Culling the Chaos – 9 Simple Tips To Organize Family Memories

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We’ve all been there. It usually looks something like this: you’re standing in front of an open closet having a minor anxiety attack because you see the amount of stuff stashed inside. Most families have a closet – or even an entire basement – like this. The “stuff” inside ranges from priceless photos to random memorabilia that someone in your family just couldn’t part with ten years ago. It’s time to tackle this stuff, before it tackles your sanity! To help you fearlessly jump into your project, we’ve invited the founders of Savor, innovators in keepsake storage, to share their advice. It’s not everyday that some of the best in the organizing business offer their help culling the chaos with 9 simple tips to organize family memories.

Nine Simple Tips to Organize Family Memories

1. Pitch it – This is always our first tip we tell people about organizing family keepsakes. It is really true that if you save everything, you may as well save nothing because it becomes a big morass that no one wants to look through. Inevitably, you’re saving things that you’ll look back at later and wonder what the heck you were thinking!? So be confident; cull your stuff. Prioritize memories over memorabilia. (You know, the things that actually tell a story!)

2. Display it – If it’s something you like, keep it out. We love those L’il Davinci frames that make it easy to change what’s on display. Invest in a few and you’ll always have a quick way to create a rotating gallery of your favorite family memories.

3. Keep a running listEvernote is a terrific way of jotting down great quotes or memories you want to save, even when you’re on the go! Something you think you’ll never forget is often gone a year or so later. It happens to all of us; memories fade. I somehow forgot my daughter had an imaginary friend, which I only remembered because I’d taken a video of her talking about him. Using a simple software solution like Evernote can help you record those priceless stories that bring your memories to life years later.

4. Start small – Doing a photo book a year can sometimes be a lofty goal. If you feel guilty having all those photos sitting on your computer or phone, then think about starting with a vacation album. By honing in on a theme, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. Culling and editing thousands of photos is what takes the most time. Making an album out of a single event or trip goes much faster. And the technology available from companies like Shutterfly do much of the work for you!

5. Think about your mother coming over for a visit – When deciding what items to keep, think about how you’d feel if your mother brought over a huge, messy tub of your childhood memories. Your first reaction would probably be that you don’t want to look through that mess. What’s the stuff you’d really want to see? Be bold. Purge accordingly.

Image courtesy of @gracefulmommy

6. Organize as you go – Obviously, we love the Savor keepsake library and think of it like a jewel box for your most precious memories. The library is designed to help you carefully save things in specific locations, so you can easily find them later. But even if that’s not what you use, choose a place – one place – where your items will go and categorize them by subject area, not just chronologically. In five years, you’ll remember that your daughter was Tinkerbell in the school play at some point, but you’ll have no idea how to find her magic wand if you have to come up with the year of the performance. A “performances” file, as we have in the Savor boxes, makes everything easy to locate.

7. Take time to tell the stories – Don’t make your keepsakes something that you only look at when you move or downsize. Make memories part of your everyday life. Take those keepsakes out of the boxes now and talk about them. Recount the stories and relive the memories. Kids love looking through their own stuff and hearing about when they were younger. We keep our Savor boxes accessible so, like the family photo books on our coffee table, we look through these items and enjoy them all the time.

8. Repurpose – We have pretty strict editing rules about stuff that’s saved, and we’re not going to lie, sometimes there are tears shed when you talk about not saving every single painting your child made in preschool. Culling can be tough. That’s why we recommend repurposing things! In our own families, we’ve been able to repurpose some of our kids’ art as wrapping paper, so it’s functional, and they get the joy of sharing it. (We’d love to hear your ideas for repurposing, too! Share them in the comments below.)

9. Bring your kids into the action – This doesn’t have to be a parent-only project. In fact, kids as young as five or six love going through their special things and labeling or categorizing them. It makes them feel involved and reinforces the benefits of storytelling and family history.

About the AuthorsJenny and Karla met when their kids were just starting school together. They came up with the idea of Savor when they realized that they (and every parent they knew) came home from school conferences laden with papers that sat on the counter for a week and then migrated to an ugly plastic bin at the top of the closet. Like all parents, these two dynamic mothers care deeply about memories. In this digital age, Jenny and Karla are as photo-happy as the next parent, but they also believe that the objects that tell the stories of our lives deserve more than the plastic bin into which they are often shoved. And that’s why they designed The Library, a system that helps families organize and preserve priceless memories. The Library’s handmade, book cloth-covered boxes are the antidote to the ugly plastic bin. And their labeling system makes organizing keepsakes easy, so they are kept accessible and enjoyed more.


Judylaine says:

May 10, 2017 at 10:08 pm

repurpose pictures by applying them to any article with Mod Podge.


Jennifer Nevins says:

May 12, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Thanks for the post! WE heart everything you do at save family photos!


Rachel LaCour Niesen says:

June 2, 2017 at 2:41 pm

And we are grateful to have discovered you and your lovely team!


Save Family Photos The inspiring story of how a little boy's question sparked a photo scanning app with millions of downloads - Save Family Photos says:

June 19, 2017 at 3:34 pm

[…] through thousands of old, analog photos seems overwhelming, so families find themselves pushing family history projects to the back burner. And that’s where they sit…for years and […]


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