Thursday, September 9, 2010

Managing Memorabilia

Some of the most important items in my scrapbooks are pieces of memorabilia.  Ticket stubs, maps, programs, flyers, my 4 year old's artwork, wristbands, locks of hair, cards, all of these things and more I consider to be memorabilia.  These are the items I collect to use in my scrapbooks in addition to my pictures and memories...and sometimes these items can get out of control! 

A few years back (just after my daughter was born) I finally figured out a system to organize my memorabilia until I am ready to use it on a layout.  Before I utilized this system, I was constantly forgetting about (and misplacing) the memorabilia I had collected.  Inevitably, I would scrapbook a layout and forget to add the memorabilia to it.  This began to get very frustrating...and with a new baby, I knew I had to find a better system to organize my memorabilia.  This is the system I came up with...

Step 1:
I keep a hanging basket on my desk.  Every time I get a new piece of memorabilia, I date it (if necessary) and toss it into the basket.  This is a very quick, simple process, it only takes me a few all of memorabilia ends up in this basket almost immediately after I collect it.

Basket full of memorabilia.

Step 2:
Every 6 to 12 months (when the basket fills up) it's time to organize the contents.  I empty the contents of the basket on a table...I briefly look at the items as I am emptying the basket, so I "kind of" know what I have in there. 

Everything that was in the basket.

Step 3:
I grab a stack of 6"x9" Manila envelopes.  You may need to use the larger ones...but these smaller ones work for me.  I use one envelope for spring, one for summer, one for fall, and one for winter (of each year).  If you have lots more memorabilia, you may consider having an envelope for each month of the year.  It really just depends on how much you collect.

Step 4:
I start going through all of the memorabilia, one item at a time, placing each item in its corresponding "season" envelope.  As I put each piece into the envelope, I write the date and the item description on the outside of the envelope. This list of "contents" makes it very easy for me to find something without having to dig through a huge pile stuff.  I also purge some (but not much) of the memorabilia I have collected at this time.  Usually I find one or two things that I just know I will probably never use in my scrapbooks, so I throw them out. 

Envelopes for 15 months of memorabilia...
with the "contents" listed on the outside.

This is an example of what is inside of one of the envelopes
(Summer 2010)

Step 5:
After my memorabilia is all in its corresponding envelopes, I place these envelopes into an expandable accordion file.  I can usually fit 2-3 years worth of memorabilia into the accordion file before it is "busting at the seams". 

Step 6:
There are some items that I do not include in these envelopes...
--When we go on vacation I keep all of the vacation memorabilia together in a plastic bag.  There is usually quite a bit of stuff and it would fill many 6x9 envelopes.  So I keep it separate.
--I do not keep the kids' birthday cards in the envelopes either.  Instead, I tie a ribbon around each years' cards and put the date and child's name on a tag on top.  I will not be putting all of their birthday cards into my albums...but I cannot bring myself to throw the cards away either :)

This is a bag from our Texas Vacation earlier this summer...
waaaay too much stuff to fit into the 6x9 envelopes!

Step 7:
Finally, I store my expandable accordion files full of memorabilia, vacation memorabilia bags, birthday cards, and old calendars on a shelf of my bookshelf.  It is all there, easy to find and easy to access when I am working on a layout...which brings me to my last I incorporate the memorabilia into my albums without forgetting what I have.

My organized shelf of all things memorabilia-related!

Step 8:
I try to put a little note to myself on my "journaling index card" about what memorabilia I need to include on a layout.  This way I know to look for the envelope that corresponds with the date of the photos I am working with when I sit down to scrap.  If I forget to make myself a note on my index card, I can just pull the envelope for the "season" and year I'm scrapbooking and check the contents listed on the outside to see if there is any memorabilia to include on my layouts.

It might be a bit time consuming to set this system up...but now it takes me less than 1 hour to go through a year's worth of memorabilia, put it into envelopes, and write the contents on the outside.  It is definitely worth one hour of time now, than to dig through a cardboard box of ticket stubs, maps, and cards to look for a lock of hair from my baby's first haircut when I'm trying to get that page scrapped!!!


  1. Very cute blog! Did you design/make it yourself? Love all the flowers w/buttons & bling!

  2. I got the backgrounds and header from I have some other matching designs from the site as well, but I don't know how to put them into the blog yet :)

  3. genius system - one I will definitely be incorporating myself!

  4. just found this post via the Counterfeit Kit Challenge site on organising memorabilia. This is a great system and one that I really can connect to so I may well be trying something like this out. Thanks for such a clear post on what is a tough subject!