December 30, 2011

Kelsey and the Cookbook

For Christmas I decided to compile our family recipes into a cookbook for my three siblings: Kelsey, TJ and Ryan.  Near nightly, my sister and I are in touch with one another, asking, "What are you making for dinner?" or "How do I make this or that?" and the boys always call Kelsey asking the same thing. I figured a cookbook would be a hit. In June, I began asking older family members to send me inherited recipes. While I waited for the recipes from my family, I began compiling my recent favorites. I typed up the recipes and uploaded them onto Tastebook which is a website where you can make very nice personalized cookbooks. By early December, I had one hundred recipes for the cookbook.

Right around the time I finished my cookbooks, my sister learned she has a gluten allergy. Wanting the cookbook to be useful, I decided to alter my sister's cookbook to include as many gluten-free recipes as possible. While the project was a bit laborious, I knew it would be worth it.

One week before we left to go to Baltimore for Christmas I got a bombshell of a phone call. It was my mom, "Parker, you need to talk to your sister! She is thinking about making the boys cookbooks for Christmas." My mom stalled to the best of her ability telling my sister it was a crazy idea and it would take too much time.  But knowing my mom is not a particularly gifted secret keeper, I decided I had to call my sister right away:

          "Kelsey, it's Parker. Don't make the boys cookbooks for Christmas."
          "Why? Mom said the same thing. I think it's a good idea."
          "It is. It's a great idea. And I've been working on cookbooks for them since June. Don't do it."
          "Oooooh! I thought everyone just thought it was a bad idea. Okay."

With the issue of my sister making her own cookbook for the boys out of the way, I decided to figure out a way that Kelsey would still be surprised when she opened her gift. Once in Baltimore, Peter and I hit the mall looking for a decoy present. Peter spotted a very nice apron in Anthropologie that he knew my sister would love. We decided it went with our cooking theme so it would be the perfect decoy gift.

Christmas morning we always start at my mom's house and then head over to my dad's house. Under the tree at Mom's were the cookbooks for the boys and the apron for my sister. When we gave the boys their gifts they were elated. And Kelsey was jealous. Very jealous. She opened her gift to find the apron which she decidedly liked but then said, "I think I'm a bit heartbroken. I want one of those cookbooks. I love to cook." I told her I understood but with her new allergy I just didn't want to give her a gift she couldn't use. Later she asked, "Can I order one of those books on my own?" Nonchalantly I told her she could and we went to over to Dad's.

Hidden under my dad's tree was the cookbook for Kelsey which we wrapped differently than the others. When I gave it to her she eagerly asked, "Is this my cookbook?" I told her it wasn't, just a late birthday gift.  As she shook the box and heard nothing rattle (thank goodness I'm married to a packaging engineer!) we knew she'd given up hope of getting a cookbook from us. When she opened the box and discovered her very own personalized cookbook she was beside herself! Again revealing her earlier disappointment she said, "I really was so heartbroken. I didn't know why I didn't get one." She went on to fervently look though every recipe, beaming with excitement.
It's not every day (or year) that I come up with a clever gift idea but when I do it is so worth it even if the gift requires hours of work, a few white lies, and a decoy gift to pull off!


  1. Great idea Parker! My mom made me a family cookbook while we were still in Memphis - I use it ALL the time!

  2. I still want to see the cookbook.