Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How to Organize All of Your Child's Keepsake Papers in Just One Box

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

My post How to Organize All of Your Child’s School Papers in Just One Box has gone viral on Pinterest these last few weeks, so I thought I would follow that up with another post regarding how I store other non-school paper keepsakes for our children since I've had a lot of people private messaging me and asking me about that. 

Like the school papers box, I’m going to show you how to fit an entire life’s worth of keepsakes (birth-college) into just one box as well.

For this project, you will need the same supplies as you did for the school papers box:

1 Hanging file box for each child
Labels for the outside of each of the boxes
Chalk Markers for your labels
1 Set of hanging file folders for each child (I needed 26 per box)
Manila folders (I needed 4-5 per box)

Go ahead and load up on all of these items so you can do one for School Paper Keepsakes and one for Non-School Paper Keepsakes for each member of your family!  I even have one for myself!  

I chose to use a different color of hanging folders for each child for this project, but you could also use the same color of folders if you would rather everything match.  Personally, I like having the different colors because it makes each box easier to identify.  Jacob’s school papers box is blue and his non-school keepsake papers box is green.  Olivia’s school papers box is pink and her non-school keepsake papers box is purple.  Easy peasy.

The boxes I used for both keepsake boxes are these here.  I love them because they are slightly longer than the others which gives you a few extra inches of room for storage.  I also love the split-lid.  It really comes in handy when you’re filing so you don’t have to take off the entire lid.  These, thesethese, and these are also good options, or you could always use some of the cardboard banker’s boxes for a cheaper version. 

I love these chalkboard labels and these chalk markers to label the outside of the boxes… I have used those on LOADS of boxes throughout our house!

And I love these hanging folders from Amazon… they come in every color of the rainbow and they are WAY cheaper on Amazon than I’ve ever been able to find at any office supply store, including Walmart. 

These are the manila folders I purchased to go inside the hanging file folders.  I use these all the time for my regular files, so eventually my box of 100 will get used.  Plus they were only $10 for 100.

Before I get into the details of each box, keep in mind, you do not need to save every single thing that your kids receive/make!!  While they will most likely love having this little time capsule in a box, they will not want ten boxes of every single thing that they ever had as a child!  Take it from someone who knows from experience.  ;o)   So before you get started, keep this in mind – BE RUTHLESS!  You only need to save a random sample of stuff from each of their years of life!

Now that you have that in the forefront of your mind (and you’re going to keep it in the forefront of your mind the entire time you work on this) let’s get started!

The first thing you need to do is set up your keepsake boxes.  These particular keepsake boxes that I’m discussing today are for all non-school keepsake papers such as birthday cards, holidays cards, artwork made at home, professional pictures, little notes from friends, letters from grandparents, etc. 

First, you will label the outside of each box using your labels and chalk markers.  Hang the folders inside, and then it’s time to plan your categories.  I have three unique categories at the front, and then I have one folder for each year of our childrens’ lives. 

Here are the categories I used (I will elaborate down below):

In the Media
Professional Pictures

Artwork – This hanging file will contain all artwork that each child created at home.  Artwork they made at school goes in the School Papers Keepsakes Box.  And just like with the School Papers Keepsakes Box, I didn’t save every single thing they ever made at home… only my favorites.

In the Media – This hanging file will contain all newspaper articles, newsletters, and publications in which the kids have been published.  Jacob has already been in our local newspaper once and he was also published in a local magazine as well, so I thought that these would be really neat for him to be able to see one day when he’s older.  Now, if you so choose, you could just file these away by year instead of devoting an entire file to this category, but I liked the idea of keeping all of these types of keepsakes together!

