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8 Steps to Deal with Sentimental Clutter

Sentimental clutter can be one of the hardest types of clutter to deal with. These are items that have sentimental value, but no practical use in our lives. They may hold memories of people, places, or remind us of important events in our lives. While sentimental clutter can be difficult to part with, it can also be liberating to let go of these items and create more space in our homes and minds.  

Here are 8 steps and ideas for dealing with sentimental clutter: 

1. Identify the sentimental clutter 

The first step in dealing with sentimental clutter is to identify what it is. Go through your belongings and look for items that have sentimental value but are no longer used or needed. This might include old letters, photographs, keepsakes, or clothing. Keepsakes like autographed memorabilia are difficult to part with, especially if you bought them.  

2. Consider why you are keeping it 

Ask yourself why you are keeping each sentimental item. Does it bring you delight or comfort? Does it remind you of a special moment or person in your life? Are you superstitious and the thought of getting rid of something might bring you bad luck? Understanding why you are keeping an item can help you decide if it is worth keeping or if it is time to let it go. 

3. Keep only what is meaningful 

When deciding what to do with sentimental clutter, it is important to keep only what is truly meaningful. Consider keeping items that are unique or rare, or those that hold memories that cannot be replaced. Let go of duplicates, items that are damaged beyond repair, or those that no longer hold any significance. 

4. Create a memory box 

Consider creating a memory box or album to store sentimental items that you want to keep but don't have room to display. This will allow you to keep the items in a more organized and compact way. A large clear tote with a cover is a great option for this. I use this and make a rule that I am keeping as much as I want for each of my children as long as it fits into one tote.  

5. Find a new home for sentimental items 

If you decide to keep sentimental items, consider finding a new home for them. This might mean displaying them in a special place in your home or creating a memory box to store them in. For example, if you still have your adult children's schoolwork, now is the time to give it to them.  Maybe you are holding onto your grandparent’s China and crystal. If you won’t use this, think about giving it to another family member that might. Think of the pleasure that you can give them. 

6. Donate or sell sentimental items  

If you have sentimental items that you no longer have a use for or no longer serve a purpose in your life, it is time to let them go. Consider donating or selling them. This will allow you to declutter your home and give the items a new home where they can be appreciated. This is a great option for autographed memorabilia. The Bobby Orr or Adam Vinatieri photos are not in a good place if they are stored in a basement. It might be a difficult decision, though giving it to someone who would appreciate it, makes sure it continues to bring someone happiness. 

7. Take photos 

If you are attached to an item but don't have room to keep it, consider taking a photo of it and displaying the photo instead. This will allow you to keep the memory without the physical item taking up space. You could even create a digital album of your sentimental items to look back on whenever you like. Displaying these photos in a slideshow on a smart TV is a great way to keep them close yet not taking up valuable space. 

8. Create a Memory Wall  

If you have a lot of sentimental items, consider creating a memory wall. This will help you display your items in a way that is both organized and visually appealing. You can use shadowboxes and frames to display items.  

If you have sentimental items that you don't use on a regular basis, be selective about what sentimental items you keep and find ways to store them in a way that doesn't contribute to clutter. You can still hold onto the memories without keeping the physical item. Sentimental clutter can be difficult to deal with and it’s important to remember that memories are not tied to physical items. By identifying what is truly meaningful and finding a new home for sentimental items, you can create more space in your home and your mind. Letting go of sentimental clutter is liberating and can help you focus on what truly matters in your life.