Make memories with memories this holiday season

The holidays are right around the corner, and this is the perfect time to consider going through your family archives - old family photos and small mementos you've been storing in your home. Adding another to-do item to the list during an already busy season might sound absurd, but hear me out!

Family memorabilia is the single most challenging category of items to declutter and organize in your home. Why? Because it is a collection that many family members feel connected to, and yet no one has ownership over. And it can be a confusing collection to declutter: pictures of unidentified people and landscapes mixed in with that one remaining photo of your great, great grandfather. You could probably toss most of the photos, but what if someone else can identify the people in them, or might be upset if you threw them out? You'd like to display the picture of your great, great grandfather, but it's starting to fade, and you don't want to risk ruining it. So the collection remains on the shelf, mostly untouched, something you'll get around to figuring out, someday.

Someday is now - the holidays. The holidays are a perfect time to create new memories sitting around the table, identifying ancestors and sharing family anecdotes that are sparked by exploring the contents of your family archives. You can decide, together, what pictures are significant to your family history, and which ones have no hope of ever being identified. Other family members can snap a high-quality photo of any memorabilia they would like to have copies of, using just their cell phones. Sorting through the family archive just went from being an arduous task to a fun experience shared with close family members.

So, how about starting a new family tradition this year? When your guests ask what they can bring to Thanksgiving dinner, suggest they bring their box of family photos so you can start making memories with memories.

Pro Tips:

  • Old family photos and objects make great holiday gifts. Here are some examples:

  1. Consider making copies of fragile photos and framing them to

  2. Create and print a digital scrapbook with family photos

  3. Repair a broken or worn-out family heirloom

  4. Compile family videos into a short movie

  • Make a video of family members sharing meaningful stories.

  • Have children come up with questions about their grandparents' childhood. Make it more fun by putting the questions in a jar and pull them out randomly during dinner.

  • Make sure important family items are stored in a way that will ensure their longevity. Avoid storing items in basements, garages or attics. Choose a location with mostly constant temperature and humidity, and no direct sunlight. Make sure the items are secure from rodent and insect damage. Choose UV filtering glass on framed items that might be exposed to sunlight during the day.

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