Ask Unclutterer: Photographing sentimental objects

Reader Mary submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

I’ve noticed that one of the main pieces of advice you give to people looking to reduce or corral sentimental clutter is to photograph it and then toss the original item. I have to admit I am baffled by this. I cannot think of a single “memory” item I have retained where simply having a photograph of it would be as valuable as having the original. This does not include things like photographs and documents, where scanning does make sense to me since it’s about the information, but not the physical object–I’m talking about 3D objects. Could you give me some examples of the types of items you have found photographing useful for? Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who can let go of the sensory experience of holding a memory in my hand.

Mary, my guess is you are better at letting go of things than I am. Your home probably isn’t being overrun with items you deem sentimental. You likely only retain an amount you can manage and honor appropriately. The reason the advice is baffling to you is because you can’t imagine replacing your valuable sentimental items with a less valuable photograph, which is healthy.

The problem I have — and many of our readers, too — is that we want to keep all items with any sentimental attachment, even the stuff we don’t value more than a photograph. Before I started my uncluttering journey, I had every handbill anyone had handed to me on the street when I was on a vacation. They were sentimental, because they reminded me of the vacation, but they weren’t the most valuable trinkets from my vacations. I actually value a photograph of these handbills more than the real objects, so the decision to photograph and get rid of them was simple.

The decision to replace a sentimental object with a photograph should be based on your answers to the following questions:

  1. Would an image of the object recall the same memory as the physical object?
  2. Would you value an image of the object the same as the object or more than the object?

If “yes” is your answer to both questions, photograph the object and get rid of it. If “no” is your answer to both questions, find a way to feature the object in your home. If your answers are split, take a photograph of the object and store the object in a taped-up box in your garage or storage space for six months. If six months have passed and you’ve never accessed the box to look at the object, you should be fine with just keeping the photograph and getting rid of the original object.

Thank you, Mary, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.

47 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Photographing sentimental objects”

  1. posted by Teresa Kistler on

    Maybe a good example for Mary: I cross-stitched a lovely marriage sampler for my sister, who has since divorced. She doesn’t want the reminder, but it is beautiful, and I’m having a hard time just throwing it away because I had spent the time cross-stitching, framing, etc. So, maybe after I take a picture, I can let it go too!

  2. posted by Jeffrey A. Haines on

    I’m in my mid 20s, and now that my wife and I have a house of our own, we have just gone through the experience of removing all of our personal items from our parents’ houses.

    For both of us, there were many items from our childhoods that we both felt we would want to be able to show our own children someday, but we just didn’t have the room, or the need, to keep the physical objects. Some of these things included countless trophies and awards from sports teams on which we had played, memorabilia from scouting and academic achievements, and even the products of hobbies we had once loved.

    It’s great to save things for the treasured memories they help us recall, but we had been saving many of these things with the hope that we could use them to inspire our own children someday. We have since realized that there is no guarantee our children will even share any of the same interests we did, and who knows if the hobbies we enjoyed will even be relevant with the increased speed of cultural change.

    Getting rid of so many of these items has given us both the feeling of having a burden lifted from our backs–we didn’t realize that as long as these objects were in our parents’ closets, we were also carrying them around in the back of our minds.

    Letting go of these things, but still preserving them in easy-to-store digital photographs that we could someday show our children has given us both a feeling of satisfaction, as well as has freed up valuable space in our home.

  3. posted by Carol on

    I absolutely love taking photographs of the item and then donating or selling the item. That has probably been the single most valuable tip I’ve gotten from this site.

    I inherited a lot of stuff from my grandmother. The only thing of hers I actually wanted was an antique treadle sewing machine. What I got was the sewing machine, her Franklin Mint doll collection, knick-knacks, “good” china, good silver, stained linens, photographs, pillow cases and more. If I actually displayed most of what I’d gotten, my home would look like my grandmother lived there instead of me. That’s not how I want to live. I hung onto this stuff for years because I felt like I *had* to, not because I wanted any of it.

    Since I began uncluttering I’ve started photographing and selling the items I don’t want. I can still look at the pictures and remember how beautiful the items were and experience all the memories they held without the items taking up large amounts of space in my home.

    This may not work for everyone but it’s done wonders for me.

  4. posted by Damsel on

    We’re in the military and are being stationed overseas this summer. We’re uncluttering like I’ve never done before.

    We had about 10 coffee mugs that we loved for sentimental reasons. I convinced my husband to let me take a picture of them and then get rid of them.

