Memories are a huge part of our lives. Where would be without them?  We have the memories in our brains, but we also have physical items; drawings from children, postcards, cards, programmes, tickets, orders of service from weddings, things from university, school, I could go on … because almost everything that we own is a memory of some sort.

Memories turn up in everyone’s homes when I am decluttering and organising with clients.   And they are often not all together and therefore not easy to find and look at when a trip down memory lane is required.   But isn’t it nice to have everything all organised?

If you are clutter-clearing and organising memories, how do you decide what to keep?  We don’t count photographs here as that is a separate category.

The first thing is to decide how big you are going to allow your collection to be.  I suggest to clients that each member of the family has one box, and when that box is full, something has to leave it before another item can be added.  In practice this is quite simple as each time you look at it you are likely to find that there is something there that isn’t quite as important to you as you previously thought it was.

Then decide what categories you are going to have.  Everyone is different but this is a small sample of my own:




Postcards received



Holidays 2019 (and add for future years)

Music Festivals


I use A4 Snopake Zippa bags (£7 for 25 from Amazon) to organise the memories, and I print labels to put on them.

I also have items loose in the box that aren’t A4 paper size (like a christening money box, and a school skirt! And my diaries from my year in Australia over 20 years ago).

If you are, say, part of an amateur dramatics society, or do a lot of singing, you will also have many programmes to keep.   I would suggest that these should be kept separately, as they are more of a hobby memory.  I was overjoyed last year when I finished scanning my concert programmes from all the musical activities in my life, from school and borough concerts, right through to the first time I sung in the First Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.  I did actually keep that particular programme but I threw away a lot of boxes with all the others that had been moving around with me.

Divide all your items into your named categories and then see how many you end up with, and whether you want to keep all of them.  Do you have christening memories from someone’s child that you are no longer in touch with? They can go.  Or maybe you have lots of school exercise books and you only need to keep one.   From holidays, you might have a map, and tickets, but you realise that the photographs you took are all the memories you need from that trip. 

Whether you are doing this on your own or with family, set a timer; otherwise you’ll find you have gone off down all sorts of rabbit holes and achieved little or nothing!  Do the sorting in small chunks of time and set yourself a deadline. I promise it will be worth it!


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