November Use It Up Challenge – Sentimental Items

The November Use It Up Challenge is here and it's all about tackling sentimental clutter.

Gather your collector’s plates, heirlooms, and precious memories. It’s time for the November Use It Up Challenge. This month’s focus is on sentimental items. I have gone easy on you for the last 10 months of this decluttering challenge, so it’s time to really push things. Sentimental items are one of the hardest categories to declutter for obvious reasons. We don’t want to give up our beloved stuffed bear from childhood, or the first pair of shoes our child owned, or that set of fancy dishes that we have never used! But here’s the problem. All of that stuff, while important to you, is still clutter and in the end, it doesn’t really benefit you. I realize this will be hard, incredibly hard for some people, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to truly declutter your home. Now, take a deep breath, tell yourself it will be okay, and start finding those boxes filled with precious stuff.

In the previous months, we have tackled notebooks, candles, cleaning supplies, craft supplies, clothes, bath items, books, food, toys, and games.

November Use It Up Challenge – Sentimental Items

What is the Use It Up Challenge?

This is a monthly decluttering challenge that focuses on using the items instead of simply getting rid of them. This helps to reduce waste and also gets your money worth out of those items. Each month, a new category is chosen and we will focus on that category all month long. However, you don’t have to stop once that month ends. Keep decluttering and using up those items all year long. It will have a huge impact on your home and life at the end of the year.

If you are joining in, be sure to share your progress on social media using #IHUseItUp. I’d love to see how everyone is getting along with the challenge.

Where to start

Like every month, the first step is to gather all of your sentimental items. Depending on how many you have, this may be easy or feel like a daunting task. Take your time if you need to, but don’t go so slowly that you never make any progress.

Your sentimental items may be thoroughly buried in closets, crawlspaces, and various other locations around the house. Make sure you find them all. By now, if you have been keeping up with all of my other Use It Up Challenges, it should be fairly easy to track down all these memory-filled boxes.

How do you use them?

This will vary greatly depending on what those items are. If you have a set of dishes that you never use, consider making the effort to use them once a month or once a week. I remember my parents having a few sets of “fancy” dishes that as far as I can recall were never used. In fact, I recall once getting in deep shit for using one of the “good glasses” (which by the way looked identical to our everyday glasses) to get a drink of water. How was I to know it was made of crystal instead of regular glass. I thought it was ridiculous but my mother thought I was trying to ruin her life. In a situation like this, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth keeping an item if you refuse to ever use it. But I digress.

One other way to use up an item is to put it on display. This is a way to show off your beloved stuffed bear, or that figurine you saved up for, or whatever it is. You will get to enjoy seeing that item every single day.

Perhaps it’s a book you read as a child and loved more than anything else. Why not reread it? Sure, you may not love it as much now, but you can enjoy it one last time and either put it on your shelf or pass it on to another person.

Capture the memory

One great way to part ways with an item but still have a way to access it is to take pictures of it. Sure, it’s not the same as having that item, but if you already rarely see it because it’s been packed away for 15 years, then you aren’t missing it anyway. Snap a picture of the item and take another with you holding it. You can keep these pictures digitally or print them off. Either way, the pictures will take up significantly less room than the item itself.

What if you aren’t sure about an item?

This is a common problem with decluttering. However, this can be solved by creating a temporary maybe pile. Some people don’t like the idea of a maybe pile but I think it’s fine, as long as you set a time limit on how long that pile can exist. With the November Use It Up Challenge, you have an entire month to figure out what to do with these items. It’s okay if you need a little extra time, especially if you have a lot of sentimental items, but try to get this done in as short of a time frame as possible.

I remember doing this with a couple of sentimental items a year or so ago. These two items, a stuffed bear and a blanket had meant the world to me as a kid. But I was torn on whether or not to keep them. So, I set them in a spot where I would see them daily. Eventually, I realized that seeing these items was drudging up some pretty terrible memories, so while I had loved them they had to go. Before I got rid of them, I snapped a picture – just in case I wanted to see them again, but in the end, I am glad I removed them from my life.

What if they have no use?

So you have managed to sever the connection of that precious item but now what? Well, this is easy. If you cannot find a purpose for said item, it’s time to get rid of it. Depending on the item, you may be able to find a collector to sell it to. However, I feel like collectible items have become less popular now, so this may not happen. Alternatively, you could post them for sale locally and see if anyone is interested. You may not make much from them, but it’s clearing space in your home and bringing in a few bucks.

