Monday, December 21, 2015

How to make a Christmas memory book

A sample cover for a memory book
  Today I'm going to share a special project with you.  No doubt your Christmas celebrations are already in full swing, or they soon will be.  Or maybe, like me, you are into Christmas crafting and are in well over your head.  There are a number of things that I am just going to wait and finish after Christmas!  So you will probably want to file this away and start working on it after Christmas if you are interested.  I must just say that it's one of the most satisfying projects I have ever done.  

Quite a few years ago now, I came up with a unique gift for my grown children.  I’d been thinking back over Christmas memories  of my childhood, and I felt strongly the need to write them down so my children and grandchildren would know what it had been like.  As I mulled over just how to do this, I came up with the idea of making a Christmas memory book for each of my grown kids and their families.  I thought I would type up some memories, maybe scan or copy some old photos, and include some recipes.
This shows a recipe in my grandmother's handwriting and just the edge of a vintage gift tag.
As I thought further, I decided to include not only my own childhood memories, pictures, and recipes, but to include those items from my children’s childhood as well. 
We always had nonpareils at my grandmother's farm at Christmas time.
The next step was to actually think hard about my memories and begin writing them down.  It was amazing how much I remembered once I started typing.  I am going to try and share the process of how I made the books with all of you, so that others who might like to make these as a gift will have a starting point.

If you want to make one or more memory books for Christmas 2016, I highly recommend beginning to write down your memories today (or starting December 26, which might be more realistic)!

To do this the way I did, you will need:
* Looseleaf binder for each memory book -- the type with clear-view pockets on front and back so you can add a decorative front and back cover
* Printer, ink and paper
* A scanner, or access to one
* Photos, recipes, other paper treasures
* Stickers, rubber stamps, and other embellishments
* Clear page protectors

So here we go with the step by step.

1.  Decide on the scope of your memory book.  Will you use just your own childhood memories, or will you add in the memories from your kids’ growing-up years?  Do you want to add pictures or recipes?  Write down your thoughts and plans for the project.

2.  Decide how you will put the book together.  I chose to use loose-leaf binders because they were easy to decorate and I wanted the kids [and myself]  to be able to add pages into them.  You will want to purchase binders, sheet protectors and such right away so they will be on hand when you are ready for them.

3.  Begin thinking about and writing down your memories.  As you do, you’ll probably find, as I did, that they coalesce rather neatly into categories.  Think about it:  Did you stay home every Christmas or did you go to Grandma’s house?  Maybe your grandparents came to you!  What did you do on Christmas Eve?  On Christmas day?  Do you have special memories relating to getting the Christmas tree, to church services, or to singing Christmas carols?  Did your ethnic family background mean you prepared special foods or observed special customs?

Here are the categories I used:
 * Christmas Eve in the Neighborhood (this included recipes for some of the treats my mom prepared to take to the families in our neighborhood)
* Christmas at Home (which included memories about our tree, special gifts, cards, recipes and so on.
* The Methodist Church Christmas Fair (a huge part of our Christmases as children)
* Trips to Milford (memories of our holiday visits to take gifts to loved ones in another part of the state)
* Christmas on the Farm (memories of how my grandmother decorated, wrapped gifts, etc. plus the dinners and gift exchange we had there)

*  In between this and the more recent memories, I put in lots of scanned photos, cards, snips of ribbon and wrapping paper, etc. from my childhood.
A photo from my book -- Christmas 1951
Then I went on to more recent memories of when I was raising my own children:
 * Christmas Memories for Another Generation
* Holiday Baking
* How the Third-Grader Saved Christmas
* Christmas Heirlooms
* Christmas on a Shoestring
* Gingerbread Houses
* Christmas Breakfast
* Gifts of Food
And I ended with a Christmas acrostic written by our son in elementary school.

In between are loads of my Christmas recipes -- basically all of my Christmas cookie recipes, plus ones for kitchen gifts, Christmas Eve supper, Christmas breakfast, and Christmas dinner.

I also scanned many, many of the photos from my kids’ childhood Christmases, along with some tags, cards and other things to make it special.

   So, in writing down your memories and other things like recipes, you will probably want to just sit down at your computer and open up a word processing document to put these things in.  Be sure and save it after you finish each stint of writing.  You don't want to put this much thought and work into something, only to lose part of it.

