For now, how about more decoupage! Here's a gift set I made my friend in NM for her 30th birthday. Covering notebooks is a lot of fun and you can personalize them easily. Stock up on composition notebooks after the kids go back to school when supplies are on clearance. I like the mini composition books for little purse memo books. The medium sized books are harder to find, I got mine at Target but it's been awhile. They came with a plastic cover and the first page was a thick shiny pocket page. I removed the plastic cover and used the pocket page as my new cover. This is a pretty basic decoupage project, good for beginners but can become more elaborate as you get the hang of the technique.
To cover with paper, begin by sanding the cover of the composition book and brush away any sandings. Cut paper to slightly bigger than front cover. Using mod podge and a foam brush, apply a thin layer to the front of the book. Lay down paper and smooth out any wrinkles with your fingers. Trim any paper hanging over the edges of the cover. You can sand away the little bits for a smooth edge. Repeat for back cover. Cut a thin strip of paper for the binding and attach the same way. Cover the front with mod podge to seal and protect it from dirt and fingerprints etc. Let dry and repeat for the back. I also like to run my foam brush with a tiny bit of glue around the perimeter of the book's covers to make sure the paper is on there really good.
I did a little bit more than just cover my book with paper, I used three smaller pieces of paper, measuring and cutting them carefully so the top and bottom piece would cover equal amounts of the front cover. I applied the top and bottom ones first and then the middle one last, over lapping the top and bottom pieces slightly. I then added the letter stickers and ribbon on top of the paper seams using mod podge. Then another coat of mod podge is added over everything. The backside is one solid piece of the blue with white polka dots paper.
The random button was going to be part of an elastic enclosure I never got around to, because I waited til the last minute to make finish these and then didn't have time to run to the store to buy the elastic. Lesson learned: Have all materials before beginning! To make an enclosure, hole punch a hole on the back cover, line it up with button on front cover. Poke elastic through hole, using strong double sided adhesive to attach ends to inside of back cover. You won't see the mess inside the back cover because the inside covers should always be finished too.
To finish off your composition book and make it look really pretty, I always cover the inside front and back covers with some cardstock, I like to print a personalized message to the recipient on the inside and decorate it with some pattern paper like a die cut border of circles along the bottom. Cover the inside back cover with cardstock too, I like to put a strip of patterned paper at the top with a circle centered on it with the recipients monogram inside of the circle.Covering the inside finishes off your gift and gives you an opportunity to add a ribbon tie if you want. But of course you want to, cause who doesn't want to receive a pretty customized notebook all tied up with a bow! To do, sandwich ribbon in between the front cover and the cardstock you're lining it. Attach ribbon with strong double sided adhesive, attach cardstock over ribbon. Tie it up and whenever your recipient opens her book, it'll be like opening a gift from you over and over again!To make the small book, I used a metal plaque embellishment from Making Memories, that I am not sure if they make any more. I put ribbon underneath it before attaching, thicker ribbon would've been better but that was all I had on hand at the time, the ribbon becomes a built in bookmark.
A set like this is a great little gift and you can embellish it with all kinds of different embellishments, one thing to note...if you put on embellishments that are too bulky it will be hard to open it flat and write in it. And after all, you want to give something that's beautiful and functional, so try to avoid that.
Below are some other exampled of altered composition books, sorry about the bad lighting! The first one has a die cut name plate added with coordinating brads and a ribbon embellishment with a metal thank you tag on it. The middle one has a ribbon along the binding with a movable metal flower. The last one was inspired by an example in Papercrafts magazine for the design and has neat metal letters spelling out the title School Days attached with brads. When adding embellishments that attach by poking through the cover, attach them before lining the inside cover so everything still looks neat and tidy. There might be some bulk on the inside of the cover, but if you use the front for a message it won't matter because no one will be writing on it. See more decoupaged examples and instructions in my Altered Baby Book and NOEL Letters posts.