Grandma's Coloring Book

Grandma's Coloring Book

By Angela Adair-Hoy

Editor's Note: I saw this in Angela's wonderful newsletter for writers and asked if I could share it with all of you because of her memories AND the project!

Growing up, my loving, sentimental mother always provided the most magical holidays of any family I knew. Our home was a Norman Rockwell painting with decorations adorning every room. Even our childhood bedrooms had small Christmas trees with twinkling lights that Mom would leave on until we fell asleep each night. When we woke up each morning in December, Christmas carols would already be floating from the radio and the large tree in the living room would always be lit before we came downstairs for breakfast. I don't know why that lit tree, always twinkling in the pre-dawn hours, held such a cozy emotional attachment for me. My childhood Christmas memories are, by far, the most precious memories I have, thanks to my mom. And when I grew up, I wanted my children's holidays to be just like mine had been. But I never realized how expensive those holidays would be!

When I became a mom at age 19 (Go ahead and snicker...everybody else does), things changed fast. During my first Christmas away from home, we didn't even have enough money to buy a Christmas tree. We ended up cutting off the top of a pine tree in the woods and carrying it home. It was only about three feet tall, but I loved it.

With each approaching December (with little money in my checking account) I was desperate to create the same holiday traditions for my children that I had been blessed with as a child, and I managed to succeed for the most part, with a little creativity. We couldn't always buy lights to hang outside, but the children and I could make snowflakes out of coffee filters and tape them to the windows. We didn't always have a humongous tree in the living room, but we always decorated the tree we had together, and it was always lit before the children woke up each morning.

Somehow, I always managed, financially, to squeeze by each year, but I did much better during the years that I made gifts for relatives rather than buying them. One year I made quilts for everyone. Another year I mastered cross-stitching and made personalized gifts. (Perhaps the most memorable is a pot holder for my ex-mother-in-law that said, "We're hungry, Grandma. Take us to McDonalds!")

Then, one year, I tried something unique that my wee brain dreamed up, and it was such a hit that I repeated it the following year as well.

As promised last week, I'm sharing my instructions for making Grandma's Coloring Book, an inexpensive gift that every relative on your list will love.


Photographs of your children from the past year

Small 3-ring binders (any color -- I buy the floppy, inexpensive ones)

Copy paper (or take the pictures to your local copy shop)

3-hole punch

Boxes of crayons

Stickers, markers, glue gun, paint or whatever else you need to decorate the front of each binder


Choose 10-20 photographs (or more) of your children from the past year to include. The clearer the picture, the better the quality of the photocopies.

Using your own black and white copier, photocopy the pictures, enlarged, so they'll take up most of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. You will probably have to play with the light/dark button on your copier to make them come through just right.


Take the photographs to Kinkos or your local copy shop and ask for a set of black and white enlarged copies of each photograph (enough so each grandparent receives one copy of each photo). Don't request color copies. Each picture should be a black and white photocopy so the pictures can be colored. Ask them to enlarge the photos so they'll fit on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Another option is to include two photos per sheet of paper, so each photo takes up half a sheet (2 photos appearing on each page).

Sort the photos, hole punch them and insert them in the binders.

Decorate the front of each binder. I label each one with the words "Grandma's Coloring Book" and "Grandpa's Coloring Book." You can even make coloring books f or aunts and uncles...anyone who loves your children.

Place a box of crayons with the binder and wrap 'em up!

Be sure to let your children help decorate the front of the binders. The gifts can them be "from" them.

About the Author

Angela Adair-Hoy publishes, the free markets emag for writers. Subscribe and receive a free ebook, How to Be a Freelance Writer, which includes 103 paying markets for writers. Subscribe online at:


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