How to Make a Memory Jar + 9 Ideas to Try


Isn’t it so fun to say to someone, “Hey, remember when we did this…?” or, “Remember the time you…?” What if there was a way to bottle up your memories?

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You can! Just write down these awesome memories on small pieces of paper and stick them in a memory jar. Memory jar ideas can be used in all kinds of circumstances. You can use them as a creative way to honor someone in your life. You can use them at a memorial or celebration of life service to remember a family member

Here’s how to make a traditional (and personalized!) memory jar and how to adapt the concept to different situations. 

How to Make a Memory Jar As a Tribute to a Deceased Loved One: Step-By-Step

It’s easy to make a jar in memory of a loved one who has passed away. You’ll only need a few simple tools and the help of family and friends. 

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

Step 1: Pick out a vessel

What kind of jar would you like to use? You might want to choose a memory jar that blends with your home decor and keep it on display so you can revisit a memory anytime.

You might also want to preserve the pieces of paper by sealing them in an airtight, waterproof container. The kind of jar you get depends on your needs and intentions. 

Step 2: Get friends and family members to contribute memories

Set up your memory jar at a memorial service, a celebration of life or another end-of-life ceremony. Have pieces of paper and pens next to it.

Ask mourners to write down favorite memories and stories about the deceased. It’s a great way to preserve memories and even learn new stories about your late loved one. 

Step 3: Continue gathering memories from friends and family members

Reach out to family and friends who live far away and weren’t able to attend the memorial service.

Ask them to send their own memories and stories. You can add these to your memory jar over time.  

Step 4: Revisit the memory jar when you’re in need of comfort

The purpose of a memory jar is to preserve stories about your loved ones. But those memories can’t and shouldn’t stay locked away forever.

Whenever you miss the deceased, you can open the door and pull out a memory. Each slip of paper serves as a tangible reminder of your loved one. Keeping these memories fresh can help you feel closer to the deceased. 

Step 5: Continue preserving memories

You might put the slips of paper back into the jar to look at them again in the future.

You could also glue them into a scrapbook or post them in a private Facebook group where other friends and family members can discover them. 

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how you can make it easier for them

How to Make a Memory Jar with Living Friends and Family: Step-By-Step

You may take a slightly different approach if you make a memory jar with living family and friends. It’s generally the same, though. Here are some steps. 

Step 1: Pick out a vessel and location

Make sure your memory jar is accessible at all times if you’re making one with children or a romantic partner.

Put it in a spot where all contributing members can easily access it. Make sure you have slips of paper and pens next to the jar or even attached to it. That way, it’s easy for anyone to add a memory.

Step 2: Communicate the intent of the memory jar

Make sure everyone is on the same page if multiple people are contributing to a memory jar. You might sit down with your kids and come up with memories together.

Or you might want to ask your spouse to write down special memories when you’re not around. Then, pull memories from the jar together. There are no concrete rules — do what works for you.  

Step 3: Preserve the memories

You might want to glue your memories into a scrapbook, write them in a journal, or type them up to make a booklet.

That way, you’ll ensure that you can keep them on hand forever. 

9 Memory Jar Ideas to Try

Memory jars are flexible and there’s a lot of room to put your own personal spin on the concept. Here are some ideas to get you started.  

For a partner or spouse

A memory jar can be a romantic gift for a partner or even a therapeutic tool to help couples going through a rough patch. Here are some ways you can use them.

1. Wedding jar

Incorporate a wedding jar into your wedding reception. Instead of a floral centerpiece, place decorative jars on each table with slips of paper and several pens. Ask guests to write their favorite memories about the newlyweds.

Combine all the slips of paper into a bigger jar to display in your home after the wedding. You and your spouse can each remove slips of paper and read them together. It’s a great way to celebrate a relationship milestone.  

2. Anniversary or Valentine’s Day gift jar

A gift from the heart is always incredibly meaningful. Give your spouse or partner a memory jar instead of chocolate or flowers.

Write down your favorite memories of your time together. Put them in a beautiful jar and wrap it up. It’s an incredibly thoughtful and personalized gift.   

3. Rekindling the flame jar

Every relationship goes through difficult times. In really hard times, it can be tough to remember why you love someone in the first place.

Write down memories of happier times — it may help inspire you to fight for your relationship. 

For a close friend or family member

Memory jars can be a great way to connect with your friends or family members. Here are some great ways to utilize memory jars in your friend relationships. 

4. Memory jars for kids

Start memory jars for your kids. You can note family vacations or birthdays or even smaller day-to-day moments.

When your kids are grown, share these memory jars with them. They’ll be thrilled to rediscover big and small moments.  

5. Time capsule memory jar

When you’re in high school, you often have incredibly close bonds with your friends. If you want to make sure your friendship lasts, create a memory jar with them with your favorite memories from high school.

Make plans to revisit that memory jar together every five years. Making concrete plans to stay connected can help keep your friendship strong in the intervening years. 

6. Family reunion memory jars

Family reunions are a great time to reconnect with distant family members. But it can be awkward to spend time with family members you don’t often see.

Get family members to write down some of their favorite family memories and put them in a jar and read them aloud. You can bond over shared memories or learn something new about each person.  

For a funeral or memorial service

You can find a great deal of comfort when you share memories about a deceased loved one.

Ask people to contribute memories to a memory jar at a funeral or memorial service. You’ll get to revisit fond memories and even discover new stories about your loved one. Here are some spins on that idea.  

7. Photo jar

Instead of having slips of paper, ask mourners to bring a photo of the deceased and ask them to write a memory about your loved one on the back of the photo.  

8. Virtual memory jar

When someone passes away, friends and family members aren’t always able to make it to the funeral.

Set up a private Facebook page to allow people to post their memories about the deceased. That way, friends and family can connect over their memories even if they’re thousands of miles away. 

9. Memory jar created by the deceased

A loved one with a terminal illness may plan her own funeral or memorial service. She may want to create her own memory jar and share her own memories of their friends and family members.

She may ask for people to read these memories aloud at a celebration of life or another ceremony. This reversal of a traditional memorial jar can provide great comfort for the people left behind. 

Preserving Your Special Memories 

Memory jars are all about preserving special memories for yourself and your family members. Putting pen to paper will help make these memories more concrete and prevent them from slipping away.

They’ll also help you feel more connected to your loved ones — whether they’re living or not. 

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