I love giving unique gifts to people. Back in the day, making scrapbooks for my friends and family was my go-to gift of choice. I was also a big fan of the mix CD. I would spend hours on iTunes trying to create the perfect playlist. I would print out the song list and then write why each song reminded me of that person, whether it be a certain lyric or maybe a shared memory. Gifts like that are so personal and something that the recipient can cherish forever.
Now, I still love to give meaningful gifts, but I've found a new favorite - the photo book. I've figured out a way to combine my love of scrapbooking and my love of song lyrics to create a gift that is unique and special. Here's a look at the finished product of a photo book that I gave my fiance (then boyfriend) on our first dating anniversary. I called it Love Stories. Instead of the typical photo book where I would include pictures of us with captions, I decided to fill this book with quotes and song lyrics - ones that made me think of him, our future, and our love for one another. I've continued to make him a photo book each year, and it's been such a special tradition for us.
You can design a book like this for so many different occasions (think graduations, birthdays, Mother's Day, etc.). I actually made one for my sister that focused on following your dreams for when she was job-searching and traveling abroad. It's fun to think up different themes and to be able to use your creative side. If you're a quote junkie like me, then these will be right up your alley. I'm warning you though, it's addicting - I think I've made over 15 books already!
1. Start Pinning
I have created a secret Pinterest board for each of my photo book projects that I pin to throughout the year. I don't actively search out quotes, but if I come across a love quote that reminds me of Billy, for example, I'll be sure to pin it to my secret board for the next time I make a book. I keep my boards secret mainly because Billy has a tendency to check out my Wish List board from time to time to get gift ideas (isn't he the sweetest?), so I want to make sure that he doesn't see the quotes before I give him the book. To get started, you can check out my Quotes board or just search the Quotes category on Pinterest.
Once you're ready to create your book, save each of your pinned images into a folder on your computer so that you can easily access them.
2. Create Your Photo Book
There are so many photo book websites to choose from, but my favorite is Mixbook. They are easy to use, they save all of your past creations, and the best part - they almost always have a coupon code available.
For my photo books, I like to use the 8x6" Pocket Landscape Hardcover Photo Book. I love this size, because it's not overwhelming, and it's easy to store or display. I use the Instagram Book template, because I like that it's a blank canvas. Once you've chosen a template, you hit "Start Book", and an editing tool opens up in a separate window. This is where you upload your photos and begin to play around with the pages, backgrounds, and layouts.
I typically choose a neutral background to allow my photos to stand out. I also like to group my photos by color as much as possible. Here's an example of two pages that I created. You can see that I used pink and blue for my color schemes, and I love how everything flows together so well.
Tips + Tricks
- If you have used all of your photos but still have some blank spaces to fill-in, you can search for quotes on Google Images. I use a specific search term like "love quotes blue" to find exactly what I'm looking for to fit that space.
- Because I create so many of these, I needed a way to make sure I wasn't repeating quotes between books. So, I came up with a system that's kind of silly, but it works. After I've saved all of my pictures to my computer, I pin a stop sign picture to my Pinterest board. I use this as a bookmark to note where I left off so that I don't re-use the pins below it for the next book.
- Each template comes with a standard set of layouts, but if you keep scrolling down, there are several more that you can choose from. There are layouts ranging from 1 to 21 pictures per page. I like to mix up my layouts on each set of pages to keep it interesting.
- You may get a warning sign on some photos. This means that the photo is the wrong size or resolution and will appear blurry when printed. Make sure to choose another picture or re-size until the warning disappears.
- NOTE: For some reason, once you've completed your book and are ready to order, the majority of your photos will have a warning sign again. I'm not sure why this happens, but as long as you've taken care of the warning signs during your creation process, you should be fine. I always order despite this, and my books are never blurry!
Did this get your creative juices flowing? Do you have any friends or family that you think would like this type of gift? Let me know in the comments!