4.  Decide what recipes you need to include.  I wanted all of my Christmas recipes in one easy-to-find place, so I put them all in.  Type up the recipes one or two per page.  I also scanned some recipe cards, especially ones in the handwriting of loved ones, to include.
A traditional family recipe in my great-grandmother's handwriting
5.  Choose the photos you want to scan and any additional items, like vintage cards, tags, wrapping paper and so on.  Scan and save the items.  (The great thing about scanning [as opposed to photocopying, which would certainly be another option] is that the images will be right there on your computer should you want to make another book.) With my scanned photos and other things, I cut them out so I could glue them onto whatever pages I liked throughout the book.  If you are a whiz at scrapbooking, though, you can do it that way, or if you are a pro at graphic design you can design each page right on your computer and print them out without needing to embellish them. 
One of the vintage Christmas tags I scanned
6.  Print and embellish your pages.  You can use your scanned memorabilia for embellishing, or use stickers or even rubber-stamped messages/images in red or green.

7. Slip the pages into page protectors, placing the pages back to back so you can fit two into each page protector. 

8.  Arrange the pages in the binder as you like.

9.  Design front and back covers and perhaps an edge strip as well (to go along the spine of the binder to show the title) and slip these into place.
A sample back cover
And there is your Christmas memory book!  Since you have the pages in your computer and the memorabilia is scanned and saved, you can make as many copies of your book as you like.  By special request, I ended up making one for my parents and two for my aunts as well as the ones I did for my grown kids.  
Of course, I made one for myself as well!  And I use it.  It's the perfect place to put my menu for Christmas dinner, any new recipes I try and want to keep using, and so on.  

I'm linking today with Sandi's No Place Like Home at Rose Chintz Cottage.  Let me know if you have any questions.  And if you make a Christmas memory book, I would love to know about it!


  1. What a fabulous idea! My kids would love this. I will certainly look into making some of these as two of my children live away and are quite sentimental about their childhood. This would make a most endearing gift. Thanks so much for sharing at No Place Like Home and have a very Merry Christmas with your family, Mrs. T!


    1. Oh Sandi, I hope you do try this project! This does sound like something your faraway kids in particular would really love.

  2. It's a beautiful inspiration for Christmas 2016. You have been very thorough with suggestions and directions. I'll pin!

    1. Thank you, Vee! I hope you try making one of these! I would love to see what you come up with.

  3. Wonderful idea! I'd like to put one together just for me! If I start work on it in January, I might have it done by Christmas! Merry Merry!

    1. Thanks, Snap! Yes, it is worth making one just for yourself. After making the ones for my kids, I ended up making one for 2 of my aunts and for my parents, and then I did make one just for me. I use it every year and it is most helpful!

  4. What a lovely idea!
    I just discovered your blogs yesterday; part of my post Christmas "decompression" plan is to put my feet up and delve into your archives. With a notebook of course because I know I will come out of them with many new ideas!
    Have a wonderful holiday:)
    Jenn M

    1. Thank you, Jenn, and welcome! I don't know how all of the comments on this post got by me, as I was sure I had replied to them. But I hadn't!

      I hope you have had some time to decompress and look around in the archives here and in my Christmas kitchen. I always love it when people visit the archives and find new ideas!

  5. What an inspiring idea. I do have a photo album just for the Christmas's of my married life and children's life. I like the idea of the other additions as well to make it more special still. I will have to see what I can find. Thanks for the idea.

    1. Thank you, Beth! I hope you do make one (or more) of these and that you will post pictures if you do. It's just a fun project and those I have given have been very much enjoyed.

  6. This is such a gorgeous and sweet idea! I love you've included handwritten excepts from the past, what a treasure. Pinning!

    1. I'm glad you like the idea! Yes, I was really blessed to be able to find some handwritten recipes and other artifacts to use. Hope you make one of these and that you have fun with the idea!

  7. A lovely way to treasure memories. Happy holidays.

    1. Thanks, Amalia! I thought I had replied to all of these comments ages ago, but found I hadn't. Glad you liked seeing my memory book. Thanks for the visit.


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