LIFE:CAPTURED · Jun 3, 2016

Getting organised: How I manage my family's memorabilia

| Written by Ronnie |

The amount of memorabilia that we all accumulate these days can be utterly overwhelming at times. Whether it's letters, birthday cards, movie tickets, concert tickets, school certificates, airplane tickets, children's artwork, party invitations, postcards, it's easy to end up with boxes (or rooms) of all this seemingly important stuff which we feel emotionally compelled to hang onto.

Today, I'm going to share with you all how I go about managing our family's memorabilia to give you some ideas for your own system if you are currently looking for a way to organise your own.

In my mind, there are two main ways to organise and store memorabilia: you can either include memorabilia with your scrapbooks or albums, or you can store them separately in their own boxes. In my case, I opted to do the latter because I like the idea of keeping all the ‘bulky’ stuff separate to the scrapbooks and albums.

The storage boxes that I use are the A3 cloth ones from kikki.K (I always buy them in grey). However, there are similar versions at Officeworks that more competitively priced. A3 is a great size because you can pack in a lot of stuff into the one box.

I call these storage boxes, memory boxes, and the following is a brief run-down of what goes into each of the boxes and my thought process behind it all.

* * *

1) The children’s memory boxes

Each of our boys have a memory box each. Inside this, I store all their ultrasound photos (usually in a Kraft envelope), the ‘official’ baby book, the first year brag book, and the first year journal. In the case of Angus and Pete, their 'early years' scrapbooks (which is what I used before I started making life albums for each of the boys) are also placed in here - they fit perfectly since they’re A4 in size and these boxes are A3 in size).

This is also the place where I keep cards that we received when the boys were born and for each of their subsequent birthdays. Now that the boys receive Christmas cards from friends at school, I also add these to the birthday cards. I usually tie each year's worth of cards up with string to add a nice, personal touch and to help organise the cards in a chronological manner.

You'll notice, of course, that I haven't made any mention of our children's artwork or schoolwork. The reason for that is because I organise all of that in a separate system which I talk about in this post.

2) Our ‘Rick and Ronnie’ memory boxes

This is a box of all the letters, notes and cards that Rick and I have received from other people* from the time we got together till the present (the notes and cards that we’ve written to each other go into our own separate scrapbook, which I will write about another time). When I was going through the major cull of memorabilia before we last moved, I left no stone unturned. I think we had at least two or three boxes of stuff that I’d collected since Rick and I first started dating, but by the end of the purging, I’d gotten everything down to one box. Basically I decided that I wasn’t going to keep any invitations to weddings, parties, etc or any orders of services. In a way, those were other people’s memories – not ours. Instead, I decided that we would only keep personal letters, notes and cards that were addressed specifically to us both or either one of us (this included birthday cards, thank you cards, and Christmas cards).

Once I’d reduced the amount of memorabilia based on this criteria, I then sorted everything out by year, and grouped each yearly bundle with a Kraft envelope, a handwritten label, and an elastic band where needed. I absolutely love this system I set up because it means I know exactly what I need to keep going forward and what I can throw out. Everything that’s to be kept gets thrown into a box in my studio and at the end of each year, I’ll bundle it all together and add it to our big box of 'Rick and Ronnie' memorabilia.

*The only exception to this are the birthday cards that the boys make for us. I like to keep these in the back of our family's life albums since they relate to our entire family, not just Rick and myself.

3) My own memory box

Up until I got married, I kept every single card, letter, and note that I’d received from family and friends since I was little. We’re talking Christmas cards from primary school friends and sweet little letters from overseas pen pals. Since getting married, I started culling them, but it was only four years ago (before our last move) that I really made the drastic cut. I remembered what a friend had told me before she moved overseas: instead of keeping every single thing from every single person, she decided to choose only one or two items from each person who was important to her and based on that, she managed to reduce all her keepsakes and memorabilia to one box.

I kept this in mind the entire time I was wading through the boxes of letters, notes and cards, and the end result was that I miraculously made it to one box as well. I even threw out school yearbooks (something I thought I would never do) and only kept one or two that were extra special.

It was truly emotionally exhausting to go through that process, and it is definitely hard to let go of so much sentimental material, but I’m happy that I did it. Not only do I not actually miss what I threw out, but I’m much more inclined now to go through this one box because I know that each item is valuable and worth keeping.

* * *

I hope you've found this little glimpse into my system helpful!

I would love to hear about how you go about organising your family's memorabilia, so please feel free to share in the comments below.

You can read the rest of this series here.

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