top of page
  • Writer's pictureBenella

Organising sentimental memories and keepsakes: How to stop them becoming clutter

Sentimental storage keepsakes memory box

What shall I keep and how can I store them?

We all love our cherished memories and keepsakes are a way of holding onto them. However we can also become overwhelmed with the volume of greeting cards, photographs, champagne corks, ticket stubs - all the things you may hold onto from a special event. Clutter often happens when items are not sorted and don't have a place to go. So often in my experience, people hold onto things they don't need due to the guilt of throwing them away.

*This post may contain affiliate links which don't cost you a penny but pay a commission to this site.

In this post, we'll embark on a journey to unlock the secrets of organising memories and keepsakes. It's not just about tidying up; it's about creating a special place for your most treasured mementos, making them easily accessible for reminiscing, and sharing them with generations to come. So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, settle in, and let's dive into the wonderful world of memory organisation together!



1: Start with a Vision - Before diving into the organisation process, envision your collection. What do you want to achieve?

  • Thinning down so you have less?

  • Creating scrapbooks?

  • Digitising everything ?

  • Storing by family member?

Once you have an idea of what you want to achieve then it can help guide you through.

2: Sort and Categorise - Start with a small section and sort into piles (if for more than one person then first put into individual groups)

  • Photographs

  • Greeting cards

  • Letters

  • Souvenirs

3: Create a timeline - this is a great way to visualise your collection and a way to remember specific moments to help decide how to store. It also makes it easier as you add more items.

4: Dealing with sentimental items - this is always the hardest for people to let go of. Hold one item in your hand at a time and really think about whether you want to keep it. Ask yourself what precisely you are sentimental about? In most cases it is not the object but the memory of the person, place or time. Remember you are giving away the item, not the memory. Of course if you truly love it then keep it as it is not clutter.

Will a photo of the item do? That way you have the memory without the tangible item (thinking specifically of my late grandmother's chipped china cat that I grew up seeing next to her fireplace. In my home it looked ridiculous so I have a photograph of it instead to invoke the memory).

Consider the one in and one out policy. Can someone else in the family keep it? Are you keeping your adult children's items even though they don't want them?

Greeting cards - I suggest keeping the ones from the people you love or the cards that make you laugh and then recycling the others. Do you need to keep the one from great aunt Betty who you don't see, just because she sent you one?

Christmas cards - people seem to send these less and less but as above, keep the sentimental ones if you want and then recycle the others or make into gift tags for next year.

5: Display with purpose - if there are items that you love then there are many creative ways you can display them:

  • A collage of concert ticket stubs

  • A quilt, cushion or teddy bear made of sentimental clothing

  • A 3D box for a specific event - wedding or travel trip for example

  • Display shelves or a gallery wall of your favourite photographs

  • Children's artwork is always a tricky one due to the volume - I love these display frames that you can put new projects in and still have the other ones behind, this also encourages them to thin them out when it gets too full.


6: Digitise to preserve and share - scanning letters, photographs and children's artwork is a great way to protect the original and also share with family members and friends. I recently found a letter that my late Mother wrote recounting our first trip to USA in 1981. After scanning it I was able to share this letter with friends and family in USA as many of them had been written about with great humour and it was a wonderful moment to reminisce about my Mom, we were all crying with laughter and now we all have a copy.

7: Preserve with special Storage - having a memory/keepsake box per family member or event is a fantastic way of knowing where items are and where new ones can be added. Investing in good quality acid-free photograph albums and keepsake boxes ensure your chosen items are preserved for years to come.



8: Label - having each item labelled means everyone knows whose box or item belongs to them.

  • Tie a luggage tag onto a teddy or cushion or embroider the name

  • Use a polaroid photograph on a box to show who it belongs to or to sum up the event

  • Let children draw art on their wooden box

9: Regular maintenance - more items will be added with each birthday, life event and celebration so keeping on top of them is crucial. Encourage each member to be responsible for their own. Adopt a one in one out policy if needed. Think about having boxes for every 5 or 10 years of a child's life.

10: Share - the fun part is now being able to look back at the items that you wanted to keep. Share with family and have evenings where you open a box or photograph album and reminisce or tell stories to friends and family.

Organising memories and keepsakes is a labour of love, and as a professional organiser, I have the opportunity to help clients and my own family preserve the most treasured moments of their lives. Having them under control and letting go of the items you do not want or need to keep means you are not overwhelmed by them, but have the gift of enjoying and sharing them for years to come.

More keepsake items can be found here in my UK Amazon store


bottom of page