    We have a digital picture frame in our living room that’s on pretty much 24/7/365. I added the pictures of the coffee mugs to the frame, and now, when the pictures of the mugs come up, we point to it and remember when/where each mug came from… and we laugh about the day we took pictures of them!

    It was a great solution, and I think I’ll be doing that for several more of our sentimental items! I love that we see them on the digital frame sometimes, instead of having a picture filed away somewhere, never to be seen again. Or worse, printed pictures in frames somewhere, since it’s stuff I don’t really want to see all day everyday…

  5. posted by Jimena on

    I’ve also taken photographs of items that are TRULY valuable to me. after my mom died, I photographed a few of the most important things she’d made me, as insurance. having gone throuh an unexpected loss, I couldn’t imagine having a house fire take away even the object she’d left behind.
    in this case i do NOT intend to get rid of those particular items, but I think of it in the same way I back up my data. I need the extra safety and assurance of knowing I have a reminder of the items in case of disaster.

  6. posted by MaryJo @ reSPACEd on

    I think photographing sentimental items is an especially good idea when it comes to dealing with kids’ artwork and school projects. You can take a photo of the artwork or project and make an amazing photo album using free software available online. Include pics of the kids throughout the school year, and you have now created a wonderful keepsake for your child of their school year and all their projects, which takes up far less space than a year’s worth of paintings and science projects.

    If you’re interested in details about this idea, I blogged about it here: http://respacedpdx.blogspot.co.....-your.html

    And by the way, I LOVE Damsel’s idea of putting the images of the coffee mugs on the digital photo frame! So good for a laugh throughout the day.

  7. posted by paul on

    The Q & A here just underscores that uncluttering is very much a personal process with decisions that only you can make. I expect we’ve all done the “gather and hoard” of every handbill, flyer, receipt, etc from a trip but unless you’re a very disciplined scrapbooker or archivist, it can be overwhelming to deal with. And just as you pack less the more you travel and realize how little you actually need, you’ll probably find that you bring home less, as you learn from the experience of dealing with it when you get home.

    If our host and proprietor agrees, I would suggest an additional strategy (if it hasn’t come up already) and that’s the Deadline or Challenge Goal. If you haven’t archived/organized the stuff from That Trip with 30/60/180 days or your return, ask yourself if you are really going to? You have pictures you took, maybe, and some other trinkets (I like to buy an article of clothing, not necessarily with the name of the place, but a serviceable shirt or sweater that represents that place’s culture or traditions but that can be worn anywhere). Do you need the paper stuff?

    I am trying to use deadlines and goals, terrible procrastinator and slave of chaos that I am, to organize my workspaces and both inventory what I have and remind myself these things are to be used. If you can remind yourself why you have this stuff in the first place, you can maybe motivate yourself to organize and use it more.

  8. posted by Mary on

    We recently moved and did get rid of a lot of items. But now that we are in our new, smaller home, it’s time to get rid of more items. I came across a number of award plaques from college that I had received. I knew I was never going to hang them up anywhere in our new home and they were 15 years old or even older. The ones that certificates displayed on them, I removed the certificates. The others I took closeup photos. Then I disposed of them. I have the pictures saying what they were for, but don’t have them taking up space.

  9. posted by Chloé on

    I’ve gotten rid of stuff that way. For example I decluttered a couple clothes that I kept for sentimental reason purely, since they didn’t fit me anymore. One was a t-shirt that my cousin, who’s an artist, created for me one Christmas. Another one was the pants I traveled to Malaysia and Morocco with: hideous pattern, torn apart, but so dear to my heart. Taking the pictures was a great way to help me get rid of the physical item, especially since I’m a (digital… less clutter) scrapbooker: I was able to scrap those items and the memories linked to them so that I can remember.

  10. posted by Carol on

    Nowadays they give out trophies and/or ribbons to kids in school for EVERYTHING! So maybe you’d like to remember that you got a trophy in the 6th grade math challenge etc. etc., but keeping a photo of it in an album would be so much better than having the actual trophy to dust or stuff in a box in the attic.

  11. posted by Vanessa H. on

    Mary, I use this technique for getting rid of things that I know are not logical to be sentimental about and that I just don’t have room for anymore, like the pair of boots I got in 1995 that I never wear anymore, or the purse I loved but that got a bleach stain on it. There are certain sentimental objects I know are logical to keep, and I would never use this technique for those items.