They can also be donated. Of course, some items may need to be put in the trash. Old blankets and clothes from when you were younger are likely beyond their usefulness.

What I will be using up

I want to say I don’t have a ton of sentimental items but I feel like there are more than I realize. There are quite a few boxes in our crawlspace filled with stuff. Some of it is mine and some are my husband’s. My husband has a strong attachment to a lot of things from his childhood, so that will be another hurdle to cross this month. But let’s just focus only on my own things for now. Some of the items that come to mind are:

  • Breyer horse collection
  • Star Wars toys
  • Toys from my childhood (Hello Rainbow Bright toys!)
  • Schleich horse collection

I am sure there are others, but I will not know what they are until I start digging through all of those boxes. What I do know, is that if I don’t find a way to display them, use them, or find a purpose for them, most of it will go.

I will say, that it’s okay to keep some sentimental items. After all, I’m not going to get rid of everything either. But we need to be realistic. If it has sat in a box hidden in a closet for who knows how many years, do you really need to keep it? Can it really mean that much to you if it never sees the light of day?

Will you be joining the November Use It Up Challenge? What sentimental items will you be working on using up?


  1. I love the idea behind this challenge, it’s so productive! This is totally something I want to try this month, I have way too many things that I don’t use enough.

    Anika |

    1. Author

      Thank you. I hope you are successful in getting rid of the stuff you don’t use so you can free up space in your home.

  2. This is something I seriously need! My bookshelves are overflowing but I’m never able to make up my mind to unhaul some 😅 I definitely want to try this out soon. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Author

      I totally understand that. My shelves were the same way but I was finally able to do it. Took me 3 years to truly whittle it down, because I still wanted to read most of the books before I got rid of them but it’s made a huge difference. Good luck!

  3. I love the idea of putting it on display. That being said, there’s also the possibility to narrow down how much you have. I have a cabinet in my dining room that has some china from my grandmother and great grandmother on display, but it’s just a little from each. One shelf has a couple of teacups, a serving tray, etc. I don’t have the whole set for them, that would just be taking up space in our house.

    1. Author

      Displaying part of a collection is a great way to show off items without taking up too much space. I’m sure seeing those pieces out puts a smile on your face.

  4. I am really thinking about this, but I have such a problem with the sentimental items that I have left, my mothers stereo, I use it as my tv stand, my grandfathers stereo, (I gifted it to my daughter, we do occastionally actually listen to it, only one speaker remains, the record and tape decks don”t work, nor does the record player. My family just didn’t have much to pass on, so the few jewelry pieces and things, I just don’t think I could part with anything :/ I will be looking closely.

    1. Author

      Remember, it’s okay to keep some of those items, especially if they mean a lot to you. Do what you can with them, that’s what matters.

  5. I love the ideas of keeping items on display and taking photos of the ones you’re going to get rid of. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things but even if the physical item is gone the memories are still there.

    1. Author

      Thank you. I fully agree, no matter what we will always have memories and if we want to take a trip down memory lane we can pull out those photos and look at the items we have on display to remember.

    1. Author

      Thank you!

  6. Love your use it up posts!
    This would definitely be the hardest category for me!! I’m not a big hoarder, EXCEPT for when it comes to books and really sentimental stuff. This would definitely be the hardest month for me.

    1. Author

      Thank you. Sentimental items are difficult for a lot of people but that’s why they are sentimental and not just stuff in our junk drawer. Give it a shot and see if there is anything you are willing to part with. Remember, you don’t need to do it all in a single month if you have a lot of items that you are attached to.

  7. Oh boy, this is a tough one. I’m a sucker for keeping things around for sentimental reasons. I’ll see what I can find. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation. Love the idea of a Twitter hashtag.

    1. Author

      We all love to keep some items aside that are important to us but like everything else, it’s important to look through them and give them a decluttering. Good luck going through your items.

  8. Good tips. We will have a hard time parting with sentimental items. However, I am starting to sell some comic books to declutter

    1. Author

      Thank you. It’s certainly not the easiest of items to deal with but worth it if you can part with some. I have some comic books I need to sell as well.

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