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The True Value Of Keepsakes

Jan 15, 2021
The True Value Of Keepsakes

Many of us hold on to keepsakes because they remind us of a time we treasure, or a loved one we hold close to our hearts. However, over the years, this collection of items grows, and the average Brit has over six boxes of keepsake items stored in their home.

But which memories do we hold on to for the longest? Which ones do we plan to pass down? And what are we willing to throw away?

To find out, we surveyed 2,000 Brits to find out valuable keepsakes really are to them, and the reasons we hold onto certain items for so long.

Alongside this, we teamed with Lifestyle Coach and Interior Designer, Kiran Singh, to help us find the true value in our keepsakes and find the right way to let go of ones we no longer need to hold onto.

The most valuable keepsakes

To find out what we value the most, we asked Brits to tell us which keepsakes they own and how much they mean to them. Old photographs of family and friends prove to be the most meaningful keepsakes with almost half of the UK population storing them at home. Alongside this, old birthday cards, children’s schoolwork, and childhood teddy bears hold a lot of value in our hearts.

Why do we hold onto these items?

Over 60% of people say they store these items because they bring back happy memories, however there are other reasons we hang on to these for so long. In fact, over 30% of people admitted they only keep things because they feel guilty throwing it away, whilst over 40% intended to pass items down to their children.

Less than 10% of people hold onto keepsakes because they’re high in monetary value. Sometimes, the most valuable items really are priceless.

What unusual items do parents keep?

As a parent there are many proud moments throughout the years, and so many items to add to your collection of keepsakes. But what unusual items do parent’s keep?

Controversial keepsakes

Whilst there are many keepsakes we’d proudly put on display around the home, there are some we’d rather keep secret. From our survey, one in 10 women revealed they still have some of their ex partner’s clothes, along with photographs and gifts.

45% say they plan to keep photographs of their ex-partner forever, because they bring back happy memories, whilst 39% still keep or wear gifts from their ex. The most popular place for storing these items is under the bed, with 21% admitting they keep them there.

Who’s the most sentimental?

When it comes to keepsakes, overall a quarter of men admitted they don’t keep any items at all, in comparison to just one in 20 women.

Unsurprisingly, those over the age 55 have the most keepsakes, whilst only 14% of young people aged between 16 and 21 plan to keep hold of their mementos.

Approaching the topic by city, it seems people living in Belfast are the most sentimental, with 92% of people sharing their love for keepsake items. This is followed by Norwich, Brighton and London.

On the flip side, over 25% of people in Liverpool and Sheffield revealed they don’t keep any sentimental items in their homes. 

The digital generation

With the rise in photo sharing platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, we wanted to find out how many people still display physical photos of loved ones around their home.

Our research revealed 50% of Brits only showcase their photos online, with one in three admitting they have no images of their family on display in their home.

Pets prove to be more popular than partners, with one in three stating they don’t have any physical photographs of their spouse.  In comparison, 39% of people keep photos of their furry friends on display.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the younger generations that share the majority of images online, with just 12% sharing their love for traditional photographs.

How to know what’s worth keeping?

To help us find the true value in our keepsakes, Lifestyle Coach and Interior Designer, Kiran Singh, shares her top tips on how to let go of items we just don’t have the space to keep.

She said: “De-cluttering sentimental items can be one of the most difficult organisation tasks. We all attach feelings and memories to objects, but when closets, drawers and cabinets start to overflow with keepsakes; it’s easy to lose sight of the truly special ones among a growing sea of clutter.”

Go digital

When sorting through documents, drawings, letters, photographs, cards etc., consider scanning and saving them digitally versus storing boxes of paper copies. You can do this with CDs, DVDs, VHS’ etc.,

Pass it on

If you received a family heirloom, don't feel obligated to keep it if you don't like it. Your clutter might be a relative's treasure. Before you get rid of an unwanted inherited object or stash it in storage, ask around to find out whether someone else in the family would love to have it.


To hold on to your connection with an unusable item, create something new that retains its sentimental value. For instance, a stone from a dated ring can be reset into a band that’s more your style or a collection of T-shirts you don't wear anymore but are from memorable events can be turned into a quilt. It's worth the effort if you really want to keep it.


If you’re torn between discarding a sentimental item and storing it in your home forever, remember there’s a third option: Donate it to someone who needs it. Maybe you even have a friend or family member who would really use and appreciate the item. That way you can be sure it’s going to a good home. Remember: You are not your stuff!

Kiran added: “Bid farewell to an object that holds sentimental value to you but that you no longer use or enjoy. This is one thing I do during my monthly de-clutter, I say ‘Thank You and Goodbye’ before letting it go.

“Before keeping anything; I ask if it serves a purpose, if it adds value to my life, if it is something I want to bring into my future, if I love it AND most importantly; if I were to buy it again, would I?

“I’ve learnt with time, that by keeping things simple, you’ll free up time, space and energy to focus on the things that truly matter to you. And by holding onto your past, you’ll never move on and be able to live life fully.”

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