Who doesn't love beautiful, well written children's books? (Even if you thought of someone just now, I bet that person is not an expectant mother. Just sayin'.) We wanted to take a book and make it look like the thoughtful gift it really is. The ideas we came up with were:
Wrap a fun, brightly colored receiving blanket around the book, then tie a ribbon around the blanket. Voila- instant cute gift.
For smaller books, tie a ribbon around a book or two and add a rattle or another small toy.
Here are a couple picture books that Alice and I highly recommend:
It's Time to Sleep, My Love by Eric Metaxas and Nancy Tillman
This is an A for sure.
I got this book at Kohl's last December, shortly after Alice was born. My mom got her the little panda, also from Kohl's, for Christmas. I love this book. I have read it to Alice almost every night since I bought it. The illustrations are beautiful and she loves to stare at/pat them- that habit led to me buying the board book version from Amazon to avoid ripped pages. I love the gentle rhythm of the story which seems to help calm Alice down for bed.
Sidenote: If you have never noticed the Kohl's Cares books up by the cash registers, go check it out. I am in no way affiliated with Kohl's and they will give me nothing for telling you this, but at only $5 each you cannot find cheaper hardcover children's books. (If you can, let me know where!) They also sell stuffed animals that go with each book, which also cost only $5. You could buy a book and a stuffed animal and tie them together or just throw them in a little gift bag and you have a very sweet little gift.
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book
We give it an A
This book is approved not only by Alice and me, but also both of Jonie's girls. They were at my house last week and we read this book over and over at their request. It's a very simple book that has been around for thirty years. The narrator says he wrote to the zoo to send him a pet and each page shows a different animal the zoo sends, which the author then sends back until finally the zoo sends the perfect pet. The girls love lifting the flaps themselves and if you make the animal noises it's extra fun.
The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke
This is an A+
If you want to read the book yourself, you can download it free for your kindle here or get a free download in many formats here, courtesy of Project Gutenberg.
The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman
I give it an A
The author of this book is also one of the authors of It's time to sleep, my love. This is similar to that book in that the illustrations are beautiful and the words are soothing. I love the message it shares. It talks about the spirit of Christmas helping the narrator figure out what is missing from Christmas. He suggests bells or food or songs, but the narrator says that's just not it. It turns out that "you" are what's missing. The last page says, "And so then, my darling, wherever you roam, may you always be safe... may you always come home. For as long as the world still spins and still hums, wherever you are, and no matter what comes, the best part of Christmas will always be... you beneath my Christmas tree." If you have kids living away from home or any loved one who is far from you this season, this would be a sweet way to remind them that they are important and loved. I think a sweet note tucked or written in the cover along with a cute ribbon and an ornament or some chocolate would be just right.
We took an inexpensive cookbook, wrapped it in a dishtowel, tied a ribbon around it, added a cookie cutter and I think it's perfect for birthdays, holidays or just because. One thing I like about wrapping books this way is that it looks great and you already know what it is without opening it. It takes away that awkward should-I-open-it-right-now? moment.
You can always find cookbooks on clearance racks, so this can be a very affordable gift. Also, in addition to picture books, Kohl's always has a $5 cookbook up by the register.
Make a bookmark to personalize and beautify your gift. We found this tutorial for making gorgeous bookmarks out of ribbon and a single earring. You can see our version in the picture below. The cameo is a pin, so we just pinned it to the ribbon. The flower was attached with a glue dot, which holds surprisingly well. I don't think they are very practical bookmarks for use, but for displaying books, they make a beautiful statement.
Our other bookmark idea I don't actually have an example of... We thought it would be nice to give someone a book you love and make a bookmark with a favorite quote from the book. That way they get a little preview of the greatness that awaits them and it makes the gift that much more personalized.
The other book-related idea I have for you is framing book pages or illustrations. The frame in the above photo is one that hangs in Alice's room. It's an illustration from Alice in Wonderland. I found the picture using a Google image search, sent it to Costco to be printed, and stuck it in a frame. Anything you frame becomes more special. You could find a print from a book that has significance to your recipient and for the cost of a frame (which, as Jonie said, can be easily found at a thrift store and painted) plus the cost of a photo print (I think mine was 39 cents...) you have a meaningful gift.
My final tip for book-giving:
Find awesome, old books. You could find an old edition of a book you know the recipient loves, or share an old copy of a book you adore. An aged, hardcover book has so much more character than your average mass-market paperback. And it smells better too. Where do you find them? I've found great books on eBay and sometimes the used section on Amazon. Check out local thrift stores or yard sales, sometimes you can score vintage books for next to nothing. Also, if you're in Utah, you should check out Weller Book Works up in Salt Lake. They sell new and used books and I just love that place.