It’s never been easier to keep your most precious memories alive.
From personalised photo albums and keepsakes to specially commissioned biographies and films, there are many ways to create a very special legacy – and have a lot of fun while you’re doing it. Here are a few ideas to inspire you.
Start a journal
If you’re looking for a straightforward way to record the special events and turning points in your life, a simple life story journal might be just what you need. A life story journal is basically a diary of your whole life, divided into sections (such as early life, middle life and later years), with lots of room for you to add photographs and mementos. Some journals have world maps so that you can chart where you’ve travelled.
Try: My Life Story – a hard-backed journal with more than 1,000 pages, £35, at prezzybox.com.
Shoot a film
If you’re comfortable talking in front of a camera, you could commission a professional documentary maker to visit you at home and make a film about you and your life. At around £3,500, this isn’t a cheap option – but maybe a tech-savvy grandchild could make you a DIY version!
Compile a personalised photo album
Share your memories using photos. Many photographic firms offer software that
is free to download, so you can create a personalised photo album online, and they will print it and deliver it to you.
Prices from £20.
Try: A4 Classic Photo Book with 26 pages at £29.95 from photobox.co.uk.
Write your memoirs
It’s not only the rich and famous who can commission someone to write their memoirs – more and more ‘ordinary’ people use professional biography services, and the end product is often very high quality. Prices vary widely, starting at around £3,000 and depending on the number of interviews you have, the length of the final book and the quality of finish you want.
Shop around ‘It’s really important that you trust the writer you work with and that you enjoy the process,’ says biographer Michael Oke, who has been helping people write their memoirs for more than 20 years.
Want a critically acclaimed writer? Then go to storyterrace.com and take your pick (although it will cost more).
Want short interviews? See lifebookuk.com – an interviewer will come to your home for regular one-hour appointments (although they won’t actually write your story, this will be done by a writer you don’t meet).
Want a personal touch? Check out the many small memoir-writing services, such as boundbiographies.com.
Do it yourself ‘Start with enjoyable memories. You can put them into chronological order later, and you don’t have to include painful memories if you don’t want to,’ says Michael Oke. ‘Try to go back in time as far as you can.’
Need help unlocking memories? Read Michael Oke’s book Times of Our Lives: The Essential Companion for Writing Your Own Life Story (available on Amazon), or The Book of Myself (Revised): A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions by Carl Marshall and David Marshall (£12.99, Hachette Books).
Create a memory quilt
Memory quilts and cushions are a lovely way to preserve memories and declutter at the same time. Clothes and fabrics from years gone by can tell stories of special times, people and places. You can have something made professionally or make your own.
Try: patchworkcastle.co.uk offers free guides and tutorials to help you get started. Or you can commission it to make a quilt for you. Prices start at around £180 for a lap quilt.
Make an audio recording
Sometimes written words don’t capture the whole story. Making an audio recording of your memories is a great way of telling your own story your way.
Buy a Talking Photo Album – this one has 48 hours’ recording time, so you can recount stories and memories to go with each photo you pick. £38.99, unforgettable.org.
If you’d prefer someone else to do the work, you could hire an oral historian to visit your home, record and edit your stories and put them on a CD or memory stick.
Try: speakinglives.com, from £330.
But whatever you do… keep your memories safe
Gather particularly treasured possessions into a keepsake box. You may decide to do something else with them at a later stage, but this is a great way to make sure you don’t lose anything of sentimental value. You can choose themed boxes, too, if you prefer, such as a box to house all your favourite recipes, or one to hold holiday memories. Prices start at around £15.
Photo Credits: Plain Picture, Shutterstock.