Make A Family Cookbook *Plus Giveaway*


This giveaway is now closed but please enjoy the post!

This post is proudly sponsored by the Nestle Family Holiday Exchange. Read to the end for details on how to enter a series of valuable giveaways!

Congratulations to Carol Driver for winning this giveaway and thank you for entering!

One of the greatest things you can do for your family is to pass down your recipes. Those of you who have my cookbook and have read page 113 know why I feel so strongly about this. Folks often ask me how they get started compiling a family cookbook. Unsure of where to begin, how much work is involved, and possible expense, people tend to feel overwhelmed. Today I’m going to show you how simple, inexpensive, and rewarding compiling your family’s recipes into a cookbook can be and just in time for Christmas gift giving!

Putting together a cookbook for your family can be very inexpensive, but is sure to be a priceless heirloom that will be treasured for generations. Are you a Mama with grown kids? Why not type up all of those recipes they are always calling and asking about and put them together to hand out on Christmas morning. You can also make it a group project by sending out an email requesting everyone’s favorite recipes and have them send them to you already typed up to cut down on work.

I have made several family cookbooks over the years and today I’m going to show you a few of the ones I’ve made and give you suggestions of things I feel help to make your book even more of an heirloom.

One of the least expensive cookbooks to put together is simply one in a three ring binder. You can print off the pages at home, punch holes and place them in. A lot of three ring binders have a clear insert page in the front where you can even put in a title page. This is the very first kind I did, almost sixteen years ago.

You can also photocopy your handwritten recipes and simply punch holes in those and place them in as well. It may seem less “professional” to do that now, but your great, great grandchildren sure would cherish a recipe written in your hand!

The price of making this book will be a dollar or two for the binder and

approximately five cents per copy,

making your costs just a few dollars per cookbook!

From there, I moved up a bit. This is a cookbook I made mostly at home. I printed out the cover on cardstock and laminated it myself, then printed all of the pages on my printer and had copies made at an office supply store. Once I put all of the books together I took them back to the supply store and had them bind them with a plastic spiral binding. At the time it cost me around $1.50 per book to have them drilled and bound this way. This was a very economical book to put together and made a nice Christmas gift. The cover showcased my parents wedding picture.

This one cost me about seven dollars a copy to make.

This is my second family cookbook. I spent over a year compiling recipes from both my side and my husband’s side of the family. There are well over 500 recipes in this one. I took the entire book on a disk to an office supply store and had them print it all and print the cover on green cardstock. In lieu of laminating the cover, there is a clear plastic sheet that goes over it (this saved me some money). This one was very expensive but that is mostly due to the size of it.

The funny thing is that I worked on it for the better part of a year to give as Christmas gifts and then once I got done it was so big that I couldn’t afford to have them printed for everyone! We were young and had a two year old and spending almost twenty dollars on every member of the family was just impossible. When everyone saw the completed book though, they were happy to pay to have theirs printed and my gift ended up being the work I put into it.

This cookbook cost about $16.00 per copy to print, but that is mostly due to the size of the cookbook.

Several years went by and I started From there I went with a professionally self published book. I contacted several printing companies for quotes and went with the least expensive, but this is still the most expensive option and I don’t recommend it unless you are going to be ordering 500 or more books.

I ordered these and used to sell them on I no longer sell them and they are out of print but I’ve managed to hang on to a few copies to give my kids when they grow up. Its a lot of work self publishing and fulfilling orders. My poor Mama used to mail these for me and she’d go to the post office five times a week just to mail them off. We’re happy to have and bookstores do that part of the job now :)

The cookbook you can buy is available in stores is still every bit the family cookbook and more. I poured my heart into it and shared my family’s most treasured recipes. Miss Paula Deen read it and said “The recipes in Southern Plate made my mouth water!” I hope you enjoy it.

*As I write this it is $14.48 on but their prices go up pretty rapidly so it may change by the time you read this.

