Make A Family Cookbook *Plus Giveaway*

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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 SouthernPlate.com. 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 SouthernPlate.com. 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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com 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…

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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!

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    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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    233 Comments

    1. I’m busy writing down all your recipes that are in your blog but not in your books (I have all 3 cookbooks and your magazine cookbooks) in case you don’t print another one and the internet somehow doesn’t work or I cut it off like I did the tv/cable. I also hand write my recipes in those hard cover composition books.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

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