Make a Pocket Album Recipe Book
Instead of a toaster - which I actually found my friend Erica really DID want - I try to give unique gifts for weddings. I love giving gifts that are functional, and what's more functional than a write-it-yourself recipe book?
This summer I made three recipe books for three wedding gifts. They're made from 4x6" clear plastic albums, are filled with blank recipe cards, and are held shut with built-in ribbon ties. I had such a good time I started making more for Christmas gifts and to sell on Etsy. Learn how simple it is to turn a $1 discount store photo album into a beautiful gift that the newly weds will enjoy for years to come!
Finding the "cheapie" albums
While the albums are cheap, they really are a good-quality album to use. I love the idea of using the clear-plastic albums because they protect your cover art, they protect the recipes, and they are easy to clean if they get splatted with sauce or batter.
I recently stocked up on $1 Best Occasion albums at Walmart. I can't find them on Walmart.com to share, so here are some other examples to give you an idea. These examples cost a bit more, but even at $2, they're a very affordable gift!
Scrapbooking supplies you'll need
If you're a scrapbooker, you'll probably have all these handy! If you're picking items to purchase, think food. Picnic patterns, pots and pans, silverware, cake and cookies, etc.
- Straight and design scissors, decorative punches, paper cutter. I found some really unique ways to use otherwise unrelated punches. A flower punch became part of clouds, hearts can become 4-leaf clovers, zig-zag scissors can create fringe on placemats.
- Colorful, patterned paper. This is a great way to use scraps from other projects, since your album covers will be quite small.
- Stickers and embellishments. If you're using flowers, brads, buttons, etc., try to use the smaller, flatter variety. With mini albums I've found that too think of embellishments will poke holes in the thin plastic cover or cause the cover to push out a bit from where it should sit in the pocket. They make super cute thin 3D picnic stickers.
- Double-sided and single sided tape, glue stick, scrapbooking adhesives. For the ribbon I especially recommend the Terrifficly Tacky tape.
- Photos and bits of artwork, if you wish!
- Ribbon for a closure. (Optional.)
- 4x6" recipe cards or lined notecards.
Collect all your suppliesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Food punches and embellishments
An easy way to create inexpensive gifts is to collect colored paper and use embellishments to fit your theme. Paper is diverse, and can be reclaimed from thousands of sources (think cartoons, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, wrapping paper, etc.). Embellishments that are more geared towards a specific theme are easy to buy, use, and trade out. Plus they're just so fun!
Food related paper prints
Wow, some of these look good enough to eat. If you know a couple with a certain fondness for strawberries or popcorn, these designs will be especially appropriate.
There are three jigs, or templates, you can make to help the book-making process go faster and more smoothly.
Ribbon Placing and Ribbon Threading JigsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Cover Slide JigClick thumbnail to view full-size
Whew! All that work for ribbons? Now you're ready to decorate.
Building your albums
First, cut the cardstock about 1/4" smaller than the front pocket can fit. This will give you a little wiggle room.
Now comes the fun part. Besides accounting for the spot where you'll tape down the ribbon (which you can do before you start decorating, just see the photo gallery below), you have free range to decorate the front and back of each cover as you please! Do a dry fit to make sure the album covers and ribbon will all line up properly when you finally place the covers in the albums, otherwise you might end up with upside down pages.
Below are a few examples of what I've done for covers. They're still tricky for me to design. Sometimes less is more, and two simple patterns divided by a line in the middle can be a very classy way to go.
Lining up your ribbonClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cutting the ribbon slot
If you missed this step, go back to the first ribbon jig photo for directions.
Last but not least...fill the album!
I filled my gift recipe albums with blank recipe cards so the couple could start their own book of favorite recipes. Lined 4x6" notecards will work just as well, and if you want, you can even sneak a few of your own favorite recipes in there!
Finished albumsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Love this pattern? Have other tips?