What To Do With Childhood Belongings


We all have things that stir up memories of our days as kids.  These items are sentimental to us because they represent our achievements, trips that we took, and memories that were made.  They tell a story of who we are and where we've come from; and how that has influenced who we've since become.  Whenever we consider getting rid of these childhood possessions our palms get a little sweaty and heart begins to race.  We think, "I'll forget all of these memories if I get rid of this..."  The truth is though that we really won't.  Sure we may not remember all of our childhood memories but who honestly does?  The ones that we do remember are the ones that are most memorable to us.  They are something that no one or nothing will ever be able to take away.  They are ours forever.

I was reflecting on this one afternoon when I was moving around some tubs in our closet and noticed that one of them was filled with my American Girl Doll collection.  Growing up I treasured my American Girl dolls Samantha and Kit, and their beautiful wardrobe.  My friends and I would play with them for hours on end, making up all sorts of adventures for them to go on.  It had been years since I last picked up those dolls to play with and yet there they sat, with the hope that they would one day be passed down to the hands of my daughter.  That had always been the plan.  

While I do certainly hope that I do have a daughter, there is no guarantee that I will.  We can't tell the future and as much as plan, we can't know what a year or ten will bring.  Here I was hoarding these dolls for my hypothetical future daughter when there were other little girls who could use them now.  After coming to this realization I began to ask around among my friends at work of any little girl who would love treasure my collection.  Right away, a candidate was found and so, I passed them along.  I have to admit it was a little bittersweet but honestly, it gave me so much joy to know that they were going to a little girl who didn't have the means for these dolls and yet now had them.  I believe that if I'm in that position down the road with my daughter, that someone might do the same for her.

This experience drastically changed how I now view my childhood possessions.  While there are some that are in tubs, others have been donated, and others still, are now out on display where I can enjoy them.  Our time on Earth is so brief, and what we have we won't be able to take with us.  I want to encourage you to hold on to the few childhood belongings that spark joy and release the rest for others to use and enjoy.  Possessions come and go but our memories are forever.


What to To Do With Childhood Belongings

Memory Box


Creating a memory box is something that I picked up from my mom, who created one for each of us kids growing up.  In it she would put our baby book, a few special outfits and select artwork that we had made.  I took note of her and made one of my own which holds a small curation of meaningful cards, letters, toys, books, and odds and ends.


Create Artwork


Creating artwork using beautiful cards, meaningful letters, photographs, ticket stubs, etc. is a creative way to showcase your special pieces in a way which you can enjoy them on a daily basis.  Create your piece(s) using only the most meaningful items, and then photograph and discard the rest.  


Display Special Pieces


Displaying your most special childhood belongings is great way to get your items out of cardboard boxes and out into the open, where you can really enjoy them.  One of the ways in which I've done this is by using using a tray that used to hold a tea-set I played with growing up, on the vanity in our bedroom, which now holds my make-up brushes.  On it, I also have a beautiful turquoise bracelet that I bought from a state fair one summer while visiting my grandparents out in California.  I can't wear it but it brings me such joy when I look down upon it every day.


Find A Loving Home


Instead of donating your childhood belongings directly to thrift stores, search around and see if you can't find a loving home for any of them.  Your books would be greatly appreciated at your local library and clothing at your local shelter.  We can't take our possessions with us someday, so finding them a home here and now is one of the best things that you could do.


Thank you so much to all of y'all who answered our question on social media about what you plan on keeping and letting go of in regards to childhood memorabilia (that of your own and of your kids).  These were your answers:


Something's can be really hard to get rid of when you are going through it and it brings back a memory. When it came to stuffed animals I only kept the ones my grandparents had given me when I was really really young, or it had to have a really big sentiment. I had a bunch of toys from happy meals and arcades I actually donated them and that felt great to know another child could get enjoyment out of them.

Courtney Batt


I keep all things Disney. That's what makes it easy for me to decide. Lol jk Someone's actually told me I put to much importance or symbolicalness to objects.. so, it's really hard for me to give up things. So, then I ask myself if I move again or five-10 years down the road will this still be important to me. That really helps.

Cammi Spangler


 I kept a paper mache cheerleader that Sallie made in middle school. Her leg is going limp, but I'm not getting rid of it because it brings me so much joy!

Renea Suttle


I kept my teddy bear. He's quite old since I'm 66. My adult kids kept a few of their own. We washed and donated the rest, I thought, until I came across a huge box of them that your Uncle kept in the garage! No joke! Purging is tough. I kept one or two baby outfits from each of them and gave or sold the rest. Important toys - American Girl dolls, kid size rocking chair, doll crib, etc. Occasionally I worry what will happen if we ever downsize. Yikes!

Virginia Haas



Photography by Zoe Grant.