The very first keepsake box you start to put together for your little one always seems to get filled up really quickly. Probably because it’s so easy to think of things you want to collect in those very precious early days and months.
But once you’ve safely tucked away your scan pictures; gifts; the tiny going-home outfit and all those other first-year keepsakes, you soon realise that the keepsake collecting definitely doesn’t stop. Ever!
First keepsake boxes are easy to fill and the momentos you put in them are obvious choices, but keepsake collecting for older children can actually be more difficult. You need to put a lot more thought into what deserves to be kept.
You’ll probably find, like I did, that you won’t need an entire box for years 2, 3, 4 and 5 for instance. The milestones and collectable moments during those years don’t come thick and fast like they do with newborns.
Not only will you not have enough yearly momentos to fill an entire box, you’re likely to soon come to the conclusion that you don’t actually wantto fill an entire box for every year.
You’ll be collecting for years to come and I’m guessing it would be hard to find space for that many boxes, especially if you have more than one child.
Keepsake boxes for older children often only contain the most sentimental things. The things that have the strongest and fondest memories attached to them.
Deciding what is worthy of keeping needs a lot of thought.
You definitely don’t want to open a box in 20 years-time and wonder what on earth it all is!
A lot of thought also has to go into deciding how to store and organise it all.
Putting things into boxes haphazardly just isn’t going to work. You’ll need some way of remembering what everything is and what occasion it’s from.
A great idea is to pop keepsakes into labelled files or containers, inside your box, that can be clearly and easily labelled. Small brown postal boxes and sturdy brown envelopes work particularly well.
Label every individual item with your little one’s age, the date and the special occasion it was from. Always label with the child’s name! It’s a little awkward when you can’t remember which keepsakes belong to which child (yes, this has happened to me).
So with all of that said, here’s my list of things I’ve decided to collect over the past 13 years of having little people. What else would you like to add?
Red Books. If you’re living in the UK, every baby born is issued with a little red book where important records of baby weight and childhood immunisations are kept.
In the very early months, taking your little one to be weighed every week can seem so unbelievably important. Once they get a little older, you’ll probably wonder what the fuss was all about, but it’s still a nice keepsake to have.
Birthday cards. I personally only keep special cards from our closest family and friends, or by the time they go off to school and are inviting half the class to birthday parties, you could end up keeping hundreds.
If you’re little one is lucky enough to have a grandparent or another special person who writes them handwritten letters, notelets, or postcards, keep these too. Handwritten-anythingis becoming a rarity these days and one day, they will be priceless.
Favourite Toys and Teddies. Toys and teddies can be a little tricky. Keeping them safely preserved in a keepsake box is a lovely idea - if your child ever wants to be parted with them that is. None of my children’s favourite teddies ever made it into their keepsake boxes. Mostly, because very favourite teddies (the one’s they decided they couldn’t live without) are still with them today.
By the time their old enough to give them up, they will probably have been quite literally, loved to pieces. If this is the case, either buy a spare or take a few photos.
First pair of shoes. I have fortunately been lucky enough to keep a first pair of shoes for every child, but there were many occasions when we came very close to losing them.
Toddlers of a certain age just love taking their shoes off and chucking them on the floor. Usually in inconvenient places, never to be seen again.
Shoes shops will often ask if you want a polaroid photo of your little one with their very first pair of shoes, but if your shoe shop doesn’t offer this service, just take a photo of them yourself.
Lost teeth. Maybe not to everyone’s taste? I actually do have all my own baby teeth in a little metal, velvet lined box, but for my own children, I decided to keep letters to the tooth fairy instead.
Certificates, medals and achievements. These are all so special. If possible, keep each certificate, together with a photograph of your child with it. Be it being presented with it in the middle of a school assembly hall, or holding it up after the event. It makes the memory that little bit stronger.
Very special artwork – Emphasis on the very special here. You really won’t want to keep every cardboard egg box creation that makes it home from pre-school until their 16. If you’re storing your memory boxes in the attic, your ceilings will collapse and remember, you’re only keeping things that will bring back happy memories in the future. Not things you will barely re-call and had no sentimental value even at the time!
This is more for artwork you proudly displayed on the fridge.
