Children’s Artwork and Memorabilia

There are lots of ways to manage a child’s memorabilia. As a scrapbooker, I’ve been a bit torn. Do I scrapbook all the artwork? Do I scan it and create a photobook and then toss it? Do I just throw it all in a box and leave it for my daughter to deal with when she is older? Do I include her in the process? What about non-artwork memorabilia?

During the school year, I sort artwork and other paperwork into several piles. Some goes directly to trash (while my daughter is not watching). Some goes into a pile of stuff I want to hold onto. The rest of the artwork goes into files for family members. Most of our family lives far (like hundreds of miles) away from us. Each aunt, uncle, and grandparent has their own file folder and I just randomly distribute the artwork. I distribute the artwork whenever I have other things to mail the relatives or if I will see them. At Christmas, whatever is left gets mailed with a holiday card and photos from the year. I don’t care if the relatives throw the artwork away. The point is they get to see how her artwork changes and in a way see her grow-up and change.

Now, what do I do with the stuff I want to keep? How do I decide what to keep? What do I do with it?

I have a memorabilia box from Creative Memories. It does not look like they sell them anymore. I filled the box this year, so I will have to figure something else out next year.

Here’s what I’ve included:

The dress my daughter wore around her first and second birthdays.

I’ve kept the dress she work home from the hospital and her onesie and hat from the hospital.

The shoes she learned to walk in. (Sorry this photo is blurry.)

This shirt was originally going to be donated because it never fit quite right. After it ended up in the donate pile, but before it was donated, I rescued it because it was from my mother-in-law, who past away last fall. 

Here are the boxes of clothing I want to save. I’m about to sort through more of my daughter’s outgrown clothing (I’m on a big donation/purging kick) so I might end up adding more later.

This box from Creative Memories came with four (two styles) of folders for storing flat memorabilia. I am using one folder for each year. I organize by school year/age. My daughter was born in June so I go by her birthday and fortunately it covers an entire school year. I took a sharpie and labeled each folder with the school year (e.g., 2011-2012).

I kept very little artwork. This year was the first year that my daughter really talked about her artwork. I dated every piece with the school year before placing it in the folder. I also wrote on the back of each piece about why I kept each piece.

My daughter attends school (daycare) at the same place I work. We have about a 30 minute commute and we go back and forth between NPR and music. This year, my daughter got into the music and has her favorites. I burned a copy of our music playlist (all her favorites). I have a copy for this box and a copy for a scrapbook page I am planning about our commuting soundtrack.

My box is full! This covers my daughter’s first four years. Next year, I’ll have to figure out a different storage solution, but I do like the 12×12 folders.

Other thoughts…

Do I scrapbook any of her art? Yes, but I’ve only scrapbooked a couple pieces of her art. I don’t scan it either. I keep some, give it away, and throw it away.

I asked how others deal with the memorabilia on facebook and most do some variation of what I mentioned here. One person uses underbed storage to store everything for the year and then sorts through it at the end of the year. I definitely need some sort of triage system in place. I don’t have a good go-to place to pile everything. I toss and sort as I go through the year, but still tossed most of the stuff I had kept from the past year.

What about you? What do you do with children’s memorabilia and artwork? Join the conversation below by commenting!

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  • Mandy

    I have a smaller Rubbermaid tote that is full of “stuff” from my son’s first year, mainly from those first few days. As for artwork and school papers…this has been tricky for me, and I can see my current system changing. I held on to everything for the past year. Then, once the school year finished, I began sorting it into what to keep, what to scrapbook (a pretty small pile), and what to toss. I took pictures of a few things because of the glued popcorn, seeds, and rice ;o) I held on to a lot of his printing sheets, simply because this is something we need to really work on over the summer, and I want to use them to track improvement. ONce we’re done, they will likely be tossed.

    My mom saved A LOT of my schoolwork from when I was a kid, and I have enjoyed going back and looking at it. I especially like my kindergarten work, because I can see so much of L in it (neither of us can color worth a darn). My grandmother also saved a lot of the work from her six children, and I now have a lot of my dad’s artwork, report cards, stuff like that. It’s neat for me to look at these things, and to now show them to my son.

  • Mandy

    I meant to add…you may want to check Ebay for the memory boxes…

  • Thanks for commenting! I have a feeling my system will evolve. I’m happy with the amount I’ve kept–not too much and not too little. I agree, it is neat to look at your own work from that age and your parents–definitely worth holding onto some of it.

  • Good idea. I’m not sure if I will want to use the same box from this point forward or not. I’m not sure how much 3-d stuff I’ll keep. Most of that stuff was from R’s first year.

  • I also keep a rubbermaid tote with hanging file folders each labeled by age (before school) like birth, age 1, etc. then once they got into school I labeled my hanging files by grade. I have 3 kids so I keep one rubbermaid box for each of them with an easy off lid. I file everything I want to keep in there. I try to throw away anything I know I won’t want to keep as the papers come in otherwise it gets too overwhelming for me. 

    I am using Creative Memories albums and WeRMemory Keepers albums. With all the 3-d stuff and extra school stuff I find it easier to use the WeRMemory Keepers albums with Becky Higgins plastic inserts… the only thing I don’t like is that the WeR Memory Keepers albums are so much wider than CMs albums… they seem to take up a lot of space. My problem is where to store the albums.

    If I know I’m going to scrapbook artwork or memorabilia and it is just too large I will photograph it or scan it and print out on photo paper or matte paper. My problem is that I have trouble letting go of the original works of art that I want to hold onto.

  • Thanks for commenting. I hadn’t thought of using on of BH’s inserts. Those would work good. I’ll have to think about that for next year. 

  • HBO

     I love kids’ art but it can get overwhelming.  I save the things that are truly their creations rather than coloring things in or doing some sort of scripted project where the results all look the same.

    The real stuff is awesome and you don’t get it for very long before they get big!  I tell my kids that one of the reasons I had them was so I could get those awesome clay figures that they made through elementary school.

     Here’s an article with ideas for storing, displaying and making keepsakes from kids’ art: