TUTORIAL: Journal Jars

by Dana on July 6, 2008

Have you ever looked back through your childhood stories and pictures and savored the memories? Or read the journal of a Great grandparent and realized a connection you had with someone who lived 80 years before you?

These special moments come from writing a Personal History.

A personal history is a valuable way to look back and reflect on memories from your own life. And it bridges the gap between generations by sharing stories that future children can relate to (or at least have a good laugh about).

BUT, it can feel overwhelming at times.

Where do you start?
I was a mischievous 4 year old kid…..
(sounds like a project that will loose steam after one week).
Keeping a personal history doesn’t have to mean writing an autobiography.
It doesn’t need to be chronological or overly organized. You can work on it in snippets here and there. A personal history is only what you want it to be, as long it encompasses YOU and your life.

And a good way to get started is with a Journal Jar. The jar contains slips of paper with a different topic on each one. So when you sit down to work on your history, pull out a slip, read the topic and don’t over-think it. Just start writing what comes to your mind, based on that topic. You’ll be surprised at how the memories and words start coming down on paper. It’s a good exercise in Creative Writing.
And if it’s packaged up in a pretty jar, even better. You’ll be more motivated when you see it sitting on your desk.
Journal Jars make a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day, a birthday, graduation from school. We’re never too young to start documenting the stories in our life.

Decorate a jar and fill it with appropriate topics for the person your giving it to. If they’re someone who enjoys writing in an actual journal (vs. the computer), pair your jar with a lovely notebook/journal/book.

I found all of these at Target and Office Depot for under $5.
My mom writes her history on the computer (a valuable way to preserve the words). My dad, however, loves to sit on the couch and write in a notebook with a pen. It’s relaxing for him and motivates him to write at least one story down each Sunday morning.

So do what motivates YOU.
Okay, let’s make Journal Jars…..

You only need a few supplies: Mod Podge, craft brush, a pretty jar (I loved the simplicity of this one. From Hobby Lobby $3.60), and paper/images/whatever to decorate your jar.

Disclaimer: I am far from experienced with Mod Podge. I’ve only used it twice in my life! So if you’re looking for more detailed ideas, check out the blog Mod Podge Rocks.
Okay, cut out the picture you want to Mod Podge on to the jar. I found this butterfly on a piece of scrapbook paper:
Get some Mod Podge on your brush (I used a Matte finish. You can also do glossy)
and paint it to the back of your image.
Stick the image on the jar where you would like:
Then paint over the top with more Mod Podge:
I put tape around the outside of my jar to reduce spill over. But it’s not necessary. I also decided to wipe off excess Mod Podge on the top of the jar, around the edge of the picture. Not sure you need to do this but I liked how it looked.
You can wipe any excess off with a damp cloth:
Let it dry for a bit and you have a jar!
Time to fill ‘er up.

I used strips of cardstock, folded in half, each with a topic hand-written on there. You can print the topics from your computer as well but there’s just something I love about a hand-written gift. Feels more personal.
Topics should be catered to the person you’re giving the gift to. But here’s a list of ideas to get you started…..

Journal Jar TOPICS:

  • My childhood Best Friend.
  • Clothing styles when I was 16.
  • We went camping….
  • A typical Saturday for me.
  • My very first memory
  • at Grandma’s House….
  • My favorite road trip
  • The first time I kissed a boy
  • Going to the county fair.
  • Christmas as a kid
  • My childhood house
  • My favorite home as an adult
  • When I got engaged..
  • Donuts
  • What we did all summer.
  • If I had a day all to myself.
  • Visiting a foreign country
  • My hairstyles.
  • The first time I sewed…
  • Christmas as a mom.
  • Reading books to my kids.
  • My wedding day.
  • Foods I love.
  • Foods I hate.
  • When I was 12….
  • Childhood pet.
  • Sports I can play.
  • I cried.
  • Grandpa.
  • 5 things I wish I’d done, but I was too scared to.
  • the first time I voted.
  • our childhood car.
  • I lied.
  • A trip to the beach.
  • I was in the school play.
  • Hidden talents.
  • songs I still have memorized.
  • the price of food from a grocery store.
  • Someone I love passed away.
  • My baby was born.

Of course, don’t let this list limit you. The topics are endless. If the person you’re giving to is religious, add some ideas relating to spiritual moments in their life as well.
Help your loved get started on something many will benefit from. I guess it’s the gift that gives back.
Now. you just need to find a quiet spot…..

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jessy June 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Your blog is awesome :) and this idea too .. i love it ,I’ve always wanted write for the future generations and this is kinda motivation :)

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2 Sarah May 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm

You can also make a jar filled with “reasons why i love mommy” cards saying reasons why you love you’re mom.

Reply

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