5 Things To Keep in Mind When Decluttering Sentimental Items

Why is it that sentimental items can be the MOST difficult to declutter? Is it the nostalgia built around each memento? Or is it the feelings of guilt for letting go of a piece of your past? When you open up these boxes you are flooded with countless memories & chapters of your life that made you the person you are today. 

    There’s a reason why Marie Kondo put decluttering sentimental items at the end of the process. It’s VERY difficult & it takes far more time than any purge you will do of your belongings. But I’m here to tell you it is important to let go of the literal baggage you carry around. I’ve discussed this topic before & why even sentimental items can become clutter if you let it. Why would you want to be hauling around tubs of containers filled with years & years of your life? You have to be sure, what you keep is truly worth moving from place to place. 

     Recently, I’ve been going through my own bins of sentimental items & although I’ve narrowed it down quite a bit, I too hold onto a lot of physical memories. And I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could get rid of even more. And by doing so, I learned a lot of valuable lessons I want to share with you. 


 I used to think if something was very near & dear to my heart, I needed to just store it away so it wouldn’t get lost or broken. But I realized it’s kind of sad if you let these precious things sit in a box forever. Wouldn’t you rather make use of it or display it so you can really appreciate it better? For example, I found this story book my Grammy gifted to me when I was very young. Inside the book she has it dated (1994) with a loving message inside. I thought to myself, “how neat would it be to have this displayed in a nursery one day?” “I would love to read this book to my future children.” So, although the book will stay nicely in my save box for now, I look forward to giving this to my children to read one day.


Now, I’ll be honest, when it comes to my dating life I’ve kept every single card my boyfriend has ever given me for the last 6 years. They make me very happy & I love reading through them occasionally. I’m the biggest romantic. But when it comes to cards from other people, no offense, I only keep a select few. For the most part, I’ll display cards around the house like if it was my birthday or Christmas time. After a while I will take them down though. I think it’s ok to have the mindset of appreciating them for the moment but to let them go when it’s over. In terms of holiday cards, I do save them in a baggy with the date on them. This allows me to know who to card the following year. If I do keep a greeting card, it’s either because the message inside is detailed or I want to remember a certain person’s handwriting, like my parents or grandparents. So, if you just sign a card with your name & nothing else, it’s trash. Haha! I kid…but kind of serious.


I’m a sucker for a good photo. It’s the best way to hold special memories no doubt. But remember it’s not the end all be all either. Don’t feel like you need to take a photo for EVERY holiday or EVERY event. But if you do, & you still like printing them out like me, be very selective of your choices. I know most people keep their photos digital (even their childhood ones) but I’m such an old soul & LOVE having prints. You just never know what could happen to them in the digital space. I regularly go through my prints & downsize them. I know how tedious this task is though. I remember I did this with my Nana’s albums. And she had an entire wall of books. The key thing to remember when it comes to photos is to always keep the ones that make you the happiest. Never feel like you need to hold onto a photo because it brings back bad memories. For example: ex relationships or friendships. I think I kept two photos from an old relationship & they were from prom. Otherwise I let them go. 


Like I said, when you are going through sentimental items you are going through literal baggage. Good memories. Bad memories. Losses. Awkward phases. You name it. And this is the reason I go through these items regularly. I don’t like when physical items are holding me back or keeping me from moving forward. I would keep pamphlets from my grandparent’s funerals, cards from my ex boyfriend, photos of friends who I don’t speak to anymore or even diaries with such sad & dramatic messages. I don’t want to be constantly looking at the past especially at those types of moments. I want to understand things like that happen but I’d much rather see only the positives. So, instead I keep photos of my grandparents & memories we had when they were at their best, or highlights of a relationship that were milestones to remember like homecoming or prom. I never want my belongings to keep me stuck. Another thing to keep in mind, is if you are going through items like these during times of grief, be kind to yourself. I personally waited to go through things once I felt more accepting of the situation. I can go more in depth with the topic of grief and special items in a later post. 


What I mean by this is don’t keep items you think you HAVE to keep because the majority of the world does. This is your life & you don’t have to hold onto something if you don’t want it anymore. My example is yearbooks. I threw out every single school yearbook I ever had. And you know why? They are HEAVY as SHIT! And I never really looked through them anyway. I did photocopy a few collages & photos that I keep in a folder. But the actual books seemed pointless. This also goes for any gifts or hand me downs you may receive. Again, never feel like you have to keep anything. If it is something from family, you can always try to give it to someone who would appreciate or use it. But there are times you have to be honest & let them go. Or you could just secretly get rid of them & not say a word. Whatever works best for you. Haha! 

I really hope these suggestions encourage you to go through your sentimental items. If you have any other questions or need advice on the topic, leave a comment down below. I love helping you all out.

