What I Love about You By Me Inside the Creation of the Fill-in-the-Blank Gift Book

Knock Knock What I Love about You Journal
The "What I Love about You Journal" in its final form.

I got the idea for the What I Love about You Fill in the Love Journal from a gift I received several years ago. It’s just a tiny spiral Mead notebook, but it instantly became (and remains) my most prized possession.

Maybe on some subconscious level I thought, everyone should know how this feels: to be told in concrete terms the many ways they are loved. And, on the flip side, everyone should have the chance to articulate their affection in all its glorious specificity. To place colorful leaves and nests of birds on the branches of “I love you.”

Knock Knock What I Love about You Fill in the Love Journals Early Versions
A few early directions for the “What I Love about You” cover. It’s like those block letters demanded you to love.

This idea, completely ripped off from my genius boyfriend—and a lifelong love of Mad Libs—is how What I Love about You was born.

We always called it “The Love Book” in the office when we were creating it. (It’s better if you sing it like the “Love Boat” song by Paul Williams, the great 1970s songwriter who recently accepted the Grammy on behalf of Daft Punk—a little known fact!) Craig Hetzer, our publisher, loves tiny books, as do I, and he had just the right vision for its basic vibe. Our designer, Miguel Ramirez, did such a great job, too, creating so many delicious options, it was hard to choose. (I actually favored a direction that emulated the “Peanuts” books Hallmark did in the ’60s—Love Is Walking Hand in Hand et al.) Likewise, our managing editor, Erin Conley, really helped me think in more imaginative ways about the copy.

As I learned from sitting in on meetings here at Knock Knock, some great products can have trouble if people don’t “get” them quickly enough—don’t understand what they are, or how to use them. Mindful of that, Craig had the brilliant idea to put instructions on the outside using a clear plastic jacket.

Peanuts' Love is Walking Hand in Hand Book
An inside spread of Peanuts’ Love is Walking Hand in Hand book. So much adorableness stitched together.

It worked. Many tens of thousands of people have used the book (and its spinoffs) to express their feelings to each other, and even to propose marriage. It’s humbling. The cool thing is that each book starts out looking the same, but as soon as it’s filled in, it becomes utterly unlike any other—as one-of-a-kind as a snowflake.

I finally gave one to my boyfriend a while ago, but I actually found it intimidating to fill in. I had to remind myself to relax, that each page doesn’t have to be profound. It’s better if it isn’t. So here’s my advice: don’t overthink it. Do it quickly, and try to make yourself laugh. That’s pretty terrible advice for sex, but good for fill-in-the-blank love journals.

Check out more Fill in the Love™ Journals and Valentines Day gift ideas by Knock Knock.