Friday, June 30, 2017

Telling Family Stories with Keepsakes

There's a story inside every family keepsake.  If you're searching for a good way to find family stories to tell your kids to {provide them a sense of belonging}, heirlooms and keepsakes are a great and easy place to start.  From knitting needles to china to hammers, objects from your family's past are windows into them.  Family artifacts not only shed light on previous eras, hobbies, and traditions, but they give us a tactile connection to those who came before.

If you're new to the idea that {giving them family stories is the best thing you can do for your kids}, you can see some of the research there at that link.  It's pretty amazing.


Have you ever stopped to think about why we keep things?  

Why would I want Grandma's rolling pin or Christmas ornaments?  What difference would it actually make to me?  Why do we hold onto things when it doesn't seem a very logical practice?  There's a wonderful article called {Why We Preserve} that delves in to these questions.
"While the desire to preserve isn’t logical by nature, the logical reason for preserving history is that history promotes nostalgia, and nostalgia is good for us, our families, and our communities. Nostalgia is important and strengthening—an antidote to the stresses of today that is, as it turns out, easy to bottle."  ~Christopher McAfee
Something I found interesting in this article is a look at nostalgia.  The word "nostalgia" was actually first used as a medical term in the late 1600s.  The root of the word means "an aching for home," or, as we might describe it, "homesickness."  The only cure for this condition at the time was to send the person back home.  And it worked. 

And, you know, when I think about it, that's exactly what I do.  That's precisely what nostalgia, keepsakes, heirlooms, and memorabilia do.  Plates that sat on my grandma & grandpa's mantle now sit on a display shelf in my guest room.  And when I see them, I've gone back home.  My mom collected Christmas angels.  Several of them now have a place on my own mantle at Christmastime.  And when I see them, I've gone back home.

"Consider what happens when you experience the power of memoirs or memorabilia. Over the years, I’ve noticed that certain items bring me feelings of joy, belonging, and connectedness. When I ponder my past by looking through old photographs, yearbooks, or letters, I feel connected to humanity."  ~Christopher McAfee
What memorabilia or heirlooms do you have?  Even a simple tablecloth or pitcher can evoke memories.  They can also hold dear someone who is gone.  I have keepsakes that are simply things my great-grandmothers used to own.  Holding on to those small, tangible items helps me remember what I know and appreciate about these women I never met.  It helps me never forget that I'm a part of something bigger, something greater.  I am connected.

You will certainly have your own memories when you see dad's work bench or the doll house grandpa made.  Talking to other family members about their memories of these things can broaden your own memories as well as give new insight.  Reminiscing together is an enriching family activity!

To do this, you have to have something to go to.  You have to have a record or a history.



Shortly after my mom was diagnosed with the illness that would take her life, I decided there was no time like the present to make sure I knew where all my heirlooms came from.  (And, in retrospect, there really was no time like the present.)  I went through my whole house photographing things that I knew had been passed down to me.  Then I quizzed my parents.  And then I made a record of my family keepsakes.  I created a {storybook called "The Stories of Our Heirlooms."}


It's very simple (and my photography is frankly not even very good), but this record now stands as a family history of sorts.  Now we know!  We know where our heirlooms came from and we know their stories.  The whole story of my mom's house flooding after a dam break when she was five years old is now preserved next to the picture of the plate her mom served dinner on that day.  It's part of our family story.

Letters, notes, and photos are also keepsakes and heirlooms.  My sister, while going through some books the other day, found a poem with this statement scribbled in my mother's handwriting:  "I don't know who wrote this poem, but it certainly says everything I would want to say to my children and grandchildren."  The messages from this simple piece of paper are priceless.

Keepsakes are an easy and fun source, a jumping-off point, to start telling your family's stories. 

To publish your family stories and/or photos in heirloom-quality books like I did, you can {get started here}.
Pin to save and share. 
This post was first published on June 30, 2017, at www.livegrowgive.org by Jennifer Wise.
You can find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag next to Labels below.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Don't let your babies grow up to be jpegs. - Expert Interview with Jenni...

