Blurb employees giving Blurb as gifts

We often feature the books that our indie creator community gives as gifts because they’re so inspiring! We’ve highlighted cookbooks made for foodie friends, travel diaries given to young explorers, and wedding photo albums shared on anniversaries, to name a few. After all, how can you get more personalized than a book built with your loved one as the star?

While we love showing off our community’s gifts, we like to spotlight what we (the Blurb team) have made ourselves every now and then! This year, we’re looking at our gifting archives to serve the unique presents we’ve gifted—and received!

Custom children’s book for a daughter

During Ian Stewart’s first year on the marketing team at Blurb, he created a specially-made book as a gift for his four-year-old daughter. He wanted to make a truly memorable present while learning all about BookWright. In the past, he had made semi-personalized cartoon books for his daughter through other companies. But he knew that he could craft something even more tailored with his basic Photoshop skills. And with his knowledge of Blurb’s templates, he knew he could lay out his book fast after creating the design elements.

Ian made a story that starred his daughter—one that she could see, hold, and read for years to come. To do it, he grabbed screenshots from her favorite scenes of her favorite TV shows and movies, then cut and pasted her face onto her favorite characters. Using the different shots, he pieced together a children’s book with a storyline about the importance of cleaning your room.

Ian Stewart's gift to his daughter, complete with text and images of her as a penguin

She loved it, and it’s still on her (tidy) bookshelf five years later!

Pro tip from Ian: “Give yourself plenty of time to organize your photos (and, in my case, edit them). For kid’s books, the pictures and visuals are really key, so I wanted to be sure those were a top priority over both the writing and story.”

Wedding album for an uncle

In 2015, Blurb’s own Thien Dinh agreed to officiate his uncle’s wedding ceremony. He stepped up to plan everything in the city where the two lovebirds met—San Francisco—from the paperwork to the location.

While the couple requested that the event be low-key, he realized he could get a photographer to tag along and surprise the couple with a wedding book as a gift later on. 

Thien had a friend of a friend (and pro photographer), Anita Yung, come along and tell the couple she was snapping casual shots. She also helped pick the locations for the sneaky photo shoots: from a pre-wedding brunch chosen for the lighting to the ceremony locale with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in the background. By the end of the day, they’d been all over the city, and the photos turned out beautifully.

Thien Dinh gave his uncle this wedding album gift

Another friend, Sylvie Lee, helped Thien lay out the images in BookWright. “The most memorable thing about the gift was keeping the [casual] photos from them,” said Thien. “I think they gave up on ever seeing the photos … so, the day they received it, they were absolutely shocked. I remember receiving a call where they were overjoyed with the book and photos.”

“My advice to anyone wanting to do something similar is to not be afraid to reach out for help,” advises Thien. “I’m sure I could have gotten some great photos if I shot it myself, and I’m sure I’d be able to lay out a book just fine using BookWright. But I’m so glad I had Anita and Sylvie to take the idea to the next level.”

Citizenship celebration photo book for a partner

When Blurb teammate Aer Parris’s partner became a U.S. citizen, they wanted to celebrate with a look back on the years up to that momentous point. Aer sorted through 10 years of Facebook images to select the most important people, events, and moments during their partner’s stay in the United States.

After the citizenship interview and swearing-in, Aer handed over the book as a surprise gift. Their partner’s reaction was priceless—they both got to relieve a decade of memories in America previously buried in the cloud. “There’s something truly meaningful about holding these moments—like our first anniversary and wedding—and leafing through a book together on such an important day,” says Aer.

Even a year later, the gifted book has a prominent spot on the couple’s bookcase, and guests love to flip through its pages.

Aer’s gift-making advice: “Use the creation tool you know! I had been using Canva for years, so I built my book there rather than rushing to learn a new program. The PDF to Book tool made it super easy to print what I made with Blurb so I could print a professional-quality book!”

Aer Parris's citizenship celebration photo book with plants

Quick, personalized notebooks for the whole family

Gordon Chan, a long-standing Blurb team member, gifted customized notebooks to each of his cousins for Christmas a few years ago! Using the hardcover notebook template in BookWright, he speedily crafted gifts for each and every one of them, complete with a stunning cover featuring their faces and lined interior pages.

He found it easy to make gifts in bulk, making all his notebooks at once and simply changing the cover color and images to fit each cousin.

His gift-giving advice? “Keep it simple. Personalizing does not need to be complicated. I just asked them in advance for their favorite color for the cover, and then I selected a photo or two.”

Gordon Chan's notebook with a wedding image and ruled paper

Garden journal for a cousin

Blurb teammate Debsue Hayden gifted a custom notebook for her cousin, a devout gardener, so she could plan her garden for the year. 

The delightful part of the book is that Debsue and her cousin come from generations of farmers in the American West. Throughout the notebook, Debsue interspersed historical photos of her grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles from their farming days in the 1890s through the 1930s. 

Now, her cousin gets to have a record of her garden’s layout and growing patterns for the year in the context of a great family history of making things grow. Plus, there is plenty of space in the journal to plan a garden of her own!

Custom garden notebook given as a gift, layed flat on a blue background

Wedding photo book from a sister

Last but not least, we need to feature a moment where a Blurb teammate received a Blurb photo book as a gift! J. N.’s sister made and gifted a wedding album—pulling together images from all their guests and creating a stunning keepsake. 

J. and his wife met at a wedding in 2006, having both been in bands with the groom at different times. They spent a few years deciding when and how to have a ceremony, eventually getting married with the sand between their toes at Venice Beach—with their East Coast family and friends.

J.'s wedding photo book, featuring an image of he and his wife getting married on the beach

The wedding album gift from his sister was a complete surprise. “It was so nice to have something put together to bring a lot of the moments and loved ones from that day together in a book we’ll have forever,” says J. “We’d probably never have gotten around to doing it had [my sister] not done it for us (she’s awesome like that).”

J.’s advice for people making gifts? “You know that gift idea you have in your head? Just do it and follow through. You’ll never know how much it means to those you give it to.”


Ready to create a custom gift book for your friends, family, or fans? Start your photo book now.


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