“Six Ideas to Strengthen Family Ties,” Ensign, June 1997, 73
Frame Family-Keepsake Photographs. Take photos of an area that has special family meaning, such as the family homestead, the one-room schoolhouse a relative attended, or the pond where you swam as a child. Gather wildflowers or leaves from the area. Choose a photo to enlarge and frame. Dry and press the wildflowers, then buy or make a frame that will accept a mat at least one inch wide (the wider the better). Use the pressed flowers to arrange a pretty design on top of the matting that surrounds the photo; then label the photo with the place, its significance, and the fact that the wildflowers were picked nearby.
Create Visual Personal Histories. Take photos of places from your childhood. For each location write a short report that describes the area and the memories you have of it, note important events that took place there, and put your ideas together in a special album. Also include on each page old photos, drawings, or newspaper clippings from that era. Copies of the album would make good birthday or Christmas gifts for relatives who share your memories.
Collect Favorite Family Recipes. Create a family cookbook by choosing your own favorite recipes or by collecting recipes from family members, such as recipes for Mom’s best stew or Grandmother’s special cinnamon bread. What about Uncle Jim’s fire-engine hot chili, Great-grandmother Lily’s special seed bread, or Aunt Ellen’s pickles? Add a section for heirloom recipes for stain removers, herbal remedies, homemade soap, or other unique family formulas. These books make wonderful wedding gifts.
Design Family Place Mats. Make a personal place mat for each family member by covering an 11-by-17-inch piece of paper with photos, drawings, maps, clip art, news articles, or other information about a member of the immediate family or an ancestor. When the collage is complete, make a color or black-and-white photocopy so that the collage has a flat surface; then laminate the place mat, or cover it with clear, self-adhesive plastic. Children could even make a place mat for a pet with a collage of drawings or photographs of the pet or of the children playing with the pet.
Arrange a Family History Wall. Choose a large empty wall, such as one beside a stairwell or down a long hallway, and decorate it with labeled photographs of family members both present and past. Include poems, artwork, diplomas, and awards if you like. Choose a wall that does not get direct sunlight, or your photographs will deteriorate quickly. Start in the center of the wall and work outward as you add more things over the years, or start at one side and progress to the other as years come and go. For unique picture frames, watch for sales and visit secondhand stores, garage sales, and antique shops.
Make a Family Scrapbook Album. Buy a three-ring binder and decorate the cover with cloth, or buy one that has a clear-plastic outside pocket that can hold a collage of photos. At an office supply store, buy archival-quality paper and plastic sheet protectors to go inside the notebook to protect your family memories from deterioration. Collect photos, postcards, ticket stubs, letters, and other keepsake items, and arrange them on the pages. Add new pages and albums as needed.—Sharleen Wiser Peck, Rochester, New York