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Creative Ways to Capture Family Memories Without Scrapbooks & Photo Albums

Admit it. We all have that box of photos gathering dust in the basement somewhere. We had every intention of putting together a precious book of memories with those photos (and the scrapbooking supplies we spent so much money on), but then life happened and the scrapbook didn’t. Or maybe you have a growing pile of macaroni necklaces and watercolor family portraits that you just don’t know what to do with.

I’m guilty of both of these, but I’ve finally found a few methods that have saved me a ton of time and helped to alleviate the stress of saving every little thing and then finding the perfect way to preserve it. With a little creativity, you’ll see there are actually lots of quick and easy ways to save those special memories without boxes of dusty pictures.

Build a custom playlist 

This originally started as a quick way to pull up my son’s favorite songs, but now it is like a trip down memory lane every time we listen to it. When my oldest son was one around two years old and started requesting to listen to certain songs, we created an iTunes playlist of his current favorites. The list has grown over the years (and we’ve since created lists for our other children) and now it houses quite the unique blend of music. As long as Apple sticks around for a while, I can someday share their lists with them and they can listen to it on their own devices (and hopefully keep adding songs). It’s basically the mixtape of the future.

Select an ornament

We have a tradition of picking up a keepsake ornament everywhere we travel. They are easy to find at tourist destinations and we have the best time unpacking them every year when we decorate the tree. You could even take this a step further and create photo ornaments to commemorate special trips or life events.

Use an art portfolio to save school projects

The number of papers my son comes home from school with each day is quite daunting. At first, I had the hardest time deciding what to toss and what to keep, but I quickly realized that he is going to be in school for a long time and we just can’t save every paper he brings home. I reeled myself in by purchasing a large art portfolio (like this one) on Amazon. With nine expandable pockets, it is plenty big, but not so big that I’m tempted to save every project and piece of art he brings home.

One line a day journal 

My mom kept journals when we were young and I love reading them and seeing what I was like as a child. All of my attempts at replicating this have fallen completely flat, though. One line a day journals seriously take the pressure off of journaling. I use mine to record silly quotes, sweet moments, or anything else I want to look back on one day. I like that it also gives me a chance to reflect on the good things that happened in the day (not always easy when you’re in the trenches of parenting).

Make a family yearbook 

I know I said no scrapbooks, but this one is so easy and you don’t need any fancy scallop-edged scissors to make it. Every year in December, I hop on Shutterfly and create a photo book highlighting my favorite memories and milestones throughout the year. What I like about Shutterfly is that you can have them place all the photos for you or, if you have the time, you can arrange the photos yourself and add captions, cute stickers, and other embellishments. This does require you to upload your photos to Shutterfly, but if you download their app, you can set this up to happen automatically from your phone.

Use a pushpin map

Hang a map in each kid’s bedroom and every time your family goes on vacation or a memorable event takes place in a specific location, have them put a pushpin in the map. By the time they are grown and ready to leave home, they can frame the map and take it with them as a reminder of all their great family memories.

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