Friday, April 5, 2013

5 Great Gift Ideas for Mother's Day from Make My Books.

With Mother's Day quickly approaching, we thought it might be a good idea to get you into the gift giving mode early with 5 Great Gift Ideas. 

Remember...Mom loves a unique and thoughtful gift so check out our Mother's Day special below! 

1. Through The Years Photo Book
On special occasions, we share memories with friends and family, rejoice in the lives we've lived and people we've become. We think of family members passed and new lives beginning. We've all experienced those moments when we wished we had all of our favorite snapshots from years gone by right at our fingertips. 

This year, select your favorites and compile your own Through The Years photo book for Mom's special day. From long lost ancestors to family vacations, your memories can be shared each day in the form of a beautiful keepsake!

2. School Years
As our children grow, the images of their youth become hazy (as I write this post, I can think of moments when I could not tell which baby was which when looking at photos). With a keepsake photo book from Make My Books, Mom can see her memories right before her eyes as each child grows year over year!  

Elementary Days - School pictures and elementary school events make perfect memories for a custom photo book you can share with the whole family.
Youth Sports - If Mom spends her weeknights running kids to and from practice and weekends on the sideline, you are probably sitting on a treasure trove of photos.
Junior High Life - Share the memories of first dances, good friends, and events that may be forgotten in the hustle and bustle of every day.

High School Memories - The road to adulthood is filled with images of love, friendship and success. Share these memories for years to come with a keepsake photo book.

Growing Up - Choose images from your child's early years and compile a photo book as a reminder of the joy you felt in watching your little one grow.

3. Special Day Photo Book

Whatever it may, birth of a new baby, even holidays, each special event has the ingredients for a perfect gift for Mom...a photo book from! No matter what the occasion, days that are near and dear to our hearts almost always include photos. 

From professional to candid shots, a keepsake photo book allows you to share your day with family and friends...while giving the perfect, personal gift.

4. Cookbook

Dinner time and special occasions probably means you'll find Mom scanning Pinterest for the perfect recipes. Now, you can create a thoughtful gift out of all those recipes. 

Compile Mom's favorites, newly created or passed on from generations of the past and create something she'll use for a lifetime. A great gift for generations of Moms!

5. Kid's Art 

There are few things that melt Mom's heart more than her child's handmade artwork. On the fridge or stored away, the sight of it can bring tears to her eyes. A Kid's Art photo book pulls all the memories together in one heartfelt gift. From their first 'scribbles' to their award winning creations, their work is a reflection of who they are. Precious memories frozen in time. Pull them all together and give Mom a gift she will cherish forever.

What memories will you share with your Mom this Mother's Day?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Understanding the Youth Sports Fundraiser

If you're involved in a youth sports organization you understand how challenging and complex it can be to develop effective fundraising efforts. I stumbled upon this interesting article from that sheds some light on the challenges and solutions for youth sports fundraising.

Once you've read, stop by and visit the fundraising page and learn more about how we can help!