Now that you know some of the cookbook options,

lets talk about what to put in it…


No matter which cookbook format you go with, there are some important

features you may want to add in order to give it the most sentimental value.

Below are some important things you can include in your books to make them even more special for the whole family.

Dedication- A Dedication is very important to any book. This can be simply a “This book is dedicated to..” statement or it can feature a photograph of a loved one along with a dedication. Remember, this is your book and there are no steadfast rules here so do what feels right to you.

(I’m blurring out some details in this page and the next several others so if they look funny that is why)

Special thanks – this can go at the beginning or end of the book and is a wonderful place to include everyone who contributed recipes. If you are doing this for your family and notice that just about everyone but a few contributed recipes, go ahead and include the names of everyone just to make sure everyone feels the love.

To include folks who didn’t contribute, you can always say “Thank you for your contributions and for being such a wonderful part of our wonderful family” or some such.

Family Anniversaries – Start with the mee maws and pee paws and include as many of the married folks as possible. Include full names, dates of marriage, and location of marriage if possible.

Birthdays – this one is self explanatory and will make everyone’s life so much easier!

Biographies– a short biography of each family member such as “John Smith- born January 28, 1942 in Egypt, Texas to Bill and Jill Smith. He graduated from Podunk High School in Whooha, Alabama and received a B.S. from John T. Importance University”

Special Notes: If you have any baking tips from Grandma, list them in a special section. Better yet, ask family members to contribute to a collection of tips and hints.

Autograph page- This may seem something a bit o the silly side but just think of all of your ancestors and how much it would mean to you to be able to have their signature on something. Why not make a special page or two for folks to sign in your cookbook, yearbook style? They can sign their name and put special wishes or sentiments.

If you are someone who shows your love through your cooking, there is nothing that could possibly be a greater treasure to those you love than a compilation of your recipes, your legacy to them. Taking the time to put them together in a book can be inexpensive and fuss free. Everything else beneath the tree will pale in comparison .

And now for the big news! The Southern Plate Family has been chosen to take part in the Nestle Family Holiday Exchange!

We’ll be taking part over a series of five posts (including this one) where I’ll be posting about food, recipes, traditions, crafts, holiday entertaining and more. You’re the biggest part of this, though, so I want you to be sure and join in the discussion in the comments for each post where one comment will be chosen at random to win a prize pack.

There are five great prize packs in all and four of them include valuable gift cards along with other prizes.

Here is today’s prize pack:

Family Holiday Movie Night Package Featuring:

  • “A Christmas Story” Collector’s Edition DVD
  • 3-Flavor Pack of Ovaltine
  • Raisinets (my favorite theatre treat!)
  • Family Size Dinner from Stouffer’s
  • Dreyer’s/Edy’s Ice Cream Cups!
  • For a great dessert idea you can make with the kids, visit Nestle’s Holiday Family site and check out Quick Brownie Bites Sundaes!

    This contest closes midnight on Wednesday, December 5th. I’ll notify the winner by email and announce them on this post on Thursday, December 6th.

    To enter, leave a comment joining in today’s discussion.

    What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

    Have any of those been passed down for generations?

    How about ideas for creating new traditions?

    You don’t have to answer each question, just grab one and go with it! I want to hear from you!


    Disclaimer: I have partnered with Nestle Family to be a part of this Holiday Exchange series of blog posts. I have not been paid for a positive opinion and all opinions expressed within this post are my own.


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    1. Melissa says

      Our Christmas traditions start on Christmas Eve, my husband and I host a get together, mostly my family because his family always have something else to do. We have done this for years. Christmas morning we awake and the kids open all of their gifts. We used to rush off to my mom and dads after to have breakfast and open presents but we have since stopped doing breakfast and show up a little later. Its so much easier on the kids this way. We open gifts at my mom and dads and have lunch then its off to my husbands family for presents and dinner. We are wiped out by the end of the day but it is so worth it. My kids get to play with the toys a little longer in the morning and makes for a much better experience for them. This is a tradition that we will always have and I wouldnt change it for the world. Mom and Dad always have a stocking for everyone and we get to go thru it until presents are opened. My son will tell you the best part of that is he gets a YooHoo drink…..we all do and if you dont drink them right away they may disappear!! I just love Christmas!

