What to do with all of your family photos

Many of us have piles upon boxes upon albums of photos that we haven’t picked up in years. This month marks the season of gratitude - the perfect time to take a trip down memory lane. Here are eight ways to finally organize, use and declutter your family photos.

Research. If you’re a history buff or just curious about the strangers staring back at you with striking resemblance, there are a few measures you can take to piece together your family tree. If you know where the photos were taken, dedicate a rainy afternoon to poring over information at the local library. Some newspapers will print photos with a caption asking readers if they recognize people in the picture. You can also hire a genealogist or upload photos online to genealogy sites if you’re willing to pay for research.

Donate. Most of us find it difficult to throw photos away, let alone ones that have been passed down from generation to generation. If you can’t find any connection to your collection, most historical societies accept photos, especially if you can provide some information about how you inherited them.

Reminisce. Pass around family photos and albums at your next family gathering. Stoke the fire and let the storytelling begin! This is a great chance to learn more about your family and introduce your kids to their late relatives who they never met, but can still get to know through cherished photo albums.

Digitize. Printed photos are typically stored in attics, basements and closets and are therefore susceptible to fires, floods and dust. Preserve photos by scanning them yourself, shipping them to a scanning service or hiring someone to scan them for you. Saving photos to the cloud will give them a safe home where they’ll stay vibrant forever.

Display. Gallery walls are very popular in today’s home designs. Use frames all in the same color for a consistent, contemporary look or arrange frames in different shapes and sizes around other wall decor for an eclectic vibe. Hang photos on a wall with track lighting to put your photos in the spotlight.

Scrapbook. Scrapbooks make meaningful holiday gifts full of creativity and personalization. Get the whole family involved by giving each child an age-appropriate task, like taping or labeling, or assign them few pages to complete on their own. If you’re making these books for your own home, make sure you keep them in an accessible place rather than storage so you can enjoy them more often.

DIY. Go to any craft store and you’ll find that there are so many more creative ways to use and display photos beyond frames and scrapbooks. Buy a big jar of Mod Podge and create playful collages or make ornaments for the Christmas tree. You could also arrange photos under glass on a dresser or desktop to enjoy them in every room.

Delete. After you’ve backed up your collection with digital copies, you can feel better about throwing away printed photos that you didn’t display or use. It’s also important to declutter your digital collection so that it’s easier to find and share photos online. You can safely delete the following from your devices: duplicates; blurry or dark shots; unphotogenic moments you know you will never share or display; and shutter mistakes, like accidental shots of the ceiling or the contents of your purse.