I was interviewed on Tuesday by The Social Media Advisor!  This fun, 30-minute interview covers how powerful Heritage Makers can be in both personal and business use, and gives you 3 ways to move forward if you haven't been preserving memories and photos for a while.  Don't miss it!

Monday, June 26, 2017

imperfect photos?

Are you an amazing photographer?  Or are you like me?  The one on the sidelines with a ratio of about 5 average (or below average) shots to 1 pretty good shot, and the rare Amazing One somewhere along the way?

There are a lot of photography tips and pointers out there (in fact, I pin a lot of them {here}), but I hope we never lose sight of the purpose of photography:  recording memories and moments.


Don't worry about taking photos that aren't perfect.  In the end, your photos are simply a record of your living.  They're for you to love and enjoy, and for those who come after you to love and cherish.   

Friday, June 23, 2017

Building Self-Esteem through Family Stories and Personal Messages



Family stories in general have an amazing effect on self-esteem.  They provide a sense of belonging and purpose.  In addition, stories and messages given specifically to one person can be a sweet boost of confidence and a dose of self-assurance and worth.  This is especially true for children and teenagers who are still developing a sense of self, but it's equally true for adults, too.

We all know that reading to children is important.  Reading is more important than we might guess for adults, too.  Adults who read literary fiction {have been shown} to have an increased capacity to understand the emotions of others.  So reading and stories benefit us all in a number of ways.  But what is the difference, really, between a regular story and a family story?
"Books contain narratives, but only family stories contain your family’s personal narratives. Fortunate children get both. They hear and read stories from books to become part of other people’s worlds, and they hear and tell stories of their family to understand who they are and from whence they came."  ~Elaine Reese


As mentioned in previous #familyhistoryfriday posts, children benefit from knowing family stories and family history in numerous ways, including:
  •  an increase in self-esteem and a sense of belonging
  • greater resilience
  • a feeling of belonging to something greater than themselves
  • a decrease in anxiety, depression, and aggression
In recent weeks we've looked at how to {create family stories} as well as {some creative ways} to do it.  These are great ways to instill that sense of belonging.  Learning how their grandparents met, where a family tradition came from, or a situation that their predecessors learned from really impacts children and families.


Here's what family stories do! 

Family storytelling isn't the same as just talking about what you did today.  It's a deeper look at where you came from and what makes you (or your child) an integral part of your family.

When I think about stories I heard growing up, I can see both connections and lessons in them.  Because of distance, my dad first met my mom's parents at Christmas, the week before they were going to be married.  And somewhere in the middle of trying to impress her soon-to-be son-in-law, my grandmother lost her balance and fell into the Christmas tree.  When I hear that story, I can hear her laugh-- even though I wasn't born at the time and even though she's been gone for more than 20 years.  It's a funny story anyway, but when I hear this story it reminds me that it's not only okay but necessary to laugh at yourself sometimes.  For someone who isn't inherently very good at that, it's a great lesson to me.
"Stories pass on life lessons, instilling a sense of capability.  And the shared history and time taken to tell stories also fills the need to connect."  ~M. Duke and R. Fivush
In addition to connecting with your roots, another way to raise someone's self-esteem is through personal messages.  Supporting a child through encouraging words, listening, and being there for important moments certainly raise self-esteem.  However, think about how often you forget something that was said.  My mother was a big believer in the written word.  I remember her saying on more than one occasion, {"You can't re-read a phone call."}

When my sister-in-law graduated from nursing school, I wanted to give her a gift of congratulations.  A gift card to a restaurant just didn't seem like enough.  It didn't convey how proud we were of her, knowing the struggles she had overcome along the way and how very hard she had worked.  So for the same price as a gift card to a restaurant, I created a little book of messages for her from her family on both sides.  With her mom's help, I collected pictures of her growing up.  I asked each family member to write a little message about how proud they were of her for this accomplishment.  It was so much more meaningful than anything else we could have done for her.  In addition, it's something she still has ten years later and can look back at again and again-- unlike a gift card, flowers, or a phone call.


