Mini Mission Monday – Keepsake items

Hi folks, this week’s mini missions are going to center around keepsake items. You might be surprised at how many places in your home these little blighters are hiding. You may also be surprised to realize how many you keep just for the sake of it but don’t really care that much about. So, we are going to do a bit of a “don’t care enough to keep you” keepsake round-up. When contemplating each item, your first thoughts may go to the occasion/person/place that they remind you of and get you all sentimental. Don’t stop at your first thought! Take five deep breaths and channel your rational side for a few minutes and ask yourself…

  • Do I want to continue dusting/cleaning/polishing this item?
  • Is this item taking up valuable space in my home?
  • Will not having this item affect the memories I have of this person, place or event?
  • Does it mean more to me to have a decluttered home or to keep this item?

There is no right or wrong response to any of these questions. If the item truly is meaningful to you by all means put it back where you found it and keep enjoying it for years to come. If, however, you are on the fence as to whether to keep it or not consider other ways to preserve the memories without the clutter. You could photograph each item and preserve the memories in the form of…

  • A scrapbook if you are a paper crafter.
  • A photo picture book which you can put together and have printed via an on-line publishers such as Blurb.
  • You could make a framed collage of the items and hang it on your wall.
  • Save the photos to your computer for future reference.
  • Print and place the photos in a simple photo album that you can pull out of the bookshelf and look at as often as you like.

Now on with this weeks mini missions.

  • Monday – Today we are looking at any area in your living room where you display this kind of thing. It may be a display cabinet, TV unit, wall shelf etc. See what you can find.
  • TuesdayToday we are looking for an item of clothing that is kept for sentimental reasons but never worn. You know the kind, old band T-shirts, sports uniforms and maybe even a wedding or formal gown. Give some thought to whether you really want this item to perish unused in your closet.
  • Wednesday – The bookcase is another place that we keep sentimental items. Do you have any books that you aren’t likely to read again but keep regardless. Now is the time to reconsider your hold on these books and possibly pass them on to someone else to enjoy.
  • Thursday – The most obvious place for sentimental items is the keepsake box. I know I have at least one of these maybe you do too. Now is the time to review the items in this box and make sure you really want to keep them all.
  • Friday – Sometimes when items are very small we overlook them as clutter so today we are going to take a look where we store our jewellery and see if there are some “sentimental” pieces in there that we might be willing to declutter.
  • Saturday – Do your photo albums or digital photo files have pictures in that are such poor quality that they are not worth keeping. Photos that are similar to other better quality ones but you leave them there just because you are too sentimental to delete or throw them away. Now is the time to take a look and see which shots really are simply wasting space. Just one album or one photo file is enough for now.
  • Sunday – Your task for today is to find a sentimental item anywhere in your home that you think is clutter but that belongs to someone else in the household. Ask them if they still want this item. It is OK if they do, the challenge here is just to ask.

Good luck and happy decluttering

Today’s Declutter Item

These pens and just a few of the many many things that will be weeded out of my craft clutter over the months to come.


Things I am grateful for today

  • Quickly finding an angle for today’s mini mission list.
  • All the happy blogiversary messages I received yesterday.
  • The weather finally seems to have realised it is Autumn.
  • A good night sleep – No wacked out dreams to disturb me in the middle of the night
  • Steve is going declutter crazy on the bookcase – Yeh!

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow.

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Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Coming full circle ~ By Nicole V He awoke with a start, his heart pounding from the strange dreams that he’d had. He had no idea how long he’d slept. The inky darkness stretched all around him … and the silence, the […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I’m curious about the timings of your posts Colleen, as I recon many appear when I imagine you asleep. But I love how blogs with international followers, sees us all chip in following the sunrises around the world. It’s 4.40pm here in the UK on a sunny, crisp cold winter’s Sunday.
    In keeping with todays theme, I have decided to get rid of a couple of ornaments my mum gave me. Intruth, I always found them quite ugly, so give me no pleasure visually but I have hung on to them becasue I appreciated the sentiment behind them. I made the fatal mistake of admiring the first one and ‘pretending’ so I got given a couple more in the same vein over the next year or two. Fortunately I have plenty of non tangible things to remind me of our closeness and love. She is elderly now and not in the best of health, and I know I need to get rid of the things I really don’t like before she leaves us. Because I am sure I won’t let anything go for a long time after that event.

    In between decluttering (2 boxes of ‘stuff’ & books so far today), I am resting by continuing reading your archives. Cindy – I had such a good laugh at your ‘yodelling dill pickle’. You wonder how that got past the drawing board really.

    • I think it is very practical that you are choosing to declutter those items now. After my father died (in 2005), I kept every scrap of anything I had that once belonged to him. It wasn’t until last fall (2009) that I was able to finally pare his stuff down to one small box that is about half full. I kept the bottle of cologne I ended up with because it smells like him, his old coach shirt from my middle school softball team and some Texas park maps that I’m going to put to use with my husband and son (which he would have liked). Instead of closing doors to memories, decluttering opened them.

