In my last post I wrote about why one might want to make a memory book. This post will focus on how to make a memory book or what to put in it. I would like to say that the methods are not that important. If you are comfortable using a computer and photo scanner, it is probably easier to use a site like Shutterfly or Snapfish, etc. to create a memory book. (Search photo books online and you will find many more possible sites to create your book.)
But if you are not comfortable with computer technology, there are many products available to create scrapbooks and memory books using acid free papers, albums and products to protect those priceless photographs. You can use duplicate copies of photos. Write about what these photographs represent with details about the people and events shown.
You can purchase paper products from Joanne’s Fabrics and Crafts or from Michael’s stores for almost any type of scrapbook or memory book. I like to go in an actual retail store such as these rather than looking online so I can see how things look and feel. Other hobby and craft stores will have similar products as well. You can probably also find many blogs about using these various products. And many stores like Joanne’s and Michael’s also have craft classes in the use of many products.
The most important thing is to determine your goals. Is this a memory book for Alzheimer’s or dementia that you are creating to help mom or dad remember their children and grandchildren? Or is your plan to help your parents remember the wonderful and fulfilling lives they led? Do you want to focus on retirement form a successful career? Do you want to focus on the family and the roots in the old country or other states?
You might be planning a memory book for a high school graduation or to celebrate a child’s first birthday or to document a trip you had planned for years. You can do this prospectively or retrospectively. If the event is just beginning, be sure to take lots of photographs and jot down information you want to remember about when and why you took the photographs. Store the written notes together with the photographs so when it is time to put the album together you will have all you need right at your fingertips.
Before you begin, determine your goals and make notes on the details you want to cover and the photographs and other mementos (newspaper clippings, birthday cards, etc) that you want to include. If you want to include stories about larger items such as clothing, uniforms, military medals, etc., then photograph the items and include the photographs in your book. Store the actual items separately.
Organize your photographs and notes in the same order that you wish to present them in your book. This might be by date or by subject if you are including different events in the book. Only after you have a pretty good idea of what will be in the book will you actually purchase an album or upload and sort your pictures online. You can then place the stories and photos in the book in that same order.
If you are using a paper album it is good to consider purchasing one in which you can add or remove pages either as you put the album together or later. Older albums came with ribbon or string to tie the album together. Many newer memory books come with metal rods and screws to fasten the top to the bottom and enclose all the pages. Look around for the album that best suits your needs.
If you are doing this electronically, browse around the various digital photo sites and look at the examples they have to see what styles fit your plan. Create a separate photo album online containing copies of all the photos you want to include in your book. Some sites will insert the pictures in the pages for you automatically. However, I prefer to do the “custom design” so I can choose what pictures to feature in a larger frame and which ones I want to take a full page.
I usually fill in all the photographs first and then go back and write the text under the photos or on the same or nearby pages. I like to spend a lot of time reviewing the written text and checking the spelling, font and design. Even so, I generally purchase a first version of my book and then review it in my own hands before making final changes and reprinting the book.
This can get expensive, so if there is time, wait for a special sale since Shutterfly seems to have frequent sales on books. In the meantime, review your book online and try to find all the edits you want to make so the first book ordered will be as complete and error free as possible. You can save this on the photo site for years so you can revise and reorder the book later if you wish.
Your finished product will make a great gift and a great memory to keep for yourself as well. You can sit with your elderly family member and reminisce about the old days. Using the pictures in the book as a cue your parent may tell you new stories or retell old stories about their memories.