Books are the heartbeat of many a homeschool family. If you want to create a personalized gift for your child, teen, or … well, anyone… using a book as a base is a fantastic idea.
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PICK THE BOOK
The very first step is to figure out what book you would like to use as the foundation for your gift. Will it be fiction or non-fiction? Pick out the perfect book based on your child’s interests or a book that you know they will love to read. Once you have figured out that step, we can decide what can go along with the book to create a personalized gift!
Begin your journey by carefully selecting a non-fiction book that aligns with the recipient’s interests, whether it’s a guide to a hobby, a self-help book, an activity guide, or a captivating biography.
I’ll be using two books for my non-fiction example.
My 8 year old daughter loves to be in the kitchen so the Food Network book “Recipe-A-Day Kids Cookbook” is a perfect fit for her. Inside are 365 recipes – including something fun for various holidays – for kids ages 8-12. It is an American book, so we might have to shift things around once in a while, but it looks great. It will give us the opportunity to be intentional with her cooking and baking adventures, even if we don’t do it every day. I love the colourful photos and variety of ideas.
My 10 year old son loves science, so I’m going to build a gift based around the book “Amazing Science” from Good Housekeeping. This book has 83 different hands-on STEAM experiments for kids ages 7-12 years old that cover food science, energy, slime, outdoors, etc. What’s neat is that it doesn’t just have the instructions (with great pictures) for each experiement, but it also has the “why” behind each one so there’s learning involved too. There’s something fun about doing experiments so, I know he’s going to enjoy this book .
If your recipient is a reader, embark on the journey of selecting a fictional universe that holds a special place in their heart. Fiction books are great to create a personalized gift with because you don’t have to be literal – you can get super creative with your entire gift.
For my example, I’ll be using two books.
First is a middle grade fantasy story called Firesight by author, Jessica Deen Norris. This book is a coming of age story for kids ages 10+ that has action and adventure combined with magic and dragons! It’s the perfect kind of story for any reader who loves fantasy books. I’m thinking of using this for my 10 year old son!
The other book I’ll use is the classic novel, Anne of Green Gables. Most Canadians know and love the famous red-haired, lost-in-her-imagination girl from Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s. This story is another coming of age story, while Anne tries to find out how to live in the world she’s been thrust into as an orphan – learning about friendship and love and family. It’s a little advanced for my 8 year old daughter, but I’m planning ahead for when she’s older.
Some thoughts on how to make this book extra special:
- Consider buying a hard cover edition.
- If this book is written by a modern author, see if you can get a signed copy.
- If it’s a classic, make sure not to get an abridged edition. Instead, maybe you can find a vintage copy.
- If it’s a book you loved as a child yourself, and you happen to have your well-read copy still, pass it along.
WHAT TO ADD TO CREATE A PERSONALIZED GIFT
Now that you have a book in mind for your gift, it’s time to build it out from there. Identify the theme of the book. What is it about? A non-fiction book is typically easier – it’s about whatever the topic of the book is! But the same question applies to fiction too: What is the theme of this book? If it’s a book you are familiar with, what are the key moments, events, or symbols in the book that you can use as a guide for building the gift?
Add an Educational or Practical Element
Bring the knowledge from the pages to life by including educational or practical items inspired by the non-fiction book. This will vary according to the theme of the book you are using.
In my example of a cooking book, I could add any of the kitchen tools that we don’t already own, or a set just for her – like measuring cups or one of those real cooking sets for kids that have all sorts of neat kid-safe versions of practical items. (I highly recommend popping into a dollar store for gift items like these!) A great addition could be a measurement conversion chart – to help with those pesky conversions between imperial and metric.
For the science book, there are materials listed for each experiment, so I could easily add in any supplies or tools that would help make actually doing the experiments easier – such as a magnet or eyedroppers. Thankfully, most of the materials in this book use things you might typically have at home already, and we have a lot of science tools already, so I don’t think I will need to add any more to this kit. However, there is one thing that this book recommends for every experiment – a science notebook. So, I think that I can find one specifically designated for that purpose and include a fun themed science pencil.
If you’re going to use a book about dragons, you might as well add some dragon things to the basket. Why not something like a Dracopedia to learn all about different kinds of dragons? Or maybe a dragon egg excavation kit? I think both of these could be a great addition to a gift for my son.
For Anne of Green Gables, a very practical item could be a special tea mug (you could even get one with some Anne artwork on it!) because it’s one of the most popular things she drinks in the story. You could even add in some speciality tea and a vintage teaspoon, which I’m sure could be easy enough to find at a thrift store.
Add Something to Represent the Character / Setting / Theme
For Non-Fiction Books
This is more challenging with the non-fiction books than the fiction ones. Maybe consider what your child can envision themselves to be if they are reading this book. Dinosaur lovers could be paleontologists. Space enthusiasts could be astronauts. A vet. A Pokemon Master. LEGO builder. Use these to create something fun to build from that. Maybe there are costumes or special tools which can help them imagine becoming that very thing.
For my cooking book gift, I think an apron and maybe a chef hat can do the trick to give her the feeling of being a chef or a baker. For my science book, a lab coat and safety googles can turn my kid into a scientist.
For Fiction Books
Fiction books offer a lot of opportunities to include something specifically about the characters, the setting, or the theme!
For Firesight, the ideas are practically endless. Think of all the fantasy type items that could create a connect to the story, like a cloak. What about fire effect lamps to represent the fire magic? A stuffed dragon. A 3D dragon nightlight. A dragon egg statue.
