We celebrate lots of little and big things in life: birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, vacations, reunions, new babies, new jobs, and old friends. Celebrations are often milestones, and they are as much a part of your family story as they are part of your own personal story. By nature, celebrations are special occasions, happy times you might look back on five years from now and still remember fondly. So celebrations are worth preserving!
If you’ve noticed the family stories theme of this month’s #familyhistoryfriday, you’ve seen that there are many ways to use family stories in every day life. Celebrations are often some of the easiest of our stories to preserve. That’s because we love them! Have you ever been at a celebration, a special event, that was over too quickly, or that you wished would never end? This is the beautiful thing about preserving them: you can go back to them any time you want!
Before the Celebration
Normally, a lot of planning goes into a celebration, whether it’s sending out invitations or baking or traveling. Planning ahead can help in many ways. It can often get you better prices on travel, help the celebration run more smoothly, and avoid many last-minute panics. Of all the things you plan, though, plan to enjoy the celebration.
I love this quote about organizing, which sits on my desk. Organizing and planning help ensure that things aren’t “mixed up” when you do them, so you are ready to ENJOY the celebration!
“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” ~A. A. Milne
I think that personalized touches are a nice way to make a special occasion event more special, and so many of them can be done far ahead of time! Here are a few unique, memorable touches I like because they include photos and personal details:
- individualized, personal invitations
- unique banners (here, too)
- personalized table decor or goblet tags
- special, personalized favors like little chocolates, full-size candy bars, or even mints and lip balm
- personal cupcake wraps
This 4-minute video from crafting guru Lisa Bearnson gives some great ideas* for celebrating milestones. She shares a few neat ways she celebrated her daughter’s high school graduation.
These are all special things that can be done months ahead of time so that there’s no last-minute scrambling during the celebration.
During the Celebration
Whether your special occasion is a birthday, retirement party, or family reunion, it can be easy to get distracted about everything going smoothly if you’re in charge. Focus on the end goal– that you’re celebrating something wonderful –and let it be.
In order to preserve the story of this special event, you’ll want photos of it. Here are a few thoughts to consider:
- If the event is being photographed professionally, be sure you will be able to use the photos however you want. Some photographers sell you photos in a product, they don’t just give you the digital images. Others give you a flash drive with the digital images. Just be sure you know what you’re getting and that it’s what you want.
- If you plan to take photos of the event, take some ahead of time of anything you’d like to remember–table decor, food, locale, etc. During the event, give yourself a certain amount of time to take photos with your camera, such as 5 minutes out of every hour. That way, you’re enjoying the event and still getting photos. Posed photos and candid photos each have merits. If you want some photo-taking advice, there are several good articles here.
- Consider asking a friend to take pictures for you if that’s not a responsibility you want during the event.
- Don’t forget that everyone has a camera these days. Photos taken on phones aren’t always as good as camera photos, but with lots of potential photographers wandering around the event, you’ll have lots of people you can ask for photos. Sharing digital photos nowadays is as simple as e-mail.
- If it’s a larger event with tables, you could place disposable cameras on each table and ask attendees to take pictures of each other at the event!
After the Celebration: Preserve the Story
Now it’s time to preserve the memories from this special occasion. This is how one day or one week gets remembered forever! After the celebration, gather the best photos and tell the story. Think about your favorite parts of the event, what made it great, and what you don’t want fading from anyone’s memory. (And if there were any mishaps, trust me– if you don’t record it, it will be forgotten in time!) Don’t worry too much about HOW you write, just write. Start as soon as you can so your memories are fresh, and remember that you can always ask others for their memories, too. Digital storybooks are a nice option for preserving your story so that you can get multiple copies easily, but at the very least, be sure the person being celebrated has the story of their celebration.
Might I also suggest that if you are not in charge of the special event but simply attended, a thank you or short description of your favorite things about the event would be greatly appreciated by the person celebrated as well as the person who organized it.
The bar and bat mitzvahs we celebrate, the engagements, the house-warmings, the graduations, the retirements– they are all part of our story. And they’re some of the easiest stories to tell and preserve in print because they’re some of the most cherished.
* Products referred to by Lisa Bearnson are available here under the “products” tab.
- Bearnson, Lisa. (2015). You Tube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZhG6v7n4rBE?t=38s
- Heritage Makers. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.heritagemakers.com/jenniferwise
- Wise, Jennifer. (2017). Pinterest. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/jenniferwisehm/photos/