Finding a way to pare down and store memorabilia isn’t always easy. It can feel daunting to sift through a tub or box of papers, tickets, cards, invitations, and all sorts of what-nots that you have been storing for years. And there can be some embarrassment or shame over the fact that you kept some of the stuff in the first place!
I mean, why was I storing 17 year-old faded receipts from the cake decorator!??!?! Ugh!
But… I have been determined to fight the shame & embarrassment and resolved to keep chipping away at the tubs taking up too much space in our storage area. Along the way I have been doing a little research and conducting my own experiments to find out how we can all let go with a little more ease.
Here’s a recap of my sessions with a tub of “stuff” that we had been storing from our wedding and a product called the Wedding Edition Keepsake Box from Savor.
I decided to buy this product from Savor after thinking about the amount of space that I wanted this category of stuff to take up in our home. Savor’s box with the folders & the little pull-out drawers felt like it would offer enough options to store a variety of different items and I liked the ease of having everything ready for me when I sat down to work on the project.
Disclaimer: You do not need to buy a fancy product to get organized. There are a million ways to store your things with items you already have in your house (shoeboxes, file folders, binders, paperclips, ziploc bags, etc.). I chose this product because I wanted to conduct a little experiment to find out if a tool like this can make the organizing process easier.
I pulled the tub down from the shelf & began my first sort. This meant I was only looking for things that I knew were a definite “NO.” So I was making a “TO KEEP” & a “NOT TO KEEP” pile. Remember this was my first sort. I wasn’t trying to organize. It was all about decluttering. Making decisions & letting go of the extras.
I had some good laughs as I pulled out a big white wedding binder with color-coded folders that held all of the pamphlets, brochures & magazine pages that we had compiled during the dreaming & planning phase. It was fun to remember all of the time spent in the planning phase, but it was easy to let go of most of the stuff in the binder because it didn’t hold specific memories- other than how excited & geeked-out we were about planning our “big day!”
After that first sort, I took out the recycling & trash that I had created & put the “TO KEEP” stuff back in the bin until I could carve out time for the next step.
The funny thing about sentimental things is that we often need a little time/distance from the event or the memory to allow the decisions to come easier. Time can create some perspective about what really feels important & what doesn’t speak to your heart any more. So, it really doesn’t surprise me that 17 years had to pass before I felt I could let go with more ease.
When I dug in again, I gave myself a bigger chunk of time and some room to spread out. This time I was thinking about the story that I wanted to tell with the things that I planned to save. It was like going on a treasure hunt. Finding the best items to tell our story.
"What story will these items tell about our wedding & our marriage?"
I let go of receipts & blurred photos. I pulled out a few pages from a barely-used wedding planner and let go of the rest. I let go of any duplicates & all of those chicken-scratched notes of to-dos.
And then it was time to start organizing what was left. I started dividing things into categories: engagement, wedding showers, ceremony, reception…
Savor helped me out with this by providing pre-labeled stickers & folders that I could slide everything into. I made a few categories of my own using their blank labels.
The items that didn’t fit into folders found homes in the little storage boxes & those were offered a few labels too.
The whole process involved some time & diligence, but I was able to pare down from a huge plastic tub into an attractive box that can fit on a bookshelf & could be looked at on our anniversary or any time we want to take a trip back in time.
This project had been waiting patiently for 17 years to get some attention and I’m so glad it did. Pulling out the tub offered a chance for my husband and I to reminisce about that very special time in our life. And I think the items that we saved can now tell their own story of how we wanted to start our marriage.
When I offer a talk on this subject, I remind people that it will probably take a few sorts before you really get down to the amount that you really want to keep. That means starting out with the expectation that you will do a first sort, or first pass, to pull out the “junk” or items that you had forgotten were being stored & feel no emotional pull toward. Then you can come back and do another sort with the items that are left. At this point you can be more discerning as you ask yourself questions about whether this item still offers a good memory and tells a story you’d like to remember or share.
If you are interested in more of Savor’s products you can find them here.
And I’d love to hear your thoughts on sentimental projects. Have you recently tackled a project that involved sifting & sorting to curate your special memories? Or are you hoping to get started on a project, but don’t know how or where to begin? Tell me about it!