Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to make a Christmas Memory Book

A sample cover for a memory book
 Several 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.

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. 

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.  It seemed like this might be an appropriate and special post to close out my “Christmas in July” for 2013. 

If you want to make one or more memory books for this Christmas, I highly recommend starting to write down your memories today!

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
* Photos, recipes, scanner
* 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.  Buying them now probably also means better prices, since such things are on back-to-school sales.

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.
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.
A photo from my book -- Christmas 1951
   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.

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.  And of course, I made one for myself as well!


  1. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Vicki! I'm glad you liked the idea. Hope you try to make one! Be sure and post about it if you do.

  3. Oh, what a delightful idea!! You have the wheels turning in my mind! Thank you, Mrs. T! :)

  4. You are most welcome, Mrs. Smith!!! Have fun with this project! I will be interested to hear all about it!

  5. What a great idea! hope you don't mind I linked your post to the Magical Holiday Home forums so people can go read it. I will print this out to add to my Christmas notebook and might just start working on that this winter in front of the fireplace!

  6. Hi Luludou!

    Of course, I don't mind at all that you linked the post to the Magical Holiday Home forums! Everyone is more than welcome to visit here in my Christmas kitchen! I will be happy if others find this tutorial useful.

    I've been wanted to write one on this topic for years, but it always looked too big a task. Glad I could finally get it written and I hope it will be helpful and inspiring to you and others! Be sure and post about your project and share pictures if you do make a memory book!

  7. Wow, Mrs. T, you outdid yourself with this post. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. There's so much info here, I need to revisit it several times over. I have a Christmas memory book and need to update it. Then I'll have to blog about it in the future! visit me at Mary

  8. Thanks, Mary!!! I'm glad the post was a blessing to you! I'll look forward to reading about your memory book update!


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