Traditionally, a spirit house, also known as a san phra phum, is a shrine to the animist spirits (a belief that there exists a spirit in all things animate and inanimate). These structures--which can be found primarily in the Southeast Asian cultures of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand--are usually placed in an auspicious corner of the home or business property, after its position is determined by a Brahmin priest.
The house is usually a miniature temple which stands on a pillar or dais. It exists to provide shelter for departed loved ones. Offerings are usually left daily to honor them. They can range in size from small to massive shrines which exist in the backyard of a home.
The construction of a spirit house can be costly, and it may require the expertise of professionals in all areas of the construction. However, breathe easy--here is a way that you can make a spirit house with all the honor and respect to departed loved ones that you want without breaking the bank to do it.
Choose a "house." It can be any object that is hollow on the inside. A dollhouse, birdhouse kit or any plain room box used for miniature scenes are all viable options. It is great to select something that you can decorate externally to honor the memory of the person for whom you are building the shrine. Thus, if this person loved the color purple, you might paint the outside of this semblance of an architectural structure a nice shade of lavender. Use your gathered crafts to customize a shade of color, glue glitter and magazine pictures, and in general, individualized the outside of your "structure."
Design the inside of your spirit house. After the outside of the house is dry and complete, paint the interior walls and ceiling. Glue pictures from magazines to make small "pictures on the wall." In general, work on creating a space that honors the likes of your departed loved one. This can be a fun, healing endeavor. Work on the walls and the ceiling first and then glue carpet (or some kind of floor covering) to the base of your structure.
Fill the interior of your spirit house with miniature objects that reflect the likes and preferences of your departed loved one. After finishing the general motif of the outside and inside structure, add the individual pieces that begin to complete your work-of-art memorial. The philosophy here: less is more.
Start simple. You might just want to put in a miniature table and chairs. Pick a few pieces of miniature clothes (especially if your departed loved clothes). Fill the scene with personalized small objects that are in tribute to your departed. Over time, your Spirit House scene becomes more unique, custom-made and special to the memory of your departed.
Fill your spirit house setting with personalized small objects that are in tribute to your departed as you find them over time. Your spirit house scene becomes more and more distinct, tailored, and special to the memory of your departed with every unique object that you add. Thus, your spirit house remains forever open to the changes and attributes that you intuitively make to it over time. Amazingly, as the scene you create unfolds, emotional trauma over the loss of a loved one can oftentimes be significantly reduced.