DIY: Memory Shadow Box

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Shadow boxes (aka “display frames”) are one of my favorite new ways to display pictures and mementos. 

Shadow boxes let you show off your beloved pictures like regular picture frames, but since they have the extra depth between the back of the frame and the glass, you have the added opportunity to add in 3D keepsakes, souvenirs or decorations which wouldn’t fit in a traditional frame or photo album.

Shadow boxes are perfect for commemorating all sorts of memorable occasions, like vacations or special events. Plus, they can also serve as family heirlooms! They’re also ridiculously easy to make, so grab those precious keepsakes out of that box in your basement and get to work! 

What you’ll need:

  • Shadow box frame (you can find these at Amazon or Michaels)
  • Scrapbook paper (large enough to fit in frame)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Photo prints
  • Other small mementos and/or embellishments


Let’s get to work!

1. Gather your supplies. I pulled some of the maps, brochures, and photos I had from our honeymoon to Hawaii, and decided on a piece of scrapbook paper with a sandy beach on it as a fitting backdrop.


2. Bend back the prongs holding the cardboard backer and remove the cardboard backer from your frame.



3. Trace the shape of the backer onto the scrapbook paper, then cut along the line you traced.



4. Flip the backer over (so that the hook to hang it on is face down), and glue the scrapbook paper onto the side that is face up. This will be the background of your shadow box, filling in any empty space that isn’t taken up with pictures or decorations.



5. Once the paper is glued down, play around with the layout of your shadow box. Figure out what pictures you want to use, and trim them or cut them into shapes. Arrange the rest of your mementos that will fit until you find a layout you like.



6. Once you’ve decided on an arrangement you like, start gluing things down. Remember to glue things down starting with the furthest-back layer first, so you don’t have to move something you’ve already glued down if it needs to be in front. I also used foam squares to the backs of some of the photos to add more dimension and make the layers really stand out.

If you don’t have a lot of additional souvenirs, you can look in the scrapbook section of your local craft store for cute embellishments and stickers to add to your shadow box instead!



7. Once everything is glued down, let it dry, then carefully turn it over and put it back into the frame.



Your new shadow box is now ready to display in your home! I love mine, and can’t help but smile every time I walk past it, because it makes me think about of all our great vacation memories! On top of that, it looks awesome.

I’ve got lots of ideas for more shadow boxes to make — both for myself and as gifts!

Laura is a freelance writer in Michigan who is inspired by the beauty in everyday life. In her free time, she enjoys cooking (and eating), DIY projects, and binge-watching Netflix.

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