The Adventures of Bug and Boo

Keepsake Memory Box: A Gift to Remember

Rebecca O'LoughlinComment

Like what I did with the title there? ;) 

So Thanksgiving was months ago, which may seem like way too long gone to write about it now...but as you may know I was taking a blogging 'hiatus' last A/W so this is my first chance to recap!

Well this (last) year was a special one. Not only was it Thanksgiving, but my mom turned a very significant age (which I won't print, because she'd kill me!) and we were all trying to determine the best way to get everyone together to celebrate properly, with Thanksgiving in the midst of the week and with other in-laws and gatherings to take into consideration for my siblings. So we came up with the plan of taking Mom out and treating her to a full-on, all-the-trimmings, special fabulous holiday dinner at a great restaurant, where they do a million amazing dishes covering all the usual bases plus some unique Italian-themed extras! NO cooking for 15 people, NO cleaning up, ALL the deliciousness of the day plus tasting tons of additional things that we might not ever make for ourselves - sounds like a win/win! 

The food was of course, fantastic - where else besides a restaurant specialising in Thanksgiving Day bookings can you stuff your face with things beyond the norm like homemade pumpkin gnocchi and butternut squash ravioli, leg of lamb, and clams casino, plus all of the traditional dishes of roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. (If you're wondering just how many times I hit the buffet line...well, I will just let you guess.) ;) 

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The company was the BEST part! There's just something extra special about the holidays with all of your siblings and your parents...even though they're not anything like when they were growing up because of all the tiny people running amok and no longer being children yourself, they're still warm and familiar and comforting to celebrate together. After missing this holiday in particular with my family for the six years I lived in London, getting to join them for the day is really awesome. 

So that was party planning, done. Then came GIFT planning...which is hard enough for most people but I swear, my mom has everything she wants and needs, so that complicates things a bit too. I always try to find something meaningful but that can be tricky to be creative about - and then I came across the best idea ever (on Pinterest, naturally!) and we hijacked it and ran with it: a memory box. This involved asking friends and family members that have had a close relationship with my mom over the past (ahem) years to jot down a special memory of her, to enclose in a keepsake box that she can read and reread as she feels the sentimental urge. I LOVED this idea! It took some coordination - making my dad get me all of the email addresses and contact details of people I wouldn't have been in touch with myself before, sending out emails and messenger notes, following up a few times and reminding people of the deadlines, trying to make sure everyone who wanted to respond had the chance - but it was all worth it in the end. So many people loved the idea and replied. A few who were short on time even emailed me their memory so they wouldn't be missed out and I printed each one and pasted them into pretty cards. I sat here the night before we celebrated, with a pile of cards and notes and letters for my mom all containing special memories just for her, and I just kept thinking how many people love my mom. I mean, I know *I* do, but so many other people do too!! It's not just me who thinks she's awesome. :) 

I toyed with the idea of finding a box and doing something pretty / DIY like decoupage to it....but then I thought better of it. I'd rather her have something that she can use for other things too if she wants, so I searched all over for a glass jewelry box and found a couple - I went with this beautiful "Penelope" glass jewelry box I found at Pottery Barn since they did monogramming. I had them engrave her first initial on the lid center - and it turned out truly lovely. My pictures don't do it justice. 

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She was so touched by the sentiment of the gift - some people shared memories he hadn't thought about in years! And whilst not exactly handmade, it was definitely meaningful, and I know she'll have those memories now to treasure forever. 

Starting to stockpile the responses...mail each day became so exciting! 

Starting to stockpile the responses...mail each day became so exciting! 

If you have a special day to commemorate for someone, I definitely recommend something like this. Everyone who contributed something had a major impact with this! 

A few practical tips: 1) build in 'delay days': give everyone a deadline, but make it several days in advance of when you genuinely need them! 2) Make sure the box you use will be big enough to house all shapes and sizes of cards, if you don't specify to those who will be writing them. This box was the biggest one I could find and some of the biggest cards *just* squeezed in! 3) Reach out to people from all periods in your special someone's life - I contacted childhood friends, family friends from when she grew up, college friends, recent coworkers, etc. You'll get a greater range of types of memories and responses too!

And now for quite possibly the coolest, and most random, homemade gift for my mom on her birthday: cookies made by my sister-in-law and little brother, decorated to look just like Mom's favorite, Tom Selleck!! Are these not the most fabulous things ever??! 

What is the most meaningful birthday gift you've ever come up with?!