May 2009 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: What to do with greeting cards you’ve received

Sentimental stuff can be some of the hardest to deal with. When someone wrote and asked me for advice about her growing collection of greeting cards, kept in three big boxes under her bed – a jumble of birthday cards, anniversary cards, Christmas cards and more – I started out my reply this way: These are items you can’t replace once they’re gone, so you do want to be cautious about editing the collection.

But I also had these suggestions regarding both which cards to keep and how to keep them.

1. Get rid of any cards, such as Christmas cards, that don’t have a personal note in them. A card just signed with someone’s name – how meaningful is that, unless it’s a VERY special card, indeed?

2. Get rid of cards from people you don’t like. (And get rid of cards from people who aren’t important to you.)

3. I had a dear friend die way too young, and I’m so glad I have a number of the cards and letters he sent to me. It may sound gruesome, but consider: If the person sending the cards were to die, which cards would you want to remember him/her by?

4. Personally, I group cards by the person who sent them. (They are in baggies within a single box.) If you wanted to pull them out, how would you want to retrieve them? By person? By event?

5. DO you ever pull them out? Can you imagine a specific situation where you would pull them out? If not, consider why you are keeping them.

6. Scanning them, so you have digital copies instead of paper ones, is always a possibility. You could do this yourself, or use a scanning service. (You could even create digital scrapbooks if you wanted to, and have the books printed.)

7. There are greeting card albums, but considering how few cards fit in an album, I’m not sure it’s a great idea.

8. There are boxes designed for holding cards you’re going to send, organized by things like birthdays, thank you, etc. (And some have unlabeled tabs.) You could always convert one of these to hold cards you’ve received, using the dividers for person, event, etc. The Container Store has one such box, and so do many other places.

9. As with many collections, I bet if you went through the cards and paid attention to your heart, you’d find there are some that just aren’t meaningful any more, and some that mean a lot. Listen to yourself, and you can probably edit the collection down.