Taking time to write down personal messages to a loved one can be powerful and meaningful for years to come.  I think this is especially true for teenagers as they navigate peer pressure, popularity, and the path of learning who they are.  

When my oldest son was around 13 or 14, I wanted to remind him of the great things I could see in him.  I decided to make a little book for him based on that quote by Neil Gaiman.  The book is called "Only You" and lists his talents, gifts, and capabilities, along with a few inspirational quotes like this one (which I LOVE):
"Don't be jealous of anyone.  I guarantee you, if everyone walked into a room and dumped their problems onto the floor, when they saw what everyone else's problems were, they'd be scrambling to get their own problems back before someone else got to them first."  ~Kim Gruenenfelder
This "Only You" book is now a tradition, something I give to each of my children during middle school or early high school years.  It's a meaningful, beautiful, inexpensive way to tell them the things I want them to know and remember about who they are.


Family stories are free!  Sharing a funny, inspirational, or historical family story is within almost everyone's reach.  It doesn't require a special talent, just the ability and willingness to remember and share.  Making the effort to tell and preserve family stories will bless you, your children, and your grandchildren in ways you may not even realize.

What could you do to build someone's self-esteem?  Who needs to hear your family stories and personal messages today?

*Books shown in this post were created {here}.  More information on creating them is found {here}.

Save and share this post by Pinning it to Pinterest!
This post was first published on June 23, 2017, at www.livegrowgive.org by Jennifer Wise.
You can find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

crafting with Heritage Makers: perpetual calendar blocks

#tbt   Because you're essentially designing your own scrapbook page, you can do some REALLY COOL crafting with Heritage Makers!  I love this tutorial that shows how to make perpetual calendar blocks:  http://lifetalesbooks.blogspot.com/2015/04/crafting-perpetual-calendar-blocks.html



These make a fun, easy, desktop gift for someone who has everything.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Four memory-keeping MYTHS, busted in four minutes!

Have you ever heard the myths surrounding preserving photos and memories?  "I'm not creative," or "I don't scrapbook" or "I don't have time"?

But if everyone takes photos and everyone has memories and stories, wouldn't it make sense that everyone should be able to preserve them?  Why would preserving photos and memories be limited to certain people or certain interests?


See 4 common memory-keeping myths busted right here in 4 minutes.

Change the way you think about preserving your photos and memories.  It's important and it's do-able.  Don't let false ideas stop you.

This is a quick look at these four busted myths.  For more details, information, and solutions, see the "mythbusting" tab in red at the top of this page.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Preserving Celebrations through Stories

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! 

There's a lot you can do before the celebration.  It just takes a little planning.


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:
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.

What about 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!

Don't forget that an important part of your celebration comes after it!  

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 muchabout 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 ideas at those two links will make it extra special.  Either of them can be created {here}.

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.

You're doing so much to make that special day unforgettable.  Make sure it really IS unforgettable by preserving it!  {Get started here with heirloom-quality products.}

* Products referred to by Lisa Bearnson are available {here} under the "products" tab; so are the two storybooks shown.

Don't have a celebration happening soon?  Pin this post to Pinterest to save for later.
This post was first published on June 16, 2017, at www.livegrowgive.org by Jennifer Wise.
Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag next to Labels down below.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

video tutorial: creating stand-out flyers for business

If you're a small business owner looking to stand out from the rest, this is one easy and impressive way to do it.

I normally show off high-quality and gorgeous ways to tell stories or preserve photos and memories here at LifeTalesBooks, but there are so many great products you can use for business that they're really worth mentioning (and showing off!), too.



