DIY gifts: how to make your own family recipe book

A family recipe book makes a great gift. We offer tips on how to assemble and publish one, just in time for the holidays!

Photo credit: Flickr user Michael (original: CC 2.0

Looking for a DIY present that your family will really use? Making a family recipe book is a present that’s easy to put together, and hard to put down once you’ve started leafing through its pages...and remembering the delicious taste of your parents’ cooking! Depending on how you decide to put them together, a family recipe book makes a low-key stocking stuffer, or an heirloom to be added to and passed down to your children.  Here are our favourite ideas for creating (or updating) this classic keepsake:

Grow it through your family tree

Ask each family member to contribute their favourite recipes, then bind them together with family photos of your home cooks. Don't forget to name the most-requested ones after their contributors: that chili gets a lot tastier when it’s Grandpa’s 5 Alarm Chili (and it’s even better if you can put a photo or crayon portrait alongside it as illustration!) If there are older recipes in your family that are hiding in between the leaves of floury old cookbooks, this is your chance to dust them off and preserve them for posterity. Recipes are also a wonderful way to re-tell family stories and get your little ones cooking—because you’re in charge of choosing recipes and photos, you can break down your kids’ favourite dishes to show them, photo by photo, how to cook up something wonderful with you. 

Hand-make it

A simple binder with loose-leaf pages or a notebook is the classic way to start a family recipe book—because everyone can contribute! This family project is best combined with some creative kids who love to draw. Kids can decorate recipes with potato stamps and drawings (for inspiration, check out illustrations from Mollie Katzen's early cookbooks). You can also try pasting in handwritten card recipes that have been floating around in boxes (or in other cookbooks), writing in descriptions and recording dinners your family loves

Build it online

If you’re short on time, there are lots of apps and websites that make it easy to assemble and print your recipe book - including this one! You may be used to searching our recipes section for kid-friendly ideas, but did you know that you can also use our website to create and print your own cookbook? It's easy, and lets you round up all the recipes you love in a flash. If you prefer to use templates, this free premade one is great. Photo printing sites like Shutterfly and publishing sites like Blurb also feature beautiful templates and will ship right to your door (or to your relatives’ doors!). If you think you’d like to make this a gift that keeps on giving every year, apps like Cookbook Cafe let you keep a running list of recipes online, to be added to anytime and printed out when you’re ready.

The best thing about a family recipe book—besides how satifying it feels to hold it in your hands—is that it’s really a way to bring back happy memories. Just tasting a dish you love can conjure up your childhood, or make your house smell exactly like your grandmothers’ did on a long-ago winter evening. Enjoy taking your family on a trip down memory lane, and enjoy cooking up some new memories in the process!

Looking for more DIY gift ideas? We’ve got plenty here and here. We’d love to hear about your family recipe books as you work on them—if you have great printing suggestions, template ideas or just a wonderful recipe to share, please drop us a line on Facebook or Twitter!

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