How To Organize Your Memorabilia


Do you still have awards you received in high school?
What about mixtapes from your high school sweetheart?
Is your wedding dress sitting in the back of your closet?

Memories are moments in time that we cherish.
We each have our own set of memories that bring us joy, peace, a feeling of love or sadness. Memorabilia are tangible objects that have memories associated with them. My memorabilia might look like junk to you, but the memories associated with each item brings me back to my childhood, my family or a special moment in time. Memorabilia can be photographs, letters, clothing, souvenirs, or any object that holds a memory for you.

If you’re overwhelmed by trying to find space to store every birthday card, concert ticket stub and newspaper clipping, it’s time to ask yourself what is really worth keeping and how can you best store and preserve your memories.


Give yourself time to reminisce.
No one expects you to pull out all of your memorabilia and get rid of items without taking time to remember the feelings and stories behind each piece. That being said, give yourself this time to really look through your collection and don’t pressure yourself to get it all done in the first round. Often we (as human beings) will feel a rush of emotions while looking through our memorabilia. Let yourself feel these – whether happy or sad memories.

Use the SPACE model.
Just like other organizing projects, using the SPACE model (Sort, Purge, Assign, Containerize, Equalize) will help you stay on track and headed in the right direction.

Start with Sorting – Create piles for KEEP, TOSS, or PASS ON. The keep pile should only be for items youwant to keep, while the toss pile can be things you no longer want. Toss doesn’t just mean throw away – you should look into recycling and donating certain items if appropriate. Items that you want to pass on to a family member or friend should be saved, but if the recipient doesn’t want it, YOU need to decide whether it’s of value to keep yourself.

Assign categories for your keep pile once you’ve sorted through everything. Here are some likely categories you’ll find in your collections: photos, letters, cards, tickets and news articles. You can categorize by item, by time in your life or theme. For example, I organize my photo collection by time – middle school, high school, college, and then by year after that. This part is completely your choice – choose a categorized system that makes sense to you.

Do something with the items that need work.
There will likely be some items in your collection that need some type of work. Maybe you have clothing that you want to get cleaned, preserved or turned into a quilt or display piece. Many women have their wedding dresses preserved or have a piece of their dress used in a display in their home. My grandmother had my dad’s baby shoes bronzed (a long time ago) and they sit on the windowsill in our dining room. Displaying your memorabilia is a great way to share the memories but displaying too much of it will make your home look like a museum, that’s no good.


Be creative.
Just like the display ideas mentioned above for some clothing items, why not create a photo album of your memorabilia? My mom found all of our artwork from elementary, middle and high school in the garage last summer when she was cleaning it out. She couldn’t part with it, so I helped her take photos of each piece and we had them turned into a coffee table book. Now she can enjoy the memories and the artwork without taking up the extra space. Plus, she can now see it and share it more easily than when it was in a dusty box on the top shelf in the garage. If you have a lot of old t-shirts you can’t seem to let go of, how about having them turned into a quilt? There are dozens of companies you can find on the internet who will make a custom quilted blanket out of your old t-shirts, pieces of other memorable clothing, even parts of your wedding attire if you’d like. I made my own t-shirt quilt by hand after college and I love being able to see and enjoy the memories in each shirt every day.

Go digital.
Digital organizing is a great option for some memorabilia. Photographs can easily be saved digitally by uploading them to a cloud service like Dropbox. EverPresent is a wonderful company based in Newton that can help you get all of your photographs, videos, and slides digitized and saved. It’s a valuable way to ensure your memories will be preserved and kept safe in case of damage to your home. It’s also easier to share the memories with your family and friends once everything is digital. It’s easily accessible and you can simply share memories with the click of a button.


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