I love creating my business flyers with Heritage Makers for 4 reasons:
  1. They're gorgeous.  They make me stand out, and I can really draw attention to what I do and what I have to offer.  All the digital art you see there (background papers, embellishments) IS INCLUDED in the Heritage Makers software, too.
  2. They're high-quality.  These are thick, slick pages.  They have a very professional feel and look.
  3. I get exactly what I want.  All Heritage Makers products are like this--the drag-n-drop system means I can place anything anywhere on a page, putting as much text or as many photos on my flyers as I want.  I can tell the whole story.  Flyers also come as double-sided or single sided.  AND since I can create the pages exactly how I want to, I can even do half-size flyers (as shown in the photo above), or even quarter size if that fits my needs best.  FLEXIBILITY.  It's the name of the game.
  4. The price is right.  Flyers come in a pack of 30 for about $13-$20 depending on if they're single-sided or double-sided and on the discount you choose.
I have spoken with several people recently about using Heritage Makers flyers to tell their personal stories of their WHYs--why they are in the business they're in.  Stories really connect people, and I think that's a brilliant use of flyers!  You could also use flyers to give an overview of your business, advertise specials, or even just list your favorite products.  Flexibility is one of my favorite Heritage Makers perks.

I walk you through the basics of creating Heritage Makers flyers right here, showing you how to make a flyer using a template and how to create one from "scratch" in Heritage Makers' Studio program.  It's just a 30-minute watch:

Remember, you can create anything you want on Heritage Makers flyers (I've done Christmas letters!), so the sky's the limit.  And remember, too, the "contact me" tab at the upper left at this blog if you have any questions.  I'm here to help!

Monday, June 12, 2017

photos are a gift... with power


How true is this for anything else we spend our time and money on?  Not very!

The reason I love photos so much--and the reason I think they're one of the most valuable things we will ever own--is because of my own experience.  I think of so many moments that have passed and people I don't get to be with any more.  When I have photos of these moments and people, I actually get them back to the fullest extent possible.

In fact, I de-stress from today by {visiting yesterday}.  And it works!!

Preserving photos with their stories (our memories) is such a gift and has inherent power to increase happiness and self-esteem, heal hearts, and strengthen relationships.  It has a grounding, centering effect and even reduces stress.  It's the ultimate in self-care.

Don't wait for these benefits--get started right now at the "how to get started" tab in red above.  You'll thank me, I promise.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Healing from Grief through Family Stories

One of the few things every single person on this earth has in common with each other is that we all experience loss.  It's not something we enjoy, and it can be something difficult to talk or even think about, but it's a real life fact common to everyone.  The good news is that the grief and healing processes can be improved by creating and reading family stories.  Paying tribute to a loved one by telling his/her story benefits not only you as the storyteller, but anyone else who loved that person as well. 
"Sharing tales of those we've lost is how we keep from really losing them." -Mitch Albom
Some therapists use journaling and even scrapbooking as therapeutic tools in their practices.  Putting your experiences and feelings to paper gives them validation.  It can also separate them from you for a moment so that you can look at them more objectively.  The process of sorting through thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences in order to give them life on paper helps you deal with them.

Pictures especially help with grief and loss.
"When we lose important people in our lives, our photos can bring back memories of them, and help us remember everything that made them special and unique. They help us keep that person alive in our minds, through stories and memories — and that’s an important part of making sure our loved ones’ legacies live on."  ~www.picturethisorganized.com 
In a way, I wish I didn't have so many personal experiences to share about healing from grief through family stories.  However, because I do, I can guarantee that this is an effective, meaningful, lasting way to acknowledge, deal with, and gain perspective and appreciation during loss.  I've experienced it myself and have seen healing in others as well.  I'll share with you three of my personal experiences.

1.  A Little One
Although I have lost grandparents whom I love and miss dearly, my first real experience with healing through stories happened in 2012.  Summarizing like this hardly does the experience justice, but my brother and sister-in-law struggled with infertility for 12 years before becoming pregnant through {IVF}.  IVF was expensive, took a real toll on my sister-in-law's body, and wasn't really guaranteed to work.  They were actually pretty scared to try it because it was their last hope, and if it didn't work, there was nothing left.  (They had decided against pursuing adoption following the heartbreak of two failed adoptions.)  Our family was beyond overjoyed when the first attempt at IVF resulted in a successful, healthy pregnancy.  However, less than halfway through the pregnancy, for reasons unknown, my baby nephew was born.  He lived about 15 minutes.

