Heirlooms and mementos: Tips on what to keep and what to toss

Are you holding on to a family heirloom or special keepsake and you just can’t let go? Professional organizer Barbara Reich is here to help with tips on how to decide what to discard, how to discard it and how to store the items you want to keep around.

How do I decide what to keep?

As you are going through that box of collectibles or stored silverware that your grandmother passed down, ask yourself the following questions:

Does the object make you feel good when you look at it? If guilt is the only reason why you are holding onto something, let it go.

Is this your memory  or someone else’s memory? You are not responsible for another person's memories. If the item doesn’t evoke special remembrances for you, let it go.

Do you have the physical space to store it? Storage space is precious. If you don’t have room on the shelf to store items, let it go.

When I decide to part with something, what should I do with it?

Once you finally decide to let go of that keepsake, there are a number of options as to what to actually do with it. Consider giving it to a family member or friend if they might get better use out of it. If the piece has monetary value, consider selling it to a local consignment shop. If it doesn’t have financial value, donate it to a senior center, nursery, day care center or Goodwill. If it isn’t valuable and not wanted by a donation center, toss it.

How should I store the belongings I want to keep?

If a memory is worth preserving, treat it carefully. If you’re storing paper goods, like ticket stubs or wedding announcements, consider placing them in chronological order in a scrapbook. For those old photos filed away in a box, store those digitally. Make sure clothing is preserved using an acid-free preservation box with moth balls or cedar blocks. Particularly special clothing items, such as a wedding dress, should be taken to a dry cleaner where it can be treated to be preserved.