I was reading this post on frugal gifts over at Frugalwoods the other day (check it out if you haven’t already), and it reminded me of the best gift idea I think that I ever thought of. If you also have kids you may be struggling to think of what they can do for loved ones for the holidays. Instead of having them give nothing or giving them money, have them create a special memory book for the loved ones in their lives.
I came up with this idea shortly after my beloved grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer (mesothelioma) a little over two years ago. You see, my grandmother was a special person in our lives. She helped take care of the boys when my husband was away from home for a month, that time he almost died of septic shock. She, my mother-in-law, and my mother would take turns trading time watching them, so that I could care for my husband, go to work, and continue my MBA. She was also very close to both my boys, her only great-grandchildren, ages 7 and 11 at the time. She was the one who came to “grandparents day”, she came to their book fairs and all their school events, and she would spend time with them every holiday. Her passing would be the first time my boys had to deal with the death of a loved one.
After she was diagnosed, I struggled to think of what kind of gift I should give her. The prognosis of mesothelioma is very poor, especially at her age (over 80). She only had months to live. She didn’t need things, she didn’t want food-what to get her? So I thought of the idea of having the boys make her what I called a “memory book”. After we made it, I wished I had made it sooner, so I wanted to share the idea with you.
What’s a Memory Book?
This is an idea I came up with where the kids would be doing most of the work-making the gift much more special than if I made it for them. Essentially I used some scrapbooking supplies and had the boys write and draw 18 pages worth of special memories with their great-grandmother. I supplemented that with two pages of them spending time with their great-grandma over the years, assembled the book, and voila! A special memory book.
How did I do it? Here’s a step by step guide:
- Buy and Assemble Supplies – You’ll want to use coupons for this one, and you should be able to pick these up at any hobby store (JoAnn Fabric, AC Moore, Michaels, Hobby Lobby). You will need
- One Scrapbook
- 20 scrapbooking pages (I had my boys pick out 10 each that they liked)
- One pack of white scrapbooking cards
- Stickers (I had each boy pick out one pack) – optional
- Glue dots or other glue
- Pens and markers
- Print Photos – I used the collage mode at Walgreens photo online, but you can use any photo printing you like. Again, use coupons-they’re always having a deal
- Choose Themes – My kids, like many, have some trouble coming up with ideas on their own. If your children are more creative than mine, that’s great! But mine needed the structure of a theme to come up with good memories. I picked nine different themes, and had each child do one page on that theme. Each page had two memories-one drawn card with a picture, and one written card with the memory. Examples included memories at school, favorite thing to do together, holidays, favorite thing about your house, favorite foods to each, and what makes you special. You can pick any themese that make sense for your kids relationship with the gift recipient
- Have Kids Write & Draw – We did this over the course of a month. Every weekend day I would have them sit down and do a page. Since they finished two pages each per weekend, it took about a month for them to do the entire book
- Assemble and Give – Use the glue dots/other glue to adhere the memory cards and photos to the pages your children select. Then have them put on any stickers. Slip each page into the scrapbook, and voila! A special memory book for very little. After coupons the supplies should total about $20-a bit more or less depending on the specifics of what you buy
And that’s it! The great thing about this idea is that it costs very little, but it’s a very special gift. Your kids will be proud that they made it by themselves, and the recipient will love it. My grandmother kept this book with her to show all the friends that came to visit during her illness, and it was displayed at her funeral. Today the book is in our home, for us to look at together whenever we’re missing great-grandma. It will be a special way to remember her for years to come.
What’s the most thoughtful gift you’ve ever given or received? What ideas do you have for frugal gift-giving? Let me know in the comments!