Decluttering Sentimental Items – A Guide to Letting go of Sentimental Things

Here is my guide to decluttering sentimental items.

We all do it! By attaching sentimental value to objects we are drawn into the past that is warm, and cozy. That’s nice, but here’s the thing: you don’t need to keep these at all.

In this post, I hope to help you if you have a problem with letting go of sentimental things and how to get rid of sentimental clutter. Plus tips on how to purge sentimental stuff.

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Why is it Hard to let go of Clutter?

Keeping this clutter is holding you back and preventing you from achieving your best in life. Also by keeping all kinds of sentimental items stored in attics, basements or in a garage, it is possible that these items will deteriorate which will damage and devalue the items you hold so dear.

If you have boxes of faded pictures, old baby clothes or ridiculous amounts of items from the past, just kept in boxes in the loft. Then you need to know that these items will be holding you back from experiencing the best life you can.

By getting rid of or organizing it, you can create a wonderful calm clutter-free home that you are dreaming of.

Decluttering Sentimental Items Tips

One of the hardest things to declutter is anything sentimental to you. That can be something as simple as old movie tickets, knicks-knacks, or something as important as your child’s first shoes or all those gifts they made for you at school while growing up.

It might also include pictures, family movies, and family heirlooms that have no value other than that they belonged to a family member who valued them.

  • set aside time to deal with the clutter. It could be a weekend or smaller chunks of times like 15 minutes a day.
  • look at each item and ask if it gives you a strong emotional feeling of happy times.
  • save those items that really mean the most to you
  • for photographs keep the very best and display them in a beautiful album.
  • for small items from your past consider displaying in a scrapbook. Or taking a photo of the object before discarding.
  • don’t feel guilty that you are discarding items that have been gifted to you.
  • if you are dealing with items related to a recent bereavement then I would recommend waiting 6-9 months (if you can) before tacking those sentimental items.

I loved this article here that explains the benefits of decluttering your stuff.

How Decluttering Improves your Life

It’s hard, emotional, and can be quite the rollercoaster of emotion trying to reduce this sentimental clutter.

However, if you can let go of the guilt of doing it, you’re going to gain more space, more time, and freedom from stuff.

Mums Make Lists has some good tips.

How to Determine if Sentimental Items are Really Worth Keeping?

Let’s go through ways in which you can reduce your sentimental clutter without having a nervous breakdown or feeling guilty.

When you start going through your sentimental stuff, it’s important to ask yourself whether it’s worth keeping or not.

If you cannot easily enjoy it, and it’s just going to be in a box, in the attic what is the point?

Simple Lionheart Life has some great ideas that are easy to follow.

Can You Store It Digitally?

This works great for kids’ artwork, it’s so easy now to quickly take a photograph on your camera and keep it in a digital folder.

Obviously, it is important that you appreciate your children’s art, and display it when it is first done.

If you clutter that you just aren’t using, then, why not take a picture of it and store it with other memories digitally?

This tip works well if you are decluttering sentimental cards.

You can even use the images to add to T-Shirts using print-on-demand sites like

For example, a beautiful blanket made from pictures is more useful than a box of pictures.

How to Part with Baby Clothes

It can be really hard to declutter your baby clothes. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to part with it all.

Why not just keep those special items like the first pair of shoes, a christening shawl. And keep these items in a special box.

Getting rid of sentimental clothes is difficult but The Minimalist Mum has some great ideas.

Getting Rid of Childhood Memorabilia

Your parents may have kept loads of your childhood items. Obviously with the best intentions. There could be school report cards, artwork or school projects.

Ask Yourself Truthfully – Why Do I Want It?

One thing to ask yourself is why you want it. If you want it because you feel guilty tossing it, let that go. If you want it because someone you love gave it to you, think that through because as discussed above, you can save a memory of it instead of saving the thing itself.

I Hate the Idea of Breaking Up a Set!

Maybe you have a relative’s collection and you simply don’t have love or space for it, but you do like one or two things from the collection.

Break up the set and give away or sell the others, and keep only what you like and can display nicely. For example, if it’s a tea service that means something to you just keep the teapot and display this proudly somewhere in your home.

Could the Items be Displayed It Creatively?

As mentioned, keeping things in a box in the attic isn’t really a good way to save mementos. Instead, you want to be able to see them and enjoy them.

Can you figure out a way to display the items creatively so that it becomes art on its own?

For example, using some of your child’s artwork to decoupage an old dresser is a wonderful way to use and save that work.

Maybe there is Someone Else Who Would Love it!

If it’s sentimental, it might be to someone else in your family as well. Talk to them about whether they want it or not. If they had it, where would they put it, and how would they use it or enjoy it?

That desk your daddy made isn’t getting used in your garage, but if your sister wants it and is going to use it, let her have it.

What to do with Old Photos and Negatives?

While photos are a great way to remember things often, we have many more than we need. Consider digitizing your photos and only saving the best shots, even digitally.

Do you really need 50 shots of Mount Rushmore? Or can you save that one photo of the group shot with the mountain behind you? 

How do you Deal with Unwanted Gifts – Without Guilt

If someone gives you a gift that you neither like nor use, you should not feel bad about getting rid of it. A gift is something that you are allowed to do with what you want, and most of the time, no one will ask.  

If the gift is a family heirloom, make sure to give it to someone in the family to avoid hard feelings.

Letting Go of Parents Stuff

Letting go of sentimental clutter can be very emotional, it’s hard not to feel guilty.

It’s particularly difficult to let go of things you bought or things that bring back memories of what was. However, if things are to be sentimental, there should be fewer items so that their value is higher.

Plus, what’s sentimental about stuffing things in a box and putting in the garage or loft never to be seen again until your kids clean it out after your death?

Things are meant to be enjoyed, so make sure you are really enjoying the sentimental items you own.

How to Stop Accumulating Stuff

Once you have managed to get rid of your sentimental items you certainly don’t want to start collecting clutter again.

I believe knowledge is power and I would certainly start reading books on the subject of decluttering organizing and tidying your home.

I recommend the book below that deals with the reasons why it is so difficult to declutter and organize sentimental items.

It is available from

And Finally……

I very much hope you have been able to reduce the sentimental items that have been cluttering up your home and life.

I’m sure you will achieve great success in your decluttering. Good luck!

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