Stumped for a birthday gift for an aging loved one? If you’re looking for a gift that’s more personal than yet another gift card or pair of slippers, consider making them a family photo memory calendar. Create a personalized wall or desk calendar featuring family photos along with significant family dates.
“Older people love receiving them as gifts,” says Amy Krause, director of marketing and communications for North Shore Senior Center in Northfield.
Photo memory calendars are inexpensive and easy to make. Bonus: Making one lets the gift-giver have an outlet for all the photos most of us snap and store on our phones.
You can create a photo calendar at numerous online retailers, such as CVS, Shutterfly, Snapfish, Target, VistaPrint, Walgreens, or Walmart. Simply click on the design you want and follow the instructions to upload photos.
Potential family dates to mark include:
“It’s such a wonderful idea,” says Cristina Diaz, caregiver programs coordinator at AgeOptions in Oak Park. The nonprofit organization connects caregivers with resources and services to improve older adults’ quality of life and independence.
Look to YouTube for videos about how to make a personalized photo calendar using services such as Shutterfly or tools such as PowerPoint. Some craft stores offer online or in-person classes for making photo calendars as well, Krause says.
- Create a theme for each month. For instance, use winter photos for January, romantic photos for February, summer barbecue or pool photos for July, and holiday photos for December.
- Use a mix of old and new photos that represent multiple generations. For example, a page can include pictures of grandchildren, as well as vintage snapshots of your loved one’s parents.
- In addition to pictures of people, include a few photos representing special places or memories. Diaz suggests using a photo of your loved one’s childhood neighborhood, a favorite place to vacation, or any place that evokes good feelings. “We tend to remember how we feel about certain people or places as we age,” Diaz says. “We really remember how people make us feel and the experiences that create an emotion.”
- Go beyond family birthdays and anniversaries when adding special dates to the calendar. For instance, you can add the date of a pet’s birthday, your loved one’s first date with their spouse, or the anniversary of a special vacation.
- Choose accent and background colors for each page to match colors in the photos.
If your loved one is able, picking out photos and making the calendar together is a fun way to spend time together and build new memories, Diaz says.
Once you finish the photo memory calendar, use it as a tool to share in the present with your loved one, Diaz says. She recommends asking open-ended questions like, “What do you see when you look at this picture?” or “What do you feel looking at that picture?”
Finally, if the family photo memory calendar becomes an annual tradition, collect calendars from previous years in a three-ring binder, so your loved one can use the binder like a scrapbook and enjoy years’ worth of memories and photos.