For weeks now I have spoken about organization, de-cluttering, and letting go of the excess. I don’t like mess or unorganized spaces because it makes me feel stressed and unsettled. I don’t have an area of my home that is messy, not even a junk drawer, but I do still have “stuff”. You know what I mean, the memorabilia: the old concert ticket stubs, the letters, the cards, the accumulation of things and memories from all of life’s stages. I wouldn’t dream of parting with this “stuff” I’ve saved and I don’t suggest you do either. The difference is that the way in which I have saved and preserved this “stuff” as opposed to let it pile up and take over valuable closet space or become a burden.

Last week I got an email from an friend from college, actually my suite-mate from Sophomore year, who now lives in Georgia with her husband and three kids.. She sent a photo of a pile of books and boxes and asked for my help to organize it all. I was flattered to be asked and excited for the challenge of remote organizing.

Here are the suggestions I shared:

  1. EVALUATE : Even though you’ve saved all of these things for years, even decades, it’s still important to really evaluate what you have. In a lot of cases you will find that things may be there that you don’t recall the significance of anymore. When you come across these things, don’t hesitate, throw it out! BONUS :This is guaranteed to be a fun walk down memory lane, enjoy the nostalgia!
  2. SORT : Make piles, in her case I suggested making  them for each child, for her husband, for various eras. BONUS: Now seeing these separated piles you will finally be able to determine who your favorite child is, mystery solved!
  3. STORE : Now that you have the piles made you can find various ways to store the memorabilia. Fun boxes made of everything from acrylic to wicker are easily available to fit your taste and style. With boxes this good looking there is no need  to hide them. Instead I suggest you stack them, display them and show them off. Perhaps the memorabilia of your significant other stays in a pretty box on your dresser, get matching boxes for the kid’s things and stack them artfully in a corner, or find a box that is solid and would work sitting on a shelf in your closet. BONUS: You might get to spend time at HomeGoods, and who doesn’t love that place?
  4. DISPLAY : At this point in the process you may have come across things that are just too good to go back in a box, beautiful storage or not. For these items I suggest putting them together in a shadow box. These frames are now affordable and readily available in most craft stores. They come in various sizes and finishes depending on your style and what you need to display. I assure you you don’t have to be crafty to make one of your own.

[The above pic] is a shadow box I made for my daughter. When she was 4 she was a Superhero version of herself for Halloween. We worked together to make the costume (I don’t sew so by ” make” I mean “make” this costume happen.) Using simple T-pins, a favorite of mine since my Art major days, I assembled this in less than 5 minutes. These items that would have sat tucked away and forgotten in a box are now are up and displayed. BONUS : Fresh, personal and affordable art for your home.

So there are my suggestions and bonuses too. Feel free to use these tips to help with your “stuff”, my friend was very appreciative of the suggestions and has promised to send me the ‘After’ photo of her organizing work.  We’ve made a deal; she has assured me that she will be framing every note I have ever wrote to her way back when and in turn I have promised her she can “keep the stuff” and still be organized. That’s fair right? I’m sure her sweet family will just love that new art work in the family room.

Ashley Ingraham is a Professional Organizer focusing on professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance.  For more information about Home Perspective, visit You can also find Home Perspective on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.