62 thoughts on “5 Things To Keep in Mind When Decluttering Sentimental Items”

  1. I love a good sort out, but I am the same when it comes to sentimental items! I totally agree with your views on cards. I’m exactly the same and keep all of them from my husband from the 10 years of us knowing each other! If a card has a lovely message, I keep them too. But like you say, if it’s just your name and theirs… whoops it’s going in the bin! 😅 Thats why I always make a point of writing nice messages in cards. 😌

    Liked by 3 people

  2. These are great tips! I have a big box full of sentimental items that I keep on top of my wardrobe that I really need to sort out at some point soon! I think I still have notebooks from my GCSE’s because I couldn’t be bothered to throw them away!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the idea of making use of special items to you. I am a huge theatre fan and one thing I have always struggled to get rid of when I do a big clear out is my theatre tickets. But they were just in a box doing nothing and it seemed silly to keep them. Then one day I decided to put them all in a scrapbook. It became a fun project for me and now instead of sitting in a box gathering dust, my memories from seeing these theatre shows are all preserved in a nice little memory book.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love that, and made Creative Memories scrapbooks years ago. Problem is paper ruins at some point. I just burned mine in a bonfire a few weeks ago. At least it was cleansing for my soul! I took pictures of each page that meant anything to me first though. ❤️🦋🌀🙏☯️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have 5 decor boxes full of travel mementos, cards, kids art projects. I don’t have the heart to throw them away. But I do keep them on the tallest shelf in the closet…maybe I’m doing my part to reduce the clutter 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  5. such a great post! Not everything needs to be sentimental and therefore a keepsake. And I love re-gifting items, sounds awful but I don’t need some of the things I am given and if someone else needs them? Perfect!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love this post! Very true! I personally keep cards to use for scrapbooking and making gift tags and a few that are special I save. I know most people toss cards so I never buy a card with a gift unless I am gifting a gift card 😆 I too like to print pictures but I do not like the gazillion albums. So I create one album for the year and print the best pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oooo, I know this part is going to be tough for me. I already struggle with decor, clothes, and EVERYTHING! I am proud to say that I gave a trunk full of Christmas decor away that I no longer plan to use. I also made my first listing on a site that sells items. I have a long way to go, but I’m finally starting somewhere. Thanks for the great post and encouragement!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great tips! I agree, if you have something sentimental use it rather than having it gather dust and whatnot in some closet. Every time you use it you will think of that special moment or person 🙂

    All the best, Michelle (

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ohh this is one of the things that you might not want to do but have to. My problem is to keep things that I have since childhood that I might not ever use again simply because they are cute and memorable. I struggle with that a lot. I am still practicing minimalism a little bit everyday by doing small things but it could be hard sometimes.

    I also love to print photos, it is just so much better but I am very picky so I guess it helps in this situation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it takes time, so don’t be hard on yourself. i’ve been on this journey 5 years & I still have moments where decluttering can be difficult. especially with sentimental items, you have to take your time with it.


  10. I’m also a minimalist but hardly remember ever doing a big sentiment declutter in my life because I keep getting rid of extras from time to time such as pictures and a few mementos. But if one does that not often he or she would definitely get overwhelmed. Nice read. thanks for sharing ❤
    Isa A. Blogger


  11. I now really need to go through some bits…and hopefully I’ll manage! I used to keep all the cards as well, but now unless I want to keep it because you are immensely important to me, they end up going as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post, Bee! When I got married in 2019, I literally sold everything including my wedding dress. My family and friends thought I was nuts but I thought why would I keep these things in storage when someone else can use them? Everyone around kept telling me I should keep it for my kids in the future but the what ifs just didn’t justify keeping these things. The only thing I’ve kept is small vow books I made and a small wood sign which I hang up. Having minimal stuff has helped my well-being so much. Thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. this is such a great topic. I think it is most difficult to get rid of things that are sentimental just because of the memories. But I guess at the end of the day if you have too much of it then why not get rid of some of them. After all they are just stuff. What’s most important is who you are with in the present & the memories that are shared

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This post is so helpful because it is hard letting go of sentimental items. When I moved to Denmark & my parents moved out of state, I had to downsize a lot. My parents still have a box of my things, but it’s nothing compared to what I used to have.
    I find getting rid of cards the easiest & I kept a few from my parents & other special cards but the rest I threw away.
    My dad has a TON of photo albums because whenever we went on vacation, he would take tons of pictures, print them out & show them to my grandma. I’m not sure if he downsized, but I’m assuming he did when they moved.
    I personally only have photos of my great-grandparents & grandma that my mother gave me & photos of my daughter.
    I also only have my yearbook from when I graduated (it’s in the box of things at my parents’) & it’s nice having that but I can imagine it would weigh A LOT if you had more than 1.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Moving out is def a time where you discover how much you truly own. I feel like the older generations have tons of photo albums but they are fun to look through. I had a bunch of yearbooks from primary school through high school . It was a lot

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree the photo albums are fun to look at especially the ones from when I was a little kid & don’t remember going to Disney World haha. That is a lot!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Great list! I have sentimental items but they all serve a purpose. I especially love my wingback chair passed down from my grandparents that I sit in every day and a crystal bowl that we use as a fruit bowl from my husband’s grandma. I love the items for their usefulness and I enjoy the sentimental value.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I adore this post – my other half is incredibly sentimental with items and it makes decluttering with him a tough task. These are wonderful suggestions and points of view on how you can keep memories without necessarily items in a box. Thanks for sharing this 🙂


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