In our family, we like creating traditions for celebrating milestones, and we certainly never fail to find more of them. I can hardly think of any parent who would not be excited about their child turning one, though. Last December, when Budster turned one, we planned a day full of his favourite things to do. That was our official celebration. Another way of celebrating my son’s first birthday was looking through all of his photos. I had the idea of putting them together in a photo book and sending it to his grandparents as a Christmas gift.
What is a photo book? It came as an alternative to the photo album, as digital photography gained popularity. Many people order a photo book from their wedding photographer, but not everyone knows that they can make their own for every imaginable occasion. It makes a great gift, and it needn’t cost much! Not more than any hardcover book, really.
In order to make a photo book, you find a company that offers their printing services, download their publishing program and align your digital photos there. I worked with programs from two different companies, and both were user-friendly and came with tutorials.
Suggestions for publishing companies? When I ordered these books in the past, I did it from two companies: Photobook and Blurb. Both worked out well, and the difference was not that noticeable. But if I had to compare, I’d say that Photobook was cheaper and a little faster with delivery, while Blurb had a slightly better quality of prints.
You can design your photo book any way you want. Make collages on one page, but also leave big page-sized shots on another. Let pictures speak for themselves, insert short captions, or write long stories and make your photo book into a story book where you, your family and friends are the main characters. The process is a lot of fun, and having a printed and hard-bound result in your hands gives a sense of pride.
Our grandparents were delighted. They all live very far away, and could only watch from afar as our little guy turned from a little bundle with big surprised eyes into a walking, laughing toddler.
The best part was yet to come, though. At first I did not even plan to get a copy for us, but as I worked on the book and relived the memories, I could not resist. When Budster was around fifteen months, he found the photo book on the shelf and brought it to me, excitedly pointing at his own image on the cover. We looked through it, and since then the photo book has moved to his little shelf.
“Once there was Mommy and Daddy… They wanted to have a baby very much! And they got you”, that’s how the story begins. On the first page there is a photo of me with a pregnant belly and Jeffrey by my side under a big walnut tree, followed by a photo of Budster, a year later, giggling and kicking his feet in the air under the same walnut tree.
The story continues, taking us through all of the baby’s first year milestones, but also first times that were special to our family: from the first time Budster was introduced to Daddy’s shelf of helmets to the first trip that we took to Montreal; from the first banana mash Budster got to the first elephant he saw in the zoo.
Budster never gets tired of looking at this book. Of course, he has a lot of favourites, but I could sincerely call this unconventional book his very favourite, as he has been insisting on reading it for many months. There are days when he brings it to me several times. There are also days when he sits down with it by himself and thoughtfully turns page after page. He loves to find “Mama” and “Dada” and himself in the book. As for me, there is a very warm feeling raising every time I tell him our story, and he seems equally fascinated by it.
Since then, I decided to make it another of our traditions: on each of Budster’s birthdays he will get a new book about the past year. The second volume is coming this December.