How to Organize Greeting Card Mementos

A few weekends ago, while sifting through an old closet,  I stumbled upon an old childhood memory box that my mom had kept for me through the years. She had thoughtfully stowed away anything she thought I might want, with the hope that I would appreciate and reflect upon all those precious memories once again.


Since these boxes had been lovingly added to for over 18 years, they were overstuffed with a sea of items I could barely remember. I knew that if I didn’t downsize and streamline this collection now, I’d one day look back at the overflowing box as a source of stress rather than joy.


HOW TO ORGANIZE GREETING CARD MEMENTOS // Paper filing // Organized memorabilia //


The main culprit for the crowded boxes were old greeting cards: an assorted collection of birthday cards, party invitations, thank you notes, and graduation cards. Setting aside the other mementos, I pulled all the cards from the boxes and decided to take on organizing the old greetings.


As I sifted through the stacks, I realized that most of the cards had rather generic messages and very little sentiment. In the moment, a card that says “Happy 8th Birthday! You’re another year older!” is lovely, but the truth is, the cards didn’t hold much meaning for me anymore.


Of course, I came across a handful of cards that had the most lovely messages from my family and friends. Those special cards earned a coveted spot in my paper memento filer. The rest of the lot had to go.


After hours of reading, sorting, and organizing, I couldn’t help but think of all the time my mother (and I) would have saved if we had known the few pro organizing tricks I know now, rather than feeling compelled to hang on to everything.


If you want to avoid the hours and hours of sifting through paper that I’ve recently endured, there is a really simple way to process and organize cards every time they come into your home.


Here are 3 simple steps for keeping your received card collection streamlined and organized.


HOW TO ORGANIZE GREETING CARD MEMENTOS // // pretty office bulletin board styling //




When you first receive a birthday, thank you, or greeting card, enjoy it! Put the card on display for a week or two. Post them up on a bulletin board, fridge door, or set them on a fireplace mantel.


Where ever the card is, make sure it’s in a high-traffic area of your home so that you can see it regularly and think, “how sweet!” The goal here is not to just set it down and forget about it, but to enjoy it! Think of the card as a floral arrangement: a decorative reminder of how loved you are.


I highly recommend choosing one location to display your cards. Make sure that the display area has a limited “capacity.” For me, I don’t allow more than about 5 cards to be on display at a time. This will encourage you to rotate cards out of the display phase as new cards come in. This brings us to Phase 2.




This is the most crucial phase to master. If a card doesn’t have a sentimental message that is unique to your relationship with the “gifter,” recycle, donate, or repurpose them. Yes, you can actually donate used cards that can be reprocessed for kids in need!


The card has already served it’s purpose: telling you that you’re being thought of, wishing you a happy birthday, or thanking you for the gift. Once you have read the note and have enjoyed the thought for a few days or weeks, it’s okay to get rid of it.


If discarding cards after you enjoy them is especially challenging for you, here’s something to consider: What is the maximum number of notes that you could enjoy reading in one sit-down session?


For me, I want a curated card and note collection that I can read in less than four hours. This means that if I take 3 minutes with each card, I can only keep 40 – 80 cards maximum. Obviously, this number can change and is personal to you, but it’s important to consider creating your own card maximum. This will encourage you to keep your collection to a manageable size.


How many cards are you limiting yourself to? Choose now. _____________


HOW TO ORGANIZE GREETING CARD MEMENTOS // paper filing // memorabilia organizing //




The cards that bring you immense joy when you look at them, remind you of a special relationship, or are from a unique time in your life, deserve a special home. Remember that the more cards that you keep, the less time you’ll have to enjoy the most unique ones through the years. Keep ONLY the cards that will continue to bring you joy or gratitude.


As a special bonus, here are a few of my favorite ideas for categorizing and storing your cards.



  • Group your cards by occasion, year, person or sentiment. Label your card categories with post-its or print labels.



  • The world is moving towards digital. It’s time your card mementos do too. Take a picture of the inside of your card to capture the note, and discard the paper. This will eliminate the unnecessary clutter in your home, while capturing the sentiment. If you’d like a more professional-looking digital copy, scan it into your computer, and create a special “Card” folder. Make a routine of doing this process after your birthday or holidays. It’s much easier to flip through a digital file than to lug around a big binder or box.



  • Store your card collection in a compact and organized system. Here are a few containers that are perfect for organizing cards:

Filer: File your cards into your filing box or filing cabinet. This will allow you to easily add to your collection and retrieve the card quickly from their labeled files.


Binder: Use a photo album or binder to create a book of past cards. This is especially helpful if you’d like to reflect back on your cards the same way you would look at old pictures.


Bin or Box: Use a bin, box or magazine filer to corral your cards in one location. This is a less structured method for organizing your cards but can be just as effective if you’ve already sorted and labeled your card groupings.


Once you get your old card clutter under control, this step-by-step system will surely keep you on top of your paper mementos. Remember that experiences are far more important to collect than things. If you think of receiving a card as an experience, you’ll be able to appreciate it and let go of it equal amounts of grace gratitude.



image 2 via The Every Girl  //  image 4 via The Realistic Organizer


  1. Wendy

    March 6th, 2017 at 6:33 am

    What about special cards like wedding and condolence cards for your parent? Any suggestion to store or is it ok to toss?