The Cure for Ambivalence in Youth Sports Fundraising

I’m sure you’ve heard the axiom that “you can only get out of something what you put into it.”  That is certainly true of almost any fundraising endeavor, yet you have to wonder why so many youth organizations bother to set up and conduct a sports fundraising campaign when they invest so little effort in making sure it is a success.  It’s as though people believe if you “put it out there” it will be a success—a kind of “build it and they will come”.  That may work in the movies, but you don’t live in Movieland.
A youth sports fundraiser is particularly vulnerable to being conducted half-heartedly and sometimes apologetically.  When it fails, it is rarely subjected to an honest post mortem analysis.  Instead, the tendency is to just look for something or someone to blame.  Sometimes we reflexively blame the product that was sold, or we point to a sluggish economy, or maybe we rue that the members of our organization are just too indifferent to support a successful fundraising campaign.  Some things are just too visible or convenient to point to.  Chances are, none of those things were the reason your fundraiser under-performed.  (See Why Did Last Season’s Sports Fundraising Campaign Tank?)  "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars", and nor is it in the product, the economy or in others—but it is much more difficult to assign blame to ourselves.
The product you choose to sell will probably have very little effect on the outcome of your campaign.  There is certainly no shortage of fundraising ideas for sports teams.  It really doesn't matter whether you are selling fundraising discount cards, raffle tickets, ham sandwiches, or conducting one of the many frozen food fundraisers that are out there (cookie dough, pizza, etc.)—they all have the potential to succeed . . . and they all have the potential to fail.  It's a sure bet that the fundraiser that didn't do so well for your organization last season was a smashing success for another organization.  What will make your sports fundraising campaign a success or failure, then, is not what your organization has decided to sell; rather, it is what you put into it.
If you were the person in charge of fundraising last year and the fundraiser didn't do very well, then you are either in the position of not caring very much about the outcome or you are seeking a way to make your next fundraiser more successful.  You are probably reading this article because you want to do better the next time out.  For those of us who have had a child go from tee-ball to the higher levels of youth baseball we can remember how they started out—just kicking dirt in the infield or picking dandelions in the outfield.  As they advanced in the sport they picked up skills and a love for the game.  It's not much different for adult volunteers in a youth league.  You may start out lacking the skills or enthusiasm for the assigned task, but as you grow into your position you learn things along the way, and then you develop the skills and the confidence to do things better.  All it takes is a desire to move to the next level.
We can appreciate that many people have some degree of aversion to asking other people to sell fundraising items even if it is in support of a worthwhile cause.  Because that is all too true, youth sports leagues are often willing to introduce a fundraiser without the force of making a robust call to action.  In fact, most fundraisers are started without even telling the organization’s members the purpose for which the funds will be used, and with barely a word of encouragement for participation.  Some campaigns are even initiated in an apologetic sort of way as though the person leading the campaign was pained or embarrassed to ask for support.  Is it any surprise that a fundraiser conducted in this manner will not perform to its potential?
We all want to feel that others approve of the things we do.  That’s human nature.  Asking our peers to do something they don’t particularly want to do is contrary to our nature.  Youth league board members are no different; they want the approval of their organization’s members and they intuitively know that asking them to participate in a fundraiser will not engender endearment.  The combination of the desire for approval and the need to have a successful fundraiser is what creates fundraising ambivalence.  This ambivalence can be paralyzing to a fundraiser.  In fact, paralysis is what often happens.

"The cure for sports fundraising ambivalence
begins with an appreciation of your fundraiser's purpose."

If your fundraiser has been approved for a worthwhile cause (for example, to keep registration fees low and thereby make your youth program accessible to more families in your community), then why wouldn’t your board members give their collective and unreserved commitment to the purpose?  After all, the objective of the fundraiser is not to win friends; it’s to raise money so kids can play.  Frankly, nobody is going to pull their child out of your league because you asked them to participate in a fundraiser.
Even in the off-chance that someone felt offended by being asked to participate in the campaign, think of the families in your community whose children will be able to join your organization (or return to your organization next year) because the revenue generated by the fundraiser kept registration fees low.  Your sports organization is not exempt from the laws of economics.  Your league is competing for the discretionary income of nearly every local wage-earner with children.  Even if your organization subsidizes the children of families that are indigent, not everyone accepts charity and higher registration fees almost always means that some children in your community won't have an opportunity to play.
The purpose of a fundraiser is to raise funds so your youth sports program can be made more affordable to more families.  Not everyone understands that at the core level, but they should be made to understand.  It’s really not that hard.  The cure for sports fundraising ambivalence begins with an appreciation for your fundraiser's purpose.  To approach this enterprise meekly, or apologetically, or with ambivalence is to, at best, unwittingly send a message to everyone that your organization’s leadership has no clear and important purpose for the fundraiser and/or it doesn’t have high expectations for its members’ participation or for the fundraiser’s success.  This is probably not the way you would approach any other endeavor in which you have the courage of conviction and the goal of success, so why approach your organization’s fundraiser that way?  Why would you by the dint of your ambivalence telegraph the message that you don't care whether your fellow members participate?

