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Do you struggle with what to do with sentimental items?

February 10, 2023
Professional organizer sorting and organizing sentimental items

It is hard and overwhelming to know what to do with items that are sentimental. Whether they are from a loved one, have memories attached or we've simply had them forever, these items also tend to carry some guilt and anxiety with them.

As we get older, our collections seem to grow - and as our own collections grow - sometimes we also inherit our parents' or grandparents' collections. All of a sudden, you're completely overwhelmed with boxes and piles of things, which all feel important. What do we do? Here are my tips...

Practice decluttering and donating elsewhere first.


Sentimental items are the hardest. If you're new to the decluttering and organizing journey, don't start with the box of mementos from your mom's house. It's simply too hard.


Once you declutter and organize your junk drawer, closet, pantry and kitchen, you will have "flexed the muscle" of making decluttering decisions and it will be easier to apply those same rules to sentimental items.

Organized Laundry Room

Ask yourself these questions:


As with other items in your home, you can ask yourself:

  • Do I love this?
  • Do I use this?
  • Will I ever use this?
  • Is this worth the space it occupies? (You can have the space or the stuff, not both!)
  • Is this serving me, emotionally?

Beyond those questions, specifically for sentimental items, I want you to ask yourself:

  • Why am I keeping this? (Guilt is not the right answer)
  • Can I keep the memory without the item?
  • Can I keep the memory with only a subset of the items (i.e. one of the teacups, not the whole set)?
  • Could I take a picture of it instead of keeping the physical item?
sentimental items

Then, for the items you're keeping, ask yourself this:

"Am I honoring these items"?


What I mean by that is: are you treating those items that are so important to you with the love and respect they deserve? Is the teacup your grandma used displayed in your china cabinet so you can see it everyday? Or is it stuffed in a soggy cardboard box in your basement?


If we love the items enough to keep them, I recommend either finding a way to display them or ensuring they are well protected and have an orderly home somewhere. Finding meaningful sentimental items that have become damp, moldy or broken due to improper storage is the worst.

Objects on a shelf