School Reports. Long gone are the days when school reports were things that children wanted rid of as soon as possible. They really are a lovely to see how your little one changes and develops in the eyes of their school teacher. Notes about their personalities, friendships and achievements. You might even find an ‘all about me’ page, where they’ve been able to write a little about themselves at the end of each academic year.
Newspaper Clippings. From time to time, you’ll probably find that your little one makes it into the local newspaper. Photographers from the local press can usually be found taking photographs of local events, Christmas plays and important happenings at school.
These photographs can be really easy to miss, particularly if it’s a daily newspaper. So, if you do happen to miss a photograph, don’t worry, it’s usually really easy to get hold of original prints if you contact the newspaper direct.
Cards that they’ve made for you. There is no way a shop-bought card can ever hope to compare to one your child has made with their own little hands. It doesn’t matter that the writing is totally illegible or that Mummy bears a striking resemblance to a Daddy Long Legs. It’s perfect because they wanted to make it just for you.
Christmas lists and keepsakes – I adore Christmas lists. From the very first list with its scribbled pictures and illegible letters when they first start to believe, to the neatly written sentences of the child who’s almost old enough to become one of Santa’s helpers themselves, Christmas lists are indescribably magical.
Recordings of them singing. There are some songs that just stick and music has the strangest ability to bring back the strongest memories. Even the most ridiculously catchy tunes that drove you mad at the time will bring a smile to your face. Baby Shark anyone?
Recordings of school plays and other special occasions, safely stored on a USB stick, or something else compact that will stand the test of time. There’s nothing quite like actually sitting back and watching a first nativity play, or being able to see the expressions that fly across little faces on Christmas morning or when the Easter Bunny comes to call.
Yearly photo scrapbooks that show exactly how your little one changes with every year that passes. You don’t have to be an artsy crafty type. Keep it simple.
Include all the special occasions. Their birthday; their first day back to school in September; sports days; achievements and any moments that just really made you smile.
A height chart. At some point over the last 10 years, I decided that it would be a nice idea to keep a permanent record of how my little ones grew.
Maybe it was something to do with the increasing number of pen marks going up the kitchen wall with tiny initials scribbled beside them and that nagging realisation that they’d all disappear the second I decided to redecorate.
There are some beautiful nursery height charts around. Everything from posters, to canvas wall hangings and personalised wooden signs. Vinyl decal type ones that stick up on the wall can be lovely, but bear in mind, they can be tricky to take down and save for the future.
Holiday Trinkets – Holiday keepsakes are often a little controversial. A lot of people immediately think of tacky trinkets and clutter that they’re going to have to store somewhere for the next 10 years until they have a clear out, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Take a small jam-jar, Kilner jar, or other simple, decorative container. Label it with the holiday destination and date, then fill with small holiday momentos.
A small scoop of sand; some pretty shells, pebbles or sea glass; a fridge magnet; a few foreign coins; a rolled up postcard or that trinket your little one begged you for.
First Haircut- You don’t need to keep every scrap of hair from the first cut, but it’s a sweet idea to keep a few baby locks in a little jar, silver trinket pot or drawstring pouch. Baby hair is often very different to the hair that grows when children are a little older. It often changes colour; goes curly or straight. A lock of hair is a lovely reminder of what it used to look like.
If you really want to go all out, take a photograph of them on the day of their first ‘big kid haircut’, pop it into a frame; write the date and occasion, then stick the lock of hair in as a cute keepsake decoration.
Childhood Firsts Keepsakes – Their first Christmas stocking, first Easter basket or hat, a photographs of their first school disco; the first time they rode a balance bike and then a big kid bike without stabilisers! This one has a lot of scope. If you’re adding milestone photographs, just make sure you write the date on the back along with any other important details, like where it took place and who was there at the time.
Handprints and Footprints – Handprints and footprints are something I’ve always taken regularly over the years. My first Mother’s day took place when my eldest was only 3-weeks old and his poor father stayed up until about 4 in the morning trying to get one single good painted handprint to pop into a frame for me.
We’ve got a lot better at it since then. We’re a lot more practised and it’s lovely to see the prints grow as they get older. To see the difference between then and now.
For something extra special, you could try casting your little one/s hand or foot in skin-safe alginate to create a 3 dimensional replica to keep forever.
See here for my quick tutorial and run down on exactly what you need.