6 Great Ideas for Organizing Family Memories

Without speaking a word, your family’s story can be told through the first day of school pics, construction paper turkeys, and piano recital programs you collect through the years. But, if things are stuffed haphazardly in boxes and drawers, you’ll never enjoy them like you should! Spending just a little time organizing those family memories will allow you to get the most out of those treasures.

The good news is that there are lots of great tips and tricks for managing the large collections of digital photos we all seem to have. If space is at a premium, you can capture artwork and other keepsakes in a digital format and toss the original! Developing a system for displaying photos on a regular basis gets your favorite memories out of the closet and in front of your eyes—where they should be!

Do you have other areas to declutter? Don’t miss our Home Organization 101 Series!

So here are 6 great ideas for organizing family memories.

1. Get digital memories in one place.

If you’re like us, your family photos are scattered around among multiple devices: your phone, your tablet, and the laptop or desktop computer. You can inventory and organize them more easily if everything is corralled into one place. Check out this tutorial for migrating everything into one central digital location and printing hard copies. And remember: don’t be afraid to purge the bad, out-of-focus pics of the back of someone’s head. Those junk shots are just keeping you from being able to access and enjoy the keepers.

2. Back up.

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a sentimental mom more than the idea of losing precious family pics and keepsakes in a house fire or computer crash. That’s why you need a back-up of your full stash of memories. There are two good options: you can copy all of your files onto a portable hard drive (they’re small and hold TONS of data, which is good because photos and videos are space hogs…) and store it in a safe place, or you can use a cloud-based service like Flikr, Photobucket, or Dropbox. Cloud storage provides the bonus of being able to access your pics and files from any device, as long as you have internet access.

3. Once you’re organized, PRINT.

This is the step that gets overlooked in our screen-centric lives. But hard copies of great photos can be displayed and enjoyed every day. You can print everything in large batches and file in boxes by date or select key shots that would look great in a frame. Even if you just print them on your home printer—something is better than nothing! Also, consider ordering photo books that you can organize by date or event. The new bound books take up much less space than old-school photo albums. Sometimes it’s just nice to pull those off the shelf and remember…

4. Get a grip on kids’ artwork.

Those precious tempera paint handprints and cotton ball cloud pictures are priceless! Try storing them in a way that will allow you to pull out a few each season to decorate with. Try some of these tips for organizing kids crafts and artwork.

5. Set up a file for miscellaneous paper mementos.

If your drawers are bursting with recital programs and certificates, football programs, ticket stubs, and other pieces of paper that represent important memories, try a file box to neatly organize them by date or family member. That way, when you want to take a walk down memory lane, you know just where to look. Why not group a few great ones into a shadow box or large frame for display?

6. Give each family member a memory container.

There are a few items in every person’s life that need to be protected from the hands of the person who cleans out closets (We’re looking at you, Mom.). The shirt and race bib from the first 5k she finished, his JV football jersey, the pink ballet slippers from her first class: they wouldn’t pass muster on the standard “Will I wear it or use it in the next 12 months?” test, but that’s okay. Purchase a medium-sized plastic storage bin for each family member for those sentimental pieces and give them a way to hang on to a few special items.

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In The Comments

What's your secret for keeping family memories organized?