A Worthy Purpose Isn't Enough;
Successful Sports Fundraising Requires Commitment 

There is no room for ambivalence here.  If your youth sports fundraising campaign is not being done for an important and worthwhile reason, then don’t do one.  It's that simple.  However, if the fundraiser’s purpose is important and worthy, then buck up and conduct it in a manner that will maximize its success.  Your peers will respect you more for your ability to produce success than they will for any empathy you can offer them—and they're certainly not going to think better of you when you start making excuses for failure.
If you want your next fundraising campaign to succeed, then you have to believe in the worthiness of its purpose.   But that is just step one.  You also have to know what makes a fundraiser work and what will motivate your organization's members to support it.  (See Three Elements of Successful Sports Fundraising.)  Furthermore, it's a real plus if the person who is leading your fundraising campaign has the ability to effictively convey to others the worthiness of its purpose.
Board members have been elected to a leadership position.  True leadership may require them to implement policies that may not be popular but are nevertheless beneficial for the organization.  Popularity in this context can be a paradox in that it is often dependent on success.  That is to say, whatever endeavor may be perceived as unpopular may in fact become popular if it becomes successful.  We all wish to be a part of something successful.  That’s why kids on sports teams want to win.  There is no requirement that your fundraiser has to be popular.  However, there should be an expectation that it will be a success—and success can only add to its popularity.
Do you really want to have a successful sports fundraising campaign?  Well, you’re truly only going to get out of it what you put into it.  Edward H. Harriman said it better:  “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more.”  With respect to the task under consideration, what Mr. Harriman just told you is that you’ve put the bloody thing out there, so now go make it work.  If you feel that raising this money is for a good purpose and it is important to the mission of your organization, then tell everyone why you want their support.  Better yet, go one step further and ask for a commitment of support—and then proceed with the expectation that everyonewill contribute to the enterprise’s success.  Not everyone will, of course, but if you proceed in that manner you will certainly get many more supporters for your campaign this year than you did last year.
People should like you for the kind of person you are—for your character, your personality and your willingness to make a difference in the lives of others.  They are not going to like you less for enthusiastically calling them to action in support of a worthwhile cause, and they will probably respect you more if you can lead them to success.  It doesn't matter whether you are selling fundraising discount cards or cookie dough.  What matters is that you shed your ambivalence, believe in the worthiness of the campaign, and act on your expectations for success.  That is what will determine whether your fundraiser meets with failure, with mediocre results, or with the fulfillment of your expectations.  That is what leadership is all about.  Quite frankly, if you're not committed to the task you're just picking dandelions in the outfield.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scanning Your Kid's Artwork

Check out this great post by Save Your Style on scanning your kid's artwork!

Here is a glance...
I have 2 cutie cakes, 8 and 4, both of whom go through paper, pencils, paint and what not making art. Some pieces are exceptional and I can’t bear to throw it out.  The rest of it… hmm. OK, OK for first time newbie Mums read ‘hmm’ as so adorable, tugging on the heart strings. For seasoned Mums – with all the love in my heart you know I really meant hot arse mess right? The ones where they draw a picture of you and your hair’s all over the place, if in fact you even have hair and you’re like 15 times bigger than Daddy, the sun or the family of T-Rex’s in the background. Then to top it off, looking at you with those big beautiful innocent eyes and beaming with such pride they ask you to hang it on the foyer wall for all to see? <speaking in my bestest American accent> OH HEEELLL NO!
My 4 year old Lyss is not a big TV watcher, never has been – but she has set her little heart on single handily trying to wipe out every tree with the amount of paper she goes through. My friend Jon incorrectly calls me wasteful and says every time I wake up in the morning the earth sighs. So, so wrong. Well for Lyss, the earth must fall into a full blown hissy fit each time she even looks side ways at a piece of paper. So what to do with about an inch thick of all that art work that she and big sis Kels create with such passion, going through paper in warp speed. Answer – scan it in baby! Save your walls, save your style.
With recycle bag at the ready – go thru each piece with your little one. Essentially everything is going to end out recycled, kid friendly term for tossed out. But initially it’s either scan it then recycle it or straight recycle it. I make a big deal of letting my kids know how much they are helping the Earth by recycling aka not filling the house up with rubbish. They love it. So go ahead and scan the art work in, and it’s at this point that you release your  $150 home scanner is a tad bit slower than the laser one in the marketing dept at work. Distract your little one and reduce the scan pile from the initial 40 pieces to oh say 6. Who’s’ got that kind of time, stop feeling guilty.

Read the whole article here:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Show Off Your Artist!

