DIY Tutorial for a Customized Memory Box

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How many of you are pack rats? I have to raise my hand to the ceiling with this one!

In a recent post, I mentioned my efforts to reduce the amount of random junk and knick-knacks I keep around. It’s definitely still a work in progress, and I’m finding in each room that there are things to which I’m too emotionally attached to get rid of entirely. Shelf space is limited though, so the need arose for a way to keep them together and somewhat organized. I know a lot of people like to scrapbook, but I find that too time-intensive. I really love using a memory box, instead. My box from high school is overflowing, and the pre-made versions run for about $10 a box, so I decided to decorate my own.

Thanks to my need to stash everything under the sun, I have plenty of boxes of all sizes tucked in the basement. I pulled out a shoebox for this particular project, and  I also put together this easy-peasy tutorial you can use as inspiration for your own DIY memory box.

If you would like a PDF version of this tutorial to print or save, click here:

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  • Wide paint brush
  • Acrylic paint (opaque)
  • Mod Podge + foam applicator
  • Super glue (optional, depending on your decorations)
  • Anything you want to use as decoration – I used wrapping paper scraps, tissue paper, and pictures cut out of an old calendar and a gardening catalog. You could also use shells, rhinestones, small rocks, etc.

DIY memory box supplies


Step 1: paint memory box

I used Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paints* in black and ecru for a neutral-yet-interesting backdrop. Learn from my mistakes: if you do a two-toned palette, tape off any areas you don’t want painted the second color! I wasted a lot of time touching up very obvious spots of ecru that appeared on the black spaces…


I chose to use an old scrap of tissue paper as the backdrop. It wasn’t quite square, and I was feeling lazy, so I also cut out border pieces from some scraps of wrapping paper I had ferreted away last year to hide the edges. Finally, I used a hobby knife* to cut out a butterfly from an old calendar, and a few flowers from one of the dozens of gardening catalogs that make their way to my mailbox. (Seriously, if you order from one gardening supply company, you’ll get catalogs from every company that exists!)


Since I was using strictly paper, I went with thin layers of Mod Podge both under the paper and over the top, making sure no corners stick up or look unfinished. If you want to add shells, rocks, rhinestones, or basically anything heavier than paper, I swear Gorilla Glue* is the stuff of legends. Just, uh, try not to get it on your hands. It comes off, but it tends to take the top layer of skin along for the ride. Not that I know this by experience, of course…cough cough

Tip: Lay everything out on your surface before you start gluing to make sure you like the composition. I have an embarrassing number of craft projects stuffed in the basement that failed because I just dove in without planning!


Final Product DIY Memory Box

As you can see, I folded the flowers down along the front edge to make the design more three dimensional. I’ll see the front edge in my closet more often than the top, after all!

Another angle:

Final Product DIY Memory Box

Now, all that’s left is stuffing it with ticket stubs and old photos!

Once again, if you’d like to save or print this tutorial, there is a free PDF version:

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If you decide to try this DIY memory box tutorial, feel free to post your final product in the comments! I’d love to see what you come up with.


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