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Solutions that Work: Children's Keepsakes

Today is day 9 of the Solutions that Work series. I am going to share some ideas for organizing your children’s keepsakes and keeping the things that matter most.

Our children grow up so quickly and they have clothes, home-made crafts, papers (medical, school, etc.), books, and toys that they no longer use or need. For these childhood things, you must decide what you want to save and later, pass on to them. I am going to provide a few solutions to sorting, purging and keeping your children’s keepsakes, and you can decide what fits best for your style.


Consider keeping the outfit you picked for your child to wear home from the hospital or a handmade piece. See “the things” section below for where to store these keepsakes. As for clothes that all your children have outgrown, consider all the discard options:

  • Give the clothes to someone you know who can use them.

  • Donate the clothes to somewhere that provides clothes to other mothers in need. (Day 10 of the Solutions that Work series will include information about specific places that take children’s clothes.)

  • Sell the clothes to make some extra cash for the things your children need now.

  • Trash the clothes if they are stained or in poor condition.

As your child ages, you may have uniforms, costumes, prom dresses or other special outfit, you could keep a swatch of the fabric and attach it to a photo instead of saving the entire piece of clothing.


Initially, I was saving my kids’ papers by year in manila envelopes. I had pre-school diplomas, gymnastic evaluations, play programs, dance recital programs, camp awards, birthday party invitations, art work, school pictures, dance pictures and much more. As I was minimizing and purging, I scanned these and recycled them. Now, I store them all electrically on Google Drive.

I use a consistent file naming system, so I can easily find the specific items later. It looks like this: Family member’s name_date with year, month, day (ex: 20100522)_category of what the item is (photo, school art, card, photo, certificate, gymnastics, invitation, dance, band, artwork)_any specific information I wanted to include (ex: who it was from, who was in the photo, location of where it was received). So, a card that my daughter received from her dad and I on May 20, 2016 would have this as a filename: Emma_20160520_card_mom and dad. (This is much simpler than it sounds.)

Since it is not possible to scan things as they come in, I have a box where I put everything I want to organize. I do try to make sure I pencil in the date on the back of the item. And when I have time, I can do the scanning all at once.

I suggest scanning pictures and artwork as JPEGs at 240 pixels per inch (ppi) to 300 ppi so they can later be printed. For paperwork, such as programs and awards, I scanned these as PDFs. In the dance and band programs, I highlighted my child’s name before scanning.

Art Work

I store my children’s artwork with the papers but there are phone apps specifically designed for capturing photos of your kid’s artwork to save and share. Heather Sanders reviews in her blog, 4 Apps to Archive Your Kids’ Amazing Artwork, apps that you may want use: Artkive, Art My Kid Made, Canvsly, and Keepy.

The things

I have designated one box per family member to store the keepsakes we want to have for a lifetime. When the children are young, you must decide what is kept in the box. As your child gets older, they can play a bigger role in deciding what is kept. When thinking about what to keep, try to consider what your children will treasure when they are grown.

The boxes I have were purchased at Target. They are plastic with lids. It is possible that I might try to find something classier as the kids get older but for now, these work perfectly. They should be stored in a place where they can be accessed easily.

With these different approaches to saving your children's keepsakes, I hope you find something that fits for you. Tomorrow, we will wrap up the Solutions that Work series with specific organizations, mostly in the Indianapolis area, for donations—and you may be excited to know that some will even pick up at your home.

Check out all the Solutions that Work Series posts.

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