Gift Books {A Tutorial}

This is my friend Andrea.

Our husbands work together and are best friends.  Our kids are all the same age and call each other cousins.

We have been through a lot of life together, and Andrea is very dear to me.  She is so dear to me that on her very recent 35th birthday I felt I wanted to communicate to her how special she is to me by creating a gift book for her.

Andrea’s gift book, which I simply titled 35, is a compilation of  thirty-five things I love about her.  {This book was inspired by a gift I received which you can read about here.}

Today I am going to use Andrea’s gift book as a tutorial to walk you through the process so that you can make your own gift book for someone special.

Here we go!

First, choose an album in a size and color you like.  I like small gift books because they just seem so cute and gifty, but any size will work.  The one I chose for Andrea is 8-inches by 8-inches, and I found it at Michael’s.  They have lots of colors and a few different sizes.

For this project, I chose the kind of album that has plastic sheet protectors so that you can make a page and just slip it in.  So easy.

The second thing you will need is some paper.  You can choose one color or pattern and use the same paper throughout your book.  This is a great approach that keeps the book visually simple and doesn’t overwhelm your eyes with patterns or designs.  Another option is to purchase a paper pack that contains coordinating papers.  For Andrea’s book I used a coordinating pack because I already had this beautiful paper on hand:

Now that you have your album and your paper, put them aside and shift gears.

It’s time to focus on content.  You need to figure out what works best for you {list, legal pad, post-it notes, etc.},  and compile the content of your book in some tangible form.  I like to type on the computer, so I made a list of words or phrases that described something I wanted to include about Andrea.  It looked something like this…

…and it included items such as “has fun with her kids,” “kind”, “easy to be around,” “great smile,” ”the way she uses her hands when she talks,” etc.  This isn’t a final draft.  Just get your ideas out so you can work with them.  If I sit down and try to write a final draft, I find myself bogged down and frustrated.  Brainstorming helps me to not worry about the way my words look or sound.

Once you have a collection of words, go back and refine them.  I decided to write each thing I love about Andrea as if I were saying it to her.  So each entry started with “You are….” or “You have…” or “You always…”

After all my bullet points were turned into complete sentences, I saved it and walked away.  I gave myself some time to think through what I had written, and I ended up coming up with a few additions.  I also combined a few that were similar and reworded some that weren’t quite the way I wanted them.  For a gift like this, the content is the whole point of the gift.  Make sure it’s really good, and give yourself time to make sure it’s exactly right.

Once I finished editing my content, I played around with the font size and margins and then printed it out onto white card stock.

Here’s one of my secret weapons…

The rounded corner punch.  He is my new best friend.  He turns this…

…into that…

Beautiful!   Somehow it looks to much more finished with rounded corners.  Mr. Corner Punch saved me a lot of time when I was putting this book together.  He made my white card stock rectangles look pretty without me having to embellish them.  Thank you, Mr. Corner Punch.

Now it’s time to gather up your pretty paper and your new album.  Lay out all of your pages and arrange everything the way you want it to look.

Want to know a secret?  I didn’t have enough paper for 20 matching sheets, so I improvised.  I made 10 full sheets and then 10 strips to go on top of a different patterned sheet on the facing page.

This is where a pack of coordinating paper comes in handy.  You don’t have to worry about how the papers look together.  When they coordinate you can’t really mess it up.  Given that I was running late when I put this book together, and I realized I didn’t have as much as I thought I did, I was really thankful for coordinating paper.

Once the pages were put together I slipped them into the album, and voila!, I had a gift book ready to give my friend.

There were several aesthetic things I wanted to change but couldn’t because I ran out of time…I wish I had chosen a more neutral album color; I wanted to embellish the pages using a pretty butterfly punch I have; I wanted to add some glitter to the 35 on the cover.  But, at the end of the day, I felt confident about this gift because I knew I had spent the time where it mattered most:  on the words.

This gift was not about the pretty paper or the album.  All of those things are packaging, and they are great.  But they are secondary to the words I wrote about my friend.  Happy 35th Birthday, Andrea!

Have fun creating your own gift book, and let me know how it goes!

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2 Responses to Gift Books {A Tutorial}

  1. Michel says:

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  2. Pingback: Gift Books {An Overview} | katherine sasser

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