The Perfect Gift: Your Family’s Treasured Recipes

As Christmas approaches, kitchens far and near bustle with the sights, smells and tastes that tantalize our senses. Even now, I can close my eyes and smell Grandma’s pumpkin bars. She’s been gone for years, but the beautiful memories of her serving these during the holidays rush to the forefront as if it were yesterday. This recipe now garners praise as one of my favorites, and most recommended.
I eye the plates of Christmas cookies decorating the festive plates, and think of Christmas morning. Just after our children wander downstairs, they tear into a piece of my mouthwatering homemade cinnamon rolls, even before the first present cracks open.
With eyes still closed, I meander through more senses of the season, and hear the cheers, screams and high-fives that resound from the family room during the afternoon basketball and football games. Bite-sized sausages drenched in barbecue sauce simmer all day in the slow-cooker, only to be devoured in moments, and the guys fight over who snags the last one.
There’s something so special about the way family recipes create lasting memories, and yet often we don’t take the time to gather those recipes until it’s too late. One of the treasures I want to pass on to each of our children is a family recipe album.

I’m slowly gathering up those recipes that are consistently served at family gatherings, and not only am I requesting a handwritten recipe card (there’s just something special about “old-fashioned” handwriting), but the story behind the recipe, and any funny or serious details. As I hear how the recipe first came about, it makes preserving that heritage even more important.
I want to know when the recipe was first served, and why. Where was the recipe found? Was it a personal creation, a cookbook or possibly passed down from a grandmother? All those small details help transform the family recipe album into something more than just some good “go-to” recipes. The stories and emotions make the recipes part of our family legacy. They create a thread that showcases the power of time spent together in the kitchen.
Since many who know me in real life understand how passionate I am about creative and meaningful gifts, a friend requested ideas for her mother’s 60th surprise party. I shared the recipe album idea and recommended that each guest bring a picture of herself with her mom, along with a favorite recipe. The album pictured here was purchased through Once Upon a Family , but you can easily make your own.

Not only that, but we shared a template for a “recipe of joy.” Each guest wrote down on her recipe-of-joy card one way in which the honoree brought joy to her life. She gathered all the food recipes and combined them into the album with the pictures and recipes of joy to create a gift that will be passed on through the ages. She said her mother cried as she paged through this priceless heirloom.
As Christmas approaches and we are all contemplating the “perfect” gift idea, why not give a recipe album to someone who understands the beauty that comes through shared experiences in the kitchen?

As I gift one to each of my children for their weddings, they may not quite fully appreciate the impact it will have immediately, but as it is passed down generation to generation, it will become an heirloom for the ages.

Do you have any old family recipes that have been passed down through the years?