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Displaying Sentimental Items
Old 07-19-2018, 03:00 AM   #1
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Displaying Sentimental Items

In cleaning out my mom's house after her death, I have thought a lot about possessions and what to do with them. Among other things, I was struck with how many sentimental items she had kept that she had put away and clearly hadn't laid eyes on in many years.

And -- that made me thing of mine that I have in closets of my own house. I have gotten rid of a lot of things over the years. I have taken photographs of many things and then gotten rid of the actual items.

But one thing I have decided after going through my mom's stuff is that I want sentimental items to fall within 2 basic categories. Stuff I want to keep and look at. Stuff that I will get rid of. Basically if I only want to keep it hidden away and to never look at it, then I will just take a picture and get rid of it.

But there are a number of things that have sentimental value to me that I want to kept and would enjoy looking at. Now -- to be clear -- many of these things are not really aesthetically pleasing. I want to look at them because of the meaning they have for me.

What I am looking for are ideas on displaying things of this nature. Should I put them all in one place? Do I put them all out or "rotate" them from time to time. I am thinking of putting them in a place in the house that casual guests probably wouldn't see. Possible places: my office (although I am space challenged there until I hang them on the wall), exercise room, guest room.

Examples of types of things:

1. Childhood items of mine -- my battered stuff toy that is very old and dirty, a pair of dolls from Korea that were given to me as a child, another stuff toy that is in a bit better condition

2. Stuff related to my kids - ceramic handprints, baby shoes, etc.

3. Greeting cards - I have kept lots of greeting cards I received. I actually do periodically look through these. Put I wonder if there is some way to display them rotating them out periodically.

Anyway -- any ideas? If you display any of this kind of stuff, what do you do?
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:15 AM   #2
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Good post. We have tubs of items in the basement. We haven’t completely decided what to do with all of it, but we do have a few select items around the house, maybe 5 or 6 in different rooms. Just some accents on a shelf or tucked into a corner of the kitchen. They are nice little reminders of our parents or earlier times in our lives. We don’t over do it, but just have pieces of connections to our past.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:38 AM   #3
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Seems like your bedroom would be a good place to display those old toys, on a dresser perhaps? Something you might see before going to bed, and first thing in the morning, to finish and start your day off right? Or if you have a cozy reading nook, maybe that would be a good place.

Kids stuff, if they're grown and moved out, in their old rooms? Or maybe store them until then? Or maybe on a bookshelf at the top of the stairs (this is where I display some old baseball cards) or hallway going to the bedrooms? Someplace more private but that you'll see daily, even at a glimpse, and also in a place that reminds you of them.

Greeting cards...do you have desk where you pay bills from? Maybe you display a few there, and file the rest, and rotate every month after reading them. Nice break from bill paying.

I have tie racks I display marathon medals from in my mud room, where I put on my shoes before a run.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:43 AM   #4
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There is also something about keeping some things tucked away in a box on a closet shelf and pulling them out on occasion when you need a boost, or are feeling nostalgic. Maybe use those clear bins so that you can see what you have there and not totally forget, and don't shove them in the corner of an attic.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:27 PM   #5
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I am dealing with the same issue with my Dad's stuff. While living in the same house for almost 50 years without throwing away ANYTHING, there was simply too much stuff to keep everything that might have had sentimental value. What I finally decided to do was to limit how much I could keep. He had two cedar chests that I elected to use (one for my blood family and one for DW's family) to store the items. Initially, I wasn't sure how I would cram that much stuff into the chest, but I did..with room left over.

How? Well, I made an initial pile of stuff I *thought* I might want to keep. I waited a few days and went through it again, and at that point some of the stuff wasn't as sentimental as when I found it. I did that again about a week later, and again, I pared it down by half. Waited a week and did it again...and yes, about half was deemed to not be that sentimental. So, I have plenty of sentimental stuff that easily fit in the chest while not adding substantially to stuff we already have.

And so far, I have taken 3,200 pounds of stuff to the dump with yet more to go. Once we get Dad's place dealt with, we will get our house pared down...it's been a very busy summer; I am glad I am retired!
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:37 PM   #6
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I only keep as many sentimental items as can fit loosely in one shoebox. I would not want to display those items for others to see, because I consider them to be very private.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:45 PM   #7
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A nice way to display greeting cards you want to save but make them somewhat inaccessible to casual visitors and discourage them from reading is to stack them all together and tie a nice ribbon around them and put them on a table next to a chair a dresser or another area where they add a bit of curiosity and interest.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:51 PM   #8
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I don’t keep sentimental things for the most part, and I don’t have anything on display other than a few family pictures. We used to, but we don’t tend to keep things that we aren’t using or looking at very long anymore. A couple items from my childhood are in our study, though I often ask myself why I keep them. We scanned all our pictures, and threw 99% of them years ago. But to each his/her own...
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:04 PM   #9
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I made a note in my estate instructions that my son should do whatever he wants with my stuff. He should not feel burdened by anything of mine that has no use or sentiment to him. It doesn't matter what it meant to me since I'll be gone.

