By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

I was with a client recently who was trying to declutter so she can downsize to a smaller home. In the midst of our conversation, she said, “I wonder if you could help me.”

She walked me into her huge dining room, opened up a built-in cabinet that was filled with beautiful plates, cups, saucers, and serving pieces.

She told me that it was her mother’s china, a service for 16 people.

She then said, I can’t seem to get rid of it, but I never use it. It’s been here ever since we cleaned out her house five years ago. And I know I won’t have this kind of storage in my new smaller home. What should I do?

I asked her if she would work with me on a simple exercise. I use with my clients who have difficulty letting sentimental items go.

How to let go of sentimental stuff?

You can learn how by reading one of my recent blog posts.


5 Simple Steps You Can Take When You Want to

Let Go of Your Sentimental Items


1.     I asked her to pick one of the many pieces that she most enjoyed and if she would hold it in her hand.

  • She picked a favorite teacup.


2.     I then asked her to tell me a story about it, about when her mother used the china.

  • She went on to describe in great detail the big family dinners, the beautiful table settings of china, crystal, silver, and beautifully lit candelabras.
  • She continued telling me how much her mother loved entertaining. She could almost hear her mother laughing, enjoying all the people in the room.

Read Why You Should Not Let Guilt Get in Your Way


3.     I next suggested that she take a picture of it, write a story about it, and even do a video about it…

  • She took out her phone and immediately started to video it and tell a story that she just told me.


4.     Afterward, I asked her to tell me why she thought it was so hard to let go of her mother’s china. She didn’t hesitate.

  • She felt like she would betray her mother’s memory because her mother loved it and used it regularly.
  • She felt guilty because she didn’t love it as her mother did, but she also doesn’t entertain like her mother did.
  • She felt she would lose that special connection and memory of her mother if she gave it all away.


5.     Next, I asked her… “What would it be like if you did not feel guilty or that you were not betraying your mother, or that you will not lose connection with your mother?”

  • She immediately replied that she would feel liberated, not so guilty, or obligated to keep something she knew she would not have room for in her new home.

I suggested that she keep that one very special teacup as a reminder of her mom and then give the rest to her family, friends or someone who might want, need, and actually use it.

I could see the burden being lifted from her. For years, she felt obligated to hold onto it so that she could retain the great memories she had of her mom entertaining.

I reminded her that…

  • Her mother is gone.
  • She is not using the china.
  • She doesn’t like it as her mother did.
  • She knows she will have no room for all of it.

But if she were to hold onto just that one special piece it would be a sweet and constant reminder of her mother and all of those wonderful dinner parties that she loved.

Are you having difficulty letting go of sentimental items?

You are not alone!

Try this simple exercise yourself. It will help you better understand how to let go of sentimental items while still holding on to the memory.

Download my free PDF,

the 5 Step Guide: Lose the Clutter, but Not the Memories.


If you know of someone else who is having difficulty letting go of sentimental clutter, please feel free to forward this blog and have them download the free PDF.

Comment below, I would love to hear more about how this helped you on your downsizing and decluttering journey.