These easy memory boxes are the perfect solution for storing family photos, keepsakes, documents, and more. Make a memory box for each member of your family and get all those family photos organized.
One of the questions I get about our black display cabinet is “What is stored behind those reeded glass doors?” Since the cabinet is in our living room, people have guessed that it holds board games (that would be a smart use of it!). However, the cabinet is actually stock-full of family photos, keepsakes, and memory boxes.
What are memory boxes, you ask? Memory boxes are a box for each family member that is filled with photos, special cards, awards, and more. Storing these precious keepsakes right in our living room keeps them near-at-hand. Meaning, we can add to the box or sift through a box at ease; and no digging boxes out of the top of a closet in order to save a new memento.
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I bought this (originally rustic) display cabinet (now, with a fresh coat of BM Black Panther) expressly for the purpose of storing photo albums, memory boxes, scrapbooks, photo books, children’s artwork, and keepsakes. Prior to owning this cabinet, all of those items were scattered throughout the house… and, often, tucked away in the top of closets.
We keep this furniture piece in our living room, so that all those special family mementos are right-at-hand. Easy to grab when the kids ask about our wedding, a trip we took before they were born, or about their baby photos.
The cabinet also gives me boundaries, essentially. We don’t keep every piece of our child’s artwork, because there is only so much space available, inside the cabinet. I’d encourage you, too, whether it’s a cabinet, bookshelf, or closet to designate a space in your home for memory keeping… your own “Keepsake Cabinet.”
Now, let’s take a look behind those doors and discuss some of my favorite ideas for how to organize family photos and keepsakes. Plus, how you can use memory boxes to make memory-keeping simple.
Photo Books and Scrapbooks
Back before I had kids (and when I didn’t shuttle from soccer to gymnastics to ballet on a daily basis), I guess I had the time to make scrapbooks and photo books. It’s hard to imagine now. But, those photo books and scrapbooks are still dear to me, and while I’m not making them much anymore, it’s important to have them stored with our family’s keepsakes.
If you’re an OG scrapbooker or you have loads of “free” Shutterfly photo books on hand, tuck these memory books into your keepsake cabinet. I group them by topics (such as a “travel” grouping, and a “baby years” grouping).
I also make family photo calendars each year, and store them inside our cabinet, too. Like the topical photo books, they are grouped together in the cabinet.
Sentimental Cards and Birth Announcements
Do you save special cards? I stored our wedding cards, baby shower cards, and children’s birth cards on o-rings (some with handcrafted cover titles… some without). They are all tucked into a small box.
On a separate o-ring, we keep birth announcements and newborn photos. Other items that you could store in this way are memorial (in loving memory) cards, children’s report cards, Christmas cards, and school photos. It’s easy to add new items by popping open the o-ring and hole-punching the corner of the card or photo.
Photo Albums and Photo Boxes
Depending on your age, you may or may not have photo albums or photo boxes. Our albums all pre-date the cell phone age of digital photos. There are several albums from our wedding, and a few boxes labeled with dates.
Photo storage can quickly become overwhelming. While digital storage doesn’t take up space, I recommend investing in a good backup system (we use Google Photos in addition to external hard drives) to avoid losing all your precious pics. Then, tackle printing favorite photos in small chunks, by date (for example, work on January photos from a particular year, then review February, etc.).
Only select the best pictures for printing, then use a photo box or memory box for easy storage (rather than the tedium of filling photo albums).
Memory Box Ideas
Finally, my favorite method for memory-keeping: memory boxes. We currently have 11 memory boxes:
- 5 all-purpose memory boxes (1 for each family member + 1 for the family as a whole)
- 3 artwork storage boxes
- 1 baby memory box
- 1 marriage memory box
- 1 extra memory box to have on hand when needed
Let’s take a closer look at each type of memory box idea.
All-Purpose Memory Boxes
As mentioned above, each family member has a memory box. In an all-purpose memory box, store any kind of keepsake, photo, and memento. For example, in my son’s memory box, he has:
- a copy of each year’s family Christmas card,
- photos from sports’ teams,
- school awards,
- his Disney Autograph photo book,
- birthday cards,
- and sweet letters from his baby sister.
Artwork Storage Boxes
I don’t keep all of my kid’s artwork, but I do keep favorites. Tucking children’s artwork into memory boxes is easy and quick storage, that doesn’t take up much space.
If you’re a sucker for children’s artwork but don’t have the space to keep it all, a kid’s artwork photo book is another great option for compact storage.
Baby Memory Boxes
I bought this personalized Baby Memory Box (fabric lined and high-quality) years ago, from Paper Coterie. Unfortunately, Paper Coterie is no longer in business. However, no need to worry, because any memory box will do as a baby memory box.
In a baby memory box store first-year keepsakes, such as:
- the child’s birth announcement,
- the prints of their feet from the hospital,
- and mementos from their first birthday.
Marriage Memory Box
In a marriage memory box, store mementos from the wedding and/or keepsakes related to your relationship. I store all of our anniversary cards, Valentine cards, and letters to one another in this box. Write dates at the tops of cards before you tuck them into storage, so you’ll have a point of reference when you read the cards years later.
Other items that would be great in a marriage memory box is:
- your wedding invitation,
- the menu from your wedding,
- mementos from a first date (such as the coaster from a restaurant) or an anniversary dinner,
- and more – be creative!
Easy Memory Boxes
Of all the things I’ve mentioned (scrapbooks, photo books, photo albums, etc.), memory boxes are the easiest way to keep memories. Why? There is minimal time required to stow and tuck the mementos into storage. Simply open and place.
All of those other methods require time and energy to organize, place, and store each photo or document. Plus, there is something fun about digging through these large memory boxes, filled to the brim with special memories.
A memory box can be on the small side (our marriage memory box is approx. 9″x12″), but I prefer larger memory boxes, at least 12″ square. Dimensions over 1 foot ensure most document types will fit. Our all-purpose boxes are 13″ square.
For children’s artwork, purchase even larger memory boxes. Our artwork storage boxes are 12″x15″.
Where to Buy Memory Boxes
So, where do you find these large boxes? I’ve purchased all of our memory boxes from places like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Ikea. However, you can also find them online.
Ideally, memory boxes should be at least 12″ square and 2.5″ tall.
Store photos, awards, cards, letters, artwork, and more in a memory box. Make a memory box by topic (such as a wedding or vacation) or all-purpose to be filled over the years with any special memento.
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