20 Cherished Items to Put a DIY Memory Box

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We’ve talked elsewhere on the blog about memory boxes for people or pets who have passed away. But memory boxes can also be used for people who are living. 

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At every stage in our lives, we connect to certain objects that have a deep meaning to them. But as we move onto new phases of our lives, we might not need to see those objects on a day-to-day basis anymore. Instead of throwing them out or giving them away, you can still hold onto them. 

Create a memory box for those treasured keepsakes you may want to revisit later. You can buy decorative boxes, or get plain boxes and decorate them yourself. Then fill them with these nostalgic items. 

Here we’ll break down some ideas for what you can put in memory boxes for various people in your life. We’ll also explore what you could put in a memory box for someone who has passed away.   

If you're interested in other unique ways to remember a loved one who passed away, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

Items for Your Child’s Memory Box

No period in our life changes more rapidly than childhood. From month to month, kids celebrate new milestones. This means cherished items can be outgrown very quickly. While you can’t preserve every moment of your child’s life, you can keep extra-special items in your child’s memory box. 

Here are some suggestions of what you might include: 

1. Lock of hair and first tooth

In many cultures, parents are encouraged to keep a lock of hair from their baby’s first haircut as well as their first tooth. One common superstition regarding keeping a baby’s lock of hair is that it brings good luck. 

There are also practical reasons to hold onto these things. Baby teeth, in particular, are a great source for stem cells. If a child needs replacement tissue later in life, stem cells from a tooth can be used to grow and cultivate this tissue. These items are both sentimental and pragmatic to keep.     

2. Stuffed animal

Most kids gravitate towards a particular stuffed animal that they hold onto throughout most of their childhood. Even when they’ve outgrown the need to sleep with a stuffed animal, they’ll still have an emotional attachment to it. 

Instead of throwing away a treasured item like that, you can put it in a memory box to be revisited later.  

3. Newspaper from the day they were born

It’s always interesting to revisit other momentous occasions that happened on the day you were born. A newspaper is a perfect way to look back on these historic moments. In 20 years, print newspapers might not even exist anymore, which would make this a doubly interesting artifact. 

4. Awards, certificates, or schoolwork

Kids of all ages can get awards for everything from perfect attendance to good citizenship. Save these special awards in a folder in your kid’s memory box. And while you don’t want to hang onto every worksheet, some homework assignments are worth preserving.

Younger kids might write amusing descriptions of themselves or their families. Older students might write cool short stories or poems. These are all fun to hang onto and revisit. Just be sure to curate the most special items. 

5. School pictures

School pictures are such a good window into a child’s evolving style over the years. Your kid might look back and cringe at crooked teeth or unfortunate haircuts, but these are an undeniably great way to get a glimpse at your kid’s growth.  

Read our guide on baby memory box ideas for more.

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Items for Your Partner or Spouse’s Memory Box

When you’re in love, certain objects can take on an entirely new significance. Whether you’re dating someone special or have married the person of your dreams, a memory box can be a great place to keep treasured items. Here are some things you might put in a memory box for a romantic partner. 

6. Ticket stubs

If you and your partner love attending movies or concerts or sports events, you can collect ticket stubs from events you attend. When you go back and look at them together, you can reminisce about the places you’ve been. 

7. Love letters

With the evolution of technology, handwritten love letters are mostly a thing of the past.

But if you’re of a certain age, you may have sweet letters from your paramour that you’ve been holding onto. They make a great addition to a memory box. 

8. Photographs

Many people take photos on their phones and post them online. But it’s worth taking the time to print out special photos of you and your partner from throughout the years.

You’ll have a great time revisiting them when you look through your memory box. 

9. Travel journals

If you and your partner like to take vacations, keep a journal of your travels together.

You can keep it in your memory box between trips to go back and read, and then you’ll always know where it is when you pack for your next adventure. 

10. Wedding items

If you’ve married your partner, a wedding cake topper is a great item to preserve in a memory box. You can also include things like the garter belt, the groom’s bowtie, or dried flowers from the bouquet.   

Items for Your Mom’s or Dad’s Memory Box

Parents often create memory boxes for their children. It can be a lovely gesture to return the favor by creating memory boxes for your mom or dad. You can keep it for yourself, or you can present it to them as a gift to show you how much you value them. 

11. Greeting cards

Parents often send sweet and thoughtful greeting cards for holidays and birthdays. Instead of throwing them away, bundle them together and keep them in your memory box. 

12. Old photos

Parents often have family photos dating back many years. See if you can get copies of your favorites to keep in a memory box.

You can also revisit our blog post on what to do with old photos for more inspiration. 

13. Meaningful mementos

Most people have a special hobby they shared with their parents. Even if you’ve outgrown that hobby, you can still hold onto mementos from it for your parent’s memory box.

For example, if you and your dad once collected baseball cards, you can save cards of his favorite players. 

14. Journal of favorite memories

Over the years, you may find you’re starting to forget the details of treasured memories. Jot them down in a journal to help preserve them. You can also talk to your parents about them to see if they can help fill in new details. 

15. Vacation mementos

If you travel with your parents, you can include small mementos to remind you of your trips. For example, if you go to the beach with them, keep a seashell or piece of sea glass.  

Items for a Funeral Memory Box

When someone you love dies, a memory box can be a great way to help you process your feelings. There are several different kinds of memory boxes you can do for someone who has passed away.

You can create a memory box to preserve certain elements of the funeral. You can ask people to bring items to the funeral that reminded them of the deceased to put in a memory box. Or, if you’re tasked with cleaning out their belongings and donating unwanted items, you can keep special items in a memory box. 

Here are some more specific ideas of things you can put specifically in a funeral memory box. 

16. Funeral program

Most funerals have a program which includes the speakers, prayers, songs, and other details. This is definitely something worth preserving. 

17. Funeral flowers

People often send beautiful flower arrangements to funerals. You can make funeral flower keepsakes from them for your memory box.  

18. Memorial gifts

A lot of times, people will bring gifts to a funeral or memorial for the deceased’s loved ones. You may not be emotionally ready to go through them right away. You can put these memorial gifts in a memory box until your grief is less intense.  

19. Obituary

An obituary is a biography that delves into the life of the deceased. It’s often published online or in a newspaper. This tribute to your loved one is right at home in a memory box. 

20. Photo collage

Many people make a memorial collage featuring photos of the deceased to display at a funeral. Even if a large collage won’t fit in a memory box, you can keep the photos and preserve them individually. 

Keepsake Treasures to Put in a Memory Box

Whether you’re putting together a memory box for someone who is living or putting one together for someone who has passed away, the mission is ultimately the same. You want to source objects that meant a lot to the person, or that make you think of them. 

Every memory box will be unique because it will depend entirely on the relationship between the person making it and the person who it’s for. Ultimately, you have to let your heart guide you as you create your memory box. Your independent spin on it will make it special. 

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