  12. posted by Anne on

    I actually got the opposite impression from reading Mary’s question. It sounds like she’s a hoarder, as I used to be, and needs a bit of encouragement, a little “nudge”, to break her unhealthy attachment to physical objects. I think, ironically, this site attracts hoarders who deep down are uneasy about their relationship with physical clutter and are looking for inspiration, as I was. The answer to Mary’s question is quite simple: over time you forget what you once owned or, if you remember what you had, you forget what it looked like. A photograph means you’ll never forget. Recently we threw our ancient TV and digital camera in the trash and replaced them with 3D versions – I think any self-respecting unclutterer should consider doing the same. My son wanted to unclutter some of his childhood toys so we took a 3D video of them with our new camera – a perfect solution for preserving the memory of 3D objects.

    Having said all that, who’s to say there’s anything wrong with being a hoarder? Maybe Mary could research ways of storing, displaying and preserving all those physical objects she can’t bring herself to part with, even if her attachment to them is baffling to us unclutterers.

  13. posted by Zac on

    “The problem I have — and many of our readers, too — is that we want to keep all items with any sentimental attachment, even the stuff we don’t value more than a photograph.”

    Exactly. I didn’t realize how well this concept might work until I found an old photo of my first car. It really took me back to see the old house and the car. Somethings I have held on to I only have because they remind me of other people or special moments, regardless of their value. In those instances, a photo would work just as well to evoke the memory. I am going to photograph a few things tonight and try to find the right way to let them go.

  14. posted by Zac on

    I have a question. What is the best way to get rid of my old childhood teddy bear? I have been lugging this thing around all my life and the thought of throwing it away in a landfill horrifies me. I know I can photograph it, but what then? I don’t think any child would want to play with the shabby old thing.

  15. posted by Alice F. on

    This technique worked really well for me when my dad passed away last year. There were a few items of his that I wanted a photo of but didn’t care to hold onto the physical object. For example, when I was a small child, my dad was a pretty serious amateur bowler. So my brother and I took several photos of his bowling ball, bag, shoes and trophies. The photos serve as a reminder of something that was special to Dad, but take up a lot less space.

  16. posted by Shalin on

    This solution worked well for me in my recent move out East. I was left with much less “stuff” than I otherwise would’ve had.

    –S

  17. posted by henave on

    I enjoy looking at the pictures from my childhood of the house we lived in. I can clearly see many objects from my childhood and remember them, but have no desire at all to touch or see them for real (which is good as they are looooong gone).

    I just made photo books for my kids ages 10 and 13 of their artwork from the prolific years of preschool through elem. school and the detail is excellent- you can even read the writing on the artwork.

  18. posted by JustGail on

    I like the idea of the photos for many things – like trophies & certificates. Sometimes, it just doesn’t do the job. For some things, it’s the feel, smell or some other non-visual quality of the object that is the trigger for the memory. Is it better to put it in a box and don’t look at it for a long time, or better to keep it out where you have to see it every day? For some people or items it may be easier to decide to let it go after seeing it constantly, for others it’s easier after not being a part of your daily life. I’ve had mementos I’ve gotten rid of because I had them out and saw so often that they became part of the background and somehow separated from the emotional part of my memory. And other items I’d packed away were gotten rid of because when I finally unpacked them, the memory just didn’t seem to need the item. I still had the memories, but somehow the emotions were no longer attached to the mementos. And yes, I do have some things that would probably baffle others as to why I keep them.

  19. posted by JustGail on

    A good example of something that photos can’t replace is the baby socks I got before the DS was born and a couple of items of baby clothing. Holding those remind me of the size he once was in a way photos could not. He never did wear those socks, they were too small from the start. I should not be suprised that at 15 years old, he wears size 14 shoes! Yet, I am. I only kept 1 pair of socks and a couple of items of clothing. I think keeping much more would start to cross the line to hoarding, unless more children were planned.

  20. posted by Lizard on

    Zac,
    Your question touched me. Depending on your relationship with this bear, these ideas might sound awesome or worse than a landfill!

    – Bury him in the backyard
    – Open up a few holes and leave the bear out where birds can take the stuffing to line their nests
    – Find a crafty friend who can take apart the bear and reuse the fabric to make something you can keep using, like a throw pillow or a drawstring pouch for a digital camera.
    – Give him to an animal shelter. No guarantees whether he’ll end up a companion or a chew toy, though.

  21. posted by EngineerMom on

    Honestly, I think the best way of dealing with sentimental clutter is to move yourself. Often. Cross-country if you can manage it. 😉

    Nothing makes you re-evaluate sentimental items more than the thought of carrying them up and down many flights of stairs and spending money to drive them all over the country!

