When it comes time to give someone special a gift, I believe there’s nothing better than a collection of love from those around them. For my recent 30th birthday (am I really admitting that in a public forum?) my husband took a leaf from my books (it’s only taken him 10 years to get a clue) and secretly gathered emails from family and friends near and far, binding them into a little book for me. It was truly the best gift I have ever received and I will cherish it forever!
Whether it be a birthday, a graduation, a thank you, a baby blessing, a bridal shower…any celebration or rite of passage is a great time to gather messages and memories and bind them together for the perfect gift.
Being the coordinator of such a project is really not as tricky as you may think – trust me, I rope myself into it all the time and immediately wonder ‘why, why, why?’ – only to change my mind as soon as the pages start rolling in. It’s such a special job to put all the beautiful pieces together and really all you have to do is create a cover and punch some holes. You can do that, right?
So – lets talk about how simple this really can be.
First – decide on a type of cover and size. You could make this already and feel very pleased with yourself and your preparedness. Lately I’ve been quite partial to thick wool felt as a front and back cover. It’s earthy, it’s artsy – it’s sturdy enough to act as a cover and look a bit more special than regular old cardstock. It’s also very fun and easy to embellish! (try stores such as paper source for felt, or a google search for thick felt sheets – made in Nepal)
For this cover, I used leftover scraps from a different project to cut a tree trunk and leaves, and stitched them onto the front piece of felt with my sewing machine. I then folded a piece of decorative ribbon on the left edge of each cover and stitched in place to make a sturdier spine.
Second – inform your participants. Give clear instructions (using your best kindergarten-teacher-voice/words, believe me – you can never be TOO clear) to those involved via email or other mode of communication (I’m yet to discover another as worthy) with the size you would like them to work on, and some encouragement/inspiration as to what to do (i.e. favorite photo and message, artwork, embarrassing story etc). You may even like to provide them with cardstock/paper cut to your chosen size to make things even easier.
Some books I have simply punched holes into everyone’s pages and bound them straight in, others I have mounted each page onto cardstock for more unity – it’s up to you but plan ahead so you know which size to ask everyone for!
Third – Collect all your goodies (emotional blackmail may be required to gather pages from stragglers), create a cover page (perhaps just some pretty paper and a label introducing the book) then get punching to make holes in each page and slip onto a metal book ring. You could also use ribbon to bind it together. Ta-da! Everyone will be oh-so impressed with your juicy bookmaking skills!
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Here are pictures of a few teacher appreciation books my daughter’s class have given their teacher at the end of the school year – drawings/collages/messages gathered from the children and presented to the teacher. Beats a giant hallmark card don’t you think?
For a baby blessing way book full of well wishes and baby dreams I used my beloved felt again, with a large and small heart stitched to the cover to represent mama and baby.
If felt isn’t your thing – fabric scraps also make delicious scrapbook covers. Sandwich a piece of chipboard between two pieces of fabric (you can use a glue stick to hold the fabric in place) then seal off the edges with some hand or machine stitching. These two small books (approx. 4x6 in size – perfect for a collection of photos to send to grandma!) were created in a jiffy and look so very sweet.
Don’t be afraid to get extra-crafty with your fabric covers – adorning them with flowers, crazy stitching, windows, pockets, appliqués!
Of course the best part of all this? Handing over that scrapbook and watching the pure JOY on the person’s face as they see how loved they are. Brings a tear to one’s eye, I tell you!
*idea to note– needle felting.
The heart on the gray book cover was created by needle felting. A fun (but potentially painful if you are clumsy like me!) craft involving stabbing away at wool roving with a spiky edged needle. You can make all sorts of forms/shapes/animals etc and as long as you keep your fingers out of the way you will love it! Do a search on etsy for needle felting kits and supplies (as well as examples of what can be made using this technique) for some pokey fun!