Start the gift-giving season off right—with a book, of course.

It’s not tree time yet, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t got turkey, stuffing, and eggnog on the brain. We’re also aiming to be the best gift-givers ever this holiday season (hey, we have a reputation to keep up), and getting started early is the easiest way to do it. So take it from us: We’ve got great gift ideas, holiday greeting tips, and cheeky ways to use your (sometimes disastrous) holiday gatherings as the inspiration for a unique book. Here’s a toast to the holidays, to us, and to beautiful books.

 

Five-star gift ideas

We all like to receive a really good present—hold the scented soaps and sparkly socks please—but nothing quite compares with being the star-gift-giver, the bringer of joyful tears and love-filled laughter. To achieve this kind of coveted status your present needs to be thoughtful, personal, and beautiful. A tall order?

Not really. Here’s how…

Gift ideas - Planners

The personalized 2014 planner

With as few as 12 standout images, you can remind someone special—or be reminded yourself—of some extra-special dates by creating a personalized planner. All year long your thoughtfulness is right there on the calendar (how’s that for a few easy extra love-points).

Add full-page photos or scanned illustrations and include week, month, or year-at-a-glance pages. Pepper them with special dates—birthdays, anniversaries, personal milestones—and voilà, star-gift numero uno.

Gift ideas - The Annual Review

The annual review

It all goes past so quickly. It’s as easy to forget the details of your year’s big highlights as it is to lose track of all the little things you’ve enjoyed together with a loved one. A lazy day in the park, friends for dinner, birthdays, anniversaries, short breaks and holidays—all soon become distant memories.

From Instant Photo Books using our Instagram, Facebook, and Designer Collection tools to BookSmart’s fully customizable layouts and Adobe® Lightroom®’s unlimited creative control—creating a book that preserves and elevates those moments and makes for a gift of mega proportions. Arrange by date, order of loveliness, or whatever feels right—it’s entirely up to you. Your book will raise laughs and smiles (maybe even temperatures) and your gift-giver status will get the gold star.

Gift ideas - The personalized illustrated notebook

The personalized/illustrated notebook

For the creative souls, ponderers, and dedicated doodlers among us, a notebook is always a welcome gift. But a personalized notebook that is itself inspiring, thought-provoking, and even (potentially) a little tear-inducing is a gift on another level.

Photographs, illustrations, or just words can be placed on the covers and throughout, along with plenty of lined, blank, or grid-style pages. It’s a gift that acknowledges the recipient’s untapped creativity—and a sure-fire win for the giver.

Gift ideas - The tailor-made cookbook

The tailor-made cookbook

Calling all foodies and friends of budding master chefs. A tailor-made cookbook has got to be one of the best gifts you can give. A little more time-consuming to make, perhaps, than some of the other options, but well worth the effort.

Imagery is key here, so if you haven’t yet selected (or even created) your images, be sure to keep backgrounds for photographs clean and simple (block color is best) to allow the food to take center stage. Or, if you’re handy with a pencil, illustrations can work brilliantly too. Meals made with the kids, mama’s infamous cakes, and signature dishes you’ve developed over the years can all combine to create a treasured tome. Star status awaits…

Gift ideas - The long-range review

The long-range review

Mom or Dad, brother or sister, friend or partner—we owe much to those closest to us, and we have paper trails that document these bonds. Baby pictures, school photographs, wedding albums, drawings, poems, and letters—map out our lives together.

Books that capture and celebrate this are the mothers of all tear-jerkers, the fathers of all man-hugs, and the granddaddies of all-time gifts. If your book features a group of friends or family, congratulations on smart planning—you have several star-gifts in one.

 

Holiday mealtime: Endless inspiration for tall stories

Holiday meals are notorious for food, drink, and conversation. They’re also widely known for generating entertaining stories that are told for years afterward. (You know what we’re talking about.) From no-filter grandma to your parents (AKA the Spanish Inquisition), the characters are endless. But what if you took those characters and stories and created a fictional family tale that’s even crazier than reality?

Make a holiday story book (before the holidays even start)

  1. Dig up old holiday photos
    Whether your photos are stuffed in shoeboxes or digitally stored on your computer, chances are you’ll need to round up a few years’ worth of photos to go through before figuring out what your story will be.
  2. Decide what story you want to tell
    Once you’ve gone through your images, holiday memories are bound to surface; perfect grist for the story mill. The old cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words is oh-so-true, and, for this book, you’ll be the storyteller in charge. Study your favorite shots, taking inspiration from what people were wearing, their facial expressions, and what you think they were feeling at the time.
  3. Start writing
    There are no restrictions when it comes to how fictional family tales are told—it’s your book, so you decide. Once you nail down your form and your basic storyline is decided, your characters will get developed (based on those family members we discussed earlier, remember?). Write, edit, and revise. Then do it all over again until you’re happy with your story.
  4. Make your book
    Use our free book-making tool, and choose your book size, paper type, and finishes. Once the book is complete, take some time to review it and make any necessary edits. If you’re pleased with the print version and are ready to order, you can also convert your book into an ebook that you can share it with your entire family. (It’s up to you whether you want to share the fact that they were the inspiration for your tale!)
Writing Prompts

 

Reward your donors (and staff) this holiday
with a book as nice as they are

Reward donors - The Nature Conservancy

We’re not a non-profit over here at Blurb (sometimes we have to state the obvious), but we do hear from a lot of non-profit folks who make books with us. Now’s the time of year that non-profits are scrambling to find ways to thank their donors, volunteers, and everyone else who made a year’s worth of “do-good work” work out so well. Here’s our gift to them—a little inspiration for how to make a meaningful thank-you book.

From little pocket planners for the worker bees who make it happen every day to coffee-table-sized brag books for heavy-hitting donors, our wide range of formats (and tiny prices) are perfect for non-profits.
Here are just a couple of ways to get your year-end duties wrapped up before it’s time for holiday parties (and holiday cocktails).

E-thank you
Our streamlined downloadable tools and seamless integration with Adobe® InDesign® make it easy to create an ebook you can distribute with your thank-you emails. Simple. Efficient. Beautiful. And did we mention affordable? You’ll save on printing and shipping costs (which should make your bookkeeper smile).

Make it personal
Personalize a book for a large donor. This is probably a great place to pull out the stops—think hardcover with a dust jacket, linen end papers, archival-quality paper (and of course the industry-leading quality all our books are printed with).

Celebrate the team
A book to recap all the great work you did over the year—with help from them. A small book to give to everyone on the team will encourage them to work even harder the next year. To make it even sweeter, customize a cover for each member. Putting together a photo book can take just minutes—here’s how.

 

And don’t just take our word for it. Here’s Erika Nortemann, Senior Photographer at The Nature Conservancy:

“The Nature Conservancy has created a variety of books using Blurb, and all have been met with smiles and positive feedback. We use them as gifts for retiring members of our Board of Directors, program yearbooks for major private and corporate donors, and memory books for VIP trips. The great customer service, quick turn-around, and variety of customization options are just a few of the reasons we keep coming back to Blurb!”

 

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