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The Art of Tidying Collections: Strategies for Keeping Collections Organized

Collections can be so fun to have and obtain, especially when the pieces are a bit rare.

Thank goodness for eBay, right?  

But what happens when your mass of collectibles is doing nothing more than collecting dust, or is something you’ve moved past and are no longer interested in owning?  

Here are some tips for what you can do to organize and pare down your collection if you’re ready, whether you’ve inherited it or worked hard to get it!

Organizing Collections

The best way to organize collections that you wish to display is to rotate a portion keep your collection fresh and exciting!  

Display some, and store the rest away.  

Swap what’s displayed periodically.  

Having too much out at any time can be nothing but clutter.


Store collections in non-paper boxes.

Sure cardboard boxes are inexpensive, but they can put your collection at risk since paper holds onto moisture.

Cardboard is susceptible to mold and mildew and bugs, especially since some bugs actually like to eat the adhesive that’s used to make the cardboard boxes. Yuck!

Instead, choose a sturdy plastic box that closes securely (latching handles work well).

IRIS USA 6 Pack 19qt WEATHERPRO Airtight Plastic Storage Bin with Lid and Seal and 4 Secure Latching Buckles

These weatherproof boxes from Iris are an idea solution.

They’re well made and the clear plastic allows you to see straight through to what’s inside, so there’s never a questions about what’s where.

You can also slip an itemized list of the box’s contents in the front so you can see the complete list without ever opening the box.

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For any part of the collection not on display, make sure to label the containers clearly.

Don’t just label one side, but rather all four sides as well as the top of the container, so there’s never a questions about what’s inside.

This also eliminates needing to put the container away a certain way for the contents label to be visible.

Labelling futile sides saves you time and hassle in the long run.

Set Limits: When Collections Are Too Much

I was once in a living room in someone’s home where the entire 25 x 9 foot wall was covered with clocks.

Their home was a house and not a museum, but the clocks made it seem more like the latter!

It was so distracting and overwhelming to look at.  

Fewer clocks would have been more fun to look at since each could’ve been appreciated for their differences and intricacies.  

I would’ve actually seen the clocks, and been able to admire them, instead of feeling like I was suffocating from all of the clutter!

But instead, it was a giant wall of clocks that all ran together.

So set some limits on how much of your collection you’ll either keep or keep out on display!

Keep Favorites

Remember that just because you’ve collected it, doesn’t mean that you actually have to keep everything and anything that you consider part of the collection.

Is that heresy? Maybe but sometimes collections outgrow the available space in a home.

And then they come a burden, which is pretty much the opposite of the joy a collection should bring.

Take for example, my own collection that became more that I wanted to keep…

Years ago, I collected porcelain quilt tiles.  

I really loved them at the time I was collecting them and it was fun to try to track down even the complete list of what was available.  

I had fun collecting them, but they really don’t fit my decorating style anymore, so I wouldn’t be displaying them in my home and they were just taking up space in my already filled attic.  

The time had come to let go of the ones that don’t really suit my fancy anymore because I didn’t have a use for them and they weren’t actually all that valuable. The value was in the game of collecting them in the first place.

If you’re struggling with letting go of your entire collection or a portion of it that is no longer making you happy, then think about this:

Approach your collection from a different perspective… say that the fun was in the collecting and that having or keeping doesn’t have to be part of the fun or an obligation.

Does this make it easier for you to pare down your collection to what makes you happy now?

The mental shift is quite small, but meaningful.

Next, maybe a picture will do instead of the actual item?

Ultimately that’s what I decided was for the best for my childhood pencil collection.

I snapped a few shots and let the (dried out) pencils go.

What to do if it’s time to let go of your collection?

Begin again

Trade up!

Sell your collection and start anew.

A lot of the time it’s the thrill of the hunt that’s the best part of collections!

Trying to track down every last figure in the series or card of the series can be fun and a nice challenge.  

But you can always sell that collection and start all over again to make obtaining a complete collection of something an entirely new a goal.

Another option: You can donate your collection to museum or local institution that would enjoy it, or have a use for it.  

How great would it be to have your collection on display in a museum for all to see?  

Pretty cool, eh?

Make sure to check the value of the collection before deciding to keep or part with it.  

I use eBay to make this happen.

Search for the item, and filter the results to show only completed and sold items.

That’ll give you a ballpark valuation.

It may be worth more than you think, but it also could be worth much less.  

Either way, maybe it’s time to part with it now.

For lower value collections, maybe it is not worth the space the collection is taking up in your home.  

For a more valuable collection, selling it could mean that you have extra money to do something fun with.  

But also remember that when parting with your collection, you don’t have to give all of it away.  

You can keep your favorites and part with lesser loved pieces.

Selling Collections for Top Dollar

My suggestion for getting rid of the portions of your collections you’re ready to let go of?  

Don’t have a garage sale, unless you read this first and decide it’s the right move for you at this time.

You’ll get more for your items when buyers who really want the item have the chance.  

This fabulous guide gives you all the nitty gritty on exactly how to do that and more!

Over to you!

I hope this post has given you some practical tips for managing your beloved collections, whether its Smurfs, hockey cards or Star Trek memorability.

Collections should be source of joy and pride and not guilt, obligation or overwhelm.

Use these tips and strategies to bring order and structure to your collections so you can enjoy them for years to come.SaveSave

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