Fambook - like Facebook....but not...

My big, fat, Cuban family is made up of a ton of people. As you can probably imagine, we ditched having every single family member buying Christmas gifts for every other person a long time ago. The only exemption to this rule is my mom. Everyone buys her a little something.

We tried drawing names, but after a couple of years, we ran out of ideas and if you drew the name of someone you didn't see often enough, buying them a gift became awkward and difficult.

Gift giving, I decided needed to be fun again. Simple. Not crazy-making and stressful.

So, for the past few years, I've been making photobooks. I usually use Shutterfly to make my books, just because I like them and they turn out a good product. And no, they are not sponsoring this post (I wish!), but that's not important right now.

Given that most of the family was already on Facebook, I had a brainstorm.....

I give you:



It's a 12 x 12 digital scrapbook and there is a page for each family member. Each page is organized alphabetically, by first names.

I first sent out an email questionnaire to each person. I asked them for a favorite quote and some favorite photos. We even created one for the kids.

It took a lot of coercing and convincing, but I got most of them back in plenty of time to do the book. The ones who didn't respond, I just grabbed their photos from Facebook and made up stuff. (I know. But I was on deadline. Don't judge me.)

Here's my page:


Pretty genius, right?

To be crystal clear, they sent me the info and photos and I created the entire thing myself. I also had them send me $35 via paypal, which took care of their "family gift obligation," only I did all the grunt work.

I should add here that I am quite pleased with the outcome.

As you can see, each page resembles a Facebook Wall.


And includes a favorite quote, and favorite photos, and their personal details, such as birthdays and anniversary (if applicable).

I was quite pleased with the construction (I created each page in Photoshop Elements and saved all the images as .jpgs for easy loading), and everyone was delighted with the finished product. Their personal stress was reduced and when they left the party, they each had this fabulous gift in their hands.

My page

There's also that very satisfied feeling I get knowing that this will quickly become a keepsake that they can enjoy forever. And everyone's $35 went to something they really, really wanted. Win-win.

This year I'm making a Family Calendar, also through Shutterfly. (Oh, why aren't they banging down my door to represent them? Why? *sigh*)

I just finished that today so I could take advantage of a sale they were having: buy one calendar for regular price and get the others for half-price. They have deals like that all the time, which not only motivates me, it makes me happy to feel a little push to finish the project.

Anyway, here's a sneak peek at the photo of the calendar I finished and ordered today. The beauty is that I just have to create one! Ah, Digital Photography gods....I bow down.

Calendar page

I'm so excited to see them open these on Christmas. I also feel quite accidentally cool for coming up with the idea. (Get the sandpaper!)

I'll be sharing more of our personal family traditions in the next few weeks. I thought I'd share this now in case someone wants to tackle the project themselves for their own family.  It took me about 20 hours (a lot of time!) because I had to hunt down the photos, but I seriously don't regret a single moment. It was indeed a labor of love.

So tell me... Do you make gifts? Do you buy? Do you order online? I do a little bit of everything....because I can.  =D