    2. Lori says

      I made the “3 ring binder” cookbooks last Christmas for my 25 year old twins. They were most appreciative because I did put notes with some recipes ….”your great grandma always made this on July 4th” or “I find that it helps to refrigerate the dough for about an hour” or ” when you were 6 years old this was your favorite cookie dough to snitch”. Please, please make a cookbook for your children. I wish I had my grandmothers recipes.

    3. Linda says

      For Christmas three years ago I made “scrapbook” recipe books for my son to give to the girls in his office. I used 8X8 scrapbooks( Big Lots, sales counters, etc), put a recipe (favorites of mine) on each page, added quotes and embellishments. On the cover I purchased Christmas picks and glued them on.
      These went over really well, the girls loved them.

    4. deborah says

      I think I will start making one so one day I can pass it to my new-born grandson. I want to teach him to cook just like his dad does. I am so looking forward to Christmas this year because now I feel like I have something to celebrate.

    5. ANNA says


    6. nina says

      my 9 yr old grandson and i started a new tradition this year .we are making homemade christmas ornaments. i am a foster grandparent at the elementary school .a volunteer thing to help kids get some one on one .there are 47 kids i work with so i will make one for each child with the date.

    7. Little Amy says

      My family always makes and decorates sugar cookies together. My mom is the expert sugar cookie maker and baker. Sis and I are in charge of decorating with multiple colors of frosting and sprinkles that fly everywhere!

    8. says

      I have a granddaughter that just turned 3 and is so excited for Christmas, so this year we started to make a paper chain for my daughter, husband and granddaughter;s tree and she and I will add to it each year to continue our chain to wrap all the way around the tree and hopefully many times.

    9. Christa Garrett says

      We make Christmas ornaments every year. We bake every year and have finger foods at my mom’s house every Christmas Eve! Can’t wait! Ornaments are being made this sat. at a Holiday Tea Party I’mhaving for my 10 year old!

    10. Tonia says

      My favorite holiday traditions growing up centered around my grandmother, Jewel Melton, and her delicious cakes and pies. She was known throughout my hometown of Graniteville, SC, and the surrounding area for her baking, and people routinely put in order months ahead of time to make sure they had their favorite for the holiday table. She never used a written recipe, but baked her goodies from memory and years of experience. When she passed away in 1988, she had committed only a few of these treasures to paper, and we feared that the rest of her wonderful recipes had been lost forever. However, a few years ago, I learned that she had given the recipe for her chocolate cream pie to a close friend who had passed it onto her grandson. I now have this recipe, and making it has become a special tradition within my own family. Everyone looks forward to a slice or two, and, when we sit around the table enjoying its sweet chocolatey goodness, I share a story or two of my grandmother. It’s like she’s right there with us, and that’s the best gift of all.

    11. Linda White says

      Christy – Several years ago, I asked all my relatives to bring their favorite dish to the family reunion along with the written recipe. Since we had the recipe, I figured it made sense to take a picture of the dish before everyone started gobbling it up. I put together a recipe book and included photos of each of the dishes, along with a short story of who made the dish and why we enjoyed it so much. But then I went a step further and asked family members to bring old family photos of our ancestors or important events. Because older members of our family are quite well known for their storytelling abilities, I asked them to write down their favorite stories about other members of the family, funny events or special remembrances of family members. I included those stories and photos throughout the recipe book. We now have a wonderful record of favorite family recipes, photos and stories of family members – some of whom the younger generations never even met! It has become a family treasure and not only do we enjoy recreating some of our favorite dishes, but we also love thumbing through the book and reading about all our in-laws and outlaws! It’s been about 10 years since I put the first book together and now I’m updating it for a second printing. I have collected more photos, stories and recipes to include in this new version. Now my problem is that everyone who hears about the new book wants one – even if they’re not in the family! I promised to distribute these at the next family reunion and it looks like just about everyone is going out of their way to make sure they attend the reunion in order to get their cookbook! Guess that’s a way to get all the distant cousins, aunts and uncles to make the trip… one more time. Thanks, Christy, for sharing your love of food and family and for inspiring us to reach just a little further to make memories for our precious loved ones. Blessings to you and your family during this Christmas holiday and all through the New Year.

