Decoupage Memory Box

22 Aug

Many people nostalgically describe college as the best times of their life, but few people warn of the sadness that comes when it’s time to leave. Heading off to college often means saying goodbye to families, friends, homes, and cities that people have known all their lives. And while what lies ahead may be fun and exciting, saying goodbye is one of the hardest imaginable things to do.

I’m lucky because I’m moving only 30 minutes away from home, so I can come home to visit Goose and my family on weekends and even after school some days. It wasn’t just luck though. When you have people in your life as incredible as the ones that I have in mine, it’s impossible to stay away for long.

Saying “See you in November” to friends who you’ve known since kindergarten is tough. On the flip side, knowing that you won’t see them until Thanksgiving makes you appreciate what time you do have with your friends even more. Without seeing friends in school each day, you  have to decide which people are worth going out of your way to maintain relationships with via phone calls, letters, care packages, e-mails, and rare visits.

Packing up boxes of picture frames and sentimental items to take with me to my dorm left my room feeling impersonal and empty. The blank walls and eerily clean bookshelves made the room a constant reminder of my upcoming move, and from my little sisters’ perspective, of my leaving them. In an effort to show them that they will still be as much a part of my life when I go to college as they always have been, I made these memory boxes for them. This project also allowed me to test out the idea of making additional personalized boxes for friends to include in future care packages.

The boxes are really simple to make, as they involve little more than some cutting and pasting; but the personal thought and homemade aspect of the gift make this a wonderful way to show someone you care. Seize the opportunity to get as personal and creative as you want. Draw your own pictures or add text to decorate with. You can even experiment with fabric, wire, mirrors, and other materials.

Decoupage Memory Box


  • Wooden box
  • Glue stick
  • Shiny Mod Podge  (or a mixture of 1 part Elmer’s glue to 1 part water)
  • Scissors
  • Exacto knife (optional)
  • Foam brush (or other paint brush)
  • Pictures
  • Magazine images
  • Letter or 3-D stickers


  1. Take your time in going through old photos and magazines to choose a good selection of pictures that either hold a special memory or that you know will make the recipient smile. This is the most important step of the project. I spent months going through old magazines and a good few hours searching through my computer for the very best pictures. Gather more  images than you think you will need so that you can be selective when it comes time to actually lay out your images.
  2. Use the scissors to cut out each of your images. I chose to cut them right on the edge, but you can leave a slight border if you prefer. Just make sure that you are constant in applying the same method to all of your images.
  3. Layout what images you want on the four sides of the box, being sure to coordinate the tone and color scheme as well as possible. The longer you spend in the first step, the easier this step will be.
  4. Use the glue stick to glue down the images to each face, one face at a time. If you want your images to overlap the space where the lid and the side meet, press the top and the bottom together firmly and glue the image right on top of the seam, then use your Exacto knife to gently cut through the image along the seam. The cut will be unnoticeable in the finished produce, and you will still be able to open and close your box without a problem as long as no glue gets into the seam.
  5. Use the 2-D stickers and remaining images to decorate the top of the box, and even to dress up the sides a bit more.
  6. Coat each face of the box with a generous coat of Mod Podge, then top with any 3-D stickers if desired.
  7. Hide a special note or sentimental object inside the box and give it to someone you love.

9 Responses to “Decoupage Memory Box”

  1. Cindy August 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    This post is so beautiful; it brought tears to my eyes!!! Your sisters love and cherish their very special boxes and we are all so incredibly lucky to get to have you going to school close to home. You are such an inspirational writer and an extraordinarily thoughtful daughter!

    • ModernAlice August 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      Thank you so much momma! I’m so lucky to have all of you to support me and help me with everything!

  2. Donna K August 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Sara you amaze me more and more everyday. This recent blog speaks to me loud and clear Sara. The boxes are thoughtful and heartfelt and beautiful. Have a wonderful first week at college.

    • ModernAlice August 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      Thank you so much Donna! I’m lucky to have such incredible people to come visit back home this weekend:)

  3. silverscreenings August 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    This is really cute and, best of all, it looks pretty easy! Terrific gift idea…

    • ModernAlice August 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Thanks! It’s as easy as it looks and it gives you a lot of freedom to customize it according to whoever the recipient is:)

  4. robert August 22, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    we love you so much , Sara; we’re the luckiest parents ever !!

    • ModernAlice August 22, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks dad! I can’t wait to show you my new room soon.


  1. Decoupage Memory Box « Modern Alice | | decoupagedecoupage - August 24, 2012

    […] this article: Decoupage Memory Box « Modern Alice This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged friends, goodbye, heading, homes, leave, life, […]

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