  2. Monica

    April 12th, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Hi Wendy –
    I think it is okay to let cards go. My rule of thumb is to keep letters and cards with really special written messages. A beautiful card signed aunt jackie can go, lovely as it may be.


  3. Kacy

    April 24th, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Apteranply this is what the esteemed Willis was talkin’ ’bout.

  4. Betsy Baker Gratland

    May 13th, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    My mom has alzheimer’s, she has 145 mothers day cards(collected) +every occasion I separated by birthday,valentines,etc.People with memory loss like to look at photos and old stuf that is easily displayed and convenient to handle. Can you suggest how to display 145 MD cards from 5 children, and all the grandchildren? I am now considering only using the ones from her own five children and boxing the other offspring and giving those back to their parents. SUGGESTIONS?? ANYTHING?

    Feel free to share for others facing this disease to help cope with their loved ones, but let me know here and email. Thanks so much. Anything is helpful.

  5. Monica

    May 18th, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I’d like to start with the suggestion that you do a little more editing of the cards you decide to keep for your mom. It’s much easier to handle, read and appreciate a selection of the truly special cards than a mass that can be overwhelming. Select the best cards with special notes written in them. 145 cards is a lot for anyone to process at any one time. I have kept special cards with important sentiments (like from my wedding) in simple DIY books. I made them by using a hole puncher any punching small holes along the edge and tying them together with ribbon. This makes it easy to grab off the shelf and appreciate as a group. They are also accessible and can be appreciated as opposed to stored in a box that I will never look at. Perhaps you could do something similar in categories that make sense to your mom. ie Children, grandchildren etc. I think the key is to make sure you don’t overwhelm her. Maybe make the groupings by year or by person.

  6. Betsy Baker Gratland

    May 22nd, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you. I did exactly that. It was so special for her. I chose only home-made from childhood,and special noted ones. Also used the ones from immediate five children and left out grandchildren, etc. It was such a good feeling to see her reading and looking at the book over and over. I am just trying to hit a nerve, entertain her, or shake up her memory. Thanks for the input. It is a long road, and a terrible disease, Alzheimer’s. Learning how to interact and what tools to find their interest is on going. Thanks

  7. Wesley

    September 7th, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Thank you for this excellent article. I have gone through phases of save or toss many times. With both of my parents gone now I wish I had save a few more things, but as you said, most were generic. I would recommend saving at least one with the signatures. Weird, I know, but meaningful. Also, as my dad’s dementia started(though we didn’t know it) he would sign my cards with his full name, like he was sending a letter to his bank. I’m glad I save one of those just to mark the time.

  8. Sandie Edwards

    September 24th, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    I found 3 boxes of photos, my graduation cards, etc. I thought I could throw some of this out, but as I started looking thru them, I felt like I couldn’t. Even though it has been years since I looked at them, I still couldn’t. Do you have any suggestions for letting go of some of this? I am a scrapbooker and some of this I could use in an album, but some of it I couldn’t use. At first, I found d cards from people I don’t know well and thought why keep, then I found special messages then wanted to remember all that came to my party so wanted to keep all cards . anyway I have the cards hole punched on one end and all attached to a ring. I have so many photos . it seems I should be able to let some of the photos go and just save the ones I want for an album but I don’t know where to start and I don’t want to spend all day on this because I am trying to do my whole room.

  9. AmBer

    January 4th, 2018 at 3:00 am

    This article is close to my heart. My husband and I just spent 5 days going through 3.5 large boxes of cards and letters. It was physically and emotionally draining. We moved the whole house around but it was this card project where we really felt the weight for some reason. I’m the same—I dont keep unless there is a message written too. But as you move through the layers and years you feel differently. We are ending up keeping from key people and got these attractive letter boxes with labels from Target. The ones from special grandmas and grandpas that are now gone we will keep forever…and they cannot be replaced. When I was in my 20s I hung onto a lot of stuff and I am glad I did because the messages from those loved ones that are no longer here will stay forever.

  10. Sheila

    February 13th, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    I like the idea of saving Christmas cards by punching a hole in the top corner and putting a ring or ribbon around them by year. I have not been very organized over the years and my mother sent many letters to me over the years since she retired to Florida. She passed a few years ago and now that I am retired and going through boxes and bins I have been pleasantly surprised when I find a letter from Mom. I now have a special flowered box from Michaels with a magnetic top that I place those letters in along with other special items. I went through a lot of cards for my kids and separated them into clear shoeboxes and put them all in a wooden trunk. I don’t think the boys will care but I know one of my daughters will.

  11. K.M.D.

    February 8th, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks for the post – some great ideas. I wanted to share a quick tip I’ve picked up regarding the annual holiday photo cards. It always seems like a waste when people go to so much effort to design a card and then to throw it away. With annual cards from special friends and family, I’ve taken to replacing the contact photos annually with what they send. That way I have current pics of my nephews and friends for an entire year until the next card comes.

    Hope this idea helps!.


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