Storing Meaningful Mementos – Graduation Caps & Paraphernalia

I really love to keep lots of items as mementos, borderline “Hoarders: Buried Alive” level. Huge stash. I’ve saved a majority of these items to create scrapbooks because I’m very emotionally attached to memories of happy times, but what about those things that are too big/thick to be scrapbooked?

Such was the case of my college Graduation Cap. In the US, there’s a tradition for university graduates to decorate their grad cap with materials and/or text that they feel represents their personalities – completely independent of the institutions, and some schools don’t accept it – and of course, I could not skip out on a DIY project to decorate the cap of my dreams 🙂

Something to keep in mind: not everyone is as crafty or has time to take this on as a DIY – fret not! There’s a website called that sells tons of designs, all for just $15, tax included! Choose from standard school logo designs, or my favorite, the ultimate pop culture reference best-sellers. There’s also an option to make your own custom design! 

Back to DIYland! Honestly, packaging all my likes into a small 10 x 10 mortar board was a huge challenge for me, so I tried to narrow down my options. My senior year was packed with lots of extracurricular activities, and I loved everything I was involved with, so I had to make it all fit. My sorority and Panhellenic leadership positions played a huge part in my personal development, so that was a no-brainer. Lastly, I also wanted to showcase my heritage. All of this is quite a lot and I can get carried away easily adding more and more details to things, so I REALLY tried to pull the reins in on myself from the beginning to try and keep it as minimalistic – yet true to myself – as possible.

I didn’t want the sorority letters to be too big because I had to include both my own organization’s as well as those of the whole PH council, so I drew a bubbly smaller version of both. Then, I pulled out a small wooden star and a flower from my craft stash. Since I’ve been a huge Britto fan for ages, I thought it would be great to add a touch of his art to my cap so I painted the star in his style, and added a K from my first name. Then, the flower provided me with 7 separate tiny canvases where I micro-painted my life in sections, and I added the C from my last name to it as well. The paintings include:

WCB Grad SB 41. My heritage. I drew all the flags of the countries where my family comes from, surrounded by the US flag which is where I live now

2. A unicorn – the mascot of my sorority

3. A pineapple – the symbol of the hospitality industry, since that was my field of study

4. A dinosaur – his name is Pizzasaurus Chi, and he was the official mascot of my year during Panhellenic Council. Inside joke 🙂

5. IKAA – taking a mandated cooking class with horrible instructors and TAs was hell, but the common hatred for it gave me some great friends and memories that semester. Our group called ourselves IKAA

6. The world – wanderlust is so real. I want to see it all!

7. The Eiffel Tower – from family heritage to living in France when I was 15, I am hopelessly in love with the country. Always at the top of my “Travel To” list

I really loved how it all came out and I definitely was relieved to see that it wasn’t too much. So, graduation happens, YAY! Walk across the stage, now what? I obviously wanted to keep this forever, but how and where? I didn’t want it to be in some box in the attic, nor did it make sense hanging around my room. Years after graduating, I found the perfect solution: a shadow box. Not only could I store and show my pretty grad cap forever, but I could also throw in any other memento from my involvement and achievements so that it could all stay together. This reminded me that my high school stuff was actually boxed away, so I decided, 2 for the price of 1 – make them both! Here are my high school and college shadow boxes, currently hanging on the wall I like to call the “Hall of Fame” where all my brother’s trophies and mine are hanging.

And that’s all folks! Shadow boxes are the business, and they are also great for sports memorabilia, Armed Forces awards/medals and much more! No other way to go, just ask graduation me:

WCB Grad SB 5


Where is your graduation paraphernalia? Did you decorate it and keep it? Comment below!

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