De-Clutter 2012: 5 Steps to De-Clutter Sentimental Items

When my brothers and I graduated from college, we brought everything home to my parent’s house….30 years ago. They moved to the current house sixteen years ago and the move didn’t stop my mom from purging those old skanky things. She still has some of our old relics, scattered around her house.

She’s not a hoarder, although some Scandinavians might disagree, but she’s can’t ‘let go’ of things from the past. I think I am a bit like her, unfortunately, albeit not as bad. I can’t refuse souvenirs from families and friends.

“Oh, the nail clipper/screwdriver/bottle opener tool is really practical, and the cute picture of the dolphin and Florida on the front will make it easy to spot it in the drawer!” In, goes another souvenir to the drawer to join four other knick knacks from places far and exotic. And I can’t get rid of them.

A few souvenirs here and there are not too over bearing to deal with but how about if you inherited a room full of sentimental items from a loved one passing or a child moving out leaving majority of his belongings, or worse, moving back in and then, leaving, without his/her college belongings?

Don’t worry – Real Simple offers these useful tips on how to deal with sentimental de-clutter.

How to deal with Sentimental De-CLutter

  1. Box It Up – Don’t let fate determine what you save and what you don’t. Even if you’re not ready to purge, put things in ‘question boxes,’ label them, and store them somewhere safe from mold and mildew. If you happen upon obvious junk, toss it. If you need some time to sort things out, grieving because of a death, downsizing into a smaller home, or in an empty-nest situation, it’s best to wait about six months before sorting through.
  2. Avoid Purger’s Regret – When you’re stuck about whether to keep or throw out, ask yourself: What’s significant about this object? Does it have genuine, lasting emotional value? Do I like it enough to display it, or will it be in a box forever? Would it be more valuable to someone else?
  3. Take a Picture (It Lasts Longer) – sure, a digital image is not the real thing. But storing something on a computer doesn’t just save space; it also minimizes risk from being destroyed or damaged. You can send old snapshots and have them converted to digital form by services like You might also want to photograph meaningful items before letting them go. And if you’re clearing a whole house after, for example, the loss of a loved one, taking pictures of the rooms first, or asking a friend to, if the task is too emotional. You can make books at to preserve the memories. This method is especially great for preserving children’s artwork. After you’ve taken photos of the original pieces, you can send them to grandparents (Ahem) or recycle. Their memories will live on in the computer or on photo sharing websites like Photobucket or Flickr.
  4. Save the Best—Toss the Rest – Meaning, keep one to represent many. Keep one t-shirt that a child loved to wear or a hospital blankie and the baby hat you brought your baby home in. You don’t need to hold on to every onesie she/he ever wore, stains and all. Save one baseball jersey from your son’s little league days or the girl scout vest but not the whole uniform. Same goes for boy scouts or any other sports kids played. Better yet, make a memory blanket for him or her to take to college, like I did, with all the favorite t-shirts.
  5. Know Your ABC’s (Always Be Clearing) Your relationship to sentimental items will probably change over time. Take a memory inventory once in awhile by looking at an item and evaluate what your relations is. If you don’t’ feel the same attachment to it, toss it. It’s ok.

How is your de-cluttering going? Do you have a bunch of memorabilia that you can’t throw out?

We are going to have a giveaway when the challenge ends so stay tuned and find out how you can continue to de-clutter your life and stay organized, even after the challenge is over.

[CC Image by roy.luck via Flickr]