I'm pretty sure my siblings inwardly groan when they see my number calling them. I have a tendency to come up with these great ideas and then invite/force them all to participate.
A few years back I came up with this winner: A Family Values Book.
It's a book where members of your family help reinforce to your children the values you think are important by writing of a time when they learned a lesson as a child. My siblings loved me for this one.
So I'm not going to lie, this takes a while to do. Like, a long time. But it's so darn awesome when it's done and you'll have it forever.
How It's Done
1) Each adult member of your family sends you the story of a lesson they learned when they were young. Did they learn honesty from when their dad made them take back that nail they pocketed from the hardware store? Perfect! Maybe they learned the value of family from when their big sister stood up for them to the bus bully. This is the kind of goodness we're looking for, and both are true stories from our book.
To start off, I called siblings and spouses, parents and living grandparents of both Matt and me. I've got a billion siblings so for me, that's a lot of people right there. But if your immediate family is small you could contact aunts and uncles, cousins, or whatever or you could have each person give you a few stories each or you could include close friends.
2) Using a book making site (they're everywhere- even Costco has one!) enter one story per page. Or if you have less stories you could spread them out across multiple pages. The sites typically give you 20 pages and you pay for any additional pages.
I did a bit of editing to clean the stories up once I got them collected, which is pretty funny to anyone who has ever read my blog since you could play Spot the Typos here.
3) I included both the title of the lesson learned, such as The Value of Honesty, and a picture of the person telling the story. I used a current picture but it just occurred to me that a picture of them as a kid would be pretty darn cute too.
* Any time you make a book you know the formatting is going to take forever. In this case, you're involving lots of people and asking them to do something so you know you won't get everything back until after the deadline you give out. So make sure you set your deadline a few days before your actual deadline.
* Know what the turn around/shipping time is at the place you're ordering
* Check retailmenot.com for discount codes before you order your book. Just about any time I check for this type of stuff I save at least 30%. In fact, that's typically how I decide what company I'll go with: which has a coupon for my item with an expiration date for after when I'll order.
* I love Shutterfly but Walgreens is pretty awesome too and they do same day printing, which means I have even more time to squeeze in those last minute changes.
Why I love this book:
I did this a few years back and I really have to say that I love having the book.
1) A few great grandparents have passed on since then but their stories are still in the book
2) My family I grew up in is pretty big and we're spread out across the States so this is a very sweet way to get to know aunts and uncles a bit better.
3) Adults were once kids! I was a kid and I had struggles just like them! And so was grandpa! This is mind blowing stuff.
4) These values are not just something Mom and Dad made up. These are what's important to our extended family. We are all a part of this bigger thing.
5) The kids reading the book in these pictures weren't even born when this book was made, yet they are enjoying it and learning from it all these years later. The older ones now understand so much more than they did when it was first written. It's a gift you'll always treasure.
We actually gave this to all of our kids for a Christmas gift. We also printed books with just the stories from my side for my parents and the sibling's family we gave to that year along with books with just the stories from Matt's side for his parents and sibling's family.
But this would make such a great birthday gift or Easter gift or baptism gift or just a You're Awesome gift, really.