her family travel trinkets.
I hope this week’s post has inspired you to take some time and tackle the keepsakes and mementos in your storage spaces. To get rid of the stuff without meaning and preserve the things that matter most for a lifetime of enjoyment!
Access my FREE Party Printables Vault!
Subscribe to my weekly intentional living email magazine and I'll give you access to my life printables vault! Cleaning, planning, organizing and more!
Kim’s is the party planning, cupcake loving, celebration catalyst behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. Kim was a pro event planner for over 7 years before she became a full-time blogger. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day and more! Kim aims to inspire you to create parties, celebrations and gatherings that everyone loves!