As I continue to do a massive decluttering of things, I recently was able to reduce my Keepsakes down to 1 box. This does not include photos which are too down to a single, well organized box.
When I began my decluttering/organizing last summer I had 2 shopping bags and a larger tote box full of birthday cards, yearbooks, and books. I went through each box and bag and looked though every single item that was in them and decided whether or not to keep them. During round 1, I was able to get the tote down to a size where the lid could be put back on correctly rather than teetering on top of my college graduation cap and a large Pre-K graduation diploma. I put the box back in the closet and left it to simmer for a few months. I went back in about a month ago and went for round 2.
I am happy to report this is my only box full of keepsakes and each item holds a very personal and positive feeling and memory.
If you are looking to reduce your keepsakes to a manageable side, here are a few ideas. Also remember, you can do a few “rounds” like I did, but the key is to really think about it. Just because you are getting rid of an item, does not mean you are dishonoring the memory or the person who gave it to you. In fact, it is the opposite! You are making room for more memories and no one can declutter your brain. It’s a lot harder to throw out a box of memories in your brain than it is in your home.
- Let Go of Old Birthday, Holidays, etc. Cards : Over the years we have all been given hundreds of cards. I still give and receive them to this day, of course, but to keep every single one is a waste of precious space. My first round I had at least 50 cards going back to high school graduation from 2003. I took each one out, read them all, and decided if they were worth keeping. I had a ton from my parents and I decided to keep 2 of each. I also kept ones from my step-grandparents. And all of the notes and cards from my husband since we met in 2005. Yes – those fit in this box too!
- Do you still know the person who gave you the item : This is a big one. Aside from those who have passed away, holding on to stuff from ex-relationships or friends from elementary school are no-brainer give-a-ways in my opinion. I found random stuff from people I kind of remember, but couldn’t tell you their last names or even where they are today. If that is the case, I say toss it. Odds are you aren’t going to run into them again and if you do I doubt your conversation will include the empty pack of M&Ms you saved when you both had a sleep over for the first time.
- Does it matter if it is one-of-a-kind? Sometimes we hang on to gifts that we didn’t like then and don’t like now. Going off of #2, if you no longer know the person and it has no use in your current life, toss it. There are exceptions of course, but the key here is to get really honest with yourself. You don’t need the half of a tarnished “Be Fri” friendship necklace from 8th grade…even if you know the person now. Also, if it is a one-of-a-kind knick-knack, is it something you’d put on display in your home now?
- Does it bring you a positive memory? As I was going through things I found some things that didn’t bring me much of a positive feeling. If you look at the item and your first thought is sadness or pain, get rid of it. Don’t keep it. Another hard thing to get rid of are those memorial cards from those who have passed. These I had a hard time getting rid of. The truth is, keeping it or getting rid of it does not have any direct impact on that person, their memory, or the relationship you had with them. If you can part with it, please do. It may feel icky and disrespectful on some level, but after it is gone, the memory and honor of that person is not.
- Is this something you’d want to go through or look at again? This goes for things like yearbooks, letter notebooks (remember those where you passed a notebook back and forth between a friend where you wrote and replied to each others’ letters?), etc. If it is something you take pleasure in looking at one last time and do not feel any real desire to look at it again, it may be time to part with it. Some suggest taking pictures of things, but I think that is another way of holding on to something that, on some honest level, you want to part with. And truly: are you ever going to go through pictures of your old stuff? Probably not.
The Keepsakes are one of the hardest to part with and declutter. By nature, I am not a hugely sentimental person so getting rid of things is easier for me than others. If you are like me, the steps above will be quite easy. if you are the opposite and worry about getting rid of memory items: sort through everything in “rounds” and do it over a period of time. There is no due date for any of this. But do be really honest with yourself as you go through things and make room for new keepsakes rather than hold on to ones that only serve a purpose of dust collecting and space hogging.