Something Happy to Distract from COVID-19

Personal connections are really what we all live for.   Family, friends, memories–they are all so important, as well as feeling valued by others.  The COVID-19 shutdown has put a nasty squeeze on our ability to have all of those needs fulfilled (and set a lot of our nerves on edge).  Here’s something happy to distract from COVID-19, economic fears, AND give us that much needed connenction.

Back in December 2019 I had mentioned in my newsletter doing a Lorber Family Favorites recipe book as a gift to my kids.  I didn’t provide the scoop about how to create it and quickly wished I had because so many people asked.

So, take a look–here are the details about how to create a wonderful memory catching gift idea while we are stuck inside.  I’ve included pages from the final book I created to give you ideas.   My kids say this was their favorite gift of all time!

01. Gather your Goodies

Figure out your theme and, if you’re doing a recipe book, gather all your family favorites.  To make it really personal, gather lots of pictures too…in my case, a lot of the pics I had of my kids were printed out (not digital).  Since I’m not tech savvy, I literally took snapshots of favorite family pics (many to do with food). Related to the recipes, I took pics of old battered index cards, parts of printed recipe books or magazines, some even scribbled on napkins–the more stains the better, lol).

To help fill the book with more visual interest, I also googled images of food items to add into the book–blueberries for blueberry coffee cake, Duncan Hines cake mix (since it’s my kids family favorite b-day cake), a chicken, etc.

I took all of the above and cropped them on my phone before I started to put together pages.

02. Organize / Choose Platform

Choose how you want to categorize your book and what software or app you’re going to build it in.

I clustered recipes by breakfast foods, game day favorites (from my kids’ sports days and pasta parties), appetizers, veggie dishes, meats, soups & stews, plus desserts & breads.   Pictures included ones from all ages, but heavily focused on images of us eating and fun times together.  I did cheat a bit and included pictures of a few pages from a scrapbook my Mom put together.

Think about what pictures you’d want to go with what recipes.  You can always fill in more as you go or take things out IF you use a flexible platform to create the book in.

I chose to put everything together in Microsoft Publisher, and after I completed everything I saved each page as a JPEG file then uploaded into the Shutterfly to finalize and place my order.  You can do a simpler version directly in places like Shutterfly or Snapfish–I just wanted to put as many pictures and recipes as possible and Publisher gave me that chance.

03. Key Formatting Tricks

Here’s a few things I did to make the book fun, create visual interest, allow the chance for the book to grow over time, and keep it organized:
  1. Each type of food category has a different color or texture page backdrop.  I chose pink for sweets, green for veggies, a wood texture for meats (like a cutting board), etc.
  2. EVERY image has a shadow backdrop to make it pop off the page.
  3. There is a ‘call out’ on the first page of each section with the category name in fun font.
  4. I did my best to include pictures of handwritten recipes on as many pages as possible.
  5. Ideally I put a family picture of the person whose recipe was on the page to send some extra LOVE  to them.
  6. Color framed blank pages were included in every category allowing for the chance to add more recipes down the line.
  7. I chose heavy duty paper and a flat format book so it would last a long time.

03. Almost Done!

After you’ve got your layouts by page, just keep looking them over for proper balance of fonts, images, typos, etc.   Once you’re feeling 98% happy (I say 98% as you’ll always think later on about tweaks or additions you wish you’d made), upload the pages into a printing website.

I will say that I’ve been challenged with getting my printouts just the way I wanted at times–don’t struggle, just get help from CUSTOMER SERVICE!   Depending on what my budget is, I’ve used Staples to do printing, Walmart, Snapfish, Shutterfly.  (The 40 page book I put together on good quality paper with a hard cover ended up costing me about $85 per person–SO worth it in the long run.)

Amount of TIME invested:  I spent about 10 hours total putting the Lorber Family Favorites book together…maybe even more like 15 hours.   It’s was a labor of love, so I completely lost track of time!  And it was the most  fun thing I did in prep for Christmas ever.

JOY!:  I was SO excited about giving them the gift that I almost FORCED them to revert back to childhood when they were allowed to open one gift on Christmas eve.  Normally the gift would be of their choosing, but I pushed their wrapped books before them and said, ‘I just can’t wait any more… these, please!”

I also told my kids that this was the type of book that needed to get stains on it–that would be the only way to show me it was truly loved!


????? Where to find it?????

BIGGEST mistake–I didn’t put an index in the front and page numbers.  Now I regularly get a call from my kids saying, ‘Can you send me that recipe _______?’ and am responding, ‘It’s in your family favorites recipe book by the picture of the blueberries on the page with the pink background color.’

SILLY me!  Novice mistake, but at least I can help you avoid that one.

So now, I hope I’ve inspired you to do something extremely memorable with the seemingly endless amounts of cooped up time we have.  Life will start moving again really soon, so take advantage of the opportunity.

In the meanwhile, here’s few quarantine jokes my friends have sent around to keep a tiny bit of levity through this challenging time:

Thanks for the chance to connect!  Stay safe and know we are all in this together.  (Believe me, I don’t mean to in any way diminish how outrageously challenging this time is for first responders.  If you’re one of them, please make sure to take care of yourself (physically and emotionally) while taking care of the sick during this extremely difficult time.)

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