    Seriously, though, my biggest difficulty has been in dealing with the physical items of events like my wedding. I also have a lot of digital photographs, but I have such fond memories of reading through the card’s from my mom’s wedding with her that it’s hard to get rid of my own.

  22. posted by Daina on

    @Teresa Kistler – depending on what you’ve cross-stitched, can you not unpick the specific parts like the ex-husbands name and make the cross-stitch more generic? That’s what I did with some of my work.

  23. posted by Earth man on

    In response to many of the other comments here, it seems a shame that so many people are throwing things in the trash…

    Please consider trash only as the very last option on your list…pretty much everything can and should be recycled these days!

    We only have a limited amount of landfill space and even if you don’t want something, there are millions of other people who might. When I suggest this to my friends I am often laughed at, for example “what this? It’s a 2008 design!”. For example, I have come into contact with many homeless people who don’t care about fashion or minor defects, they are just happy to have clothes.

    In other countries, old electronics are being dismantled and parts recycled. We are in grave danger of running out of many of the rare elements that are contained in most of these electronic items: http://www.naturalnews.com/028.....ining.html

    Believe it or not, even Helium is going to run out in the next 25-30 years…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....59357.html

    If you want to be able to have a new TV or iPhone or computer next year, please consider recycling.
    Peace!

  24. posted by Jen on

    I had a chuckle at the image of watching birds ripping apart a beloved teddy bear for nesting material. A bit Alfred Hitchcockian… yet practical and ecologically sound.

    Zac- how about having a local artist do a beautiful painting of your bear to hang in your bedroom? Then you can lay him outside for the birds!

  25. posted by MSPunclutterer on

    Zac – why do you need to get rid of the bear? Unless you have 15 bears from your childhood a few momentos are fine. There are also places that can restore dolls/stuffed animals. My parents did that with a bear of my Dad’s that had been left in the basement. They cleaned him up as good as new (the bear, not my Dad) and my brother and I both played with him as children. Now the bear lives in the rocking chair in the family room and some day my brothers kids will play with him.

  26. posted by Katie on

    How is having a photo (or many photos) of handbills having less clutter than retaining the handbills? Is it because they fit in a smaller photo album? That doesn’t seem to me to save any space. The photos still need to be organized after all.

  27. posted by Jenny on

    A while back one of the cleaning shows on TV showed a man who got teary-eyed over an old broken-down vacuum cleaner. Turns out it held happy memories of growing up in a family that did Saturday chores together. The suggestion was that he take a photograph of it for the memory and let go of the vacuum itself, which was large, bulky, heavy, and didn’t even work anymore. The photograph would trigger the same memories as the actual vacuum.

  28. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Katie — They’re digital photos. I don’t print them, they simply reside on my computer’s hard drive (and online backup system). I’ve also had all of my pre-digital pictures scanned so most of them don’t take up physical space in the house any longer.

  29. posted by Margaret on

    Ah, digital photos. That explains it! I was wondering the same as Katie. My albums from my trips are a mix of photo pages with slots for printed photos, and peel-back pages where I put receipts from various stops on the trip, and the postcard I bought in case my non-digital photos didn’t turn out. Like Paul, I like buying serviceable items like t-shirts, sweaters or towels as souvenirs. I travel with one back-pack so I leave room for a major item of clothing, and the rest of my souvenirs are flat, like fridge magnets, currently arranged on a cookie sheet hanging on the wall, to leave the fridge clear of clutter.

  30. posted by Rondina on

    When my two girls were growing up they took private art classes an artist gave for some of the neighborhood kids. They made some amazing art and I have kept the woven items, handmade paper and ceramics, but those wonderful three dimensional sculptures (my favs) could not be stored for too long. I set them up and took lots of photographs. It isn’t the same, but at least I have those pictures.

  31. posted by katrina on

    Something to consider for the suggestions – its often the memory that’s important and not the item. If, for example, you have a nicknack that belonged to a deceased relative and the memory means something to many family members, consider recording those memories. eg Take photos of family members with the nicknack and record or type up their anecdotes and store them with the photos. Then everyone can share the memory and not just the person with the nicknack … and you can get rid of the nicknack too.

    Zac, you can keep the bear if you want to and you don’t want it to go into the trash. The uncluttering is really about those things of secondary importance that we keep which really aren’t that important.