My folks already got rid of most of their stuff as they've downsized. We've all taken something, and if nobody wanted it, it went in a garage sale or to the dump. No hard feelings that I know of. I kind of wish they'd kept things like photo albums. My sister has them, and I've suggested we get them scanned, which we probably will. I think my Mom would like browsing them once in awhile, and maybe it'd help with her Alzheimers. Maybe not.
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:12 PM   #10
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My dining room has everything antique and sentimental. The furniture is decades old. I have different small items placed about in the room. I try not to overdo it as I don't want it to look like a museum.... When I walk in there, it makes me smile.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:04 PM   #11
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My gran and my mother have a small wall cabinet with glass door that my grandfather made that houses sentimental items. Gran keeps her's in her bedroom and Mom in her office. Everything they want to keep is displayed on the back and side walls and on the shelves. Gran's cabinet was built to accommodate 2 cedar boxes that holds all the letters and cards on the bottom shelf. Mom's cabinet was built with all glass shelves and a light recessed in that top to illuminate the interior.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunningBum View Post
Seems like your bedroom would be a good place to display those old toys, on a dresser perhaps? Something you might see before going to bed, and first thing in the morning, to finish and start your day off right? Or if you have a cozy reading nook, maybe that would be a good place.
That is a good idea. These are things that I wouldn't really put out in, say, the living room. I wouldn't necessarily mind other people seeing it but it is more for me...

Quote:
Kids stuff, if they're grown and moved out, in their old rooms? Or maybe store them until then? Or maybe on a bookshelf at the top of the stairs (this is where I display some old baseball cards) or hallway going to the bedrooms?
We just moved into this house. Kids never lived here or otherwise that would work. Also, one store so no stairs. I am thinking maybe the guest room (where kids would stay if they visited)...

Quote:
Greeting cards...do you have desk where you pay bills from? Maybe you display a few there, and file the rest, and rotate every month after reading them. Nice break from bill paying.
After I posted my message, I saw a photo of a net idea. This person but gutters along the wall (painted nicely) and would put the greeting cards in the gutters to display them. I like that as they can be scene but wouldn't be in the way. I could rotate the cards, perhaps for occasions. Christmas cards near the season, birthday cards near my birthday, etc.

One thing when I went through my mom's house was that she also kept all the greeting cards she received (which I didn't know). But the location was such that I don't think she ever looked at them. I have mine in some file drawers and I do occasionally look at them. But it would be nice to display a selection of the ones I really liked.

Oh - one thing that I noticed going through them. There are some cards that I have been given multiple times. There is an anniversary card that DH has given me twice and some Christmas cards the kids have given me. I am sure this was unintentional on their part and I hadn't noticed it either!

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Originally Posted by ExFlyBoy5 View Post
I am dealing with the same issue with my Dad's stuff. While living in the same house for almost 50 years without throwing away ANYTHING, there was simply too much stuff to keep everything that might have had sentimental value. What I finally decided to do was to limit how much I could keep. He had two cedar chests that I elected to use (one for my blood family and one for DW's family) to store the items. Initially, I wasn't sure how I would cram that much stuff into the chest, but I did..with room left over.

How? Well, I made an initial pile of stuff I *thought* I might want to keep. I waited a few days and went through it again, and at that point some of the stuff wasn't as sentimental as when I found it. I did that again about a week later, and again, I pared it down by half. Waited a week and did it again...and yes, about half was deemed to not be that sentimental. So, I have plenty of sentimental stuff that easily fit in the chest while not adding substantially to stuff we already have.

And so far, I have taken 3,200 pounds of stuff to the dump with yet more to go. Once we get Dad's place dealt with, we will get our house pared down...it's been a very busy summer; I am glad I am retired!
Yes, it has been a big job to go through my mom's house. I have been pretty ruthless. There isn't a huge amount of stuff I am going to keep. She had a cedar chest with things in it from my childhood. Much of it I didn't care anything about. For example, some dolls that I had. I never really liked playing with dolls so I don't want to keep them at all. But, the battered stuffed duck is a different story...

My mom had a huge doll collection of her own, many of which are beautiful (and many were given to her by me). I think I will keep one or two and the rest will go. I've also gone through her jewelry and have kept only a few pieces. I let my daughter go through and pick out some pieces that she wanted as well.

Today, I cleared out my mom's safety deposit box. I found in there her mother's wedding band. It was just a plain gold band. I am not really sure why my mom ended up with it (she had several siblings alive when her mom died). Perhaps she was the only one who wanted it. I am not sure why she did. Her father died when I was child, but he sounds to have been flat out abusive and the family removed their mother from his home a few years before he died. She moved in with her kids and would move periodically from home to home. So, I am not quite sure why my mom wanted to keep her wedding ring. I haven't decided what to do about that one....

