How to Enjoy Your Sentimental Keepsakes: Going Beyond Storing Them In a Box In Your Closet

During the organization process, my clients often unearth some sentimental item that they are afraid I will recommend they trash.  I usually tell them that if it carries value for them, then they should keep it. What saddens me is that often these sentimental objects get packed into boxes and put in the backs of closets or stored up into an attic. I say “No More!” Why do we hide away our treasures when looking at them conjures happy memories?  Not sure how to incorporate your mementos into your life? Here are a few ideas:   

1. Put them on display. Be your own curator and create a display using your mementos. Do you have an inherited hat collection? Acquire a few display hat stands and rotate which hats you put out on display. I had one client who had a favorite pair of cowboy boots that she couldn’t wear anymore. I suggested that she stuff them and put them on a shoe display in her office with a picture nearby of her wearing them. 

2. Frame them. These days there are all sorts of frames that can hold everything from your collection of seashells to your late father’s baby clothes. Have your grandmother’s collection of clip-on earrings? Mount them to a velvet covered board and frame them. This also works great for a collection of political buttons. 

3. Create a book. With a scanner or digital camera, you can capture images of letters or child artwork and create a bound book. This makes your memories not only more accessible but also more portable. Do you have items that no longer work and you really don’t have the space to display them? Take pictures of each object, write up the stories associated with the object, and put both in a book. Now you have something that preserves the memory without hogging up your space. 

4. Make them functional again. Have a collection of t-shirts that you can’t part with because they show the marathons you ran, the sports or clubs you belonged to, etc?  There are services out there that will turn them into a quilt you can either use or display. You can search on the internet for other ways to upcycle your items so that they become useful again. 

So the next time you find something in your closet, basement or attic that carries a lot of sentimental memories, resist the urge to just put it in a labelled box and figure out how you can enjoy (and honor) it better.


Image: carlita/

About Gabriela Burgman

Gabriela's mission is to empower her clients with the tools and motivation they need to get and stay organized. Prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, Gabriela worked in a photograph archive as well as several university archives, assisting offices, administrators, and retiring academics to sort through their files for preservation or disposal. She became a professional organizer in 2007 working as an independent consultant before joining Living Peace. When Gabriela is not learning new ways to organize photos or paper both physically and electronically, she is spending time on what matters most to her: visiting with family and friends, reading a good mystery book, or cooking a tasty meal.

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