Are you finding yourself holding onto family member’s items that hold sentimental value to them, but not for yourself? Is your storage area becoming a collection spot for these sentimental items and you are ready to declutter?

Sentimental items can be challenging to go through. Typically we attach an emotional connection to an item that we have. That connection makes it difficult to part with. But what happens when that item doesn’t have an emotional connection to you, but rather a family member who doesn’t live in your home? How do you part with those items without feeling guilty?

I have some ways that you can tackle the sentimental clutter of items that belong to other people not living in your household. If you are looking for ways to handle the sentimental clutter of family members living in your household, try reading these articles:

Best Solutions For Parting With Sentimental Items

Sentimental Storage Box Tutorial

Sentimental Value On Other People’s Things

Typically the sentimental value placed on an item is from someone else telling us about that particular item. Maybe it is your grandparent’s china or mother-in-law’s dresser. Whatever it is, I have found that it starts with something that means something to someone else. 

We need to stop feeling guilty for not “appreciating” something just because it holds sentimental value for someone else. You have items that hold value to you, that may not for anyone else. This is where I get really firm on you setting boundaries around what you value.

A Little Story

And what I have found is that there may be resentment behind a particular item because you have had to hold onto that item for someone else. Let me share a story. I was working with a client in her basement and we came upon a piece of artwork from her husband’s family. She expressed so much distain for that piece of artwork. So I asked her if we could donate it. She told me that she cannot get rid of it because it means so much to her husband’s family. I asked her which family member has the sentiment with that piece of art. After some conversation, she ended up bringing it up to her husband. And they decided that there was no point in holding onto something that meant nothing to them. So they gave it to the person who has the sentiment with that piece of artwork. 

Make A Plan Beforehand

Now in order to truly remove other people’s sentimental items from your home, you need to set up a plan. Start by setting a date when you want all the items out of your home. Come up with an end date. I encourage my clients to set donation pick up for a specific date. Then inform everyone that these items need to be removed by that date or they will be on the donation truck.

When you set specific timelines, you are more likely to get items out of your space quickly and with less hassle.

Talk With Family

Then talk with the family members who actually holds the sentiment. Like the story above, the husband talked with the family member who held that sentiment to that piece of artwork. 

When addressing this matter, make sure that you state that you no longer want to hold onto the item. Remove any emotion you may have around that item, as you may feel resentment that you had to hold onto it for so long. Ask the family member when they would like to collect the item(s). 


Another solution for handling other people’s items that hold sentimental value is creating a plan before the item comes into your home. This is especially important to do for hand-me-downs. Decide how you are going to deal with the items once you are finished with them. For example, you could ask the person giving you the hand-me-downs how they want you to give the clothing back once you are done with it. Some people may say that they don’t need it back, which means you can donate or sell after you are done. While others may want clothing back. Then you have a way to give those items back in a timely manner. And you aren’t holding onto other people’s things for the long run!

Stop Collecting The Sentimental Clutter

Another solution is to stop collecting other people’s things. Now this is for all future items that may come into your home. Let’s say you have a family member who loves bringing over things that belonged to family members. They hold sentimental value to that person, but not to you or your family. This is where you can inform them that if the item comes into your home, you are now in possession of that item. So whatever happens to that item is what you decide and that individual cannot have any say. 

Reader’s Advice on Sentimental Clutter

A sweet reader shared that she has a rule with her family that any item that comes into her home from another family member is now hers to decide. If she feels she wants to donate that item, no one else in the family can give her grief about it because they knew the rules when they left it at her house. She told me that it was hard to set up in the beginning as her family would constantly drop off boxes of things. So she got clear on her boundaries and said you are more than welcome to give me items. But once they come in my home, I make the final decision about what stays and what goes. She said she found that most of her family had a hard time letting go, so she was their outlet. Once she set these boundaries, she didn’t feel guilty about getting rid of things because everyone was clear on the expectations that she set. 


When you set specific boundaries around items that hold sentimental value for others, you are going to have a solution that will work for you and your family. It is not easy, but it is something that will help keep your home clutter free!

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I'm Jessica

I am a mom to two kiddos + a fur baby. I am wife to Ben. I enjoy coffee, gluten-free desserts, and sleeping in. And I am The Organized Mama. 

I help families make the every day more enjoyable with practical organizing, decorating, + diy tutorials to maintain order in your home!

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