Remember the old ugly composition books? They didn't come in fancy colors like they do now! However, those new fancy comp books have a fancy price, too. Why not customize one for a gift?

They are very inexpensive, $1.50 each if you look around. I pick them up on the back-to-school specials and keep them on hand for my teenager for school. Yes, they still use them in high school.

To alter a composition book, you basically need to choose a theme. For a busy mom, maybe she can use that as her ongoing grocery list. That's what I use mine for most of the time.

Pick out some favorite colors, maybe some scrapbook papers that coordinate, add some fun buttons, stickers, ribbons and flowers, etc.

Some fun themes would be pet lovers, princess, pirate, sweet 16, chic, or you can just go with a blank book and add some nice colors. It doesn't have to have a theme. They can use it for whatever they want. If you know a mom with a toddler, you could make it a, "Kids say the darnedest things," so she can journal about all the funny things her child says throughout the years. A granddaughter's book would be fun, pass down family recipes, pictures of grandma, her house, maybe her rocking chair, tell a story or two about the granddaughter and grandma and leave room for journaling.

You can decorate just the front, or you can completely cover it front to back.

Here, I measured out the front of the composition book, the back, and then a binding section. I used the cover of the book to outline on the back of the paper to make my corners line up. Layer papers here and there, and feel free to tear the paper for an aged look.

I used some really pretty scrapbook paper that was not only embossed, but glittered. An acrylic stamp, "Twas the Night before Christmas," image gave the book that extra little touch. I kept this one pretty simple, but you can get as elaborate as you would like.

There, you have another inexpensive, easy, and fun-to-give altered composition book. Happy Holidays!

• Elaine Cota, (480) 898-7926 or

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