First Birthday Present: DIY Board Book

First Birthday Present: DIY Board Book | Twin Cities Moms Blog

I was so over throwing a first birthday party the moment another mom judged me in line at an ice cream shop. We were both holding almost-one-year-olds and started chatting about their upcoming parties. I mentioned that there would be mimosas at our 11am party.

“Wow,” she said, giving me a barely concealed side-eye, “I didn’t realize baby birthday parties were so fancy these days.”

If I’m going to convince people to come to my house before noon and watch my kid halfheartedly paw at some wrapping paper, they’re getting something bubbly. But she was right. I have never felt fancier than I did the morning of the party, sitting on the floor of our cramped South Minneapolis home, surrounded by babies, friends, discarded wrapping paper, and puddles of drool, holding my mimosa in a plastic cup.

But perhaps the fanciest part was me, squatting on our kitchen floor at midnight the night before the party, hastily making our daughter’s birthday present, my fingers sticky with glue.

Here’s a thing about me: I. Hate. Crafts. If something requires more than four materials and takes more than five steps, I’m out.

For months before my daughter’s first birthday, I told myself I would order her this “Book of Names and Faces:” a board book of family and friends’ faces so she would recognize the important people in her life—even if she didn’t see them regularly. I was so proud of my advanced planning and great idea, and I thought about the gift often in the months, then weeks, then days leading up to her birthday.

Then, suddenly, it was three days before her birthday and ordering the book on time was literally impossible.

Unwilling to give up on the idea (and for some reason, adamant that she receive it at her party), I found myself on our kitchen floor making a homemade version. It was simple, and definitely not professional looking, but over and over I heard “you made that?” so I thought, perhaps, I should share my very fancy DIY project.

Also, our daughter loved it (But her other gift was a box of empty yogurt containers, which she also loved, so take her opinion with a grain of salt).

First Birthday Present: DIY Board Book | Twin Cities Moms BlogOn an airplane, feeding snacks to the page featuring our dog


Here’s what you’ll need:

  1.  a blank board book (thank goodness for Amazon Prime. I ordered two in case I screwed one up)
  2. square photos (I ordered mine from Costco)
  3. any program that allows you to add words to photos. I used Photoshop, but PicMonkey is a free option.
  4. spray adhesive or Mod Podge

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. The board book has ten panels you need to fill. Find ten photos of family and friends – preferably closeups of their faces. Use the two remaining panels as a front and back cover; you can either handwrite these, or, depending on your level of expertise, design your covers.
  2. Use your program of choice to add names to the photos
  3. Send your photos to the one-hour photo of your choice, and have them printed as 5×5 squares. Order doubles just in case and reminisce about the good old days of sending your disposable camera to the one-hour photo and ordering doubles for your friends.
  4. Use a spray adhesive or Mod Podge to affix your photos to the board book. You might need to do some snipping to get a better fit.
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