The real-life angels at {Angel Watch} really took care of my grieving brother and sister-in-law and provided them with, among other things, photos of their little boy.  As I sorted through my own grief over weeks and months, I decided to make a storybook for them using those photos.  In thinking about how I would tell the story of the little life of my nephew and his impact on our family, I felt inspired to focus on the miracles.  I was half a country away, but my sister and parents were there, and as they all kept me updated, I heard story after story of tiny miracles and {tender mercies} that happened over and over that helped my brother and sister-in-law feel God's hand and love through this frankly horrific experience.


The storybook I created for them recounted all the miracles and all the ways they felt loved even in their breathtaking grief.  Writing the story helped me through my own grief, and reading it helped them through theirs.  Now, five years later, they can also share the life story of their oldest son with their 3-year-old daughter, too.  Connections like these are priceless.

NOTE:  If you know someone facing infant loss, please let them know that My Story Matters provides heirloom-quality storybooks to them at no cost.  You can read more {here}.  The photo above is an example of an available template, but it's completely flexible so the family gets exactly what they want.  If you are interested in donating to this cause, there is information about that at the link as well.

2.  A Parent
I lost my mom a year and a half ago.  It wasn't a big surprise; she was diagnosed and we could easily see her decline.  I had opportunities to visit her several times before she passed away.  I honestly felt that the circumstances were as good as they could be.  We wrote her obituary with her before she died.  We said everything we wanted to say to each other.  We knew she was going to a happier place and would be seeing her parents again.  We know our {family is eternal}But grief is grief.  Loss is loss.  It wasn't fun.  Being without my mom is not a place I enjoy.

Before she died, my mom gave me a few boxes of her mementos.  She had kept photo albums, and although these boxes did contain a few photos, they were mostly keepsakes-- awards and thank you cards and graduation programs.  She asked me to just DO SOMETHING with them.  I decided to make a life storybook.  I added a few pictures that weren't in the boxes, and I scanned the mementos to tell the story of her life.  It is a beautiful book, meaningful to my whole family.  Everyone got their own copy last Christmas.  It was {truly the best gift ever}.  (I wrote about that experience there at that link.)


Healing from grief through family stories is real.  My heart healed through the hours I spent organizing mementos, reading old letters, and sorting through my mom's keepsakes.  As I said before, the circumstances of her passing were really as good as they could possibly be.  I had no regrets.  So I wasn't dealing with unresolved issues-- I was just dealing with loss.  I missed her.  But creating this life storybook gave me a special opportunity to get to know her a little better in a different way than I had before.  I still miss her constantly, but it doesn't hurt quite as much.  Healing, for me, came because as I went through the process of writing her life story, I was able to focus more on my abundance than on my loss.

3.  A Grandparent
When my mom passed away, my brother and sister-in-law were really concerned that their then-2-year-old would miss out on the opportunity to get to know her grandma.  Although my niece will have access to the life storybook I published (above), it's not a toddler-level book.  We talked about how to break down my mom's life into kid-sized chunks.  We wanted to help my niece remember Grandma as much as possible, and help her get to know Grandma better as well.

As I thought about how to proceed, I decided that the main message we wanted my toddler niece to know is that Grandma loves her.  I made this sweet {board book} called Grandma Loves Me.  It touches on about 10-12 things that Grandma loved to do and has a lot of pictures.

This is obviously a kid-friendly version of a grandparent story, but healing from grief through a grandparent's story can also be told the same way a parent's story (above) would be told.  Tell your family story your way.  Paying tribute in whatever way you can-- recording the story and memories and photos --honors the person and keeps their memory close and easily-accessible.


You can {read the sweet experience} I had a year or two after giving my niece this book.  She LOVES this book and told me it's all about "my Grommaw in heaven."