  32. posted by Crystal on

    Recently purchased the neatreceipts scanner (mac) and at first I was a bit put off by price. The desktop model really pricey in my opinion. But have found the neatreceipts to be a wonderful investment for reasons like this. We are now scanning in all those pieces of paper and awards and artwork that have stacked up in boxes. It is GREAT. I love the idea of making them into books. The tips i.e about thinking whether a pic of an item would be “enough” are helpful. Is still not possible for me to think of getting rid of a shirt that was my grandma’s. Tis ok- is one blouse in my closet. I see it daily and it brings comfort.

  33. posted by Alice F. on

    Margaret, love the idea of putting the magnets on a cookie sheet & hanging it on the wall! I collect magnets on my travels too – they’re so nice & small – but my fridge is getting a little crowded. 🙂

  34. posted by dawn on

    Seeing a photo of something I really loved would make me wish I still had it.

  35. posted by Ariel on

    I find it’s been helpful to photograph sentimental clothes (like t-shirts or jerseys) that we don’t wear, and big things like stuffed animals.

  36. posted by Mist on

    I used this technique with furniture. We moved into a slightly smaller home and several pieces I loved no longer fit. I took pictures of them before I donated them, may even be useful someday if I decide to replace them- I can simply show a picture of what I’m looking for to an antique dealer or at a furniture store. Also I “inherited” a couch from my grandmother that I loved, but was so uncomfortable we couldn’t live with it anymore. Saved a tremendous amount of space!

  37. posted by Anna B on

    I thought the photograph idea was awesome and I used it for a T-shirt I got doing a college mission trip. The shirt itself was BRIGHT orange, a color I could never actually wear, but on the back had a list of the folks who went on the trip along with our trip-specific nicknames. So I took a picture of the back of the Tshirt and donated the actual shirt to a thrift store. Now, I can actually look at my shirt MORE often, since it’s on my computer and not stuffed in a drawer!

  38. posted by Red on

    Photographing sentimental items, I feel, works best when you are someone who hides these things away in a closet otherwise.

    For instance, a comment above mentioned kids’ artwork. Well, if your children make Christmas ornaments throughout elementary school and you put them out on your tree each year (as my parents do), I don’t think there’s any shame in keeping these things.

    But I had a teddy bear that I was given by my grandmother as a baby. He was in disrepair and was kept up in my closet 24/7. At first, I tried displaying him in my home. Then I realized that I didn’t need the teddy bear to remind me of my close relationship with my grandmother. In fact, I didn’t enjoy displaying him.

    I took a picture of the stuffed animal, repaired him and donated him to Goodwill. I hope that another grandmother buys him and gives him to her grandchild to enjoy.

    I did the same thing with an ill-thought-out shot glass collection I started a few years ago. I had them stuffed away in my cupboard. First, I tried displaying them, but it gave my kitchen a frat boy feel I didn’t like. Then I realized – I rarely drink! What’s the point in keeping all of these shot glasses when I don’t use them and don’t enjoy displaying them? I whittled my collection of 20+ down to my three favorites. (You never know when you’ll need to bust out a few shot glasses!) I took pictures of the rest and donated them.

    I would never encourage someone who is sensible about what constitutes “sentimental” items and who displays them proudly to toss the items after taking photographs.

  39. posted by Karen on

    I love the magnet idea! I usually purchase a keychain from each place we visit; I could do a similar thing with small nails or tacks on a corkboard or in a shadow box. Right now, we use a few of them, but mostly they’re in a pile on the “mail center” on the wall.

    I also like the idea of taking a photo of different family members or friends with the item. If it was something everyone used, or has fond memories of, that’s a great way to display them. I have also whittled down our coffee mug collection, but still have a few I can’t seem to get rid of. One was from a very young music student, and I laugh every time I look at it. It has music notes on a staff and says, “I know all the best bars.” It’ll do much better in a photograph!

  40. posted by Jen on

    I think the best explanation I’ve heard for taking photographs in lieu of actually keeping stuff can be found at http://www.infinitegarage.com.

    For me, when I see old items, even in photographs, it activates a bunch of brain connections that I haven’t used in a long time. I remember things I hadn’t thought of in a long time. It reinforces my memory.

  41. posted by Mary on

    To pipe up from the original poster here–y’all have such great ideas! One thing I’m struggling with is the fact that I try to keep my photo collection (even digital) uncluttered by keeping it to mostly photos that have people in them, since those are the most special to me–so having a photo of a stuffed animal or trophy would for me seem silly and unsentimental, unless it was a candid or spontaneously posed photo of a person using the beloved object. I guess the moral there is to take pictures while you can, when the object is at its most use and meaning.