      I’m so sorry for rambling! I just kind of got started and didn’t stop.

    • Hi Katharine,
      I write my blog and schedule it to publish at 2am Australian Eastern Time, so yes I am tucked up asleep in my bed when it appears in cyberspace. We are on AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) at the moment which is standard time + one hour for daylight savings as we have just come out of Summer here. That will change soon as the daylight hours get shorter and we revert to AEST (Aus Eastern Standard time). I believe we are two hours over the international date line so most of my readers are still on the day before when my post is published.

      I am glad you are finding things to declutter for this week’s mini missions. I like your idea of parting with things your mother gave you now while she is still alive because when she is gone it may be a whole lot harder to do that. I don’t think I had ever thought of it that way before. A lot of the sentimental items I have parted with once belonged to my grandmother and she was gone before I received them. Being as that was about 30 years ago and I am only just decluttering them now probably confirms your theory and you are best to be doing your sentimental decluttering now when you are less emotional. My mother is in good health at 72 and the thing that I will always remember most about her is her laugh and you can’t keep that on a shelf but it is firmly planted in my mind. I have a great photo of her in full swing of one of her uproarious laughter episodes and it is all I will ever need to remind me of her.
      I hope you enjoyed your rest and had fun reading through the archives. Your comment came through here at 3:46am Monday while it was 4:40pm Sunday your time. So that makes us about 11 hours ahead. If I am right it should be about 8:30pm your time when I send this off now at 7:30amish. Goodnight!

      • This is topical for me too, as my dad died just over a year ago. He bequeathed me his set of Somerset Maugham books in hardback, as we both enjoyed him as an author. I decided that I’d already read the ones I wanted to, and the rest I wasn’t interested in reading. So, I put them out on the nature strip on the anniversary of his death and they were all snapped up in minutes. It made me happy, and my memory of Dad isn’t lessened by the fact I no longer own the books. (I told some of my friends however, and they were HORRIFIED! That’s why I love this little community; everyone is so understanding).

        • Hi Loretta,
          this comment is music to my ears. What a lovely way to commemorate the anniversary of your fathers death – sharing something you both loved with others. I can’t imagine what your friends found so horrifying about that. What a beautiful thing to do.

  2. I already know I want to get rid of my wedding dress, but I can’t decide how. Some people take pictures of them destroying their dress but that seems a little iffy to me. I haven’t been able to sell it, but donating it makes me wince. Anyone have ideas that won’t cost more than about $50? It’s takes up a good portion of our closet since I haven’t done anything with it in the 4 1/2 years since we got married.

    • Can’t help you with this one. I’ve had 5 bridesmaids dresses to deal with over the years (ooh, you can wear it to a ball…not in 21st Century UK you can’t, lol.) but never been the bride.
      Would you consider cutting up and remaking something with the material – like a decorative wall hanging/bedspread/bedhead? Or does that come uder ‘destroying it’ and a nono?

    • Hi Lynn,
      wedding dresses can be a difficult thing for lots of people. I am not good for the advice on this one as my dress is taking up space at my mother-in-laws and will have done for 24 years later this month. I do think about it occasionally and wonder what I will do with it but just haven’t had to deal with it because it is 900kms away. I think donating it will be my choice when the time comes although. I will try it on first being as I only way about 4kg heavier than when I wore it all those years ago. 4kgs is a big difference though when we are talking 53 to 57kg so I am not expecting to get it buttoned up. Good luck with your decision and hopefully one of the other ladies may have a suggestion for you.

    • Lynn, you may have already tried this, if so, sorry for the repeat! If there is a used clothing store near you, they often take clothing on consignment. If it doesn’t sell, you can take possession of it again. Or some shops will accept things that don’t sell and donate them to charity (find out which charity if it matters to you).

      In keeping with Katharine’s remark below, some people have their wedding dress made into a baby’s christening gown – if not for their own child or grandchild, then for a godchild or child of a friend.

      • Weighing in again (sorry, just can’t shut me up!) I’m keeping mine so my 10 year old daughter can wear it as a dressup. Being the kind of child she is, I’m sure that she’ll hack into it and deconstruct it somehow. As it cost me $400 AUD total, I’m quite fine with that. Plus, I like to try it on occasionally, to check that I haven’t put on any weight in the last 15 years, though my boobs are practically popping out of it now, after having 2 kids 🙂

        • Hi Loretta,
          I can only wish my boobs had gotten bigger with kids. I had none to start with and still don’t. I am sure that part of my dress will still fit just fine. 😆

      • Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Lynn, I got rid of my wedding dress a while ago and wrote some ideas on my site; you can read it here:

      Thanks for the post today Colleen. Thankfully I’m not much of one for keepsakes, or ‘ornaments’ as I call them. I used to have stacks of them (beware ever telling anyone you like, in my example, cats, because you get pottery ones, metal ones, plates with them on, pictures, crystal ones – geesh; I LOVE cats, but I prefer the furry ones with four legs and a tail). Anyway, I used to live surrounded by cats, both real and manmade but I ditched them long ago. Yes, they were from good friends and from probably the best years of my life but man I hated dusting them!
      There are some areas for me to look into however; I have ONE box of ‘stuff’ – my old school tie, school photos, greetings cards etc. I might just have a sort through and see if I can release anything – I’m sure I have photos of my ex boyfriends in there, perhaps it’s time LOL!

