Memory books can cover a whole life, an aspect of a life or just one event. Before you begin, take a little time to think about the focus of your memory book. Make a list of everyone who has played a part in the time span you're focusing on, talk with them and write stories about your experiences. Gather pictures, mementos and keepsakes, look for little charms and scrapbooking accessories to represent the events you've written about, and put them together for a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Personal Memory Books
You have the freedom to tell your story however you like. You can begin at the very beginning and stop at every highlight along the way, or focus on one aspect of your life. For a college reunion, for example, put together a memory book about your college years. Include stories about your first meeting with your roommate, your first classes, where you hung out, your romantic relationships, the sports you played or the groups you joined.
If you're telling the story of your life to date, interview as many significant people as possible. Use a tape recorder with their permission, and type the interviews into a word-processing program so that you can print them on special paper. Be sure to ask questions about events you shared, and compare your recollections.
Let pictures jog your memory and act as a starting point for reminiscing. Add the pictures on the facing pages next to the interviews, or next to your own written memories.
If you're the type of person who saves everything, you'll have treasures to include in your memory book, such as movie tickets, party invitations, greeting cards and letters. Take advantage of scrapbook stickers to add decorative touches, too.
Wedding Memory Books
A memory book is a special wedding gift. Start with childhood pictures of the bride and groom, and include as many others as possible, as well as current pictures of them as a couple. If you know the story of their meeting, dating years and the proposal, write those stories and include them next to the appropriate pictures. You don't have to be a novelist; just tell the story in your own words, as if you were telling it to a friend.
Take lots of pictures at pre-wedding events such as showers, bachelor parties and girls' nights out. Take even more pictures at the wedding ceremony and reception, but focus on the guests. The professional photographers will be getting plenty of shots of the bride and groom, but the bridal couple won't be seeing their guests' reactions the way you will. This point of view will give them a very special keepsake of their wedding day.
Save your wedding invitation, bridal shower invitation, wedding program and favor, and some of the gift wrap you used for their present. Add them to pages of pictures from each event you attended.
Family Memory Books
You can create a memory book for your own immediate family, or make one that includes the whole family tree. If you have a large family, you probably won't be able to include long narratives about each member, but adding a paragraph or two along with a picture can enrich others' knowledge of family members they might never have met, and act as a starting point for conversations about them.
You might have some mementos you'd like to include in your family memory book. If you're preparing a book about you, your spouse and your children, you'll probably want to include small things you've saved, such as your keepsake marriage license, crib cards, first report cards, children's drawings and even mundane little notes from your spouse. Choose a picture or two of each family member from every year, add the relevant treasures and write some stories about the things that happened during that year. Focus on the highlights, such as birthdays and holidays, or write about commonplace events such as going to the swimming pool and visiting grandparents.
No matter which type of family memory book you're making, you can add another dimension by buying some recordable greeting cards that have spaces for photos, and having family members record greetings. Glue the cards into the pages of your memory book, and bring their memories to life.
Margaret Morris has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a celebrant certificate from the Celebrant Foundation and Institute. Morris writes for various websites and private clients.