Today on Books & Crafts, my weekly web show with Wendy Smedley, I share tips for creating a group gift album for a milestone event. In this case, it was for my dad's 60th birthday. Watch the video to see just how you can recruit up to 23 relatives (crafters and non-crafters alike) to work together on a gift album like mine, titled, "60 Things We Love About You."
I wish I had the album in hand so I could take better pictures, but alas it is not in my possession. (Did I mention it was a gift album? :) So we'll settle for screenshots from the video. And I'll share a few additional tips not mentioned in the video.
Here's the title page. This entire 62-page album (which is housed in an 8.5 x 5.5 album from We R Memory Keepers, currently available on Overstock.com) was created with just 31 sheets of kraft cardstock (8.5x11), six single sheets of patterned paper, and one sheet of letter and label stickers from the Simple Stories Awesome collection.
On the reverse side of the title page, we included a list of everyone who contributed to the album, plus their ages at the time it was created.
We arranged the pages in a random order, rather than slipping in the photos chronologically or grouping the memories by person. We find it's more fun to flip through this way.
There will be a picture from the '90s right next to a picture from the '70s...
1. If you're aiming for a certain number of memories, like 60 for a 60th birthday, creatively divide the number of memories by the number of people. We had my mom and each of my siblings submit 4 memories each, daughters- and sons-in-law submit 2 memories each, and grandchildren submit 2 memories each. If the number doesn't matter, just have each relative submit one memory and an accompanying photo.
2. Have your relatives submit not only memories to the album, but pictures as well. To make the sharing easy, I set up a free private shared album on Dropbox.com and invited all my relatives to it. Everyone dragged their chosen pictures into this shared album, which made the photos available to everyone.
3. If you're the organizer, send everyone clear expectations up front and make it easy for them to participate. I gave everyone a comfortable deadline, told them what to do, and tried to make it sound as unintimidating as possible. I included tips like the following: "Type out the thing you love about dad/grandpa in just a sentence or two. Think of things from throughout dad's life. Just write the way you speak and don't stress about grammar or punctuation; I can fix those things for you later if needed." and "The picture does not have to exactly depict the memory. It can just be a picture of grandpa, a picture of the person sharing the memory, or a picture of both together."
I invited everyone to a Google Doc, which is like a private shared word-processing document that everyone can contribute to. I set it up with clear column headings, and labelled each person's contributions, so they could see at a glance where they needed to type in their memories. I also included a place for them to include the filename of the image they were submitting to go with each memory, so I wouldn't have to guess as I was putting the album together. Click on this image to view my Google Doc larger:
4. Write your memories first so your relatives can see a model of what to do. It's less scary for them this way. Also include brief writing prompts to get their ideas flowing, like these:
I always loved when...
I'll never forget the time that...
I'm grateful to Dad/Grandpa for...
He taught me how to...
Dad/grandpa is a wonderful example of...
5. For children who are too young to write, ask them what they'd like to say about grandpa, giving them hints as needed. For children who are too young to speak, write what you've observed about their relationship with the recipient. For example, if grandpa always gives your baby popsicles, or if grandma's the best at getting your baby to go to sleep, or if there's a particularly meaningful gift this person gave your baby—any of these will work.
6. Don't spend much time editing people's memories, apart from glaring spelling errors. It's okay to let each person speak for himself or herself. And it's okay if more than one person submitted the same general memory. It will just reinforce that it was important to more than one person in the family.
7. Streamline your design. As described in the video, we kept the page design very simple and repeated the same basic look from page to page. To make the journaling blocks easy, I formatted them all in Microsoft Word using text boxes. During our assembly, I had my mom measuring pictures and telling me how much space was left over for the journaling, and then I sat and formatted the journaling blocks accordingly. As soon as I had enough to fill the page, I printed a sheet of journaling boxes on smooth cardstock, and then my sister trimmed them out and adhered them to the page. Click on this image for a larger view:
Bonus Tip: To make trimming out the text boxes simple, I nested two text boxes inside one another. The outer text box has a thin grey border and it's larger by 1/4 inch all the way around, while the inner text box has no border. All my sister had to do is trim just inside the grey boxes, and there would be even white margins all the way around the text. Note that text goes edge-to-edge in a text box, so it's difficult to guess where to trim without the cushion of the extra text box.
More Like This
To see other Group Gift Albums I've done, check out:
In-Laws' 50th Wedding Anniversary (also featured in today's video)