I can obviously speak from experience here when I say that loss is never, ever easy.  But healing happens.  In my experience, healing doesn't mean you feel "back to normal."  I don't think you can possibly feel whole again because that's just not the nature of love.  We feel the loss because we know something is missing.  We feel acutely that something is missing.  But that's only because we love so deeply.
"Wouldn’t it be tragic if we didn’t feel great sorrow when we lose a child? How grateful I am to my Father in Heaven that He allows us to love deeply and love eternally."  ~Shayne M. Bowen
Healing, to me, has been a peace and an appreciation that I got to love someone so worth loving.  Preserving stories and experiences has helped me in miraculous ways to get to that place.  There is an inexplicable connection made between you and someone you love through creating a tribute or telling a life story.  It's real.
"Grief, like joy, is holy.  Grief is love's souvenir.  It's our proof that we once loved.  Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world:  Look!  I loved well.  Here is my proof that I paid the price."  ~Glennon Doyle Melton
If you're ready to tell a story to help heal grief, {get started here}.  Please don't hesitate to reach out for ideas, suggestions, or help if you need it!  The Contact Me tab is at the top of this page.  I would be honored to help.

Please share this message with someone you know who needs it or with everyone through social media!
This post was first published on June 9, 2017, at www.livegrowgive.org by Jennifer Wise.
Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts in this series by clicking the hashtag next to Labels below.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

two impressive ideas for swag bags

Do you know what a swag bag is?  It's a little gift you get when you attend an event.  It's a nice touch and fun to receive.  I recently created TWO items for swag bags that are UNIQUE and FUN!  I love how much these make me stand out!  These are great for business (which is what I'll be showing you here today), but these are also fantastic ideas for goodie bags for birthday parties or any other gift bag occasions you have.

I go to a couple of networking groups that have swag bags that I can contribute to.  Since I can't give away a true sample of my business like a book of your vacation to Florida or your grandma's life storybook, I wanted to come up with just a little something that would be a taste of my business to go inside the swag bags.

IDEA #1:  goodie bags with chocolates
INGREDIENTS
  • Business cards.  I actually have three business cards--a regular one, a social media one, and an events one.  They're all double-sided (made with Heritage Makers).  The social media one gives people who haven't heard of my business before a chance to really SEE what it's about through their chosen method--my YouTube channel, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  The events one is an invitation to my local "bring your laptop and work on Heritage Makers projects" events.  (I have online events, too, BTW!)
  • Specially-made chocolate labels.  These serve as a sample, advertising, and a treat.  :)  You can put pictures, logos, anything you want on these!  They're made with Heritage Makers, too.
  • 4x3 bags.  Everything goes in these bags.  Available at craft stores.
COMPLETED GOODIE BAGS FOR SWAG BAGS

I think they're adorable, but I also love that they're not that expensive!
  • Business cards:  The double-sided cards are around $5 for a pack of 50.  That's 10c each, so for my three cards, just 30c per bag.
  • Labels:  The address labels I used for the chocolates are about $2.70 for a set of 54.  That's about 5c each.  For my three labels, that's 15c per bag.
  • Chocolates:  A bag of Hershey Nuggets is around $3.50.  I counted about 33 chocolates inside, so we'll call that 10c each, so 30c per bag since I'm giving 3.
  • Bags:  I got 100 for $2 at Walmart, so that's 2c each.
The way I did the bags, this comes out to 77cents per bag.  If you did one chocolate and one business card, that's 27 cents per bag!  They're impressive and completely personalized for your business, yet very inexpensive!

By the way, if you missed my tutorial video on how to make the chocolate labels a few months ago, you can see it here.  Chocolate labels are one of the most fun and impressive things you can create using Heritage Makers.  They're great for wedding favors and all kinds of things.

IDEA #2: recipes from playing cards


INGREDIENTS 
  • Playing Card Deck.  I LOVE everything you can do with a playing card deck from Heritage Makers.  You can certainly create traditional {family playing cards} or even {family stories playing cards}, but these have business information and a message on one side and a RECIPE on the other!!  Isn't that cool?! 
You'll create the backs once (they'll be the same on every card), like this:
 And, yes, the card deck comes in this plastic case.

The fronts of the cards can be made different (like a regular deck of cards is), but for this one I wanted them all the same, like this:
I turned these sideways when I was making them so they would print this orientation.  Because I wanted them all the same on the fronts, I created this once digitally and then used the "duplicate" button to recreate the exact same card to fill the deck of 54.  (If you need help with that, just ask!  It's SO EASY!)