    12. Andrea Watts says

      We don’t have too many traditions. We have a Christmas eve get together for my family every year since it’s my birthday. Then we have a Christmas breakfast with my husband’s family.

    13. Jenny Joyce says

      My favorite tradition is to take my Mom who is handicapped for a drive and look at Christmas lights and all the homes so beautifully decorated for Christmas. We bring a thermos of hot chocolate and listen to Christmas music while we drive around.

    14. Joanna Dickinson says

      When my husband and I were transferred from Dallas, Texas to New Jersey when my oldest was 19 months old and I was 7 months pregnant with my 2nd, it made it pretty much impossible to spend a lot of the holidays with family. I’ve tried hard to begin some of our own traditions. One is through cooking. Each Christmas day I cook an incredible beef tenderloin. It is pretty much fuss free and extremely delicious!

    15. says

      Some of my favorite holiday traditions include drinking hot cocoa while putting up the tree oh and don’t forget the cookies … gotta have the cookies! Usually for breakfast on Thanksgiving and Christmas we all share a pumpkin pie, there were 6 of us growing up so the pie went fast! My husband and I have a 2 1/2 yr old and we shared a piece of pie instread of the whole pie, having a tummy ache is no fun! I think opening gifts of Christmas day is a must, I mean come on Santa comes Christmas night so the gifts are magically there in the morning, my husband on the other had grew up opening gifts on Christmas Eve … FYI we are opening gifts Christmas Day!
      My husband is a SSG in the Army and Ayden, our son, was born in 2008, Anthony was deployed 2008-2009 so he missed out on the holidays. Ayden and I went to our Aunts house for a while and their tradition on Christmas night included cookies for Santa AND they sprinkle reindeer mix outside. Now you can add anything to this mix, we will be adding goldfish, cheerios, pretzel sticks and chex mix along with some glitter for fun! Anthony will leave again soon in the spring so, again, he will miss out on the holidays. We want to make our traditions something that he can do while he’s deployed and Ayden and I can do while we are home. We are going to get a gingerbread house and we’ve found a gingerbread train so I’m excited to do that with both of my awesome guys in my life! We also go around looking at the lights and we will be going to take pictures with Santa soon!

      I hope everyone have wonderful and blessed holidays!

    16. Kim says

      Thank you so much Christy! I have always wanted to do this for my kids and family. I just didn’t know where to start. I’m one of those people that needs instructions. lol I am going to get started on it for next Christmas just as soon as this Christmas is done. One question you or anyone can answer. If I’m making the book for my husbands and my side of the family do I just add everybody or do a separate one for each side? Wasn’t quite sure about that.

      I ordered your cookbook for my birthday and I love it!!! But I knew I would. :)

      Keep all the good stuff coming!! And thank you for all the time you take to make our lives a little easier.

    17. says

      My mom gave me something wonderful when I got married 14 years ago, she made me a cookbook. It has my families name on the outside and wonderful little stories about some of the recipes that she made my family and I when we were little. It is very special to me because it has her handwriting in it and that is something I will always cherish reading because she took so much time to personalize it for me. This Christmas I will pull it out and bake some of the wonderful Christmas goodies she made us as children and think of the special times we had listening to Christmas tunes and baking together.

    18. Michelle Pegram says

      We always like to make a huge breakfast or a bunch of appetizers to snack on the day after thanksgiving and spend the whole day snaking, decorating the tree and house for Christmas and just enjoying each other’s company.

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