School & College Keepsakes

Do you have boxes in your storage of school and/or college memorabilia? (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

Without opening a box, can you state what’s inside the box(es)?

Items from our school days remind us of our youth. You become a teenager in high school again, you remember your first year of university. These keepsakes are sentimental and therefore more difficult to part with.

So how do we sort through our youth?

Let’s consider first that most of these mementos are likely in a box in the basement, attic, or storage unit. When was the last time you looked at them? And out-of-sight-out-of-mind, let me ask, when was the last time you thought about them? This is key information for you to consider with intention.

The piles for sorting items from our childhood is the same as any other minimizing situation with one exception, the “undecided” keep pile. Create keep, “undecided” keep, recycle, donate, and garbage piles. The purpose of the undecided keep pile is to make the job go a bit quicker. There are some items on the first pass through the boxes that you will be undecided about it, you’ll want to keep the item, but are unsure if you should, or you’ll want to part with the item, but second guess yourself. If the hard decision is out of reach at this moment, put the item in the undecided keep pile. This keeps your work flowing, helps the emotional aspect of going through keepsakes from youth, and helps you build confidence and practice as you go through the rest of your items.

(Note: If the box has had any moisture at any time and it smells musty or you can see mold, unfortunately, you need to just close the box and discard the contents. That can be an unfortunate situation when stuff is stored for a long period of time.)

As you sort, consider items that are important enough to you that you would want to put on display. A common display idea is curating a shadow box that can then be hung on a wall and appreciated. There’s no point in keeping items in a box in storage. No one, especially you, are appreciating them. The keep pile should be the items that are the best of the best of the contents of that box. The best memories, the truly feel-good items. And they should be few.

If this shadow box interests you, then some determination of the size of the box and how many items would reasonably be on display in the box will help you to select just the few exceptional possessions that you would want on display.

Once you’ve gone through all of the items, you may feel you need a bit of a break to clear your head before starting the second part of the process, that’s a good idea. Go have a tea or coffee and separate yourself from this job for half an hour or so. Then come on back and go through the “undecided” pile again. It should be easier this time to make more difficult decisions. Is this an item you would display in your home? If the answer is no, let it go.

Take pictures of items you are letting go. You can always make a keepsake book and even write the stories attached to the memories of those items and then you still have the memories. This is something your family would appreciate. ( is my go-to digital album creating website.)

Most memorabilia from youth is not donatable or creates enough interest to sell, however, if you have something that may be of interest to others, certainly donate or sell it. If selling, set a time limit (no more than one week) on when it needs to be sold by. If it doesn’t sell, donate it.

You may find that you are willing to part with most of your “undecided” pile. The fact that you were undecided, attests to that.

Now move on to your “keep” pile. This will be more difficult in the process, but you’ve had lots of practice by now. Think about your chosen display area, shadow box or otherwise. How many items do you think realistically fit into the area so that it won’t be so jam packed that no item can be appreciated.

If you have more than one item that’s tied to a specific memory, which item has the most value to you? Only keep that one.

You may have some items that could be given to loved ones. Maybe a piece of jewellery that could be handed down to a daughter, son, grandchild, or niece/nephew?

Some items can be repurposed. Do you have clothing items that you kept? They can be repurposed and made into a throw pillow or quilt. Perhaps you have small items that could be placed inside of fillable Christmas ornaments, this brings those memories out once per year to be truly appreciated and then get put away again and greatly reduces clutter.

A fabulous quote by Kerri Richardson, author of From Clutter to Clarity, states, “It’s okay to get rid of things others would keep.” We get caught up in thinking we need to keep yearbooks or school rings, but maybe these items aren’t important to you any longer. It’s okay to let them go. If you’re looking for permission to let these kinds of things go, you have it. It’s okay.

Don’t keep things in a box in storage. If they are important enough to keep, then have them where you can appreciate and enjoy them. All the rest can go.

I welcome your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comments below.

Remember you can share your journey with me and others by using hashtag #MarchMicroMinimizing, and tag me on Facebook or Instagram using handle @suzannegouldenILC.

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Here’s me talking about school and college keepsakes!

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