The measuring chart in this entry is a simple but priceless way to delight the children in your house, even after they are grown and gone. Give it even more of a family history by building it yourself.
Look around for old family objects you could repurpose. How about making a side table out of a stack of well-traveled leather suitcases? Or turning Dad's old wooden toolbox into a wine caddy?
If your mom's attic is empty, try thrift stores. They're a great source for instant history, and they're probably where your mom's stuff went anyway. Think about replicating this idea with family sports jerseys, military uniforms or even shoes.
Make it even more special by having your kids' pictures made into wallpaper (find out how here). No worries: This wallpaper is easily removable, so you'll never have to leave it behind.
For a budget-sensitive birthday last year, Mike painted this picture for me. He took the theme from that fabulous gospel hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." Every time this catches my eye, I break into song.
These shells now serve multiple purposes in my home: They are soap dishes, salt cellars, mantel decor, pots for succulents and towel holders. And each one is an organic, tactile memory — a personal story to share and a firm connection to my family.
I love the way the shells in this picture are displayed en masse. Their texture adds great variety to the tablescape. A candle could even be inserted into each hurricane for additional interest.
Rocks can also be made into stunning lamps — but more on that in another story.
If you happen to be building, remodeling or pouring a new sidewalk, make some family history by preserving family handprints in the wet concrete. This can be equally great with paw prints.
More: How to give a garden soul