Professional Pictures – This hanging file will contain copies of all professional pictures taken of each child during their life (aside from school-related pictures… those go in the School Papers Keepsake Boxes).  I divided this hanging file into four smaller files:

1.      Baby – This file holds copies of all of the photos from each session from their first year of life.  We did four sessions during each of their first years of life for their panels in our dining room (newborn photos, heads up photos, sit-up photos, and stand-up photos) so copies of these will go in there.  I also took monthly pictures for their first year of life, so those are in there, too.
2.      Birthdays – I do a “birthday chalkboard” for each child for every birthday they have, and we always take a picture of them with it on their birthday each year.  I have copies of each of these in this file.
3.      Family Portraits – We take a family picture every year for Easter, our beach trip, 4th of July, Halloween (just the kids in their costumes), Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve, and we also take professional family portraits in the fall each year.  Copies of each of these are filed in this folder in chronological order and they are labeled on the back with the event and the year.  If you prefer, you could always have separate folders for each event, but I prefer to just keep them all together because otherwise, there would be folder overload.
4.      Santa Visits – We also visit Santa Clause every year and I know these are pictures the kids will cherish one day, so I have a folder for them as well.  And we’ve been seeing the same Santa since Jacob was born.  I’m going to be so sad when he doesn’t do it anymore!

Obviously your Pictures folder categories may look a little different than mine if you have other pictures you’d like to save, so just customize it to your liking!  I have been thinking that I also might eventually add a folder for ultrasound and belly pictures from when I was pregnant with them, too!

Yearly Folders

The rest of the keepsake box contains folders for each of the years of the kids’ lives.  Jacob was born in 2011, but I started his folders at 2010 since he received some cards and keepsakes when I was pregnant with him.  And Olivia was born in 2014 but I started her folders at 2013 for the same reason. 

You will now file all keepsakes that don’t fall into one of the first three categories in these yearly folders.  Each time I see something I want to keep, I just file it in chronological order for that year.  Here are some of the things that we file in the yearly folders:

-Copies of their birth announcements
-Copies of their birthday party invitations
-Birthday cards (although I don’t save all of them… we’d be overloaded)
-Lists of gifts they received at parties (I don’t always write these down, though)
-Special drawings or notes from grandparents or friends
-Valentines from special friends
-Valentine’s Day cards from us and grandparents
-Easter cards (the grandparents give one each year)
-Halloween cards (grandparents again)
-Christmas cards from friends at school
-A copy of our family Christmas card that we send out each year
-Any other paper keepsakes that might come up!

And that’s it! 

This box takes a little bit of time to set up (mostly because of all of the picture developing you have to do), but it’s ridiculously easy to maintain once it’s done!

A couple of things to note:

1.      I do not put tickets to movies and other events in this box because I have those organized in a special Ticket Keepsake Book (I’ll have to share that sometime, too).  However, you could always add ticket stubs to the yearly files if you’d prefer.
2.      I do also have a small Newborn Keepsake Box for each child that I’ll have to share some day, too.  I think I might move their birth announcements into those boxes. 

And I know it seems like a lot to some people to have all of these different keepsake boxes, but it’s really not.  For each child I have the following:

1 Life Papers Keepsake Box
1 “Things” Keepsake Box (toys, stuffed animals, and the Newborn Keepsake Box and Ticket Keepsake Book fits in here, too)
1 Clothes Keepsake Box (I only save my very favorites)

That’s four boxes for each child and they all stack nicely on one side of each of their closets.  These four boxes will be all I need until they graduate and leave our house.  I won’t ever allow myself to have more than these four (because believe me, I could go crazy!), so I only keep the most special stuff!  If I do ever run out of room in one of the boxes, I will remove something else to make more room... I will not be adding extra boxes!  

I already did a post on the School Papers Keepsake Box and I also plan to do blog posts about the “Things” Keepsake Box as well as the “Clothes” Keepsake Box!  Once I do, I’ll do one big post to tie everything together! 

Stay tuned!!

And FYI, this is how I store my keepsakes, too!  Yearly folders are the way to go, people!

And remember, if you want to follow along with me on my journey to simplify my entire life in 2018, you can do so HERE.  I post updates in Instagram Stories frequently, and if you missed any of them, just click on the “Simplify” story highlights in my bio.  They’re all there!

