organizing memorabilia

Collecting memorabilia from our own personal histories is something we all do. Organizing that memorabilia is another story! Chances are you have a box full of mementos sitting on a shelf collecting dust. But without a defined method for what to keep our collections can become very disorganized and may become an overwhelming emotional burden.

Most of us don’t have the space to display all the mementos we’ve kept through the year and it ends up collecting in a box (or boxes) out in the garage or down in the basement. Our closets might be full of memories from years past, everything from sport trophies to concert stubs. We have all saved things that remind us of the great times in our lives. Problem is, you never get to enjoy them, or show them off, because they’re hiding under boxes in the garage or at the bottom of your closet.

Organizing memorabilia can be a fun trip down memory lane, but it’s easy to get caught in a sentimental loop that makes it so we just can’t seem to pare down our collections. Follow these tips to reduce the clutter in your closet and let the memorabilia you keep add to the joy in your life.

Tip 1: Set Limits

The intent of keeping memorabilia should be to allow the past to support your enjoyment in the present. Ask yourself, How much space do I have? What is a reasonable amount of memorabilia for you? What types of memorabilia do I want to keep?

Keep items that bring you joy when you look at them, and items that tell your story or the story of your family. If you’re holding on to something out of guilt, consider letting it go. Ask yourself why you’re really keeping something. Most memorabilia is sentimental in some way so your answers don’t always need to be rational, but they do need to fit within the limits you created.

Tip 2: Prepare Yourself

Sorting and organizing sentimental items can send you on an emotional roller coaster. Plan on taking a lot of time to sort through your keepsakes. Ask someone to go through things with you so you can share personal stories and feelings throughout the process.

Tip 3: Pare Down Your Collection

The goal of paring down your memorabilia is to create a collection that tells a story and preserves a memory. The focus is on quality not quantity. Save the most significant items and let less important keepsakes go.  Keep your set limits in mind, and don’t save more than you have space for. Some things, like children’s art work might be a special part of your family’s story, but can take up a lot of space. Consider taking pictures of all the pieces and having them printed into a special artbook that you can share with your family.

Tip 4: Preservation

Now that you’ve identified your most meaningful items take the time to preserve them properly so they can be enjoyed for years to come. Certain techniques are better than others when it comes to long-term preservation of important heirlooms and memorabilia.

FABRICS: Although your fabrics might not be antiques quite yet, treating them as if they are will extend their life considerably. If any fabrics are in your memorabilia collection you may want to follow the guidelines laid out by the U.S. National Archives. How To Preserve Textiles You may also giving your favorite fabrics new life by turning them into keepsake quilt, or preserving special items in shadow boxes.

PAPERS & PICTURES: Pictures and papers are best stored in acid-free folders or boxes, or archival safe picture plastic sleeves.

DIGITAL PICTURES: Digital pictures end up filling a lot of space on our computers and nothing else. Try using a company like Snapfish, Shutterfly, or Mixbook to create beautiful photo books easily. There are a lot of other options too, so shop around to find the best look and price for you!

Lots of memorabilia look great turned into displays and used around your house. Selecting a few great pieces to beautifully display can really add to the character and design of your home.

Check out my Memorabilia: Organized board on Pinterest for some great ideas on preserving and display your memorabilia!