Anyway - I am not keeping much from my mom's house. I did find some things that she had kept of my dad's (he died many years ago). My son elected to keep some of those and I also kept a couple...


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I donít keep sentimental things for the most part, and I donít have anything on display other than a few family pictures. We used to, but we donít tend to keep things that we arenít using or looking at very long anymore. A couple items from my childhood are in our study, though I often ask myself why I keep them. We scanned all our pictures, and threw 99% of them years ago. But to each his/her own...
I actually don't have a lot of sentimental items. I scanned in my photos years ago as well. Of course, I now have more from my mom's house. She had given me what I thought were all her pics years ago. But, I found a lot of them when I went through her house.

I've gone through and loosely divided them into 2 groups. Pics that I have no interest in having. For example, pics of people that I don't know. Some of these I would love to find out who they are but that info died with my mother unfortunately. She wrote on some pics who is in the picture. But, she tended to do that on people that I know well!

Then there are the pics of people that I know. I will pare some of those down particularly where I have a lot of similar pics taken at the same time. But I will ship most of those off to be scanned.

Oh - there is a third category. There are some pics of my mom's siblings or their kids that my cousins may want. I will probably scan those in and offer them to the closest relative who might want the picture.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:23 PM   #13
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I throw cards away after a week and stuff from my kids are long gone. I keep 1 or 2 items from each person and only things that I want to display.
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Old 07-19-2018, 08:15 PM   #14
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When my Mom had to downsize from a big house to a small apartment we took pictures of things in the garden and other things that had emotional value to her and have them displayed in a digital photo frame that rotates all the pictures.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:04 PM   #15
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When my Mom had to downsize from a big house to a small apartment we took pictures of things in the garden and other things that had emotional value to her and have them displayed in a digital photo frame that rotates all the pictures.
+1! that get rid of a lot of stuff.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:15 PM   #16
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I used to keep everything but have really changed through the years. Cleaning out other people’s junk is not fun. Although my kids say they will just hire someone to get rid of it.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:21 PM   #17
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Whenever I find some sentimental stuff I toss it inna trash.
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Old 07-19-2018, 09:29 PM   #18
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I still have several boxes of keep sakes and old photos that detail my life as well as bits and pieces of my parents' lives. I probably haven't looked through these items in 10 years, but I find some comfort in still owning them. DW has about the same volume of similar stuff as I do. We were laughing recently that when we pass, all these items will be summarily pitched into a dumpster. Problem solved. YMMV
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:08 PM   #19
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Rubbish bin for 90%.
I saved one item from my parents. A small globe that shows French Indochina on it.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:45 AM   #20
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I feel like I have perhaps not been clear. So, I will attempt to clarify.

1. I do not have a huge amount of sentimental stuff. I have 2 stuffed toys and 2 small dolls from my childhood and maybe one or two other small items. I have a few things from my mom. Some of those are useful (a couple of pieces of jewelry) and will be simply used. I will probably keep one or two of my mom's dolls (she had probably 150). I may keep a set of my Dad's dominoes (my son took another set).

2. I have a few things from my children's childhood. Ceramic handprints, a ceramic cat that my son painted when he was very small, that kind of thing. Again, only a few items.

3. Greeting cards. Yes, this is an indulgence. I enjoy looking at them from time to time.

I am not attempting to get rid of the above. They are all meaningful things to me that I want to keep. I could easily put them all in a couple of plastic boxes and put them away in a closet. But, one of the feelings of regret that I had going through my mom's house was that she had saved so many things that she never looked at.

Part of what I decided from that was that if I was going to keep something then it would be something that I would see. It didn't necessarily have to be in the public rooms of the house. But, basically, if it was important enough for me to keep then it was important enough for me to look at.

Or, to put another way -- if I didn't want to look at it, then I wouldn't keep it. So, my dolls from my childhood -- they go. I don't want to look at them. The dirty, worn duck that I cried when my parents made me stop playing with it and that I was so hysterical when they were going to throw it way that they packed it away instead (never unpacked over the next 60 years until I found it last week) -- that I kept. It made me happy to look at it.

So the question is for those who do display sentimental type ideas that aren't necessarily conventionally beautiful how do you do it? Do you put them in your bedroom? Your closet? The living room? Do you keep them altogether or scatter them around the house? That kind of thing.

I am aware that some people keep no sentimental items. That is not what I am asking about. These are things that I wish to keep. On the other hand, I am not a secret hoarder who needs to pare down. The volume of these things is small. I have already pared down.

Anyway, I have gotten some very useful ideas from this and appreciate the feedback.
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