How to Organize your Kids Keepsakes and School Papers

As soon as a child is born things begin to collect. Hospital bracelets. Tiny footprints. “Welcome to the World” cards. And then they get bigger and start doing bigger kid things like going off to preschool with a giant of a backpack that takes over their whole body just to bring home a piece of art that the teacher probably mostly did herself but “OMG it’s their first craft and you just have to keep it forever and ever and ever!” Stuff happens to all of us. But, still – it’s important stuff that tugs at your heartstrings for whatever reason and stuff you think your kid may want to see again some day.

Boys keepsake items including birth certificate, hospital bracelet and footprints

So you keep it. You keep these most prized possessions in an unsafe pile somewhere that keeps falling over because said pile keeps getting higher and higher. And then you have more kids which mean more piles and more bulging folders. Then, before you know it, you’re having a “come to Jesus” talk to yourself about whether you should be on the next episode of hoarders. Breathe. Relax. I’ve come to help! I still have personal issues with my own papers – i.e. bills, coupons, magazines, Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes that I swear I’m going to mail in (I mean you never know right!?) – but I finally figured out a system for the kids that work for us and I’m happy to share.


You may have seen this idea before – I’m not about to say I’m the originator – but all the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest and the like were a little boring on the eyes – and what I can say, I like things cute. You also have to buy the plastic tote and divider folders and labels and then put it all together so when I found this one-stop-shop I was sold. I was perusing the aisles of Target one day looking for nothing and everything (because that’s what one does at Target) when I saw these on the bottom shelf of the office and school supply aisle.

Threshold 19 Pocket Paper Totes used for storing kids papers and keepsakes

Cue heart eyes emoji. It’s a 19-pocket expandable file box by Threshold. It’s $14.99 and it’s perfect (minus not being able to buy online). They have one or two other patterns besides these ones as well. I liked the clasp on the front and the fact it had a handle. It holds up to legal-size paper. I added the gold monogram sticker myself (mainly to easily tell the girls a part but thought it would be weird if Parker’s didn’t have it too). It’s made of extra sturdy cardboard and (and this is the best part) it has exactly the number of slots needed to store memorabilia from birth through high school. Here’s how I broke it down:

Slots 1 – 5: Newborn to Age 4/Pre-School

Slots 6-18: Kindergarten to 12th grade

Slot 19: Blank for now

Inside look at the Threshold 19 pocket paper tote from Target

Until your kids start preschool label the pockets by age but then I suggest switching to school years because that makes more sense organization wise. If you kept it by age then you’d have two partial school years in each pocket depending when their birthday falls. I’m keeping slot 19 blank because I don’t know what my kids’ future holds after high school. It could be labeled “college,” it could be labeled “military,” it could be labeled “prison” (totally kidding – #knockonwood), or it could just be some kind of catch all. Basically I want to save it and decide later.

So, what to save? Obviously this is a personal decision but here are the types of items I’ve been keeping:

Little girl keepsakes including greeting cards, ultrasound picture, invitations and crafts

  1. Greeting Cards (not all, of course, just especially any that have extra sweet messages inside)
  2. School year photos
  3. Activity photos (i.e. tball, dance, etc)
  4. Artwork/crafts (now I’m REALLY picky about this. Right now it’s basically unless it has a handprint, cute thing they said or photo it’s going in the trash – well after displaying it on our art gallery wall for a while first. I don’t literally throw things away straight from backpack to trash – ok, ok, not all the time anyway)
  5. Their birthday party invitations and thank you cards
  6. Randomly acquired photos (usually the school or a relative will give us printed photos. If it’s declared a keeper than it goes in here)
  7. Awards
  8. Newspaper clippings

Little boy keepsakes including potty chart, first haircut, invitations, birth announcements and footprints

Now go get yourself a file box and get to organizing!

Does anyone else have a different organizational idea or helpful tips on curbing your kids clutter? Do tell! I know some people like to simply scan everything onto their computer then throw the originals away but I CAN’T DO IT. In 20 years I can’t be all “let’s sit down and go through some memories….hold on let me get my zip drive.” Just no. I want memories I can actually hold. But if you’re a minimalist, techy person then maybe that route would work better for you so wanted to mention it.

Until next time friends! I’m off to sob over my babies newborn footprints – they couldn’t have ever been really that small!

Two Threshold 19 pocket paper totes - front view

6 thoughts on “How to Organize your Kids Keepsakes and School Papers

  1. You guys are making me want to make photo books (bc yes, I do in fact, have a box full of photos I need to scrapbook!) and go buy new storage for school memories. Right now school stuff is in 2 clear tote boxes (the longer flat ones), but the problem is they are way up in the top of the closet, which means I have a pile of stuff I want to out in those boxes stacked up somewhere. So now I feel like I need to go to Target tomorrow. However, one thing that I do that I like is crafts that the kids bring home which are holiday themed I put in a folder or such and store those with that holidays decorations. At the very least I can stroll down memory lane every year & the idea is to use those memories to add to the decorations!


    1. Yes I use the big clear totes for keeping larger memories like clothes, blankets, etc and they are also in hard to reach spots which means piles get started so I can file away later, lol – I need to be better at just doing it right away too! I also keep some of the holiday themed crafts/photos with my holiday decorations (great minds think alike!) but that’s an awesome idea to share to anyone else who may be reading since I didn’t think to include that in my post!


  2. Prison! Ha!

    Very cute idea. I can’t even narrow things down to just one pocket per year yet….serious problem because no one is really going to go through ALL the stuff I save!


    1. Thank you! And yes I find myself at least once a year going back through all the previous years folders and asking myself if it’s still worth saving. It seems the older they get the better the arts and craft type stuff gets so then I’m better throwing away old stuff I had previously saved – like nah, that’s not that great, haha.


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