It seems fitting  to discuss organizing your keepsakes during my focus on basement organizing this month. Think I’m going to encourage you to get rid of items that you keep for sentimental reasons? Guess again.  In fact, we are the most lenient with Keepsakes, because they are the most irreplaceable items. My team always starts organizing by sorting into categories.  Our clients’ most under-recognized category is keepsakes.

A plan for prioritizing

Keepsakes may be spread through many rooms without a reliable home. So the first step in organizing  keepsakes  is to recognize them and collect them all in one place.

This includes:

  • trophies
  • photographs
  • souvenirs
  • greeting cards
  • children’s artwork
  • event tickets
  • and certain clothing, toys and books

We sort like things together because of a concept I feature in my book The Circulation Solution.That is context drives decisions.

Immediately you will see just how many things you keep for sentimental reasons. If it’s say half a room of a 5 room house, do you want to devote a tenth of your life to the past? Maybe you do, but putting it all together starts to create a clear scoreboard. What clarifies it further is seeing how much space each sub-category takes up. The first subdivision should be by family member.  Then look at the type of items in each pile, starting with the smaller ones.


Say “yes” to less

Be most lenient with small keepsakes. Let’s say there’s shoe box, half filled. If there’s just some concert tickets, a few sea shells, and a lucky coin, they can stay. What needs editing? The really big categories. For example, children’s artwork, for which I have a simple guideline. “Decisions are easier when seasoned with time.”

Allow me to explain. Don’t put the pressure on yourself to make the perfect decision when new artwork comes home. Collect it in one place and then look at it all together after 3-6 months. Sort like with like fast. If there are 8 unicorn drawings and only one really special one, maybe 7 can go now.

The less you keep the more you value.

I will apply this to myself. At every NAPO conference I go to I get a long colorful name tags. After a couple more I may choose a favorite, take a photo of the rest and toss them.

And taking a photo especially makes for larger keepsakes. If you’re just keeping an item for sentimental reasons, consider the size of it. If it’s getting in the way of your life, take a picture to hold the memory. Then let the burdensome item go.

Enjoy remotely

Nice solid boxes are often used for keepsakes, but I favor a clear container. That way you can use it to display some of your keepsakes. It’s an easy way to take a quick visit down memory lane. Keepsakes fall under the storage category of remote need merits remote location. So usually a basement or attic is appropriate, but there is an exception.

Keepsakes for Kids

Keepsakes are more of an ongoing collection for kids. Also, there is more of a crossover with the display category.  However, for items that are purely keepsake a handy box can keep then off valuable surfaces.

Finally, I don’t recommend spending too much time organizing keepsakes. While it’s important to honor the past, you don’t want to be weighed down by it. Because one of the benefits of good organizing is being able to live comfortably in the present.