I came across this idea via Design Mom. The basic idea is to take small gifts and brightly colored crape paper strips. You start with the largest item and wrap it with the crape paper and then add another item and repeat until all the items are wrapped in the ball. Here are detailed instructions on how to make a surprise ball.
These surprise balls remind me if some gifts I gave my nieces when they were young. I wrapped their gifts in yarn. I took a small item and wrapped yarn around it until it was the size of a volleyball. I like the idea of having a series of small gifts to discover along the way.
I think it would be fun to have a series of small trinkets and photos that relate to a family member. It could focus on a single story with the items in the surprise ball help to tell the story. This idea has some great possibilities, I can’t wait to try this out.
The idea behind a memory jar is to gather little things that remind you of a person or an event. There are so many ways to put together a memory jar but they fall into two basic categories or a combination of both. You can put stuff inside the jar or you can decorate the outside of the jar. Most jars are both with decorative elements on the outside put on in such a way that you can still see what is on the inside. But there are memory jars that cover the entire jar with trinkets and odds and ends. A memory jar could also just have slips of paper with short memories written on them.
I like the idea of mostly putting things in a sturdy wide-mouth jar with minimal decoration on the outside. I think a memory jar would be a great way to share some of the little odds and ends that we collect over a lifetime but no one knows what to do with after we are gone. You could also put together a memory jar for a more distant ancestor with items that are symbolic of the person if you don’t have anything that was actually theirs.
My grandmother has distinctive handwriting and I’d love to turn it into a handwriting font. There are online services that will take your handwriting and convert it into a font for you. Some are free and some charge for their services. I have yet to try this even for my handwriting but it is on my list of things I want to do. It will be a little more difficult to do it for someone who has passed on because you will either need to trace their handwriting or else do some scanning and cut and paste to get the needed characters. Below are a few links to guide you along the process.
How about planning a trip to a place where your family came from. It could be across the ocean or just across town. The distance isn’t so important as having the purpose of the trip to learn about your family’s past. Just pick a place, do some research and plan an itinerary. One word of advice, be flexible and don’t over schedule your trip. This isn’t about packing it so full that you can’t enjoy the time with family members and learning about the past.
So you have something to wrap up, you could print up your itinerary with a map and some images of your destination and the ancestor(s) associated with this site.
This gift idea was inspired by this post on Design Mom. Guest Aunt Kelly Wilkinson made a story box for her sister as a gift before her first baby was born. I think this could be adapted for other situations. What Kelly did was take a wooden cigar box and decorate the outside with pretty images. A wooden box would be wonderful but other types of containers could be used also.
Inside she and a few friends put handwritten cards with story prompts. This cards can be used by her sister or in the future her sister’s children to start stories from their mother’s life. Children love to hear stories about their parents lives. This idea could also be used with grandparents or other extended family. The story prompts could also be generic and then the story box could be used by anyone to generated memories of their lives. The story box could be the start of a new family tradition that will be enjoyed for years to come.
With today’s technology, putting together a CD with someones favorite songs is fairly simple. My idea is to gather the favorite songs of an ancestor or family member and then make copies to share. It would be fun to add a few short stories about the person. If you know the background of why a particular song was their favorite that would be very fitting to add to the CD. If you have some audio of the person’s voice that would also make a nice addition to the gift.
If you don’t already have these songs, there are lots of sources to download audio files on the internet. Just do a search by song title and/or artist and you will find them. So will be free and others will cost a small amount for each song.
This idea could also be share as mp3 files via an email, link on a website or through dropbox or another file sharing service. A custom CD would also be a perfect to include in a gift basket (see gift idea #41).
Many years ago I worked as a picture framer. One of the most challenging things I did but also the most rewarding was putting together shadow boxes for customers. Shadow boxes are a wonderful way to display and protect a treasure historical object. I’ve framed everything from china to dresses to locks of hair to military medals.
There are pre-made shadow box frames available at many craft and hobby stores but you might want to consult a custom framing shop before you tackle this project. Depending on what you are framing it can be tricky to figure out how to mount the object without causing permanent damage. Make sure the object is protected by using acid free materials and glass which will block out UV rays to prevent damage from light.
Would someone on your gift list like to start writing down their own history or help someone else get started on their history? Then how about putting together everything they need to get started?
It could be as simple as a journal or a three-ring binder and paper along with a list of questions and a pen or pencil. Or it could be high-tech. I found software that will help you write your history. Another approach would be a digital recorder in place of the journal.
There are a bunch of sources for questions or journaling prompts. I’ve gathered a few of them below to get you started.
I got this idea from a neighbor of my parents. They put together simple coloring books to tell the story of an ancestor. They have done one every year to share at their annual family reunion. They now have nine coloring books. Each book tell a simple story with clip art for the kids to color that goes along with the story. I love this idea. I can’t wait to put a coloring book together too. I’ll have to add it to my list of future projects.
If you would like to see their coloring books you can find them here.
We all know all about gift baskets but this one has a little twist. The theme is an ancestor or a family story. To start pick your focus. Then think of things to go in the basket that will help tell about your focus. Photos would be great. Maybe some object about the person or the story. Write up something about your focus. If you happen to have a book about the subject this would be a fun way to give it to your family. If you are lucky enough to have a video that would be great to include. Something to eat would be a must. If there is food involved in the story, that would be perfect. Or if the person has any favorite foods include those. You could add a few things just to make the basket look pretty too. The idea is to fill the basket with things that can create an environment that will help the story or person feel real.