Decluttering Sentimental Items [3 Tips]

IMG_7683 (1)

Decluttering sentimental items is an emotional topic for me. 

I have a hard time getting rid of sentimental items that are cluttering my life.

 Obviously, some sentimental items are meant to be kept, cherished, and passed to the next generation.

I’m wholeheartedly behind that.


Decluttering Sentimental Items – My Journey 


 However, the decluttering of sentimental items I’m talking about takes three forms: It belonged to someone else, but you don’t necessarily like it; the items belonged to your children, who have outgrown them; and, the items are yours, but you’re no longer as interested as you once were.


When my mother passed away in 2014, I inherited a lot of antiques.

Some of you might swoon, but antiques are not necessarily my thing. This made it rather easy to decide which to keep and which to sell.

I kept the main pieces, like my grandpa’s pocket watch and the Noritake china my dad bought for my mom that had been made in Occupied Japan during World War II. 

IMG_7683 (1)


I love those pieces!

Many other pieces, however, my cousin sold for me.

Decluttering sentimental items 


Childhood Items: 

The next area hits me hard. 

My older daughter will be 21 this summer; my younger will be 17 in the fall.

Not exactly babies anymore, right?

Here’s the deal: I’ve kept many of their toys from childhood.

I have their cradle and the used toy rocking horse my mom bought for them. 

I have their tricycle and scooter.

While it was somewhat easier to part with their clothing, because most of it was stained and icky, it’s harder to let go of their childhood toys.

My solution: I’m keeping the tricycle and a few other things. 

I’m donating the rest, after I’ve taken pictures of the items.

I read where pictures enable you to perform a psychological trick on yourself. You technically still have the item, in picture form, along with the memory, but you have cleared the clutter, which won’t be used again.

Make sense?

I think it’s brilliant!


Princess Diana:

The final area for me: Princess Diana.

Growing up, she was my hero. 

I read everything published about her and felt like I knew her.

I’ve kept most of that reading material, magazines and books, but I have a lot of it.

Too much to keep.

And while I will always love her compassion and sense of fashion, I can’t continue to keep mountains of material.

The deal I’ve made with myself is that I’m keeping most of the books, but donating several more.

All the magazines have to go.

I’ve retained some of my past, but not so much that it’s become, well, clutter.

I hope your journey to decluttering sentimental items is a successful one!

(Looking for other ways to declutter and organize? Try these!)

Pin to read later! 



Emily (1)


Don’t miss a moment on our unique site, 2dishingdivas!  

Subscribe on our Hello bar.

Like us on Facebook. 

Follow us on PinterestTwitter, and Instagram.



I’m linking up here:

Mad in Crafts  
 Amaze Me Monday
Mix It Up Monday
Skip to my Lou
Sincerely, Paula’s Link Party 
Ducks in a Row
Raising Homemakers
Life Beyond the Kitchen/Creatively Crafty Link Party 
Coastal Charm Show and Share Party
Sweet Inspiration Link Party
Thursday Favorite Things 
The Pin Junkie
This Is How We Roll
Think Tank Thursday 
Inspiration Spotlight 
Create with Joy
I Should Be Mopping
Mad in Crafts
My Busy Beehives
Snap Creativity 
Plucky’s Second Thought 


You might also like

21 thoughts on “Decluttering Sentimental Items [3 Tips]”

  • Thanks for this article. We recently moved out of state, and this has been a real challenge for both me and my husband. We are still going through boxes, and I hope that he will get into the declutter mode more. He comes from a family of collectors! I kep my grandmother’s dishes, putting them into her cedar chest, and my mom’s and dad’s love letters and journals. Pretty much that’s it. It is a sentimental journey and emotionally challenging sometimes! Thanks again – this will keep me motivated as we go through more boxes.

  • I struggle with this one too, I think most of us do. I’ve heard of the photo idea, it seems sensible for really big things.
    I find once it’s gone it’s gone and I’ve not had a regret about any single item I let go when I had to clear all my mum’s stuff after she died. I kept a few things that were really special, as did my brother and the rest was donated. Once the decision is made it’s easy – making that decision is the hard thing! Thanks for your helpful advice.

    • You’re welcome, Julie! I know this is a difficult journey, but it sounds like you and your brother did a great job. No regrets is a huge bonus, too! Emily

  • I am horrible at getting rid of stuff. As an artist, I think I can always use it for something creative.

    • I could see how that might happen, Janet. Repurposing is trendy and environmentally-friendly, too. I’m not that creative, so my only path is to declutter. Thanks! Emily

  • For me, it’s books! I’ve started boxing up the ones that I know we won’t use right away, and I’m saving them for my kids. If they decide to homeschool their children, they’ll have lots of books to get them started. If not . . .well, I’ll deal with that then!

    • Michele, I understand! When I moved into my current home, I went through my library and disposed of many, many books. It’s hard! All the best, Emily

  • This is a great post Emily. I am going to be moving, downsizing really since all of my kids are now adults and out of the house. So this is a good way to think about the things I have to get rid of. Thanks, Stephanie (a neighbor from coffee and Conversation)

    • Stephanie, I’ve heard that the Empty Nest is both a reason to mourn and rejoice! I can see both sides. My younger daughter is finishing her sophomore year of high school, so the time seemed right to clean out the basement. Thanks for commenting! Emily

  • I really like the idea of taking a picture of the sentimental items. It is a fantastic idea! Your idea of finding a new purpose for an antique is right on target! Way to go!

    • While I can’t take credit for the picture idea, it does work! You can hold onto the item, via the picture, so it’s not like it’s gone. Emily

  • Good ideas for making hard choices on decluttering. 🙂

  • Decluttering is soooo hard! When my mom passed we did take pictures of all of her hand done artwork and gave copies to children and grandchildren alike. That was a good idea.
    For my daughter’s wedding we used 120 mis-matched plates that we gathered from estate sales and thrift stores. We had some designs similar to yours – everyone LOVED the idea using the plates.

    • Mary, I love the mismatched plate idea, too! A local restaurant does the same thing, and I’ve always thought it was such a nice touch. Have a wonderful weekend! Emily

  • Pingback: Coffee and Conversation #147 - Get "outta Dodge" with AirBnB -

  • This is so hard for me too, I’m sentimental to a fault. I’ve been cleaning drawers and closets lately and I’m going to start using the photo idea!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *