Chances are, you’ve got at least a few of them. Old, dusty boxes and storage containers stuffed with baseball cards, yearbooks and childhood toys that you can’t bring yourself to toss out, but that you haven’t touched in years.
“I always tell clients that keeping memorabilia or collecting can be a lot of fun, but if you keep everything in a box in the attic that you never open, you are missing the whole point,” professional organizer Seana Turner said.
Instead of letting these items take up prime storage space, try the following ideas for displaying them around your home so you can enjoy them on a daily basis.
Even if you’re a decorating novice, you can use a simple shadow box to draw attention to favorite items and eliminate the need to store them.
Old baby clothes, for example, can be professionally mounted and then displayed in a shadow box, according to professional organizer Sarah Giller Nelson. The same goes for sports jerseys, a collage of ticket stubs or newspaper clippings.
If you have a larger collection—like several pages of baseball cards—try arranging an entire wall of shadow boxes in one room of your home.
“Create a unified look by using the same color frame and mat board,” Nelson said.
What about all those little knick-knacks that aren’t quite large enough to merit a dedicated spot on the wall? Small pieces of memorabilia like jewelry, childhood trinkets, baby rattles or favorite college key chains can be transformed into Christmas tree ornaments.
To create an ornament, simply string a piece of ribbon through an existing loop or hole in the object, or through a hole you’ve punched or drilled into it.
If you have too many trinkets to hang on your tree at one time, you can display the ornaments on a rotating basis from year to year, or give them as gifts to friends or family members who also will find special meaning in these objects.
Certain treasured possessions, like your grandmother’s doily or the dried bouquet from your wedding, would be great to display around your home if you didn’t have to worry about them getting damaged.
Nelson offered a smart solution for this problem: “Old, fragile items look lovely under a glass bell jar.”
Placing these objects under a bell jar lets you showcase your memorabilia while keeping it protected from dust and the hands of curious visitors.
“Select your favorite one, three or five items, place each under a jar, and group them together or scatter them around a room,” Nelson said.
Certain things you want to hang onto forever, like a family quilt or an autographed basketball. And others, such as that medal from your eighth-grade karate tournament, elicit fond memories, but you don’t have much reason to keep them.
“Take a photo of [the item] and have it made into something you use every day,” Turner said.
This can work for nearly any object, including an old stuffed animal, a yearbook image, a child’s piece of artwork or a sports trophy.
Turner suggested taking advantage of websites like Shutterfly to upload your photos to a coffee mug, a photo quilt, a throw pillow or a canvas print. After you’ve created something that’s functional or that’s a home decoration, remember to throw out or donate the original item to free up storage space.
Quality Over Quantity
Even if you embrace all these ideas, it’s still a good idea to pare down your collection of memorabilia. Organize everything into categories, such as sports, high school, awards and family artifacts, and choose a small selection of items that best represents each category and that would look great displayed in your home.
“Think quality over quantity,” Nelson said. “A few great pieces will have more of an impact than a broad collection of mediocre or meaningless ones.”