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Meaningful Mementos: Affordable Keepsakes To Remember Your Loved One

Discover heartfelt and affordable keepsake ideas to cherish the memory of a loved one. From DIY memorials to eco-friendly tributes, find meaningful ways to keep their spirit close and honor their legacy.

When a loved one passes, affordable keepsakes, memorial gifts, or DIY memorials, such as a quilt, can help us keep their memory close by. Some families keep their funeral budget small while putting some money aside for personalized memorials that bring comfort during challenging times. 

Death researcher Candi Cann, in a study funded by Eterneva Diamonds, found that having an “anchor item” could help the bereaved travel through grief. “Anchor items provide a place for the bereaved to direct the complex emotions associated with grief, while also creating a positive association with their life and a physical reminder that those we lose are not lost,” Cann shared in a press release.

But a memorial diamond is not the only option for a keepsake. Here are a few ideas for more modest mementos that are thoughtful and affordable.

Eco-Friendly Tree Memorials

A Living Tribute Trees are the ultimate eco-friendly memorials. You can purchase your loved one a memorial tree and receive an “e-certificate” for your purchase. You can contribute more and buy a tribute grove or legacy wood with five or ten trees, respectively. You can also plant a tree, bush, or flower that holds a special meaning. 

Other green memorial options:

  • Contribute funds to support a natural setting where you can have your loved one's name or a personal dedication displayed on a tree, bench, rock, or another natural element.
  • Donate money to a charity dedicated to preserving the natural environment.
  • Start a community kitchen garden named after your loved one and share the harvest with your neighbors and local food banks.

Custom Keepsakes to Cherish Forever 

Hearts, signs, picture frames, teddy bears, wind chimes, ornaments, and other items can be engraved with your loved one’s name. Personalized remembrance gifts help preserve cherished memories of someone special.

For those who want to create DIY keepsakes from loved one's belongings, feel free to use whatever medium you prefer or look for something from a fellow artisan on Etsy.

Curated Collectibles: Small Items, Big Memories

Choosing a small item from your loved one’s possessions can serve as a tangible reminder of their hobbies, legacy, or personality. If Grandma loved college football, the ring of her cowbell can bring back memories of her enthusiasm for the game. If Dad loved politics, his political buttons would reveal a lifetime of enthusiasm for elections. 

Any item that you can see and touch in your everyday life – a watch, a clock, a favorite kitchen item, a knickknack – can help you keep your loved one near. You can create a keepsake box to store these precious items. 

One caveat: it may be tempting to keep everything a loved one left behind, but a carefully chosen item will help you avoid leaving a hoarder’s nest to the people who will be sorting through your possessions one day.

Memorial Jewelry: Wearable Reminders of Someone Special

For those who’d like to wear their memento, jewelry is an option. Memorial jewelry for ashes is available in all kinds of beautiful styles and designs for men and women. Some jewelry has a vial or compartment for cremated remains. Glassmakers sometimes use cremated remains in their pieces. Often, a loved one may also leave behind jewelry that can be worn as-is or reimagined and recreated into a sustainable keepsake for current and future family members.

Cozy Cloth Reimagined: From Memorial Quilts to Teddy Bears

Some families take the beloved t-shirts and clothing of a loved one to create a memorial quilt or teddy bear. These DIY memorial ideas could be created by volunteer groups, other times, they can be made by family members or purchased from a local craftsperson. 

One of the most famous memorial quilts is the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt which weighs an estimated 54 tons and is the world’s largest example of folk art. You can search through the thousands of names represented in this interactive gallery. 

The end-of-life planning website Cake has 15 gift ideas for items made from clothing.

From Rock Gardens to Flower Bracelets, DIY Ideas

If you’d like to make something yourself, you can find plenty of help online for ideas. Cake offers instructions on making bracelets out of funeral flowers and how to create a memorial garden for loved ones, like this rock garden inspiration. You can find many more DIY, crafty ways to honor your loved one online including both events and objects including: Country Living, Love to Know and Parade. 

Nature’s Gifts: Eco-Friendly Memorials

Sustainable keepsakes like a small rock, shell, feather, or flower serve as a natural reminder of your loved one. Better yet, instead of taking a natural keepsake home, stack a pile of rocks and take a photo as a tribute.Those who engage in rock balancing say it is both creative and meditative. Others find collecting sea glass a blend of treasure hunting, environmental appreciation, and artistic expression.

Valuing Memories Over Money

Whether you call it a keepsake, a memento, a trinket, or a “tchotchke,” any item you make, purchase, or keep from the items they left behind can keep your loved one’s memory alive. It is not how much money you spend or how large an object you have, but rather what it means to you and reminds you of them that’s most meaningful. For more ideas on affordable, personalized keepsakes, check out these memorial gifts