These are the neatest things! It would be easy enough to give someone a book on memoir-writing, and tell them to just start writing. And that might be motivation enough. However, a whole book can be overwhelming to some people, or they may just not take the time to read the whole thing. Another way to get someone (including yourself!) writing about his or her life is to give them a "journal jar".
Make a list of questions you would want to know about that person's life. Consider all the things you want to know about your great-grandparents, for instance, the questions you never got answered. Write these questions down on paper, and cut the paper into little strips, one question per strip. Place the strips in an empty jar, either pretty glass or even a cleaned-out empty peanut butter jar. The theory behind a journal jar is that the recipient will remove a slip of paper each day/week/month, and respond to the question. Each question is meant to evoke a memory, hopefully encouraging the person to WRITE THAT STORY DOWN (or at least share it verbally). You can make the jar pretty by covering the lid with fabric and a ribbon. What a wonderful gift!
Don't hesitate to make one for yourself too! Any way you can encourage YOURSELF to save your stories is wonderful! And remember, each of these journal jar prompts can be the subject of a scrapbook page! You will never lack a subject for a page again!
Some sites to help with your journal jars...
This site offers what seemed like hundreds of questions for your jar. They would be good questions just to use as writing prompts. http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/ywc/journaljars.htm
Adult Journal in a Jar By Cynthia Ewer
Jumpstart journal writers with a quart-sized canning jar filled with folded strips of paper. Each one contains a single thought provoking journal prompt. Paired with a pretty blank book, a Journal Jar makes a great gift.
We've made it easy to craft your Journal Jar. Free printable journal prompts have colorful legends and graphics to make a pretty gift. Add a free printable gift tag for a professional touch.
To assemble your Journal Jar, print the colorful journal prompts pages. Cut apart each printed strip, and fold it so that the colored graphics are folded to the outside, with the journal assignment on the inside.
Fill the jar with journal slips, and attach the free printable gift tag.
type "journaling jars" in your search engine and there are several more sites listed.