In the blink of an eye, the global pandemic, coupled with the social unrest in our country, has changed our world and challenged us all. In the wise words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Time will tell how we learn, grow, and do better, both as individuals and as communities. It is often life’s significant events where we find ourselves saving stuff, i.e., memorabilia, to capture the moment in time. Per Merriam-Webster’s definition, memorabilia are (1) things that are remarkable and worthy of remembrance, or (2) things that stir recollection or are valued or collected for their association with a particular field of interest. What memorabilia might we save to tell the story of 2020?

“Home Sweet Home” may mean a home filled with stuff, saved many moons ago, long-forgotten, or it could be the latest TIME magazine issue, which captures the COVID-19 story. Before we sock away the 2020 memorabilia, let’s take stock of what we already have. Memorabilia has a sneaky way of piling up.  Attics, basements, and closets conveniently accept our collections, without objection. The weight of unloved memorabilia is evident as boxes crumble, a wedding dress ages in color and style, and home movies are stored but never viewed.

As a NASMM @Home Specialist, I’m excited to bring you Part II of a three-part series to share my tips and strategies for the home. It’s easy to postpone our memorabilia decisions, and let the piles go untouched. However, with a bit of focus and perhaps, some homework, you too could lose some memorabilia weight (and guilt), have some much-needed laughs (and some tears), and enjoy more peace of mind! 

Let’s start with perspective: A few quick questions may help guide you.

  • Why are you keeping the item?
  • Do you know where it is?
  • Do you enjoy it?
  • Do you have it on display?
  • Have you told its story?

Clutter organizer, Peter Walsh’s perspective is a bit firmer: “If something is so important, then you must give it the honor and value it deserves (or let it go).”

Next up, some observations (no judgment): As a senior move manager, I can give you the 4-1-1 on all kinds of memorabilia I’ve come across. Regrettably, I have yet to uncover a Picasso in the piles. More often than not, this is what I find. Sound familiar?

  • Photos of people and places no one knows.
  • Photo albums filled with blurry, faded, mystery, or mildewed photos.
  • Dusty bronzed baby shoes.
  • A cardboard tube with someone’s diploma, never framed.
  • Cards and cards, and more cards – oh my!
  • Boxes filled with memorabilia moved from grandma’s house left unopened, for years.
  • A boxful of baseball cards (or coins, stamps, china sets) meticulously collected, swapped, cataloged, but hidden in storage for years.

Now for some strategies: As with most projects, there are no right or wrong answers. However, there are helpful strategies that may make the task of shrinking your memorabilia piles a bit easier:

  • Don’t feel that you have to keep it all or toss it all; there is a happy middle ground.
  • Don’t be the keeper of other people’s memorabilia.
  • Don’t keep items that are broken, stained, discolored, or threadbare.
  • Don’t keep stuff that you no longer need, use, or want because someone else tells you to keep it. (Give them the stuff!)
  • Google it! Google can help you discover the value of your stash and potential buyers if you’re looking to sell.
  • Open those boxes from grandma’s move. You might just find a pair of used tennis shoes (true story) or then again, you might find a treasure worthy of sharing.
  • Weed out those items that you absolutely no longer want.
  • Remember, your travels and life experiences are yours for the keeping. You get to keep the memories with you forever!

And finally, some tools:  By tools, I don’t mean a sharpie and some post-it-notes, but these “tools” may make displaying, sharing, and enjoying your memorabilia a bit more fun:

  • Scrapbooks and shadow boxes can be a fun way to showcase select memorabiliaLet go of the rest!
  • Consider letting others do the hard work and save your memorabilia for you! Whether you have old VHS tapes, family photos, Reel-to-reel home movies, slides, etc. you can ship them in a box and have an incredible treasure trove delivered electronically to your inbox! (E.g. LegacyBox) The digital collection can make it easier to save, store, retrieve, view, and share your memorabilia.
  • Create a beautiful coffee table book of your grandchild’s favorite artwork, photos from a family reunion, or photos from a special trip.
  • Have a quilt made from a favorite T-shirt collection (E.g.,
  • Give the memorabilia as a gift to someone special. Wrap it up in a box with a pretty bow and a note that tells the story behind the gift.
  • Create your very own art gallery by framing a select set of artwork and grouping them gallery-style in your home!
  • Consign your treasures to a local Auction House or Estate Sale company. Plan to do something fun with the money you make!
  • Review your memorabilia from time to time. Past treasures may no longer pull at your heartstrings. Life changes, interests change, and the sheer volume may mean letting go of what’s no longer important. Please do so without guilt.

I encourage you to take a trip down memory lane to see how much lighter you might feel simply by ditching the past that is no longer meaningful.

Here’s to a fun summer ahead, with new opportunities to create new memories and to do better!

PS – How did you make out with Part I? Inquiring minds want to know!