DIY Recipe Scrapbook: Give the Gift of a Treasured Keepsake

Make a handmade recipe scrapbook for the cooks in your life for a unique holiday gift.
By Traci Smith
Capper’s Farmer Holiday Special, Winter 2012

Have you been wondering what to give your loved ones this holiday season? How about a made-from-scratch recipe box?
Photo By Amanda Mackey
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Scrapbooking isn’t just for preserving memories with photos. It’s also a great way to organize and keep favorite family recipes close at hand — and to showcase the history and love of those recipes.

Have you been wondering what to give your loved ones this holiday season? How about a made-from-scratch recipe box? Your friends and relatives will treasure it not only because of the family history within its pages, but also because it’s a heartfelt, handmade gift made just for them.

Who would enjoy such a scrapbook? The better question is, who wouldn’t? It’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t love to receive a beautifully designed collection of tried-and-true family recipes that have been prepared, enjoyed, and passed down by many generations through the years.

So, figure out who will be getting a recipe scrapbook, then start thinking about each person’s individual taste. Is the kitchen done in modern, vintage or country décor? Is there a color scheme? Does the wallpaper, canisters or wall decorations have a theme, such as tractors, roosters, birdhouses or flowers? By taking these things into consideration, you can be sure that each recipe book is as one-of-a-kind as its recipient.

Now that you have a plan, you’re ready to get started.

Pick Out Recipes

The first step is choosing the recipes you want to include in your scrapbook. Next decide if you want to type or write them out on recipe cards. A third option is to scan the original recipes for a more nostalgic look. This is a great addition to a heritage book, and seeing a loved one’s handwriting while you’re preparing a signature dish makes it even more special.

If you want to add more history to your scrapbook, gather notes about each recipe to use as journaling — a way to tell a story. For example, “Mom made this for my birthday every year when I was a child,” “This was Dad’s favorite,” or “Grandma fixed this dessert every Christmas Eve.” These notes are nice to type up or write out on journaling strips or tags to include on the page.

Once the recipes have been typed, written or scanned, arrange them in the order you want them to appear in the scrapbook.

Choose Your Photos

If you plan to use photographs, sort through your albums or boxes and find the ones you want to use — or make the dishes and take photos of them. Now determine which photo will go with which recipe. While it’s not necessary to include a photo with each recipe, the scrapbook will look more balanced if there is at least one photo per two-page spread — the two pages that face each other when the book is open.

If you want to personalize your book even more, look to your photos for yet another journaling opportunity. (When and where was the photo taken? What was the occasion?) Type or write out small bits of information — a date, place, or person’s name — on tags or journaling strips. These can be placed near your photos as a continuation of the story of your family history.

Decide on Quotes and/or Poems

Variety is what makes a recipe box interesting. Add a quote or poem to a page here and there, especially on pages where photos are not used. If you want to use quotes or poems on a page that includes a photo, a shorter quote or poem is best so the page doesn’t get too crowded and cluttered.

Quote books can be purchased at most craft stores, or you can look online and find both poems and quotes, usually free of charge.

Go Shopping

You’ll need a scrapbook album, scrapbook papers, cardstock, embellishments, and a few essential tools (scissors, glue, ruler), if you don’t already have them.

Scrapbook albums are available in a variety of styles, colors and sizes. For recipe scrapbooks, I’ve found that the 8-inch albums work best. They’re easier for the cook to handle than the 12-inch albums, and they’re a little bigger than the 6-inch albums so you have more room to create your masterpiece.

After deciding on size, choose a design and color with your loved one in mind. Another thing to consider is that most albums come with 10 page protectors, which means you’ll have 20 pages to create. If your recipe scrapbook needs more than 20 pages, you’ll need to purchase additional page protectors, as well as extender posts, which will expand the depth of the album so you’ll be able to add the extra pages.

Scrapbook paper and cardstock can be purchased at craft stores as individual sheets or in stacks — a book that contains multiple sheets in various patterns and textures, all color coordinated to work together beautifully and add depth, character and contrast to scrapbook projects. In my opinion, stacks are not only the most efficient way to go, they’re also the most economical.

Embellishments include ribbon, fiber, eyelets, brads, stickers, rub-ons, tags, journaling strips, chipboard, metals, buttons and frames. Creating a title for a page is easy using chipboard, stickers and rub-on letters, which come in every size and color you can imagine.

When it comes to embellishments, it’s easy to go overboard, so keep in mind that you don’t want the embellishments to overpower the recipes, journaling and photos. So, in the case of an 8-inch album, one or two embellishments per page is ideal.

Laying Out Your Pages

Now the fun begins!

For each page, gather the recipe and photo(s), then decide what papers and embellishments you want to use. With everything in sight, start placing and moving things around, trying various layouts until you get the look you want. When you’re happy with the layout, glue everything down and place the finished page in the album.

When I make a scrapbook, I generally make the first page a cover page, or title page, so when someone opens the book, he or she knows instantly what the book is all about. A simple title like “Family Recipes” is fine, or you can take it a little further and add some journaling in smaller letters. For example, “These dishes have been served at holidays and special occasions since the 1940s.”

The following pages will be recipe pages. For each two-page spread, create the facing pages so they complement each other. For instance, use the same papers on both pages, but instead of laying them out the same, reverse them. In other words, if you use blue cardstock for the background with a layer of pattern paper on the left-hand page, use pattern paper as the background with a layer of cardstock on the right-hand page. Or, if you use a strip of ribbon near the bottom of the left-hand page, use a strip of the same ribbon near the top of the right-hand page, or even run the ribbon horizontally instead of vertically on one of the pages. That way the pages will have a balanced look without being identical or even too similar.

For the last page of the recipe box, you can either make it a recipe page or you can create a special page with a personalized message to your loved one. For example, “Since you always loved to help me in the kitchen when you were little, I figured you’d grow up to love cooking and baking, and I was right. I’m glad you got the cooking gene. I know you love these recipes as much as I do, and I hope every time you open this recipe book, it will bring a smile to your face and a sweet memory to mind. Love, Mom.” Finish the page with a photo.

That’s It!

You’ve just created a classic family heirloom. Now you’re ready to start the next one. Have fun.

Recipe Box Tips and Techniques

• To add variety to pages, crop and resize your photographs using an image editing program, like Photoshop, on your computer, then print the photos out in various sizes. An occasional page that features three smaller photos instead of one larger one is a nice addition to a scrapbook.

• For a heritage look, print your photos out in either black and white or sepia tone instead of color. This is a great way to bring a nostalgic element to modern photos.

• When laying out your pages, it’s not important for the recipes, photos, quotes and poems to be straight and even. (Perfection in scrapbooking is nonexistent.) Some scrapbookers actually prefer slightly tilting these items for a visually appealing layout, while others prefer to keep them straight for easier reading.

• Matting — the process of giving photos, recipes, quotes and poems a border by gluing a slightly larger piece of paper or cardstock to the back of them — is another technique many scrapbookers incorporate into their books. It’s not only appealing because of the color it adds to the page, but also because of the depth it creates by giving a layered look. You can use a single mat for a subtle feel, or mat multiple times for a more dramatic layered effect.

• Inking or chalking photos, paper, recipes, journaling, etc., gives an antique appearance.

• Tearing paper into strips and layering them on your pages creates a worn, weathered look.


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