You might think this is a crazy thing to do, but I have learned to harvest such things for crafty purposes. For example, say you have a box of random bits and bobs from a vacation you took that was particularly memorable for you. Take said bits and bobs (as long as they are flatish) and get yourself a collage style frame from Michael's. Then scatter said bits and bobs throughout the frame. If things are too small to fill a specific picture spot, you can attach them to a coordinating piece of paper that is big enough to fill the space. You could even step it up a notch and pick a theme or color to tie everything together. For example, if you did a trip around Europe you could fill a frame full of money from the different countries you visited, or if you're a big sports fan perhaps some old ticket stubs, button or stickers and some pictures of you at the game would be most appropriate. Even things that don't seem that exciting can work great for this. I have one from my London trip that has everything from a half filled coffee punch card to torn movie stubs to my student ID.
So where am I leading you with all of this rambling? Well, since I painted my kitchen a much darker color than I originally anticipated, I decided to put something bright on the walls to spice it up a bit. Originally I was just going to go with some generic happy food pictures from Ikea, but after I found these three slot frames for $10 a piece I knew they would be perfect some some sort of memento collection. After scavenging around the house for a bit I landed on the back drop I had used for photo's at my engagement party. It had lemons on it, which are definitely in the bright and cheery category and it had said "Asbury Farms" across the top. I had found it shoved into a high shelf in my garden shed and figured if I hadn't done anything with it for the last 6 months then I could probably cut it up without fearing that I'd destroyed my memento. Besides, people now can actually see part of it which is one of the big upsides of using such things around your house. So here is how it turned out.
I had a terrible time trying to avoid glare on these, but you can get the idea. The A is from the Asbury and the Fa is from Farms. I would have rather just gotten the F by itself, but the A was nestled too close. While projects like this won't have instant meaning for those who visit my kitchen, they are cute by themselves and give my the opportunity to share the story with those who ask.
Here is my wonderful husband making me a Valentine's Day breakfast in our newly purple kitchen and the two frames on either side of the cabinets.
So to recap, using mementos from life events to decorate you home is great because:
1) Its free
2) It keeps said memories out in the open where you can enjoy them
3) It gives your space an instantly personal non-generic feel