Learn How to Make a Cookbook For Your Family Reunion in 5 Easy Steps

eggs and a wire whip

Food is such an integral part of our lives that it's only a matter of time before you need to know how to make a cookbook for your PTA, church group or family reunion.

But no worries! Creating a recipe book is easy when you know what to do and have the right family cookbook software.

how to make a cookbook in 5 steps

1. What do you want the cookbook to accomplish?


If you like the idea of distributing a cookbook at the family reunion, you should check out the e-course for additional hands-on, memory-creating projects.

While knowing the purpose of your project may seem like a no-brainer, ironing out the specifics will help you determine appropriate recipes. Do you need to include that fabulous barbecue wing sauce for the football party recipes section? Or would Grandma's home made BBQ sauce be more appropriate because you're making a family recipe collection book?

Knowing the purpose of your cookbook may make a difference regarding what cookbook recipe software you use, as well. Some programs will allow several people to join in at the same time and enter recipes from their own computers. If you're specifically creating a fundraiser cookbook, you may want/need to have a sponsor or advertiser pages.

Do you want to write your own cookbook to document family history? Perhaps the pictures and stories behind the recipes are just as important as the recipes themselves.

I have fond memories of one Grandmother's homemade bread, raspberry jam, of another Grandmother's traditional "Hasty Pudding" and popcorn balls. Wouldn't it be great to have all those food-related, fond childhood memories wrapped up in one beautiful cookbook? Such a cookbook would be functional and make a precious keepsake for years to come.

I love the idea of creating such a keepsake and then fundraising with cookbooks at the family reunion. Each family could make and bring a different dish from the recipe book and have the book available for sale.

 -take the E-Course -

Work through the family reunion planning process by
focusing on three phases of printed materials.

It's Free!

2. Pick your poison

computer keyboard

From plain 'ole word processing to filling in form boxes directly on the internet to recipe management software, you have a wide variety of choices when it comes to deciding how to compile and write your own cookbook. So, step #2 is to research recipe book software and decide how and where you will have your book printed.

My everyday, personal recipe book solution is very easy. Our family recipes and favorites simply go inside an 8 ½ x 11 plastic page protector and then in a 3-ring binder divided by categories. I continually find new favorite recipes in books, magazines and on the internet. My 3-ring binder is ever-changing as we discover new favorites and change or get sick of old ones. This is the perfect kind of project for using that plain 'ole word processing program.

However, if you're collecting recipes from a number of people and needing more than just one copy of the final project, it's time to move away from word processing and desktop publishing and advance to the next level.

Recipe book software and self publishing companies move beyond spell check and can create consistency, provide templates with various levels of customization and more.

My personal publishing company of choice for just about all my photo and printed projects is Heritage Makers. With drag and drop technology, you have the ability to use as many pictures, images, colors and texts as you wish. You can build your cook book based on one of many free templates available or start completely from scratch.

That said, if the thought of how to make a cookbook using digital scrapbooking is daunting to you, you might want to choose a different publishing solution. There are a variety of companies out there that can publish in a variety of sizes and designs that are easy and convenient to use.

3. Gather recipes & information

chocolate chip cookies

Regardless of your cookbook's purpose or printing method, this step covers the bulk of the work in regards to how to make a cookbook: gather your recipes. 

That could mean collecting random food-stained scraps of paper from your own kitchen, calling (perhaps even hounding) friends and family or sending out a flyer or email invitation.

I love that HeritageCookbook.com allows several people to enter information at the same time - all in a consistent format and from their own computers.

Let people know:

  • how many and what type of recipes they should submit
  • how the recipes should be formatted
  • to whom they should be sent
  • by when (always assign a deadline - and make it a few days earlier than YOUR real deadline)

If this is a family history project, be sure to solicit stories and photos as well.

4. Add the final touches

girl in blue chef hat with mixing bowl

This is the part where you add personality and punch (the non-food kind) to your book! It could be a picture of Grandpa's old milk barn, examples of 40th birthday cakes, a bit of Shel Silverstein poetry, digital sticker embellishments, fun cooking quotes or tips on boiling an egg.

Think of a fun cookbook title, write an introduction and/or conclusion notes, consider a dedicatory page, etc. Don't forget to add a publication date and to give yourself credit as the editor or author.

5. Print, distribute, cook & ENJOY!

Congratulations! You learned how to make a cookbook! The only step left is to enjoy it with your family.

make the cookbook a family reunion activity

As you're deciding how to make a cookbook, consider using the entire project as a family reunion activity. For example, you could - 

  • Ask relatives to bring their favorite recipes; include some reunion time to gather stories, organize recipes and solicit feedback. 

  • Have everyone prepare a family favorite dish that you plan to include in the cookbook. Do sample taste testing or host a potluck.

  • Make the cookbook ahead of time and bring a final sample copy to the reunion. Give everyone the opportunity to order their own copy. You could turn the project into a fundraiser, if you wanted.

  • Do the entire project beforehand and then use the reunion to distribute the cookbooks. Have everyone autograph each other's books near the recipes they submitted. Turn it into a game or contest.

Have you already made your own cookbook for the family reunion? Please share your ideas! We'd love to hear what worked well and what didn't.

Return to the top of How to Make a Cookbook for Your Family Reunion
Go to Family Reunion Food
Go to Family Reunion Success Home

Share! Comments

Have your say about what you've read! Leave me a comment in the box below.