Guilt-Free Ways to Declutter Keepsakes


Your favorite stuffed bear from childhood, grandma’s old rocking chair, your kids’ artwork, your wedding dress, plane tickets to your travels abroad, and love notes from your spouse – these things probably put a smile on your face and brought you back in time. But what if they are starting to pile up and take up so much space in your home?

Many of us avoid decluttering these things and for a good reason. It’s hard to let go of our beloved possessions, especially ones that we hold dear for sentimental purposes. Let’s get clear on one thing first: You should never feel guilty about keeping things at home that fills you with joy and love.

If your home is starting to get stuffed with mementos, it’s hard to make space for creating new memories in the present. So here are guilt-free ways to declutter sentimental items:


gallery wall sentimental items

Snap a Photo

Your husband’s sports trophies, your ancestor’s sewing machine and your now adult children’s onesies are all lovely things to hold on to. But if they are currently tucked away somewhere, you may consider taking a photo of them instead.

One thing to consider when decluttering sentimental items, is that it is not the item that’s important, it’s the memory laced with it. You can print the photos and create a gallery wall showcasing them. It’s so much better too because you see them all the time, takes up less space and adds more personality to your home. It’s like having a mini museum of mementos, if you will.


Digitize What You Can

Instead of printing a photograph of your old artworks, why not scan them and save them in your computer or cloud. Take advantage of the digital tools we currently have and save your favorite memories for generations to come.


Create a Photobook

You can also choose to compile the photos you snapped of the sentimental items in a sleek album. This is also a good place for your kids’ artworks, love notes, tickets and other memorable paper items. It’s a nice addition to your library or coffee table and an easier access to nostalgia. It’s also ideal to categorize them by period of time or type.


Choose One Item that Represents a Collection of Items

Say instead of getting rid of ol’ granny’s china, why not keep one tea cup and saucer? Or choose a favorite from your aunt’s jewelry collection. This way, you won’t feel as bad as you get to keep the best of them, actually use and display it, instead of the whole bunch gathering dust in the attic.


Phone a Friend

Get a buddy to help you with your decluttering process. It is ideal to grab someone who has no connection to the items you’re trying to let go of. Choose someone other than your partner or family member for family-related items. Avoid booking your college best friend for college-related items.


Your Home Is a Living Space for the Now

Sometimes we get so stuck in the past and forget the present and future memories that we will create. Remember that your home is a living space, not a storage space for your past. When you find yourself confused and feeling like you’re not going anywhere in your decluttering process, go back to this idea.


You might also find the infographic below helpful.

Image from Rachel Rosenthal

What sentimental items are the hardest for you to let go of? Share with us in the comments! Also, feel free to peruse our blog for more home tips.