For Anne, see if you can find a small vial of red PEI sand or a postcard from the province, especially with a picture of Green Gables. Buy a straw hat. You can even get some with the red braids attached. An Anne doll. A necklace that splits into two so they can share it with their best friend. A family photo album. Artwork with a popular quote from the book.
Add a DIY Element
The fun of just being able to do something alongside the book you are reading can just push the experience to the next level.
DIY for Non-Fiction
Both my examples of non-fiction books are already “take and do” subjects, so it can seem somewhat pointless to add another activity with it. But what is something ELSE that can be added to this gift which pushes it to the next level?
For my cooking gift, I could add in a blank recipe binder or journal so she can start collecting her favourite recipes while she tests out different things. I could buy a cooking kit box that comes with everything she needs to make something special – like this one to make homemade donuts. Or I could even just include a special treat from a local baker in the gift that she doesn’t have to make at all to use as an inspiration.
For my science gift, although it’s already full of great experiments and activities, I could easily buy a science activity kit that encourages more exploration and curiosity. One idea could be to add a science themed VR set, if there is one that looks like it would be a good fit for my child’s interests.
DIY for Fiction
It might not seem as intuitive to think about a hands-on activity related to a fiction novel, but it’s totally possible. Think about crafts and projects that your child might like to do.
For the fantasy book, I’ve been looking at some of the dragon models and painting sets. I could include some story prompts in a journal if he loved to write. (Note: he doesn’t.) Another idea is to consider a game – it feels like the perfect opportunity to introduce a role-playing game (RPG) where he can build his own fantasy world and characters and their adventures.
As for Anne, I think it would be a lot of fun to include the recipe (and a special serving pitcher) for raspberry cordial (Note: NOT currant wine!) so that you can make it together and enjoy a fine afternoon. Or you could include a canvas and some warm coloured paint to make a landscape of October trees. Another idea? A diary where your child can save all their innermost thoughts and dreams.
For one last piece, consider something special or extra to put into this gift. Think about what could be meaningful to your child? It doesn’t have to be something fancy, but it can add an element of joy to the whole gift.
For my cooking book, I could hand write my favourite recipe on a special card and tuck it into the gift. My science gift could include a subscription to OWL magazine. For Anne, it would be completely unfair of me not to include a DVD edition of the movie with Megan Follows. And for the fantasy book – I’m going to check out the merch by the author to see what special thing I can include in my gift.
PUTTING YOUR PERSONALIZED GIFT ALL TOGETHER
The last thing to figure out is how to actually pull it all together into a cohesive gift.
You are going to need something to put it all in – a bag, a bin, a box, or a basket are typically your best options. Depending on the options you’ve chosen for the ideas above, you will need to decide what is going to be the right size for this particular gift, as well as practicality and the taste of your recipient. That’s one of the perks of creating a personalized gift! You get to make it specifically for them!
For my cooking gift, I could use a large mixing bowl or a cooking pot as a gift basket. For my science gift, I could use a nice looking bin with a lid, where he can keep all his science supplies and tools for easy access whenever he feels like doing experiments. For dragons, I might use a basket as a pseudo dragon’s egg nest. And for Anne, I think a vintage basket could be a perfect tie-in to this historical story.
Find a colour of filling – whether that’s tissue paper, fabric, or shred – that goes along with your book. For example, the cover of The Recipe-A-Day Kids Cookbook has a bright red (rice cereal) apple. I could find a match for that colour and use it to line or fill my container. I keep envisioning orange fill for the dragon nest – you know, for fire!
If you can’t find something to coordinate with your book, keep it simple with a neutral colour like brown or white. Or, you can go with conventional colours for whatever the celebration is for this gift giving (ie. red / green for Christmas, pastels for Easter, etc.)
Arrange Your Gift
Now it’s time to put the gift together.
- Begin by creating layers within the container. Utilize the filling to add depth. This not only serves a practical purpose but also enhances the visual appeal of the gift.
- Place each item within the container with care and intention. Arrange items in a way that allows the items in your gift to be at least partially seen on a quick look over. Often gifts with multiple items can be overwhelming at first, so consider the flow of the recipient’s gaze as they explore the contents. Put the book in the front or middle. Give it the place of honour. Find a way to keep items where they belong even if the gift is moved. You can nestle them into the filling, tie them to the basket, or tuck the items close together to use their own weight to keep things in place.
- Think about how you are going to wrap this gift. Will you choose to use cellophane – which makes everything visible even before the gift is open? Will you use paper or just put a lid on a box? Figure out what will be the best option for your particular gift. Tie or wrap it in some kind of bow or ribbon around your gift. Again – think of your theme. Is there something you can use to help literally tie it all together?
- Lastly, nestle a heartfelt note among the items, expressing your sentiments and explaining the significance of each carefully chosen element. A personal touch transforms this gift into a meaningful and memorable experience because it shows that you put thought and effort into each piece.
By applying these ideas of how to create a personalized gift, you turn the act of giving into an art form, ensuring that the presentation of your book-inspired gift is as thoughtful and captivating as the literary journey it represents. May the unveiling of your gift bring joy and wonder to the recipient’s heart.
Disclosure: I was given copies of Recipe-A-Day Kids Cookbook and the Good Housekeeping Awesome Science books from the publisher for this blog post. My opinions and ideas about these books were not influenced by this.