Create Memories with a Reverse Bucket List

making memories with a reverse bucket list

I bet you’re thinking, “what on earth is a reverse bucket list and how do I create memories with one?”. I know it sounds kinda crazy but let me explain….

Carl and I love doing things, going places, and meeting people. We especially love doing things with our kids and grand-kids and I love documenting our trips and adventures with pictures.

Usually the pictures end up in a file on my computer (and sometimes on Facebook with a small snippet about the photo album).

The other day, our oldest grand-daughter saw a memory of Carl and me pop up on my Facebook page and asked me where it was taken and what we were doing. Our conversation developed into a fun walk down memory lane for me and an new “things about MiMi and Grandpa” memory for her.

Picture of Carl and Be on hike for reverse bucket list

My ah-ha moment…

It all of a sudden occurred to me that once we’re gone, our kids and grand-kids won’t have old photo albums to go through like I did when my parents passed away. They’ll have thousands of pictures on my computer – some that are organized – others that aren’t. AND, that’s assuming they can figure out my password and get on my computer!

That’s when the reverse bucket (later titled “memory box”) idea hit me. Why not, instead of just a bucket of things we want to do, let’s create a bucket of things that we have done? It would be like Facebook memories, but with real pictures that document the date, location, and snippet of information.

Questions for photos

A family gathering of memories…

When my mother died, my siblings and I sat down in her house and poured through old photos that she had in a box. Some where labeled, many weren’t. We had no idea of the context of most of the pictures except for the ones that were of our family and then we only had our memories, not my parents.

create memories out of old photos with a reverse bucket list

What were their thoughts when that picture was taken? What did they like about that trip? Why is Mom laughing so hard? We would have loved to have the answers to so many questions that the pictures raised.

It was while I was remembering that moment that I decided to pursue this crazy idea….create a reverse bucket list.

Where to begin….

Once I decided to do this, I picked a day where I could have a few hours of undisturbed time. I made myself a nice big cup of coffee (a sure way to get me to sit down for awhile) and opened my photo file.

Dragging photos into reverse bucket list folder to create memories.

I knew this would be an on-going process and that it will get easier once it’s established. However, getting started did take some time and commitment. Below are the steps I took to get the ball rolling.

Creating a Reverse Bucket List:

1. Set a criteria for picking the photos…

Knowing I literally have thousands of photos on my computer, I decided I needed to set some parameters for selecting what would go into the reverse bucket. I decided in order to be included, the photos needed to fit the following criteria:

  1. They had to elicit an emotional memory in me.
  2. They had to be of someone or something that would be of interest to our kids and grand-kids (this was, after all, memories for them).
  3. They had to have a story to go with them.

Once I established my criteria, I was ready to begin.

2. Create a folder on your desktop that you can easily drag and drop photos into.

Memories Folder on desktop

This is will make transferring the photos easier and quicker. I minimized my screen just enough so that I could see my “bucket list memories” folder and drop photos into it without having to change screens.

3. Drag-and-Drop or Copy-and-Paste photos into this folder.

As I worked my way though my photo folders, I placed photos that I wanted to include in the bucket into this new folder.

Was it hard to not pick EVERY photo? ABSOLUTELY! In the beginning I picked way more photos than I needed, but when I got to step 4, I was able to reduce that number.

I did recognize that I wouldn’t get through all my photos in one day. The goal was to get thing started and then add to schedule future times to go through the photos and add more.

4. Open a blank PowerPoint file.

Once I had quite a few photos in my folder, I opened a blank PowerPoint document and placed photos on the page. I wasn’t worried about the photos all being the same size; my goal was to maximize the use of my printer paper by filling up the page.

PowerPoint page for our reverse bucket list

5. Print the PowerPoint document.

Once I filled a few PowerPoint pages with photos, I printed them out with good quality photo paper and cut out the individual pictures.

PowerPoint page of photos for reverse bucket list

6. Personalize each photo with date, location, and a message about the photo.

I wanted each photo to be a memory that our kids and grand-kids could share so I wanted more on the back than just Grand Canyon, Sept. 1997. Instead, I wrote more of a message to the kids.

Personalized photo message for reverse bucket list

7. Pick out your box for your memories

I’m not very foofoo, but I do love some foofoo things. I wanted the memory box to be small enough to be handy, large enough to hold an ever growing number of photos, and pretty enough to be on display (and easy to get to).

I love fabric colored boxes. I use them all over the house (especially in the grand-kids room for their toys and my office), so I decided to go with these boxes that I found on Amazon. I love the color and having more than one box will give me plenty of growth space (there were 3 in the package).

Amazon no longer has this color, but they have other ones to choose from like these.

Memory boxes for my reverse bucket list

8. Place photos in “Memories” box and add new photos every chance you get.

That’s it. My goal is to get “caught-up” with past memories by the end of 2019 and then add new photos as we make new memories.

P.S. Make sure your kids are aware of that bucket list of memories so they know what to look for when the time comes.

Labeled memory box for my reverse bucket list

How do you record your family memories? Did this post spark an “ah ha” moment for you? I’d love to hear you thoughts and ideas.

Cheers for now,


To create an actual bucket list, check out our blog “7 Ways to make Your Bucket List a Reality”.