It’s that time of year again! I’m not one for braving the crowds or the weather – I do most of my shopping online nowadays and my gifts are almost always personalized in some way (photo books are tops of course!). If you’re having trouble finding a gift for that special someone – I think I can say with confidence that a custom photo gift will always be appreciated and never returned!
Here’s some ideas:
There’s so many options under this category – limited only by your imagination so go for it!
1) Cookbook – Gather your family’s best recipes for posterity. Throw in some fun photos of family gatherings. What’s great is that you make it once, but order multiple copies, for uncle, auntie and cousin Bob. You can even invite your family to create it with you, then come Christmas make those cherished recipes for Christmas dinner! For more ideas, see my cookbook project.
2) Family Heritage Photo Book – similar to above, minus the recipes! Scan those old family photos, create a family tree, write a narrative of how your family came to America, survived a war, opened a business etc. See the heritage photo book project I made for my mother.
3) Year in Review – Don’t have time to make photo books during the year? Instead of doing battle in the stores, sit back in front of the computer with a mug of hot chocolate, your cozy jammies and create one big year end photo book with all those vacations, birthdays, graduations from 2011.
4) Travel Photo Book – Before I got married and Photo Book Baby’s arrival I’d usually take at least one big vacation with my parents and brother every year. At the end of the year, I’d always put together a photo book of our trip and give that to my family as a gift. See my travel photo books here.
5) Wedding Album – okay, have you been married for years and don’t have a wedding album yet? Make one for your husband or wife and they’ll get all sentimental and teary eyed for sure. I’ve got tons of wedding photo books you can check out for inspiration.
6) Baby Photo Book – this is one of my favorite categories nowadays. My little guy is growing up too fast already. I want him to stay my baby a little longer! I know you have thousands of precious photos on your hard drive. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Break it down into years or even months and do a series of books over time. If it’s a gift for grandma and grandpa – gather all those photos of them with your little one for a perfect holiday gift. Check out my baby photo guest book and the first part in my series about making your own baby book!
There’s so many of these canvas deals floating around, it’s easy to find one for at least 60% off the normal price. I have two big 30 x 40″ canvas prints that I bought recently and I’m trying to decide which photos to blow up. I’m also going to buy a few more of those 16 x 20″ deals and make some custom decor for Photo Book Baby’s nursery. I’ve made canvas prints for my folks before of two black and white photos of them from the late 60s that came out really nice. If you don’t have time to make a photo book, this is a great easy-to-make custom gift.
Okay, I hope my family isn’t reading this because I’m currently making calendars to give everyone for the holidays. I made a custom calendar with Picaboo before and one with MyPublisher and both turned out really nice. This year I’m going to make one with Mixbook. What’s nice about these calendars is you can include family birthdays, anniversaries etc. along with actual photos that you can place on the actual day itself. At the time I made my calendar with Picaboo last year, personalizing the dates themselves with a photo wasn’t possible, but products get improved all the time (good for us!) so now that feature is available!
You can get print enlargements made (in fact, check out this FREE deal from RitzPix to get your choice of FREE enlargements, standard prints or custom card) and then frame that for an easy gift. You can select a single photo or make a collage of your own design or using the tools offered by companies like Shutterfly, Snapfish, RitzPix, or Artscow to name a few. Besides displaying your photos in the typical wood or metal frame or canvas mount, there so many other display options out there. Recently there was a Groupon from Fracture, a company that prints your photos onto glass. I enlarged a few prints including two underwater shots I took since I thought they would really amazing using this type of medium. I also came across a company that prints onto metal, though I didn’t try that out yet.
I ordered a custom photo ornament a couple years ago for our friends. I picked a cute photo of them and got it imprinted onto the ornament. It was a unique custom gift that was easy to create online! It’s the same process as ordering enlargements online – just upload your photos, pick a design and just drag and drop and you’re done. Most of the photo book companies also do these types of custom gifts including Artscow and Shutterfly. For something more unique, check out Snapily for 3D animated custom ornaments. I’ve ordered their cards before and they are really unique. You can select two images and Snapily takes the two images and makes them appear to transition from one to the other. It’s just like those Cracker Jack prizes that moves when you rotate it from side to side, but in this case, you get to choose the two photos that merge into each other. Check out my Snapily review here.
1) Custom Notebooks/Journals – several photo book companies now offer custom notebooks. I just ordered one through Tiny Prints with a custom cover. I selected one with an option of 5 small square photos on the cover and the inside has lined notebook paper. It has metal rings like a school notebook so it will lay flat. I ordered this one for myself, but if it comes out nice, I may make some for friends/family. Blurb has also started to offer custom notebooks too, but they’re different from the Tiny Prints ones since you can also customize the inside with photos or whatever you like. You can also choose lined or unlined paper for the interior pages which is a nice option. (UPDATE 1/3/12: I have a review of Blurb’s custom notebooks here.)
Snapily also makes 3D notebooks too. These would probably make nice stocking stuffers.
2) Custom Notecards – Do you sometimes find yourself looking for a card last minute? Or have trouble finding a card you like in the stores and want to give something a little more unique? Think about taking your own images and turning them into greeting cards or notecards to enclose with gifts. Alternatively, a nice set of custom boxed stationery with your recipient’s name printed, would make a great gift. Nowadays with email being the norm, a real note sent snail mail is always a welcome surprise. I made myself a set of custom notecards with Tiny Prints recently.
OTHER CUSTOMIZABLE GIFTS
I won’t go into long detail here, but the list of customizable gifts are seemingly endless. One year, I took advantage of a big towel sale with free monogramming and bought everyone in my family a fluffy monogrammed towel – a luxurious and utilitarian gift. I’ve also seen photo bags, iPhone skins, laptop cases, umbrellas, blankets, mugs, keychains – lots of options.
JUST DO IT!
So, there you have my suggestions for great personalized gifts for the holidays that are sure to be a hit! So, grab your best photos of the year and get working on those creative gifts!
Stay tuned for my next post – Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up and I’m working on gathering all the deals I can find right now!
Have a great Thanksgiving!