As a professional organizer, I've discovered that most of my clients are struggling with what to do with memorabilia items. Whether it's your kids' artwork, year after year of Christmas cards, or items from a family member's passing, here are some tips on managing memorabilia:
* The first step, as always, is to decide if this is a truly meaningful item to you. Ask yourself: "Does this State of Minnesota report really mean as much to me now as it did in the 3rd grade?" How many of my child's pasta necklaces and lava volcanoes can I realistically store in limited space?
* Old photos of family ancestors can either be stored in archival quality storage boxes, or in 3-ring binders with acid-free page protectors. Polyester or polypropylene sleeves are another option. You can find a multitude of products online by searching by these key words: archival safe storage products.
* If a family member passes, try to select items that are a representative sample of that person rather than hanging on to it all. For example, when my father died, I kept one fishing rod, one clip from his hunting rifle, and a couple articles of his favorite clothing.
* If you would like to display family history documents in a frame or shadow box, make sure you display a copy rather than the original. You'd hate to have an important item of your history be faded or damaged by light or dust.
* You'll soon be bursting at the storage seams if you've been keeping every Christmas, birthday, and anniversary card you've received. I recommend clients keep only those cards that reflect a special occasion and let the rest go. Examples would be wedding cards, a 50th birthday, or a child's baptism or bar mitzvah.
* If you like to keep certain categories of physical items like stamp collections, wine corks, or shells from trips, display them rather than store them. For instance, mount corks in a shadow box, display stamps in a frame, or store shells in uniform glass jars with labels for which trip they were from.
* If you can't part with your mom's poodle skirt but never intend to wear it, don't take up valuable closet space in your master bedroom. Instead, have it cleaned and store it wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and store it in an acid-free box.
* For your child's 3-dimensional artwork, take a picture instead and create a special scrapbook for their school projects.
* When your child's work arrives home from school or church, tuck it away in a box, bin, or drawer for three to six months. Then go back to it when you've had some time to "separate" your feelings from it and decide if it's a "keeper." If so, you can store it in a container or cut and paste portions of it to blank thank you cards that your child sends for birthday or Christmas gifts. If you decide to display it, hang it from a string with a series of clothespins along the top edge of a wall in your child's room.
* You can find valuable information for preserving important papers and artifacts online at the Minnesota Historical Society's website.
If you'd like help managing your memorabilia, contact Successful Simplicity today!
Successful Simplicity, LLC
Simplifying Lives Through Organization
Vice President, MN Chapter of National Association of Professional Organizers
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