Classy Memory Plates: Heirlooms and Stencils

When my mother passed away, I inherited a large box of some of her Christmas decorations. After a few years of lugging this box in out and out of the attic and re-taping it each time, the box literally started falling apart.

As I transferred everything over into a new box, getting ready to recycle the old one, mom’s writing of “Christmas” caught my eye. Her cursive writing was all too familiar as I remembered the notes Mom would write excusing me from school when I was sick, or signing a check when I needed money, or the many cards and letters she wrote to me over the years.

I just knew I had to do something with Mom’s writing!

I immediately cut out the “Christmas” from the cardboard box and tucked it away in my hutch.

Last year I couldn’t wait to pull the piece of cardboard out of storage. Not only did it remind me of the power that heirlooms can hold in a family as we had lost our mom to cancer, but it had a feeling of love that I wanted to preserve and share with my sisters.

My Mom, Millie, is very dear to my sisters’ and my heart, as we miss her very much. It’s very special how the memory of a loved one can live on through heirlooms, pictures, videos, letters, and even writing.

So I stenciled Mom’s writing of “Christmas” with a black Sharpie marker onto stencil paper.

Cut it and glued it onto a white glass plate.

Poured a high gloss finish onto the plate.

Used a hairdryer to get the bubbles out.

They are not perfect, but I think they turned out stunningly classy.

One for my sis Di, one for my sis Linda and me, with black plate stands to display and to keep Christmas alive, through our mom, in years to come. And I know we’ll be able to pass them down to our kids, or their wives.

When I look at the plate displayed in my dining room, it makes me smile.

I feel blessed. Yes, very blessed.

Do you have a story to share how you’ve preserved your special family heirlooms or memories?

41 comments on “Classy Memory Plates: Heirlooms and Stencils”

  1. Sandy- what a beautiful, totally creative idea and gift!! I’m sure this has inspired many!!

    We have the most beautiful letter my husband’s grandmother wrote to everyone one Christmas. She also gifted each with a silver dollar they’d received at their 25th anniversary party. We have those two items and their wedding photo in a frame. It’s nice to have those pieces of our heritage on display. (

  2. Sandy, what a beautiful idea. And, a great way to keep your mother close by during this time of the year. We received some very sad news yesterday morning. Our oldest daughter’s dear friend Will lost his mother to cancer. At 21 years old, Will won’t have his mother to spend Christmas with. It breaks this mother’s heart.

  3. Love this idea. I need to practice my handwriting first..ha!

  4. What a wonderful idea! I guess my treasure is our family stories. When someone groans about having heard that one before, the storyteller will remark, “If you can’t tell it as well as I can, you don’t know it yet!” :-)

  5. That is SO special.
    Those little scraps of handwriting are such treasures. Great idea for preserving it!

  6. Oh, Sandy! Trying not to cry as I am on my way out the door. This is the sweetest think ever. I love coming across my mom’s handwriting, too. ♥

  7. what a great idea. preserving handwriting (a lost art) is so personal and a great memento!

  8. That is so sweet! What a wonderful way to remember your Mom.


  9. Love it. I love seeing my mom’s writing on pieces of paper.

  10. Oh that’s just brilliant! I’ll have to tuck that idea away for the future!

  11. I’m trying to fight back the tears now as I write this, but thank you for such a wonderful idea. I lost my mom very suddenly 3 years ago…as I was packing to move a few months ago, I found a box of hand written recipe cards that were her’s. I didn’t even realize that I had them. Any ideas on a way to preserve them?

  12. Absolutely gorgeous Sandy! Such a great way to remember your mother.

  13. Sandy, this is so beautiful. I just love the idea that you made these for you and your sisters. You are so inspiring. I have many different little notes from my mom. I think I will look for something similar to do with them. Thank you for sharing this lovely bit of your Christmas.

  14. I had to wipe tears from my eyes as I read this. My mother was a letter writer and card sender. A lost art. Our family moved so much while I was growing up, there isn’t much left. When I was packing Dad’s things to move him into my home, I found a shoebox filled with love letters from Mom to Dad. It seemed so personal, I only read one, and could not force myself to read the rest. One day I will.
    The greatest treasure is her very worn Bible. She made little notations in the margins, and had notes tucked into different passages. Many of those notes had my name on them. She would write “must send AB encrourage her”. She sent me many cards and letters when I was away at school, when I was grown, making my own way, when I got married and had children. I was such a dolt, I didn’t keep those wonderful cards and letters, but going through her Bible, I sure remember those Bible passages she sent. Her tucked in notes lacked spelling and punctuation, as did her letters, but they came from her VERY LOVING heart.
    Thank you for sharing a very special memory and an awesome way to keep your Mother with you.

