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Inexpensive Keepsakes You Can Create Yourself

Although money is often scarce after disaster strikes, it's important for everyone to find ways to preserve their past. To that end, we've included a number of inexpensive "do it yourself" keepsake ideas below.

If you have additional suggestions or would like to send us a photo of a keepsake you've created, please contact us at

Ways to memorialize your home:

●  Attach your old house keys to an attractive key ring and hang them on your Christmas tree each year as a special keepsake ornament. If you're the "crafty type," consider adding ribbons or beads as well.
Display salvaged pieces of broken china or tile in a clear glass vase.
Paint your old house number on a salvaged brick or piece of wood from your previous home.
Display a photo of your previous home in a ready-made frame with a mat. If your photos were damaged, try plugging your old address into Google Street View to see whether an image of your house is available.
Visit your old property to see whether any of the plants or bulbs can be transplanted to your current location. If you're living in temporary housing without any garden space, consider planting them in a friend's garden until you've moved to your permanent location.
For more inspiration, see this section.

Ways to honor your loved one:

●  If you were able to save some of your loved one's clothing, consider making a small keepsake pillow from a few special pieces of fabric.
Plant a small decorative tree in memory of your loved one. Document its growth by taking a photo each year on your loved one's birthday. (If you don't have enough planting space, consider donating a tree to a local park and asking permission to plant it yourself.)
Place a special photo of your loved one inside an inexpensive locket. If your photos were damaged, ask family and friends if they have any photos you might be able to use.
Purchase a divided shadow box typically used for displaying miniatures. Use the spaces to display some of your loved one's possessions -- a pocket watch, eyeglasses, keychain, pin or necklace, military medals, perfume or cologne bottles, coins, etc. You can also include symbolic items that remind you of your loved one.
Create a "memory book" by writing short stories -- each one only 1-2 paragraphs long -- about your loved one. Get your family involved by asking them to contribute their own happy memories.
For more inspiration, see this section.

Ways to remember your pet:

●  Mount a few of your pet's favorite play toys in a shadow box.
Frame a special photo of your pet. If your photos were damaged, search online for a royalty-free image that reminds you of your pet. See Google Images or iStockPhoto for examples.
Create a memorial garden stone by painting a brick or rock with your pet's name and nicknames.
If you still have your pet's tags, attach them to a necklace or bracelet as charms.
Create a special memorial by tying your pet's old collar around a glass pillar candle.
For more inspiration, see this section.

Ways to document your experiences:

●  Put pen to paper and tell your story about the day of the disaster. While it may be difficult to think about those traumatic moments, your experience is now an important part of your history, and it's something that should be documented for future generations. If you don't enjoy writing, consider recording yourself on audio or video.
Create a scrapbook (traditional or digital) with any photos and documents you were able to salvage. After losing so much, these special mementos will mean more than ever.

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