Make them something beautiful this year—
a one-of-a-kind book

Trust us, we’re experts. Book experts, sure, but also experts in gift-giving and general merriment. Your holiday season will be a hundred times merrier if you get your gifts wrapped up (and wrapped) ahead of time. (Remember, trust us.)

If you haven’t thought about it yet (and huge props to you if you have) we’ve got one-of-a-kind ideas and super-clear how-tos to help you make beautiful gifts they’ll never forget. And you can get started before it’s pumpkin-carving time.

Get your gift-making done in the next couple of weeks and save yourself the mad shopping rush in December. You’ve earned the right to enjoy the holiday season in style.

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Gift-giving, solved. Three personalized gift books you can make (and how to make them)

To kick off the holiday season, we’ve chosen three of our favorite personalized book types and pulled together some how-tos and tips that show you exactly how to make them. If you’ve got some photos, some ideas, and some loved ones you want to thrill this year, you can be done with your gift-giving in a weekend. Seriously. All you need is a little inspiration, some content, and Blurb’s free book-making tools.

Family cookbook
To make a cookbook, we recommend using BookSmart, our downloadable book-making tool. It’s the simplest way to mix images (of food) and words (about food). Gather your recipes, get a few tips on how to photograph food, and get going. Here’s exactly how you’ll do it:

  1. Download BookSmart. You’ll be working right on your computer, so you can work on your book even if you’re not online.
  2. Choose your book size. We’ve found that Standard Portrait and Standard Landscape are perfect for cookbooks, but feel free to explore all our book sizes.
  3. Choose “Cookbook” as your starting point. This will give you the best layouts for making a gorgeous food book.
  4. Start laying out your content. You’ll start with 20 pages in our standard recipe layout, but you can add many more. And you’ll find plenty of other layout choices in the “Choose page layout” panel on the upper left.
  5. Add more pages. This, of course, is an optional step. If 20 pages is all you need, you’re set. But chances are you’ve got more than a few recipes and photos. Make as big a book as you like (up to 440 pages) by clicking “Add Pages” in the top toolbar.
  6. Spellcheck and preview your book. Always take the time to do a comprehensive spellcheck and use BookSmart’s preview mode to check for errors (nobody wants a gift full of typos). Once you’re satisfied everything’s perfect, just click Order—and you’re done.

Annual family photo book
A photo gift book is an instant classic. And it’s the type of gift that everyone loves getting. Mom wants pictures of her grandkids, your girlfriend (or boyfriend, or spouse, or whatever you’re calling that special one in your life these days) wants pictures of the two of you, and your friends want pictures of themselves. Personalized gifts with photos are universal crowd-pleasers.

You can use any of our book-making tools to make a unique custom photo gift book, but here are two of our favorite ways to do it. The first is for photo pros, the second is for, you know, the rest of us.

You can go high-end and work right within Adobe® Lightroom® if you use that software to manage your photos. Blurb and Adobe have built a “Book” module right into the program’s workflow; you can make a gorgeous photo gift book and do all of your photo editing with one application. Here are our three top tips for making your book in Lightroom.

If you want a quicker and easier way to make a beautiful book, you can do it online with our Designer Collection of simple, elegant photo book layouts.

For a sleek look (with startlingly little effort), just launch the Designer Collection and follow the prompts. We’re not talking tacky photo album like you might find elsewhere; these are stylish photo books that would look at home in a bookstore. Just choose from six beautiful themes, flow your photos in, and end up with a 7 x 7 photo book that looks like you paid a professional designer to make it. Here’s a step by step how-to, complete with screenshots. You’ll be done in no time, with a gift that looks like you spent a lot of time making it.

Personalized notebook

The thing we love about personalized notebooks is their immediacy. For many creative types, the notebook is an essential outlet for expression. It’s something they carry with them all day, every day—the mechanism for capturing those lightning bolts of inspiration. It’s the repository for their most important thoughts. Here’s our resident Photographer at Large (a creative type if there ever was one), Dan Milnor, on the format.

And they couldn’t be easier to make. Once you’re in BookSmart, all you need to do is drop in your photos and give it a title. You can make either a Pocket or Trade size book and choose from hardcover or soft. The creatives in your life will love the book (and you) for as long as it takes them to fill it up. And that’s when you make the next one.

