Toss or Treasure?

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Meet my daughter Ava. If I had to describe this 4-year-old in a word it would be, “Creative.” Whether it’s coloring, painting, drawing, writing, or building, Ava is always, “working on a project.”

Anyone else have a little artist on their hands? If so, please tell me your child’s room looks like this at the end of each day too! 

I love Ava’s creativity and encourage her to use her imagination but… What am I suppose to do with every “treasure” and “masterpiece” she hands to me? It has taken a lot of trial and error but I finally came up with a system that works for our family. 

Step #1: Designate Art Display Areas

Each time Ava gifts me with one of her creations,  I ask, “Where would like me to display this?” Being that art is a passion of hers, I intentionally created spaces in my home to hang her art. Doing so makes Ava’s face light up with joy and prevents papers from piling up around the house. Everybody wins!

Wire Picture Hanger

This wire picture hanger from Amazon has been the greatest addition to our playroom! I especially love that the hanger clips make it FAST and EASY to change out artwork. 

Magnetic Boards/The Refrigerator

Yes, I display artwork on our refrigerator. However, I limit our fridge to 2-4 art pieces because I don’t like clutter on my fridge. 

The picture above shows our basement playroom. This room had a big empty wall to fill and I knew my kiddos creations would make great decor for this space. These 5 magnetic boards are from IKEA. Again, the fact that these boards are magnetic, make it FAST and EASY to change out artwork. 

Bulletin Boards

Ava use to love placing artwork ALL OVER her room. It’s her room and I want her to make it her own. But oh my was I struggling to watch EVERYTHING get taped to the walls. And I mean “a big piece of paper with one sticker on it” EVERYTHING. Yikes!

My solution? A large bulletin board. I even brought Ava to Hobby Lobby and allowed her to pick out what fabric she wanted to staple to the board to dress it up. Of course, she picked a furry pink one!

Art Border

Ava colored a book of pictures and was adamant they all  get hung in her room. These pictures were NOT all going to fit on her fuzzy pink bulletin board…sigh. 

My solution? Display the coloring pages in a line so it looked like a colorful border. Ava and I had a blast picking out scrapbooking paper to tape as a border around each picture.


I look at this wall in her room and smile because she got her pictures up, I found a way to avoid pictures randomly placed all over the walls, and we had fun decorating this space together.

Shelf for Art Creations

I have designated the top of our IKEA bookshelf to hold all my daughter’s art creations that cannot be hung on the wall. Ava loves that they are on display for all to see and I love that they add fun decor to the playroom AND are out of reach to her younger siblings!

Step #2: Toss or Treasure?

The “designated art display areas” will eventually get full. When this happens, it is time to decide what should get tossed and what is considered a treasure. 

I tend to be a “chucker.” NOT because I’m not sentimental but because if I held on to everything that “Ava worked so hard on,” I would need to rent a storage unit just for her artwork! Besides, I picture “adult Ava” looking at boxes of her 4-year-old artwork and saying, “Mom. You’re crazy. Why did you keep ALL this stuff!”

It’s easier for me to throw things away when I feel I’m doing “adult Ava” a favor. 

What is Considered a Treasure?

What you consider a treasure is going to be different than what I consider a treasure because our kiddos are uniquely different. But, here are examples of items I have held on to:

Anything with a picture is going to be impossible for me to throw in the trash. 

I try to remember to write on the item I am keeping as soon as I can find a pen! Here you can see that I wrote the date as well as the occasion this was given to me on: Ava’s last day of MOMS on May 8, 2019. 

Anything with a handprint is also going to be impossible for me to part with. Especially with a sweet saying to go with it. Cue the waterworks! 

Again, notice I wrote the date and occasion on the paper. 

I hold on to “special cards.” This was my first Mother’s Day card and my husband’s first Father’s Day card. Even though Ava couldn’t write in them, she picked out these cards herself and was proud as a peacock to give them to us. When Ava is old enough to write in cards, I’m confident I will hold on to those too!

I classified this picture as a “treasure” because I can see my giddy 4-year-old handing it to me and saying, “Mom! I made this for you! It’s an elephant! I made you an elephant because they are your favorite animal!” 

Knowing I would want to hold on to this picture for the foreseeable future, I asked Ava to write her name and age on the picture. If she couldn’t write yet, I would have written down this info instead. Putting an age or date on the artwork sets it apart amongst the random pile of papers. Your future self and adult children will thank you. 

Step #3: Store Treasures

Once you decide on which artwork to keep, the next step is to decide how to store it. I currently keep Ava’s treasured artwork in this clear bin. As she gets older, I will likely have to adjust my system. However, this is working perfectly for now. 

Step #4: Take Pictures

With the artwork that didn’t make the cut to the “clear bin,” but is still special, I take pictures. Sometimes I take a picture of just the completed artwork but most of the time I have Ava hold her project and smile for the camera. 

Depending on what you do with the pictures you take, this step will vary. I personally make a scrapbook each year and gift it to my kiddos on their birthdays. For example, when Ava turned 4-years-old, I gifted her with a Shutterfly album of the past year so she could reflect on all the fun things she did at age 3. In this Shutterfly album are the pictures I took of her and her artwork (examples of Ava’s album are shown below). 

I love the concept of taking pictures of Ava with her artwork and placing them in a photo album because it enables both her and I to see what she made without holding onto the hard copies of everything. Is this time consuming? Can be. Is it worth it to me? 100%!

Step #5: Throw Away

Once you have taken pictures of the “still special artwork,” throw everything away! You don’t have to tell your kids your throwing it out; just close your eyes and do it. 

As always, these “Tidy-Tips” are NOT rules you have to follow. They are simply a guide to help you get started if you’re feeling overwhelmed with “too much stuff.”

How do you decide what to toss and what to treasure? How do you store the “keep items?” As always, I would LOVE to hear from YOU! 

1 thought on “Toss or Treasure?”

  1. Please tell Ava I love elephants too! They are very loyal to their families, are slow moving but steady, dependable, and definitely make a statement in their surroundings! High five Ava!! I have a hard time tossing artwork as well, but I have found that others outside our family LOVE receiving it. So I keep a file of the artwork I don’t plan on keeping but is too good to throw. Sending out a card? Stick a picture in the envelope as well. Our recipients have LOVED LOVED LOVED this, as most people in the world do not have little ones handing them creations. My younger single cousin stuck his to his fridge and our kids saw it in a random Facebook post. Smiles all around. Probably the biggest return for us was when we’d grab a stack of pictures and pass them out at elderly care centers. Sadly, rarely is such a “treasure” sent to someone in this season of life, and oh the affirmation our kids received in their little hearts when they’d pass them out to the residents. The smiles are priceless!!!! Miles of blessings both ways!!! (I’ve always thought, if you’re having a bad day as a mom, visit an elderly care center with your kids. Simply watch the countenance of those residents change as they see your little one stroll with you down the halls and your day will be ever brighter! Soon we’ll be able to do this again I hope!) Anyway, we’ve had positive feedback from those who staff the nursing homes as well, they loved the impact it had on their residents.


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