The Perfect Gift – A Family Cookbook

Mom and Dad have everything. The bride and groom have everything. So what do you do for a gift at Christmas or wedding or bridal shower? A family cookbook is the best answer. The family cookbook can preserve those old favorite recipes that bring fond memories of holidays and special occasions. It can also welcome a new bride or groom into the family fold. It’s a gift that can’t be returned and no one else can duplicate it. Plus, the whole family can be involved.

Getting Started – Create the Perfect Family Cookbook

Depending on your computer skills, you can do this yourself or find a cookbook fundraising publisher to do it for you. If you go with a publisher, you need to do the leg work of gathering the recipes and submit them online. Read their web sites very carefully. Some require a minimum of 200 recipes and some require you purchase a minimum number of cookbooks. Morris Press Cookbooks and The Cookbook Company are good sources if you want someone else to do this for you. However, you are limited to their art and layout designs. Using a publisher can be expensive, so talk to family members who want to participate and see what the budget should be.

If you have a creative flair and are highly organized, you can put this project together yourself. The hardest part will be getting recipes from those relatives who like to drag their feet. The rest is easy and you may find it to be a little more cost-effective.

When you and your family are considering this project, keep these things in mind:

  • How much money can each participant afford to spend?
  • How many people want to participate?
  • How many cookbooks should be ordered? Publishers lower printing costs based on volume. 200 cookbooks are cheaper to produce than 20. If you don’t need 200 cookbooks, then don’t order them.
  • Who will organize this project?
  • Appearance – 8.5 x 11 or 5.5 x 4; color or black and white; photos or clip art

You can invest in a software program that will format recipes for you, but it really isn’t necessary. Microsoft Word is fine. If you are a more advanced computer user, try Adobe InDesign.

The front and back cover designs can be tough, but don’t have to be. If you have artistic children, put them in charge of designing the covers. It adds charm to the cookbook and makes the children feel special.

Stay Organized When Writing Your Cookbook

As the recipes begin arriving, file them away in some type of filing system. Determine your cookbook sections – look at professionally produced cookbooks for inspiration or use your own imagination. Most common dividers are Appetizers, Main Course, Sides, Desserts, Miscellaneous. Be sure to mark who sent in which recipe. Also, if a recipe came from another source, you need to give proper credit to the original source. Example: if your apple pie recipe came from a bake-off contest sponsored by a food manufacturer, note that on the recipe.

Publishing Your Cookbook

If you have chosen to do the entire cookbook yourself, there are several printing options you can use. If you only have a few books with only a few recipes, it would be more cost-effective to print them on your own printer. However, if your collection is big and a lot of people want a copy, you would be better off looking around at printing companies for bids. Kinko’s/FedEx is very good but very expensive. Office Depot offers good service and quality, but also very expensive. Look into your local college. If they have a printing department that will produce work for the public, ask them for a bid. You would be amazed how much less they charge.

Be prepared to answer these questions:

  • color or black and white (color will be more expensive)
  • single-sided pages or double-sided
  • size of paper
  • type of binding (spiral, staple, 3-hold punch)
  • how many cookbooks
  • weight of paper (card stock is used for covers and dividers)
  • get a draft printed up first before running the final copy – this is where you will catch any mistakes you or the printer made

Have your cookbook on a CD or flashdrive. Some printing companies will allow you to e-mail the file to them, but always ask first. Word of caution – do not give the printer your only copy of the cookbook. If something happens, your document will be lost forever.

The Final Product

Your family cookbook is printed and looks beautiful. A gift like this is truly a memento of your family and treasured memories. Congratulations!