Do your kids bring home masterpieces on a regular basis? Mine sure do (see below). Just looking at their magnificent work fills the heart with pride! As we mentioned in a previous post, your child's artwork is a reflection of who they are, who they can be, and what they are capable of. Just as we revel in photographs of years gone by, we see their future (through their own eyes) in their artwork. Those are memories worth cherishing...and sharing.

Enter the Kid's Art Contest (save 25% on your purchase) for your chance to win $100 and have your child's artwork showcased on our website! 

Click here to get started!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kid's Art...Collecting Dust?

As a mother of two young boys, the collection of artwork has become overwhelming. Plastic containers contain the remnants of childhood creativity. Stacked and stored...saved for the day when they themselves move on to a life of their own. Precious memories frozen in time...and collecting dust. 

What do we know about childhood creativity? According to the University of Missouri, there are clear stages of our children's eye for art...

Scribbling stage, approximately 2 to 4 years

  • Children are amazed at their ability to make marks. They have just realized that they can interact with and affect their environment.
  • Much time is spent practicing motor skills.
  • Children draw circles first, then squares and other geometric shapes.
  • Children begin trying to recreate their world. They may want to point to and name parts of their drawings.
Pre-schematic stage, late preschool to approximately age 7
  • First attempts are made to represent people or objects. Efforts are recognizable to adults.
  • Children show a fascination with the wide variety of colors.
  • Obvious connections between different pieces of the drawing.
  • Signs of approval from teachers and peers are important.
  • Easily discouraged and fatigued.
  • Active, hands-on, eager to learn, self-centered.
  • Highly imaginative yet tend to focus on one idea at a time.
  • Search for ways to represent their ideas.
Schematic stage, approximately 7 to 9 years
  • Increased use of symbols, such as a cross for a church or dark colors to represent night, both in number and frequency.
  • Less self-centered.
  • Still do not have a realistic understanding of their environment — for example, the sky may not meet the ground at the horizon.
  • Improved eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Increased attention span.
  • Begin to develop a sense of humor.
  • Children divide by gender in play.
  • Special characteristics are represented for each person or object. (If Mom wears glasses and has curly hair, the child will include these characteristics in the drawing.)
Realistic stage, 9 to 12 years
  • Greatly affected by peer influence.
  • Increased amount of detail and use of symbols.
  • Expanded individual differences.
  • Beginning to develop a set of values.
  • Want to do things "right."

 Your child's artwork is a reflection of who they are, who they can be, and what they are capable of. Just as we revel in photographs of years gone by, we see their future (through their own eyes) in their artwork. Those are memories worth cherishing...and sharing.

Now, is offering an opportunity to showcase your child's greatest masterpieces! From now until March 25, 2013, we are offering 25% off your Kid's Art Photo Book and an opportunity to win $100...simply by showing off your greatest pride and joy!

Click here to learn more! 

Tell us, what are you doing to preserve your children's artwork from years gone by?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Enter our Kid's Art Photo Book Contest and WIN!

Year after year, the collection of kids art moves from school to fridge, fridge to storage; tucked away...never to be seen again. You pass one or two on to grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles for displays of their own but they too end up in hiding eventually. How can you immortalize the talent, creativity and joy of your kids art? Create a Kids-Art Photo book with WIN! 

  • 25% OFF Photo Book (use promo code KIDSART to enter*)
  • WIN a $100 Visa Gift Card
  • Your Photo Book and story featured on the Make-My-Books Website and on Social Media

How to Enter

  • Make it fun for the kids and have them select their favorite pieces of artwork; 
    be sure to include a photo of your artist in the photo book.
  • Scan each item to a file onto your computer or a disk/external drive 
    (if you don't own a scanner, many photo labs offer this as a service 
    or you can take photos of the art with a high resolution camera).
  • Use the Make-My-Books Book Builder to create your masterpiece (click here to begin). 
    Be sure to use promo code KIDSART to enter the contest and save 25%!

  • All art contained must be original art designed and created by children under the age of 12 to be considered.
  • Members of the Make-My-Books team will select a winner based on content and creativity of book.
  • Book creation must be completed by 3/25/13 to be considered; winner will be announced April 5, 2012.
  • Not valid with any other promotion or fundraising program. Subject to Make-My-Books terms and conditions.
  • *Entering promo code denotes entry into the competition. Entries without promo code will not be considered.