People may assume that minimalists would shy away from owning a memory box because it contains physical possessions. While those who strive to live simply might opt to keep all of their memories in a digital format, there are other items that crave to be touched, smelled and held rather than simply viewed on a screen. If a minimalist does have a memory box- chances are the things within it will have been carefully curated. If you want to retain a memory box while living more minimally, here are some things you can do to keep a lid on (pardon the pun) your keepsakes without letting them get out of control. 

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Digitize what you can: You can scan photos, cards, notes, letters, messages if you aren’t too precious about keeping the paper copy. Create your own digital file for the things that were once paper memories, back it up and you can return to this each time you want a trip down memory lane.

Use the container system: Dana K White, author of Decluttering at the Speed of Life suggests that you should give all your possessions a boundary which is the container in which it resides. So if you carefully choose a memory box, make sure it fits everything you want it to and don’t exceed the limits of the box by buying another one and transferring all your possessions into a more generous space. Once you have settled on the appropriate container for you, then commit to making this your memory box for life. Which is why it’s important to... 

Invest in a good quality memory box: The only way you will discourage yourself from chopping and changing boxes as things enter your life is to invest in a long lasting box. You could even consider getting one specially made- Etsy have some beautiful examples of bespoke boxes with personal information engraved on the front. The box is key because it makes you think carefully about the items that you put in there. 

Try to capture memories in digital form: Rather than seeking out a physical item to place in your memory box, try to take photos and videos instead. This means you won’t overtuff your box and reserve it for the really special items that are non negotiable. 

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Revisit the things in it often: Like with decluttering the things in your home, your memory box is no exception. What you once thought you would be unable to separate yourself from may have served its purpose then, meaning you are now ready to let it go. I would encourage you to take your memory box out at regular intervals such as once a year and recap what is in there. Perhaps you are no longer in the same relationship and you want to cleanse your space of all physical memories of the person you parted from. This is just one example of how things can change in your world from one year to the next, so your memory box should reflect your life now and the memories you want to look back on, not a sad reminder of things you have lost or regret. 

Display what you can: Truly special items don’t need to be placed in a box, they can be put on a wall or used as decor in your home, so think about each item in turn- could you enjoy any of them every day? For instance, a sentimental card could be framed and hung on your wall, a treasured bowl could be put in pride of place and used for fruit or sweets. Tickets could be organised into a display book for your coffee table so you can leaf through them to remember all the concerts, comedians, plays and musicals you have been to see. 

Consider what memory each item holds: Perhaps you have stored something in your memory box simply because you think you have to keep this item or someone has told you to. But how does that piece make you feel? If it brings back negative memories, despite being a stereotypical thing that one might keep, you may want to rethink whether it is serving you well each time you open it up. For instance, a typical trinket that someone might have in a memory box is a greetings card from a partner. But if every time you open the card and read the positive words, all you can think about is the argument you had with your lover after the gift giving was over, it might be time to let it go. Similarly, if you kept your child’s first pair of shoes but looking at them only makes you think of the terrible shopping trip you took to get them or how sick they were around the time they needed them, maybe it’s time to part ways and allow space for something that conjures up a happier memory. 

Memory boxes don’t need to take up a lot of space if you are really intentional about what you want to keep in there, so save it for the best of the best and discard the rest!

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