Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Handmade Christmas

Someone please remind me next year to start thinking about my Christmas gifts EARLY!
Waiting until the last minute to do your shopping is one thing, waiting until the last minute to decide you are going to make something for someone is a totally different kind of procrastinating. I often make many of my own gifts. Don't get the wrong idea...I am not crocheting oven mitts for everyone, but I do make several gifts each year. Occasionally one big project will take over my holiday season. The past 3 years have all been gifts for my Sister and her Husband.

Christmas 2008 - The wedding album.
In this album, I chronicled the year my Sister was married. I had pictures from the time they became engaged all the way up to the wedding reception and every dress fitting in between. Needless to say I love taking pictures. The album ended up being somewhere near 500 pictures. Ridiculous. I know. I am a shutterbug.

This is not however, a scrapbook. I have never been much of a "scrapbooker", but I don't mind making a few pages here and there. Mostly, I prefer to let the pictures speak for themselves. I make title pages and then insert plastic photo sleeves behind each occasion.

Christmas 2009 - The calendar. 
On October 10th, 2009 my beautiful niece was born. To help my sister document her daughter's first year, I made a calendar for her to write things down on easily throughout the days. Yes, you can always buy a baby book and my sister kept one, but homemade gifts are always a welcomed treasure.
I look forward to projects like this. It is always better to be creative when your whole heart is into it. So if someone wants to do the work for you...let them.

Christmas 2010 - Album for Elizabeth.
As I am sure you suspected, I took many, many pictures throughout Elizabeth's first year. So for Christmas I took the Calendar back that I made in 2009 and placed the pages in an album along with all of the pictures. Each calendar page became the heading for that months pictures. Luckily my sister did a great job of filling in the days. Made it very easy for me to match up the pictures with the correct month.

The wedding album was more of an undertaking because I sat down and made all of these cover pages in only a few days at the end of the year. For Elizabeth's book, all I had to do was match up the month with the calendar page and organize the album. This is why I made the calendar on 12x12 scrapbook paper so I could insert them easily into the album a year later.

If you ever feel inspired/crazy enough to take this project on for yourself or someone you love, here are a few things I will remember to do the next time...
  • Plan ahead! I was snapping pictures all year long, however, I should have been printing and organizing the pictures all along instead of a few days before Christmas. Not to mention the cost could have been spread out throughout the year. 
  • If you plan to do this for several important years like I did, buy more than one album when you purchase the first one. You want a book like this to be set out and enjoyed. It should work with the decor of the home, so I like the idea of matching or complimentary albums. A baby book doesn't have to be pink bunnies and bows. Choose a cover that works with the decor of the home or neutral enough to blend.
  • During a year of firsts, take your camera wherever you go! The greatest thing about digital cameras is that you can capture and delete later. I didn't miss anything with Elizabeth. My sister wrote on the calendar the day she had her first bottle in a restaurant...guess who took a picture of it! OK so that may sound a little overbearing, but I always have my camera with me, so if I see a moment worth capturing I will take one quick picture. 
  • Include everyone. My brother-in-law's family lives far away, so I was sure to take pictures whenever they came to visit.
  • Collect pictures from everyone. Especially if the album is not for you. I wasn't able to be there for all of Elizabeth's milestones, but my Sister and Brother-in-law certainly were. Her first Christmas, the first time a tooth popped out, the first time she went to the pumpkin patch...we captured everything!
  • Make sure you do the same for the siblings. We've all heard that the first baby has the filled and documented baby album. By the time the 3rd comes along...you're lucky to even have pictures. I know what all mother's will say...once you have more than one, you just don't have the time. I get it. Just pace yourself. Print pictures once a month and take a nap time or an early morning alone to throw them into an album. Or just hope that you have an awesome Aunt Ryann to do the work for you.
What a great thing for Elizabeth to look through when she is older. Wouldn't you want to know the first time you ate string beans?