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When Memorabilia is a Burden! Tips to Downsize

Vickie Dellaquila - July 10, 2017 12:05 PM

Does this sound familiar? “I can’t get rid of that – Aunt Martha gave it to me!” Or, “This was my father’s razor. I have to keep it.”

Memorabilia is beautiful and can remind us of important people and moments in our lives.  However, it can get to feel more like a burden than a blessing when we become the keepers of our family’s archives.  It can be difficult to let go of such sentimental items, but certainly the ones who gave us those things wouldn’t want us to feel weighed down by those items. 

When paring down your memorabilia - you can also ask other members of your family if they would like items before you let them go, but be careful not to let your old stuff become their old stuff! It may sound callous, but just because a china teapot has been in the family for 70 years doesn’t mean it has to stay there for another 70.  Just as it is enough to keep one homemade valentine from when your child was small, it might be enough to keep one of your grandmother’s Hummel figures to remember her by.  What should you do with the rest of the set? Will your relatives view the collection as a prized family heirloom or just a silly set of dust-catchers? You might consider selling the rest to someone who collects the figurines and will value them.

Here are some other suggestions for paring down your memorabilia:

•    Tell stories about the objects and record them on video or create a digital slideshow, then let them go.
•    Sort items into categories and choose to keep just a few items from each category.
•    Take photos of souvenirs and create a scrapbook, quilt, or shadowbox.
•    Remove photographs from their frames and save them in an album or photo box to save space.
•    Scan the photos onto your computer and/or create a DVD to view at your leisure.
•    If you can’t bear to part with a 40-year old high school letter sweater or wedding gown, cut out a swatch of it and frame it with articles about the football game or the wedding invitation.
•    A set of silverware or china can be broken up.  Take two cups and saucers to the new house to remember and sell the rest.  You may not get as much as you would for the whole set, but in the long run everyone will be happier.
•    Wouldn’t it be fun to turn an impractical crystal goblet into an elegant pencil holder?
•    Toss the everyday tableware and start using the good china that you saved for special occasions.  What are you waiting for?

Vickie Dellaquila is Western Pennsylvania’s first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization and owner of Organization Rules® Inc. Organization Rules provides compassionate organizing services for every stage of your life®. She is the author of Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash: A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move. Please visit

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