      • Yeah, of course I meant to say I ditched the manmade cats; not the real ones 😀 😀

      • My step-great-grandmother used to collect cat objects…and by the time she was in her 90’s, her house was COVERED in cat items and cat hair (from the real cats). Good thing you put a stop to it now, trust me!

        I’m going to go check out your link. 🙂

      • Hi Mrs Green,
        I will take a look at the link later.
        I know what you mean about people latching on to the idea of something you like and running with it. Until recently I was still adding to my mother’s Giraffe collection. I once had an elephant collection but I decided to sell it off when my husband got his first posting after we were married. I didn’t want to cart it all over Australia for the rest of my life.

  3. Ouch. Sentimental clutter. That is going to be so hard.

    Anyway, spring has come here (yay!) and so does carnaval (the waste that is produced there – awful – not to mention that the thrift store was closed. Grrr) and not to mention a week holiday! So, I first going to go through my room, and try to start ahead with selling books (I want to sell so much, that it scares me and that I wonder how much books I have).

    • Hi Nurchamiel,
      just remember don’t look a the big picture, one thing at a time one thing at a time. My husband went through our bookcase on the week-end and has already made $80 though internet sales so it can really be worth the effort. Good luck and use your time of constructively.

  4. I’m really liking the idea of taking pictures of the sentimental items before decluttering them. I did that when I was closing down my parents’ house after my father died last year and my 91-year-old mother had to move to assisted living. They were BOTH hoarders so I had a long way to go to clear out the house for sale. I started reading this blog last year because I wanted to clear out my own stuff at my own house, but the blog has helped with letting go of a lot of my parents stuff too. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t possibly keep everything my father left because they both had so much stuff that I can’t even store it all in my garage.

    My mother had housewares, linens, unused electronics, and sports memorabilia, and my dad had tools, building supplies, scrap metal, scrap wood. I have spent lots of time taking things to a special recycler so I can do my teensy bit to not contribute to land fill. They take all plastic that my city’s recycle pickup doesn’t take, for instance.

    I’ve sold, donated to charity, and given away, and I still have quite a bit of stuff of my mother’s. I keep it for her to look at, should she so desire. I will deal with it later, after her house finally sold. Since my dad is gone, and because of this blog, I was able to take just a few things of his and get rid of the rest.

    For my own house, I plan to take pictures of all the stuff on the mantle and in the entry way and say good bye to much of it. I’m feeling better already.

    • Hi JanetW,
      I am glad you are making such great progress with your decluttering. With sentimental decluttering the phycological battle is the difficult part. Once you manage to change your mindset altogether and convince yourself that stuff is just stuff this side of the equation becomes a whole lot easier. With experience the physical part of the task also gets simpler once you have worked out your most suitable options for redistributing the items. Judging by your comment you have got the whole thing figured out and all you have to is take action when the mood takes you. Good for you Janet!

  5. Katharine, I’m glad you were amused (bemused?) by the yodeling pickle. It was really a sight when my husband hacked it to vibrate while it yodeled. We decluttered it by sending it back to the conference organizer in its new “improved” state.

    For any of you who scratched your head and thought “What??” You can read more about the yodeling pickle here

    Also, I wrote a post on decluttering (or not) your wedding dress, which you can read here

    • Hi Cindy,
      I know you had written a post about wedding dresses at some point but I have had a busy day and haven’t had the chance to find it and slot it in. Thank you for doing that for me, you are a treasure. Now I had better get this keyboard to produce a post for tomorrow.

  6. A few years ago I accidentally threw out a box of letters that I wanted to keep.

    I do have a lot more sentimental stuff than I care to admit. Clothes are probably the worst. I used to express myself a lot through clothes, so there are a lot that I haven’t quite been willing to part with yet.

    One challenge for me is that my father died when I was young, and after that I didn’t have a lot to do with my beloved grandparents until they both died about 10 years later. I find myself wanting to cling onto anything I have that belonged to them. Fortunately I don’t have much. Most of it fits in a small china cabinet.

    • Hi Susan,
      one thing that is irreplaceable is letters and it is best to be cautious about our treatment of these.

      It is even harder to part with things when they are tied to the losses in our lives. I have been extremely fortunate not to have suffered such loses so I can only imagine how that feels. Just remember are memories are more important than our stuff.