A difficult organizing challenge…Memorabilia

What’s lurking in your basement, garage or attic?   If you’re like many of us, you’ll find boxes of old letters and memorabilia. You don’t know what to do with them, and you don’t want to throw them away.

Attics, basements, and garages are prone to extreme heat fluctuations, moisture/humidity, rodents, and insects. They probably are not the proper places for your most prized possessions. Here are some practical tips to protect your family heirlooms and valuable memorabilia so they last a lifetime.

First, take the time to de-clutter your memorabilia. Chances are you have thrown everything into boxes without really considering what you want to keep. Going through these can be overwhelming.  Here are a few steps that will make it easier: 

  • Sort them into categories that make sense to you.  Maybe it’s by people – parents, partner, siblings, friends or children. Or maybe it’s by events – trips, holidays or graduations.  
  • Once you have them sorted, take one category at a time and pick out those items that really speak to you.  You’ll know what they are when you see them.  For example, if you have 50 pages of artwork from your child, pick out the 5-10 pieces that you love and let the rest go.   If you have every trophy you’ve ever received, consider narrowing it down to the few that mean the most to you.  

Once you’ve identified those items you really want to keep, consider how you want to store them:

  • First, consider whether there are items that can be digitized.  Could paper memorabilia like diplomas, certificates and old letters be scanned and saved online?  Similarly, could you take pictures of physical items like stuffed animals? Once you’ve stored it safely online, can you let the actual item go?
  • Store videotapes in protective plastic boxes and on end (not lying flat on top of each other).
  • Heirloom textiles and garments should be cleaned first and then wrapped in acid-free tissues and placed in acid-free storage boxes.
  • Special books should also be placed in acid-free boxes.
  • Check out www.artkiveapp.com for preserving artwork from your kids.  
  • Memorabilia (when not being displayed) should be kept dust-free and in storage boxes as well. Look for decorative memory boxes that you would want to display. The box size will help limit the amount that you keep.  Commit to keeping only what will fit into the designated box.

Then store these valuables in the main living quarters of your home – not in the garage, attic, or basement. Watch for rodents and insects, and deal with them promptly to avoid damage.


I dragged all my memorabilia out of their basement boxes a few years ago and took the time to de-clutter and organize them.  Here’s a picture of one of my boxes displayed in a cabinet. When the box gets full and starts overflowing, I do have to let more stuff go.  But, I’m committed to keeping my memories out of the basement! 

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