  15. What a special and great idea! I know you will treasure this.

  16. I loved this post, Sandy and this idea. I lost my adorable mom, Hallie, to cancer, five years ago. My brothers and sister and I LOVE everything we have that is hers. One of my favorites is her crafting ruler. Such a silly little thing . . . but it brings me great joy. Your sister’s will love this gift.


  17. This is a fantastic idea! My mother passed away 29 years ago, when I was just a teenager, and I found myself wracking my brains trying to think of anything she had written that I could do the same with. I don’t think I have anything big enough for a plate, but now the wheels are turning to use a letter or some notes from her Bible in another way. I just love this idea – I was in tears as I read your post! Your sisters will love it!

  18. What a lovely idea. Thank you for sharing your story.

  19. My parents were married in the forties and we had wonderful old Christmas lights on our tree when I was a child in the 70’s. One of the strings of lights were frosted glass snowmen. Each one had a pointed , colored hat, and they lit up the color of their hat. Years after the lights stopped working and my parents had passed away, I took the lights apart and made a hat out of sculpy clay for each one, and drew a gold ribbon through each one to make an ornament.. I wrote a little poem about them, and tucked them in a box and mailed one to each of my six sblings. My mom has been gone for 15 years now, and this is still my favorite ornament.

  20. What a terrific idea! You should write on the back so that your great great great great grandchildren know where they came from!!

  21. I love this!

    A few years ago I tried to make plates for my niece and three nephews. I painstakingly drew on each plate something that they enjoyed–monster trucks, soccer balls, a butterfly and a solar system. I was SO proud of them. And they LOVED them! Then they tried to eat eggs off of them. And almost died (not really, but I imagine it that way) of sharpie poisoning. I was crushed! I guess they should have been “decoration only” plates.

  22. That is truly a beautiful idea and follow-through.

  23. Such a sweet, sweet story. My husband has his father’s sermons. We’re planning on framing them with a picture of him preaching for my husband’s office. One of my friends took her father’s shirts and made quilted throws for each of her siblings.

  24. Bravo to you Sandy…I read your post with tears in my eyes but it gave me joy nonetheless. Shows us why you’re not an ordinary woman. Love from Greece.

  25. That is an amazing idea! I loved my mothers handwriting…I will have to think of a way to make something like this work!

  26. I absolutely love this idea, Sandy. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Sandy – I absolutely adore this idea. I loved it when you showed it to me when we were in San Francisco this fall. What a precious heirloom you’ve created for your family. Absolutely priceless!

  28. Oh my gosh….you had me at hello!!! (The word Christmas!) I have not been able to stop thinking about this today. I think there is a star in the heavens shinning extra bright tonight! Amidst my tears I kept thinking….what a wonderful tribute to your mom and how loved and proud she would feel. Thank you for reminding us that some of the simplest things can bring us the greatest joy! Merry Christmas to you!

  29. Sandy, I absolutely love this idea! A precious heirloom to cherish for generations. It’s beautiful and classy! Merry Christmas!

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  31. I really love this idea. I never would have thought of it in a million years myself, so thanks for sharing something that looks creative, personal and easy to do.

  32. I loved this idea when I read it last Christmas. While putting away our Christmas decorations last year I came across a box with the word Christmas written in my mom’s handwriting who died 20 years ago when I was 15 years old. I must have been moving that box around with me for all these years, but don’t remember seeing the handwriting before. It’s like I read this post and my mom gave me a gift of letting me find that handwriting because I cut it out and plan to do this project this year. Now my mom will always be with us in a small way during the holidays.

    My grandmother (92 years old) just recently passed in July and she had a signature “duck” drawing that she always drew on all her cards. We think of her everytime we see it so I think I will also try to do something like this with her drawing as a gift for all the family members.

  33. One of the most wonderful ideas I have seen. What a keep sake for all. I am going to do this for my brothers and & sister. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful gift.

  34. I can’t wait to make an heirloom with some very important signatures. I have some recipes written by my mother which I plan to use. Thanks for a terrific idea that will preserve an important memory
    Gmama Jane

  35. This is such an incredible idea, and such happy memories to look forward to every Christmas.

  36. What a beautiful way to remember your mom, Sandy. Love this idea so much!!!

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