Top Ten Tips, #9 – Sentimental Items

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When working with clients, one of the common things people really have trouble with is what to do about sentimental items they were either given or inherited. Some of us feel that to donate or otherwise get rid of these items that have been passed down isn’t “right”, we must keep the item to honor that person’s memory.

But how are you honoring that person’s memory if all that stuff is just sitting in your basement gathering dust, maybe growing some mold…???

News flash! If you storage area looks like this – you’re not honoring anyone’s memory if this is where you’re storing the stuff you inherited!

Remember: just because you’re getting rid of a sentimental item, it doesn’t mean that you’re throwing out the person or his or her memory.  There are many ways to remember these items and the memories they represent, such as by taking a digital photo, without keeping the physical item.  We are so lucky to live in the digital age where we can create ways to remember our physical items in a digital format, which of course frees up our physical space.

When my mom finally made me take ownership of the dolls she had saved for me from childhood, I knew I didn’t want to keep most of them, but I did want to remember the dolls.  So I spent some time taking some great photos of them to help me remember.













I’ve also seen a lot of really interesting ways of converting old, sentimental items into fresh, new art that’s fun to display. I encourage you to think outside the box here.  Think about, say, a few quilts that you inherited – perhaps they are ripped in a few places and stained in others, but your grandma made the quilts, so you really want to keep them.  What about cutting out some of the salvageable (or favorite) parts of the quilts and having them matted or otherwise made into a wall hanging for display?  A cool way to remember Grandma without all the bulk.

Another fun thing I saw recently at a craft fair was a woman who takes old antique-looking dishes and makes them into yard sculptures (most of which have little solar lights built into them for night lighting).

Pretty cool, huh?  My point is, there are lots of neat ways to keep your loved one’s memory alive – just remember that letting their stuff collect dust for years in your basement, attic, garage, etc isn’t one of them.



Tip #9 Action Challenge:

Find some sentimental items in your home that you’ve been hanging onto and are just sitting in boxes.  Look very carefully at these items, do you really want to keep them? If you do, find a way to incorporate them into your home, and I mean DISPLAY them, they don’t get to go back in the box this time! If your creative juices just aren’t flowing on this one, talk to some of your artist or crafty friends, they may be able point you in the right direction!

Holistic Professional Organizer and Clutter Coach at Synergy Organizing, LLC

©Synergy Organizing 2012

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