Simple Gift Albums for My Nieces and Nephews

For Christmas the year before last (back when I had NO time to blog, but I did have time to take pictures), I used a simple, repeatable formula to create meaningful gift albums for all of my nieces and nephews. Well, except for the two who are too young to appreciate them; they will get theirs in a few years. 

You should have seen everyone's faces as they unwrapped their gifts at our family party. Moms and dads teared up. Kids looked through their albums again and again, comparing notes, giggling, trading and trading back. I even spotted two of the albums in a place of honor on my brother's fireplace mantel a few months later.

It was worth every single minute of time it took to pull them together.  

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I found these personalized, laser-cut, wood album covers on Pick Your Plum a few years ago. It's a deal-a-day site that features limited quantities of craft supplies each day. When they're gone, they're gone. (And these are most definitely GONE. I couldn't even locate anything like them in a Google search.) But you could complete the same project with any type of album. 

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 My Album Recipe:

  • 1 favorite photo for the cover

  • 1 personalized title page

  • 1 photo of me with the recipient

  • A list of "5 Things I Love About You"

  • 5 favorite photos of the recipient

  • A list of "5 Hopes for Your Future"

  • A self-portrait page (for the recipient to fill in)

  • A 5-question quiz (for the recipient to complete)

You can breeze through all eight albums in this 2-minute video, created in the iMotion time-lapse app for iPhone. Or scroll down for close-ups of two complete albums. Music: "New Soul" by Yael Naim.

An Album for Haylee

Here’s one of the albums, in slideshow format, followed by a list of explanatory notes.

Notes about the album:

  • This album was for my oldest niece, born before the turn of the century. (As in, the year 1999. :)

  • As you can see, all of the interior pages are pretty much the same from album to album, so I could print multiple copies of each page, and then personalize with handwriting and patterned paper. 

  • The hardest part about the “Five Favorite Things” page was narrowing them down to just 5 . And actually, I kind of didn't. You can tell that some numbers mention multiple positive qualities. That's okay. The numbered list still makes them more inviting to read than if it had been one long paragraph.

  • It wasn't possible to crop every photo to a square. For those that were more vertical, I'd just fill the vertical space and write my captions sideways.

  • I like to include dates when I know them. Because children will inevitably wonder, "How old was I in that picture?"

  • Photos that showcase relationships are a must. The oldest of 12 cousins, this girl has always been so wonderful to all of the littles.

  • Five hopes for her future: I drew on each child's current strengths and qualities as I thought about what I truly wish the future holds for each of my nieces and nephews.

  • Self-portrait page: For bigger kids, a self-portrait might be a selfie taken with a smartphone. Little kids might draw theirs.

  • Each album ends with that same 5-question quiz. 

An Album for Thomas

Here’s another one of the albums, displayed page by page, with commentary beneath.

I printed and trimmed the cover photos to leave about a 1/2-inch margin around all sides. I adhered them with a super-strong, permanent adhesive like    this one    or    this one   .

I printed and trimmed the cover photos to leave about a 1/2-inch margin around all sides. I adhered them with a super-strong, permanent adhesive like this one or this one.

Each album begins with a personalized title page, with a tiny hand-written note. Fonts used:    KG A Little Swag    and    orange juice   . Both are free.

Each album begins with a personalized title page, with a tiny hand-written note. Fonts used: KG A Little Swag and orange juice. Both are free.

Next up is the very first photo ever taken of the two of us together. Sweet little Thomas was a 25-week, 2 lb. 2 oz. preemie, so I didn't get to hold him for a picture until he was 3 months old.

Next up is the very first photo ever taken of the two of us together. Sweet little Thomas was a 25-week, 2 lb. 2 oz. preemie, so I didn't get to hold him for a picture until he was 3 months old.

I selected a different sheet of double-sided patterned paper for each album, trimming them to fit across the top of each page. They are not adhered in place, just slipped loosely onto the jump rings in between the pages.

I selected a different sheet of double-sided patterned paper for each album, trimming them to fit across the top of each page. They are not adhered in place, just slipped loosely onto the jump rings in between the pages.

I included hand-written captions on each photo. I want the kids to know WHY these photos are my favorites; what they mean to me. I love the personal touch that handwriting adds to any project.

I included hand-written captions on each photo. I want the kids to know WHY these photos are my favorites; what they mean to me. I love the personal touch that handwriting adds to any project.

I printed most photos to a squarish size and centered them in the space, so there would be room on the bottom for the caption.

I printed most photos to a squarish size and centered them in the space, so there would be room on the bottom for the caption.

I tried to achieve a variety of photos in each album: some close-ups, some full-body shots, some from various ages.

I tried to achieve a variety of photos in each album: some close-ups, some full-body shots, some from various ages.

How do you decide among all the wonderful photos you have? Just select the ones that mean something special to you. It almost doesn't matter which you choose. You're not telling a whole life story. This album is just a snapshot of A FEW of your favorites.

How do you decide among all the wonderful photos you have? Just select the ones that mean something special to you. It almost doesn't matter which you choose. You're not telling a whole life story. This album is just a snapshot of A FEW of your favorites.

I also make sure to include one or two that really show off the child's personality, like this one.

I also make sure to include one or two that really show off the child's personality, like this one.

Next up: "5 Hopes for Your Future," personalized for each child.

Next up: "5 Hopes for Your Future," personalized for each child.

I reserved a page for each child to draw a self-portrait, showing off his or her current artistic skills.

I reserved a page for each child to draw a self-portrait, showing off his or her current artistic skills.

Each album ends with a 5-question quiz for the child to fill out. I honestly don't know if any of the children have completed these pages in their albums, but I wanted them to have the chance. Here's hoping!

Each album ends with a 5-question quiz for the child to fill out. I honestly don't know if any of the children have completed these pages in their albums, but I wanted them to have the chance. Here's hoping!

My sisters and sisters-in-law joke that I scrapbook about their kids more than they do. It's probably true. I don't mind holding the title of "family historian."

And I truly believe that every memory preserved is a victory. 

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Angie LucasComment