These are great because once you create these digitally and submit them for publishing, there's NO work to package them or do anything more!  PLUS they come out to about 33c-40c each, so pretty inexpensive for an impressive bit of swag!

I do have a tutorial video that walks you through all the steps of making a deck of cards.  You'll obviously have to adapt just a little for swag.  :)  Playing Cards are such a fun and unique idea for swag or goodie bags.
 
If YOU make goodie bags or swag bags with these ideas, I'd love to see them!  Send pictures to jenniferwise4heritagemakers@gmail.com and tell me what fun and amazing thing YOU did!  I'd love to feature you and your business or event here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Making Connections Using Family Stories

How often do you hear the word "connectivity" these days?  There are certainly some advantages of being connected to the world wide web and being connected to friends and family through technology.  But being "connected" nowadays seems to result in fewer and fewer connections.

One of the {definitions} for "connection" is "association; relationship."  Is our connectivity increasing or decreasing our connections?  It seems like real connections are fewer and fewer while our need for real connections is growing.  Family stories-- telling them and knowing them --are a powerful, excellent resource to create connections between family members.



There is a lot of research available about what connections mean to us.  This quote from {Families in Society} is just one:
"Strong connections across generations within our extended families can lead to better well-being, the capacity to bounce back from tough challenges, and the ability for all of us to become contributing members of society."
When it comes down to it, we all need a source of strength, a place to belong, and a group of people whom we can count on.  Making connections among family members allows for safe growth, nourishment, and love.  Strengthening those bonds or connections takes time and devotion, but the effects are life-changing and enriching.  They help everyone involved.

Several years ago, I came across a beautiful, real-life example of what creating family connections can really do for people.  It's shown in the last minute of this video (which I've queued for you already):




There is POWER in connections.  Connections make life meaningful and rich.  We need each other.  Bringing relationships to the forefront and opening hearts links siblings, parents, or cousins to each other and creates intergenerational ties as well.  Re-establishing or emphasizing connections draws hearts together.  It can bring spouses closer together and give children a circle of protection from negative influences in the world.

And family stories create connections!


Have you read the {benefits of family stories}?  There are pointers at that link on how to get started, too, if you'd like some.



Not sure if you have any family stories to tell?  Here are some you might not have thought about:

Be sure to check out the links there, too, so you get a good idea of what the possibilities really are.

Another personal way of telling a story that makes connections is through a {You Are Loved story.}  A "you are loved" story is just a small collection of reasons a person is loved.  While this isn't necessarily a family story, it's an opportunity to open or soften a heart, give encouragement through teenage years, or simply express what someone means to you.  I suggest writing specific reasons why "you are loved."  When YOU reach out to create something like this for someone, you are strengthening the connection between you and that person.  

This wirebound flipbook was originally published at https://heritagemakers.com/jenniferwise 
"Unless you love someone, nothing else makes any sense."  ~e.e. cummings
I knew a sweet man a few years ago who decided to write the love story of himself and his wife.  They'd been married 25+ years and had five children and a few grandchildren.  He told me that an amazing thing happened as he wrote.  He fell in love again.  He told me that at one point during the process, his wife caught him staring at her.  She couldn't figure out the *something* in his gaze and when she asked, all he could say was, "I'm just falling in love again."  All the memories he was recalling and recording brought to the surface the feelings he felt so strongly more than 25 years before.


Family stories, memories, and photos, are some of the most powerful ways to make connections, and the good news is that they're right at our fingertips.  Just recording what you know, remember, see, and feel is the best way to start.  Adding photos brings everything to life.  This is especially important when recording family stories of people whom you or your children have never met (like grandparents or great-grandparents), but photos make stories exciting and real, so they are a beautiful and meaningful addition to any story.

Bring your family closer together through family stories! {Get started here.}

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This post was first published on June 2, 2017,  at www.livegrowgive.org by Jennifer Wise.
More #familyhistoryfriday posts can be found by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.