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Create a Family Memory Jar for 2016

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As one year ends and another begins, we look back on last year and try to remember what happened in our lives and in our family. Big things are easy to remember, but over 365 days, 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes, a lot happens. Let’s start 2016 by making an effort to record those special moments we experience. A great way to do this is with a family memory jar!

What is a family memory jar? It’s a glass jar or any container in which you can store family memories. It can be filled with short messages, everyday moments, photos or just about anything you want to preserve. Every item added has meaning for us, and is worthy of preserving and remembering.

(Image credit: Etsy/Mason Galore)

To make your family memory jar, you’ll need:

  • A simple jar or bottle (decorated as desired). Mason jars are great for this type of project.
  • A pencil and notepad
  • Creativity and a desire to remember and reflect your day-to-day life

Once you’ve created your memory jar, place it in a prominent place in your home, in the open and make sure it’s easy to access. Decide, as a family, who will add to the jar (one person or all family members may add their own notes). Choose different colored notes for each family member. It is special to have the whole family, including children, add notes to the jar.

Each family may have different ideas of what they want to record over the year. Here are some suggestions:

  • Funny situations
  • Emotional family moments
  • Big life events
  • Reflections
  • Lessons learned
  • Childhood memories that pop up or come to mind
  • Family quotes

For some families, the look of the container is important, They may use colored paper, tie each note with a ribbon, etc. That’s wonderful if you have the time, but try to stay realistic — don’t lose sight of the end goal, to record your family’s history.  It may be best to start with just a simple glass jar and sticky notes until you become more familiar with it.

Most important is consistency. If not every day, then try to add to the jar at least once a week. Once you begin writing notes, you’ll think of many new reasons to add more to the jar. Don’t forget to date each one!

Write a funny story that your husband remembered about his grandmother, a family birthday party where someone sang off-tune, an unforgettable holiday, losing teeth and getting money from the toothfairy. The list is endless!

At the end of the year, have a special family gathering and read the contents of the jar to everyone. You’ll be amazed to see how much has happened over that time. Prepare 12 pages, one for each month of the year, and attach the notes to the month page when it was written. Then, create a book from those pages which will summarize your family’s year.

The memory jar is a great excuse for the family to get together and spend an evening reminiscing about shared experiences. It’s also a great way to document your family history for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and beyond!

Good luck, and Happy 2016!

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  • TedL


    January 6, 2016

    Hi, I just about bypassed reading this article. I am glad that I did read it. I think it is a good idea especially for young families to encourage children to think and write about their activities. I would suggest a plastic pasta container or some other non-breakable container. For the rest of us, we should be able to start a journal.

  • Anne


    January 6, 2016

    What a wonderful idea. Something different to what we have been keeping which has been a yearly scrapbook with us recording the special events for all of us during the year- and sometimes forgetting

  • Carl Fields


    January 7, 2016

    I like this idea.

    Your thing at the end about a one-page-per-month “book” made me think that a one-page-per-month calendar is essentially a ready-made “book” of the type you seem to be describing. Might be even better if the family (at the end of the year) has a marked-up “family calendar” where medical appointments, social events, etc have been recorded throughout the year. That would be an ideal thing to use as the “base” for the attached memory slips. If some of the memory items in the jar are things such as ticket stubs from plays, movies, sport events, this would also have some of the features of a family scrapbook.

  • Colleen


    January 9, 2016

    Esther, that’s a wonderful idea. I think I’ll try it. Milestones of our grandson’s second year will be fun to look back & read.

  • Dan Hiestand


    January 19, 2016

    What a wonderful idea! An instant family heirloom. All of these little moments, captured, are what make a house into a home.