25 DIY Memory Book Ideas, Themes & Tips


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A memory book is just what it sounds like: a book of memories. But it’s much more than just a photo album or book of crafts. 

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Memory books help people of all ages store and look back on their most beloved experiences with family and friends. They can contain memoirs, pictures, small trinkets, and much more. 

If you’re making a memory book—whether for yourself or for someone you know and love—the ideas below can help you get started.

Memory Book Ideas for School

Most kids get school-issued yearbooks every year. But a home-made memory book looking back on your child’s year as a student and individual can be even more meaningful. 

Creating a memory book is also an entertaining activity and a way for you to spend time together. Some students might even need to make a memory book as part of a school assignment. 

1. School photos and team photos

School photos and sports team photos are included in school-issued yearbooks, but you can also put them in your personalized memory book. That lets you add whatever you’d like alongside the photos and scrapbook them however you want.

You’ll also get to see those school and sports photos whenever you go through the memory book, rather than having to get out the school yearbook. 

2. Awards and achievements

A memory book for your child is the perfect place to put awards like ribbons, as well as certificates and other achievements.

You can add copies of diplomas, as well as photos from the events themselves. For larger items, like trophies, take photos to add to the memory book. 

3. Arts and crafts

Younger children bring home a new arts-and-crafts project nearly every week. You don’t need to include every project in your memory book, but you can include home-made cards and other creations that fit in the book.

If there’s a particular favorite craft that’s too big to fit nicely, take a photo and add that in, instead. 

4. Birthday gifts 

When friends and family members give your child a gift, you can take photos of that present and include the photos in your memory book. 

5. School celebrations

The school year is full of fun celebrations, from Valentine’s day for younger students to prom for teens. You can include unique cards your student received and pictures from all of those occasions in a memory book. 

Memory Book Ideas for Mom or Dad

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are perfect times to give your parent a heartfelt memory book that you put together yourself. You can also present your mom or dad with a memory book on their birthday or any time of year. 

6. Handwritten messages

In your memory book for your mom or dad, sprinkle in some handwritten words of appreciation and love. Let your parent know what they mean to you and how much you appreciate everything they do. 

7. Family recipes

If your mom or dad loves home-cooking, you can gather up family recipes from grandparents and relatives for the memory book. Family recipes—often passed down for generations—are both a delicious gift and a poignant keepsake. 

8. Baby keepsakes

Moms and dads often keep around many items from their children’s baby years. But all of those baby keepsakes might just be sitting in boxes or storage. You can add some of those items—or photos of them—to the memory book so they’re easier for your mom or dad to look back on. 

9. Blast from the past

You can give your memory book a “blast-from-the-past” theme by including only items from your mom or dad’s childhood years. Gather up pictures and keepsakes by reaching out to their parents and siblings. 

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10. Memory journal

If your mom or dad enjoys journaling, you can include some blank pages of themed stationery in between other photos and items. On those pages, your parent can jot down their memories about those photos and keepsakes to add to the book. 

Memory Book Ideas for Aging Parents or Grandparents

If you have aging parents or grandparents, a memory book can be even more valuable. As we age, it can become harder and harder to remember things that happened a long time ago. A memory book that looks back on a trip you had together, or over the last year, can help an aging loved one look back and reminisce. 

If you're looking for retirement-specific ideas, you can read our retirement memory book guide.

11. Include their stories

One of the best gifts for a grandma or grandpa is the gift of listening. When you visit your loved one or talk on the phone, ask your loved one to tell some of their favorite stories from their childhood, teen years, married years, and anything else that comes to mind.

You can then transcribe those stories and put them in the book. 

12. Ask for their photos

In addition to sharing stories from their past, most parents and grandparents relish any opportunity to show off family photos.

Ask your parent or grandparent if they can lend you their photo albums and point out which photos correspond with the stories they’ve shared with you. Then, you can photocopy those pictures for the memory book.

13. Add places they’ve lived and traveled

Part of a memory book can look much like a travel log. You can add maps of the places your loved one has lived and traveled, as well as photos of memorable sites in those locations.

You can also add in other items, like the menu from a favorite restaurant in their home town. 

14. Document children, grandchildren, and relatives 

Older loved ones—especially those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s—might struggle to remember specific names, birthdays, and interests.

While memory books are largely sentimental, they’re also useful in this way. Including pages in the book with information and photos of your loved one’s family members will help them stay connected. 

15. Get input from the family

Your older parent or grandparent is probably beloved by many other family members. When you’re creating a memory book for them, consider gathering input from those loved ones.

They might have photos to share, a keepsake to include, or a story you can write down and add to the book.

Memory Book Ideas for a Significant Other

You and your significant other have had some special times together—for better or for worse. Whether you’ve been together for decades or only a couple of years, a memory book can join together your happiest and most important moments. 

If you want to make a custom memory book for your spouse or partner, here are some ideas to inspire you. 

16. Instagram photos

If you’re the type of couple that shares precious moments with an online following, you can print your Instagram photos for your memory book. Having those photos online is great for storage and sharing purposes, but it can also be nice to hold them in your hands.

17. Birthday gifts

Take photos of the gifts you give each other for your birthdays, and add those to the memory book. If you give each other hand-written cards, you can add those birthday keepsakes to the book, too. 

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18. Professional photos

If you want to add an air of professionalism to your memory book, take your significant other to have professional photos taken. You can include just one professional photo or as many as you want. 

19. Pets and friends

Relationships don’t exist in a vacuum: it’s important to include keepsakes and photos that depict the people (and animals) who support your relationship. Add in photos of your fur-babies, as well as friends you and your significant other share. 

20. Love letters

In your memory book for your significant other, make sure to include words of affection and love. They can be humorous or poignant—just make sure you write them by hand.

Ideas for a Funeral

If someone you love has passed away, you might be considering a memory book for their funeral. Funeral memory books come in various forms, but they all help loved ones and attendees express their condolences and share stories about the departed. 

21. Memorialize your loved one

You can create a memory book to memorialize the life your loved one lived and put it out at the funeral. Include photos from your loved one’s life, as well as any other items that you find meaningful. 

22. Incorporate the guest book

Many funerals feature a guestbook at the door, where everyone can sign as they enter. Attendees will sign their names, as well as short words of condolences.

You can then join together your guest book and the memory book you created if you’d like. 

23. Ask for anecdotes 

You can place a sign by the guestbook specifying that you’d like a little bit more than signatures and condolences. Ask attendees to share their favorite moments with your loved one in the book. 

24. Create a memory jar

You can make even more space for stories and memories by putting out a jar, rather than a guestbook, at the funeral. Ask each guest to take a piece of paper as they enter and write down their memory on that paper. Then, they’ll place their memory in the jar.

You can then tape or paste those pieces of paper in a memory book as you read through them later on. 

25. Record eulogies

You might want to record the eulogies at your loved one’s funeral so you can remember the kind words that were said.

Instead of re-watching the footage, you can have the eulogy sections transcribed and put those words in your funeral memory book. These are easy to include in a virtual funeral with GatheringUs or another funeral tool. Not only can everyone hear these eulogies together, but they're a perfect tribute. 

Making a Memory Book 

Tools like social media and online photo storage let us look back on our memories like never before. But a physical memory book that’s dedicated to one person or period of time can be even more meaningful. This book is an important reminder to take end-of-life planning and conversation seriously. Whether you start making an online will with Trust & Will or you just start talking to your family, these steps matter.

Ultimately, your memory book is a reflection of you and the people you love and care for. But hopefully, the ideas above have helped lend you some inspiration if you’re just getting started.

Looking to make a memory book online? Read our guide on how to create a digital memory book.

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