    Even though I had asked for specific examples, the most helpful wisdom I have taken away from your wonderful comments is that it works differently for everyone and you just have to look into your heart to see what makes sense and will be most meaningful for you. Thanks y’all! I am gearing up for a move and will definitely bear this in mind as a possible solution when I come across things that don’t seem worth the U-Haul space.

  42. posted by Wendy on

    The quality of the photo is important too. Seeing a bad snapshot of an item you loved might make you long for it even more, but a quality photo or photographic essay that includes your memories, may be all you need to hold on to the memory and let go of the clutter. I’ve also used Pinterest to archive some important childhood memories: http://lifescollections.com/toys/toys-i-loved/
    It was a lightweight, clutter-free way to reminisce!

  43. posted by Jessiejack on

    @Wendy – what a great idea to use Pinterest. I looked at your toys collage and that brought back my own memories!! Lite Brite yeah!

  44. posted by Zac on

    Thanks all for the thoughts and suggestions.
    @Lizard, those are good ideas, and I did toy with the idea of the burial (I have used that method before for some smaller items). The bird nest idea is intriguing, but alas I am a city dweller. I just might give it to my Bull Terrier. He would certainly put it to good use!

    @MSPunclutterer & Katrina, its pretty ugly and big so I am reluctant to ‘display’ it and I guess I just figured my future children might not want it. That is the reason I have kept it so long though. I have tried refurbishing it. It had an adorable hole where it’s ‘heart’ would be with a piece of visible red stuffing behind it that I mended about 10 years ago. He is still missing an eye.

    I have dutifully held onto ‘Fatty’ for over 30 years now. I have really pared down on possessions and fine tuned my attachments, so it isn’t a problem to keep it. I just try to follow the rule that “if you don’t display it, you should rethink keeping it”

    Maybe Fatty will stick around for a while longer

  45. posted by Jen on

    This post (and the comments) have really inspired me. Interesting because I’ve read this advice before on your site. I have all this stuff from my wedding and bridal shower (10 years ago now) that I really don’t want and just takes up space in my closet. It’s stuff that my MIL and SIL made for the shower and wedding – like a set of teddy bears wearing a dress and tux, a lacy parasol, a scrabble board with letters glued on spelling out wedding type words, and other cutesy stuff from the shower. It was really nice that they did all this stuff for me and they spent a lot of time making it, but I really don’t want it taking up space and that’s all it does. I don’t want to display any of it but my husband won’t really let me get rid of it. Maybe if I take pictures of all of it (and we can put the pics in the electronic “wedding” folder, and even print some out and put them in the bridal shower album – yes, I have one of these), he will think it’s ok to part with this stuff. Thanks for the inspiration!

  46. posted by Tamra on

    I collected little dreamsicle statues as a teenager (they look like little baby angels). Fastforward several years–I no longer felt the need for these knicknacks, but loved the memory of each one (most had stories behind them). So I lined them up, took a few nice pictures and was able to get rid of them. I also did this with a couple of old high school formal dresses. Now I have the memory, but don’t have to lug the items I don’t need around.

  47. posted by Laura on

    Some of you guys have really sweet stories!

    Here’s my experience with this…

    I did this too, I actually got the idea on this web site a couple years ago. My grandmother was the sweetest person I have ever met. She spent almost every day of the year looking through catalogs and stores to store up Christmas presents for us. My “theme” was frogs. I still love frogs. She gave me so many AWESOME frog decorations. I actually had them up in my house until I got married. My husband despises knicknacks and hates anything being stored as well. He’s a minimalist with no idea that the concept exists, it’s just how he thinks. This put me into a tough bind, force someone to live with my precious decorations from my grandmother or find them another home. I chose to take pictures of each and every piece and then pass them on. It really is a marriage saver for me!

    Now, I’m becoming more like him. I donated all of my wedding dresses and attire (we got married here and in China) – I figured, why keep these things around for 30 years getting eaten by moths in the off chance my potential future daughter might be interested in seeing them…I highly doubt she would ever wear them anyway. Someone else can use them now and enjoy them! It’s a good thing we’ve been purging because now we might be moving to China in a couple months and won’t have money to put all that stuff in storage when we find renters for our house here.

    It’s actually easier to pull up the pictures to take a trip down memory lane than digging out and unpacking storage items.

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