Don't forget to link up with us below!  

Your Hosts! 

Whitney at Polka-Dotty Place / Bloglovin / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter 
Keri at Keri Lynn Synder / Faceobok / Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest 
Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest 

*Linking up with Jessi's Design and Going the Distance for What's Hap-"Pinning" Wednesday and Mix and Match Mama for What's Up Wednesday.


  1. I need to go back through the boy's boxes and do this. looks fabulous!! Happy Wednesday beautiful!

  2. This is so impressive and definitely something I'll look back on. It'll be hard to narrow it down to a few things LOL! xo, Biana- BlovedBoston

  3. Great job! I have all my kids pictures in scrapbooks! But I’m so far behind.

  4. I love that! I have a file box like that I used when I taught Sunday School. I kept construction paper in it. I will have to use that for photos and such since it's just the two of us. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is kind of like my memory boxes but yours are much more organized!

  6. I LOVE this!! Now I just need to find time to make them!! Such great ideas!

  7. What a great break down of the folders! I love this idea!

  8. I really want to go back and organize all the things for my kids now. They are teens, but it would be so good to have everything put together. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Girlfriend - this is amazing!!! I'm ordering more totes today to make this happen! I took your blogging advice and went for it with the kids' school papers and I LOVE the outcome! Also, I received your email about the tote size! Thank you! Seriously...this will be my weekend project and I'm pumped! You're a genius!!!

  10. YES! I love this idea! Thanks for this!

  11. I think I told you this already, but my mom did scrapbooks for us - one for birth through 8th grade, and then one for high school. I love the idea of doing this, though! The kids will definitely appreciate having all these items organized so well, and not having loads and loads of items - just the perfect amount!

  12. I love how organized you are! I really need to do this. All of Mason's stuff from Pre-K until now is in a huge tote! I need to get my life together. ha! Thanks for the tips! You have motivated me.

  13. You are the organizing QUEEN!! I so desperately wish I could be like you but I lack the motivation. LOL!

  14. This is so organized and so impressive. What an incredible gift this will be for your kids one day! It's inspiring me to get more organized and do the same for my kids. I agree with your comment about being ruthless when sorting through things. My parents kept way too much of my childhood stuff and it's not organized in any way, so it is actually a burden when they give me random cardboard boxes of old stuff that they kept in their basement and now want to clear out now that I have a house!

  15. YES! I need to start organizing all the sweet projects she brings home from "school" <3
    Green Fashionista

  16. Love this! Have you found an of the file boxes for cheaper? I dont need 5 of them and it looks like I cant buy just 2!

    1. I haven't. When I first linked the boxes, they were available to buy in one-packs and two-packs, but they've since sold out. :o( Keep checking back and maybe they will restock?

  17. This is AMAZING! Definitely saving this for later!!

  18. They will love having these when they are older!!!

  19. I seriously need to get on this. I have loads of cute art work, cards and things that I need to put away.

  20. Hanging folders are such a lifesaver! I love the idea of a separate box for each kid.
    Sierra Beautifully Candid

  21. I am so impressed by your organization!

  22. My daughter is an infant so I'm setting these up now with not much to go in them, but I'm wondering why is it important to separate out school vs. non-school keepsake papers? Wouldn't it work to do everything by year? I don't want to have to change my system later!

  23. Hi! What do you do with things like Mother’s Day cards they make or “I love Daddy” notes? Do you put them in their non-school boxes or you’re own personal box?

    1. Hi Elenn, anything that the kids make for me is kept in my own personal keepsake box! And anything they make for my husband is stored in his office. He has his own little spot for keepsakes. I hope this helps!


Thank you for taking the time to comment... I read and respond to each and every one! However, if you are a no-reply blogger (meaning that your email address is not connected to your Blogger account), I will not be able to reply to you directly via email... you will have to check back on the blog post for a response!