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How to Declutter Sentimental Items

Letting go of sentimental items can be tough, but these tips on how to declutter sentimental items can help make it easier for you.

We all have items in our home that we feel an attachment to because of the memories they stir in us each and every time we see them. 

But, if you have so many sentimental items that they are packed away in boxes in the garage or hidden away in a closet never to see the light of day again, then these items aren’t stirring much of anything except dust.

If those so called old sentimental items are cluttering up your home making it difficult to clean various areas, or preventing you from adding new items you would really like, then it is time to bite the bullet and declutter those sentimental items to make room for your present instead of your past.

How to declutter sentimental items

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Fear of Letting Go of Sentimental Items

Letting go of sentimental items is hard. Oh yes, I know! The fear of letting go of items we have emotional attachment to can be paralyzing, making it difficult to declutter.

I inherited a lot of stuff from my mom when she passed away seven years ago. I became so attached to those items because they reminded me of my mom and made me feel close to her.

It was hard for me to let go of those sentimental items even when I didn’t have any need for most of them.

In fact, I was afraid to let go of those items. I was afraid of losing my mom’s memory. For me, letting go of the items mean losing my mom’s memory.

It took me a couple of years to come to term with the fact that those items do not represent my mom and getting rid of them does not in any way erase the memory of my mom. My mom’s memory will always be in my heart no matter what.

Only after I acknowledged this fact was I able to let go and declutter the items I don’t need. However, I didn’t just get rid of her stuff, I still kept some of the items as a memorial!

Here are some tips on how to declutter those sentimental items from your home.

5 Guilt free Tips on Letting Go of Sentimental Items

#1. Get Yourself in the Right Frame of Mind

It is much easier to declutter those so called sentimental items if we begin in the right state of mind.

Start by remembering that our most precious memories are stored in our hearts and in our minds not in boxes or bags.

Ask yourself if you really need to hang on to those old outgrown and outdated pair of ice skates to remember the first time you went skating with your dad?

Chances are, that is a memory that springs to mind every winter or whenever you see a child skating on a pond. You really don’t need those pair of skates to remember that momentous event so, why are you keeping them?

Then consider those boxes of items that you’ve had for the past 2, 5 or 10 years that you have been moving from place to place and storing wherever you could find space, but have not opened in years.

Do you really think you still have an attachment to long forgotten items you’ve never used and don’t even look at?

Whatever sentiment you once had for the items in that box has long passed and chances are, you could throw the entire box away without missing a single thing in it.

#2. Keep Only those Sentimental Items You Can Use or Enjoy Every Day

Do you really want to pack those special memories away or would you rather have them out where you can display or use them every day?

The answer should be simple. Any item that has true meaning for you should be something you want to enjoy each and every day.

Some items you can easily display as is and others you may be able to re-purpose.

For example, one family I know had a wooden rocking horse that had been passed down for generations, but now was no longer in good condition for its intended purpose.

So, they built a plant box on the seat and that horse now is part of their glassed in porch décor with a lovely green plant growing in it.

#3. Pass those Sentimental Items on to Someone Who Really Wants them

You may find that it is easier to get rid of sentimental items if you pass them on or sell them to someone who really wants them and will use or display them.

Knowing that items that were once important to you will now be well loved and important to someone else gives you a warm feeling that the items will continue to be cherished.

It makes parting with a sentimental item more sweet than bitter and actually helps to create another memory involving the item.

#4. Don’t Keep Gifts You Never Liked out of Guilt

If you are like most people, you probably have items in your home you got as a gift, but never really liked and only kept because you loved the giver rather than the gift.

Don’t let guilt make you hold onto items you don’t like and have no use for. Instead, honor the giver by giving the item to someone who will really enjoy or needs it.

Gifts are meant to bring joy and you will feel a good deal of joy by passing that unwanted gift onto someone who really wants it and can appreciate it.

What better way can you think of to honor the giver?

(You may also want to read this article on how to declutter guilt free).

#5. Don’t Beat Yourself up if You are not Yet Ready to Part with Something

Even the most disciplined clutter clearer will come across something they have no use for and don’t want to display, but aren’t yet ready to part with.

If you come across an item like this, don’t beat yourself up. While you may not be ready to get rid of it today, there is likely to come a time when you find it easier to part with.

#6. Take Photos of Sentimental Items

You can also take a photo of the sentimental item that you are struggling to let go of. Keep the picture as memorabilia. This way, you can get rid of the item without the fear of losing the memory and history associated with it.

Final Thoughts on How to Declutter Sentimental Items!

I can’t promise that by following these tips that decluttering those sentimental items will be easy. But, it will make the entire process easier and when you see the empty space that was once occupied by boxes and unused items you will feel much better about the entire process.

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Tips for letting go of sentimental items

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Monday 27th of March 2023

I have pictures of my only child from birth to graduation and I can’t part with them. How do I down size this?


Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Hi Carrie,

You can scan the pictures and store digitally, that way you still have access to the pictures without the physical pictures. Or you can select the ones you like most and put them in a photo album and store the rest in a box. Remember, you should always do what you are comfortable with.

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