We all love our kids’ artwork. The tiny handprints, the sun with the face, the macaroni skeleton. But saving it all is impractical. As a professional organizer, I am constantly being asked: With all these piles of masterpieces, how do we decide what to keep and how do we store it?
Here are some ideas to help you and your child proudly display, sort, and store those works of art.
Designate one high-traffic area where you can display the newest, favorite works immediately. A clothesline can be strung high on a wall with clothespins to hold the art or clips can hang from the ceiling.
Photos above courtesy of www.DIYDelRay.com
A hinged frame from hearthsong.com is great. Newer works are placed in front; up to 50 older works are stored behind it. This allows for easy display and storage.
Anything not immediately displayed, but something you may want to keep, gets placed in a mailing tube or a large portfolio for later sorting. (Scribble-scrabble works need not apply.) Portfolios can be found at art-supply stores and mailing tubes at shipping stores.
The portfolio or mailing tube can be stored against the wall inside a closet, between a wall and bureau, or even slid upright behind a couch. Sometimes, moving a bureau or couch even a couple of inches away from a wall can create small but valuable storage space.
If the artwork is bulky, an underbed storage bin or clean pizza box can be used under a bed or couch. Label the portfolio, tube, or bin with the child’s name and grade.
As new work comes home, hang new pieces and store older works in your storage system. Try to maintain a one-in/one-out policy in the display area to avoid clutter in the display area.
At the end of each month, sit down with your child to review the past month’s artwork that is hanging and stored. If you think that you might forget to do this sorting, put it in your calendar each month.
Now you can each pick one item to save. Don’t agonize over this, keep what makes you smile and holds the best memories! The keepers go back in the storage system. Designate these two pieces as “SAVE.”
Recycle some non-keepers by using them as wrapping paper or stationary for letters or lists. The rest will go in the trash or recycling bin. When you set a good example by letting go of some of the artwork, your child should follow suit.
At the school year’s end, you should have about 24 items from each child. You could reduce this further by selecting your child’s favorite 16 or so, photographing them, and making a book using a service like Snapfish. Proudly keep the book handy and on display. Poster-size collages can also be made on-line and displayed neatly.
At this point, you could even recycle (i.e. get rid of) the works that are now part of the book or collage. If using a bin or box, gently clip together and label that years’ artwork to save. Return all artwork to save to your bin, tube, or portfolio and return that to your storage spot. If needed, purchase a new bin, tube or portfolio for next year’s new crop of masterpieces!
This system should allow you and your child to enjoy the artwork that you do want to keep without having it get lost in a pile of clutter.