What to Do with That Box of Memorabilia Sitting in Your Closet

Most of us have little piles (or giant collections) of memorabilia tucked away in our closets.

Your memorabilia box might include:

  • Your children’s (or grandchildren’s) artwork or schoolwork.
  • Family keepsakes that have been handed down through generations.
  • Ticket stubs, trip itineraries, or other evidence of your travels over the years.
  • Letters from loved ones.
  • Anything that has special significance to you.

No matter what your collection includes, it can be difficult to decide what to do with these items.

The Save Your Photos blog has this important message about memorabilia:

“Documents, report cards, certificates, awards, trophies, newspaper articles, invitations, letters and other similar items contain dates and information that may contribute to your family timeline and unlock some of your photo mysteries. So be a detective.”

Your memorabilia may be connected to your to photos and family stories, so it’s a good idea to keep it organized and only keep the pieces that important to you.

In this post, we’ve gathered some tips for bringing order to your collection of family memorabilia, including suggestions on how to decide what to keep and how to digitize, store, and display your special memories.

How to Decide What Memorabilia to Keep (and What Needs to Be Tossed)

What’s the best way to figure out what to keep in your memorabilia box, especially when every piece might seem like it’s worth keeping?

The goal here is to give yourself some breathing room when it comes to your memorabilia. If you’ve got a smaller and more manageable collection, you’ll be considerably more likely to keep it organized and digitized.

During this stage, go through every item in your collection. As you look through each piece, toss any duplicate items or pieces you can’t remember, and keep the things that mean the most to you based on your own criteria.

Need help? Let the process we described in this blog post serve as a guide to help to evaluate your items and decide what to keep, so you can whittle down your collection to the things that are the most special to you.

The Next Important Step: Digitizing Your Memorabilia

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you won’t be surprised to hear that I recommend digitizing and archiving the items in your memorabilia collection.

Scan paper and prints, then file the images in categorized memorabilia folders on your computer.

Have three-dimensional items in your collection (like the homemade bowl your child crafted for you in second grade)? You can photograph these items inside a SHOTBOX. The SHOTBOX is a collapsable, hard-shelled light box that acts as a wonderful, well-lit “stage” for your item.

As always, make sure your photos are backed up by using Picture This Organized’s best photo backup practices.

You may find at this point that you don’t need to keep some of the original piece of memorabilia. Unless they are historic documents (like original birth certificates, etc.) or keepsakes, you may want to toss the originals and just keep the digitized versions. 

How to Store Your Memorabilia

Once you’ve digitized your collection, you need to figure out how to store your memorabilia.

Using a keepsake box is a safe and a clutter-free way to store your collection, and the Internet is full of do-it-yourself instructions to help you make your own. Decorate a shoebox, or if you’re ambitious and handy, make a wooden box.

Local craft stores also sell storage boxes. If you want the box to be archival quality, check to be sure they are lignin free.

Prefer to buy your keepsake box? Try one of these Savor storage boxes with built-in options for filing your items. Amazon also has a large selection of Keepsake boxes, including some boxes that similar to Savor’s.

Some Innovative Ideas for Displaying Your Memorabilia

You may decide you’d like to display some of the items in your memorabilia, like your child’s artwork.

Check out this post from our archive for ideas of displaying your budding Picasso’s work. You can also consider these ideas:

1. Take a look at this mom’s ingenious idea of using a selection of empty frames on the wall to display her kids’ artwork (you can use this for other types of memorabilia, too!)

2. If you want to frame pieces of homemade artwork, but you’ve discovered the pieces are too large for your frames, this creativity blog shows you how to resize an item on your home printer.

If technology is your thing, try Keepy, an app available for Apple iOS and Android that lets you archive your child’s artwork with phone or tablet. Your child can describe the piece in their own words in a recording you attach to the image, and loved ones can become “Fans” and leave recorded comments as well.

Making Managing Memorabilia Less Overwhelming

If you’re facing the prospect of sifting through and digitizing a lifetime of memorabilia, it can seem daunting.

Our best advice is to break up the work into smaller increments of one to two hours, rather than tackle the whole project over the course of a weekend.

When you’re working in stages, you’ll be more likely to stay focused and motivated, and you’ll be able to give your memorabilia the time and attention it deserves. By going through this process slowly and carefully, you’ll be able to tell a story that lasts for generations.

5 thoughts on “What to Do with That Box of Memorabilia Sitting in Your Closet

  1. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed the warmth and sensitivity emanating from your writing, very gently; felt almost like getting great advice from a friend. Thank you!

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