By Sara Marchessault
The holidays are approaching and one small task that usually happens after the shopping, baking, and wrapping, is to charge your camera. The plan is usually to keep it close by and snap lots of photos. We may have the best intentions for those photos, but for a lot of busy parents, memory book projects are put aside as we juggle our everyday tasks. What if we tried capturing holiday memories in a way that engages friends and family and results in something tangible to share? Here are six ideas for capturing holiday memories that take the bulk of the responsibility off you and give you something to help you remember this holiday season.
Keep a holiday journal
Have you ever stayed in a rented cabin or house that leaves a notebook for guests to sign? This is like that. A blank book or notebook will do the job. Put the journal in a visible place at the start of the season and leave it available to write journal entries in throughout the holidays. Ask people to sign it at parties, sort of like signing a high school yearbook. They can write something about a specific celebration or share a seasonal story from their past. You can add to the same journal year after year and ultimately create a running written record of holiday activities. Reading entries from previous years with your loved ones will be an easy and fun way to rekindle holiday spirit.
Request a memory email
It can be nice to give friends and family members a little time to wind down from the busy holiday season. Send an email after the festivities and request an anecdote about their recent celebrations. If you want something more specific, send a short list of questions. Explain your intentions for the responses they send so they know where their story is going. Will you post them on a family blog? Will you create a PDF with photos and quotes to send out to everyone who participates? A little booklet can be created using a digital photo book tool or something as simple as a Word doc.
Interview with a video or audio recorder
This can be a great project for an older child. All you need is a video or audio recording device and a few questions to get the conversation started. Questions can be about celebrations, traditions, best childhood gift, favourite holiday food, music, stories, etc. If interviewing young children, ask what they are most excited about. The video or audio may be edited if you have the software and the inclination, or you could simply share it as is. It will be something that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Post a question on Facebook
Similar to writing an email, you could post a question about the holidays on Facebook. You may want to send it as a message to only specific friends and family, or you could post it on your home page and open it up to all of your Facebook friends. It’s unlikely you’ll receive lengthy responses here, but if you want short quotes to enhance another project this is an easy way to get them. This capture method is another you could ask any of your kids on Facebook to spearhead.
Writing activity for kids
If you’re trying to keep the kids engaged during the holiday break, try writing about events and activities. Their experience will likely be very different from yours and it would be fun to have it captured in their own words to enjoy as they grow. Kids who like to share their work can write their own story and distribute it. It can be posted to a family website or blog, shared through a social media site, or printed and mailed to family and friends who were a part of the story.
Place a photo mat out for people to sign
You’ve seen these before at weddings and baby showers. Try putting out a photo mat with a holiday inspired photo. This is a great idea to have available at a large party or open house. It provides a fun record of who came and a chance for guests to share a message of holiday cheer. You can hang it somewhere afterward as a reminder of a celebratory time.
Whichever capture you choose, it’s probably best to have a designated person assigned to request others to participate. That might be you or it might be your 10-year old. However you do it, this year you can enjoy the process of capturing memories and appreciate the finished product for years to come.
Sara Marchessault is a writer and coach. Learn more about her work at saramarchessault.com.