Family cookbook Annual family photo Personalized notebook

 

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The 2013 Blurb Holiday Gift Guide

We know, we know—it’s October. We understand if you think it’s way too early to be thinking about the holidays. But relax, we’ve already done a lot of that holiday gift thinking for you. We’ve been busy pulling together our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide and wanted to share it long before you’re up late at night trying to spell "procrastination."

Blurb Holiday Gift Guide Download now button

Here's a look at what's inside:

  • Blurb Author Spotlight. Learn a little bit about three of our favorite self-published authors—and get inspired to make your own masterpiece.
  • How to make a Blurb gift book. Blurb’s own photographer-at-large, Dan Milnor, reveals his secrets to making a photo gift book that looks like you bought it in a fine art store.
  • Gift book ideas. Personalized planners and notebooks are easy to make and make you look great when you give them as gifts.
  • Blurb Bookstore favorites. People just like you make some pretty amazing books with Blurb¬⎯and sell them in our Bookstore. We highlight a few of our favorites in categories like travel, food, children’s books, and fashion.

So get a jump on your holiday gifts and start making a personalized gift book with Blurb. Or find that one-of-a-kind selection in our Bookstore for that one-of-a-kind person in your life. Or both. Because even thought it’s only October, the holidays are only two months away.

 

Branded business planners: A holiday gift book that works on your behalf year-round

Whether the upcoming holidays mean business is speeding up or slowing down for you, holiday gifts for clients and top customers are not only a nice way to say thank you for their business this year, but an opportunity to stay top of mind for the coming year as well. With only two months to go before the holidays arrive, now is the time to put business gift giving at the top of your list.

While the options of what to give are endless, a branded business planner accomplishes two goals: It conveys a level of professionalism and practicality, and it gives you the opportunity to highlight your brand on a daily basis over the next 12 months. By customizing the content (easy to do with our free book-making tool, BookSmart), you can easily call attention to events you’re hosting and key dates related to the business you do with your clients. You can even include key company contacts to make it easy for customers to get in touch. A personalized corporate gift is a seriously smart gift that benefits everyone.

What to make: A branded business planner

How long it will take: 30 minutes

When to get started: Today (Or, anytime in the next month, so you have enough time to receive your planners and distribute them to your lucky list of clients and customers).

How to make a branded business planner

  1. Download BookSmart. Get our free book-making tool and work offline at your convenience. When you start your book, just choose the Planner format.
  2. Choose your size. Decide what’s best for your brand: Trade (6 x 9 inch / 15 x 23 cm) or Pocket (5 x 8 inch / 13 x 20 cm).
  3. Set the date. You can start and end your calendar at any month you like, and choose whether you want to include week-, month-, or year-at-a-glance pages. You can also add full-page photos or lined pages for notes.
  4. Brand it. Add your logo or some creative branding to the cover. Drop company photos into place, and highlight special dates each month as friendly reminders about what your business offers.
  5. Preview, upload, and order. Once you’ve spellchecked your book, and ensured everything is just right, you can order as many copies as you need and mail out your personalized corporate gifts once you receive them.

Branded business planners

 

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Marta Darby: Food blogger turned Blurb author

Food blogger Marta Maria Darby came from a place of fresh-baked bread to the land of Wonder Bread when she was just five years old. Since then, the Cuban transplant has found the flavors of her home country to be a bridge to her past and the Cuban American community. Through her blog—and her book, My Big, Fat, Cuban Family Cookbook—she shares the recipes that have meant the most to her family.

Marta was a guest chef at the first-ever Blurb Book Bash, held in San Francisco, on October 11. She shared with us her recipe for Picadillo and for making a beautiful family cookbook.

 

SmugMug: This week's Blurb featured partner

Your photo story begins here. SmugMug's new designs are fresh, modern, and make it easier than ever to show off your memories and keep them safe. You get gorgeous galleries, beautiful one-click themes, and what the Wall Street Journal describes as a "strikingly handsome photography site." Best of all, uploads are unlimited and you'll never see ads or spam. And with direct upload to Blurb, book-making has never been more fun. Start your own photo website on SmugMug.

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