Another favorite, handmade memory gift is a Gratitude Jar.
A Gratitude Jar is just a decorated jar, with slips of paper and a pen attached. Parents, au pairs and kids can use the jar to remind them to write down funny or sweet things that happen, and then put the slip in the jar, to be read another day.
You might write things like “Today Catherine created a special dance to celebrate that I made Mac ‘n Cheese. We’re calling it the Mac ‘n Cheese-a- Rayna.” Or “Clara brought me a cup of tea when I was pounding away at the keyboard last night. That little bit of warmth and sweetness made the deadline easier to meet.”
You can pull out a slip and read it any time you feel you need to appreciate something. And, at the end of a year or when the jar gets full, you can take out all the slips and photocopy them or scan them on your printer– and you or your au pair can keep a copy. The slips themselves can get glued into a scrapbook.
You can also use the Gratitude Jar In Reverse –— The Giver fills the jar with 52 (or more!) memories, insights, and kind words. Then, every week (or whenever s/he needs a pick-me-up) the Recipient can pull out a slip, read it, and feel cared about.
This is a photo of my actual gratitude jar. There are slips of paper tucked into the elastic at the back of the jar (you can’t see them in the photo), and there is a pen at the ready. I keep it on the shelf by our kitchen table. Sometimes when we are feeling especially grumpy I ask everyone at dinner to write out a slip and tuck it in for a rainy-er day.