Here are 15 of my favorite photo gifts (in no particular order) and why I love them:
1) Digital Photo Books: The classic, can’t-go-wrong gift that your loved ones will cherish for years to come. There are so many publishers to choose from, but you won’t go wrong with either of my favorites: Shutterfly and My Publisher. My Publisher has a lovely, simple Pocket-sized book at a great price point that is perfect for sharing your family’s photos with grandparents and other family friends.
2) Digital Photo Slideshows: Easily my favorite photo product because pairing your photos to music never fails to pack an emotional punch. I love to make slideshows for not only major events like milestone birthdays, memorials and vacations, but also of day-to-day events, like an afternoon at the pool or a month’s worth of photos of my children. Regardless of the theme you choose, seeing your photos in this format will ramp up the emotional impact and is likely to bring the viewer to tears (in a good way!) You can make free slideshows with Smilebox and Magisto to name a few.
3) Photo Calendars: It all started with one calendar gifted to my mom years ago... now it is a yearly tradition that both my mom and mother-in-law have come to expect. It’s the photo gift that keeps on giving each and every month of the year. I love that not only can you design the top half, but you can also personalize the bottom half with photos added to the date squares to mark special events like birthdays. And since I’m already making one for the family, I always order an extra copy for myself. I just love looking at each month’s photos and seeing how much my children have grown from that point a year ago. Shutterfly is my personal favorite for calendars.
4) Wall Decor: You take a million pictures. Of course, you want to ENJOY them. So why not hang your favorites on your walls? The old school way would have been to print an enlargement, frame it and hang it up. But now, you can have your photo printed onto an actual canvas to hang on your wall. Canvas wall art is a booming business these days. I see Groupon and Living Social deals for them all the time. Just beware you sometimes get what you pay for. Oftentimes the canvas is stretched across a wood frame that will start to sag with time. Also, the corners can often look messy. If this bothers you, you can work with me to purchase an Artsy Couture canvas, whose quality is bar none. Originally designed for professional photographers to sell to their clients, I have partnered with them giving you the opportunity to use your own PERSONAL photos on their professional-quality products. The product is made right here in the DC metro area, is stretched across a solid piece of wood (so sagging can never occur) and they’re known for the tightest corners in the industry. Artsy Couture also offers Couture Gallery Blocks. These products are also handmade locally and consist of a photo laminated over a solid wood box. They are stunning, to say the least, and are one of the higher-end gifts for this holiday season. WeMontage is a newcomer on the photo decor scene, but one of the most exciting that I know: removable photo wallpaper!!! Just select 12-15 of your favorite photos and you'll receive a stunning sheet of wallpaper to hang. Sizes start at a 2' x 3' poster and go up from there. They can even be customized to your space. So go pick of few of your best shots from the year and display them proudly in your home. If you'd like even more suggestions on how to use photos in your home decor and/or other products available, don't hesitate to contact me any time!
5) Smartphone and Tablet Cases: Almost every one of us owns either a Smartphone or a tablet and have them with us 99.9% of the time. A photo case is an excellent way to keep your favorite photo(s) with you at all times, easily bringing a smile to your face in the midst of a hectic day.
6) Coffee Mugs: Although I’m not a coffee drinker, many in my family are, and they have LOVED the personalized coffee mugs I’ve gifted them through the years. What grandparent wouldn’t want to start the day seeing the smiling faces of their grandkids? What parent wouldn’t love to see the smiling face of their child as they perform their daily grind in the office? Coffee mugs are affordable and make a great gift for the coffee or tea drinker in your life.
7) Magnets: Even more affordable than mugs, magnets are a fabulous way to keep your photos front and center in your home. Select a few of your best photos, design a handful of magnets and voila! Your refrigerator becomes a photo gallery for your family and friends to enjoy.
8) Water Bottles: I don’t know about you, but I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go. Did you know you can put one of your favorite photos on a stainless steel bottle, creating a unique and eco-friendly gift?
9) Placemats: I’ve shopped for placemats recently and have been sorely disappointed. The selection isn’t great and the prices seem high. A better option would be to design my own placemats that display my photos. How about one for each family member for their special spot at the table? These are also great items for events such as weddings and milestone birthdays. Afterwards, they become a unique party favor for the guests to bring home.
10) Coasters: I think coasters make a great gift because it’s an item people don’t often purchase for themselves and it’s an unexpected place to see a personal photo displayed. You can get them in the standard hardboard version or the upgraded porcelain version that comes complete with a wrought iron stand.
11) Pillowcase & Throw Pillows: Who would have thought you could get a personalized photo pillowcase or throw pillow? Not me!!! I designed one for my daughter several years ago, featuring a photo of her precious Maya (a stuffed lamb she’s had since birth.) She has had the sweetest dreams ever since, resting her head upon her favorite lovey. There are so many ideas for gifting a photo pillowcase/pillow, including using a picture of a loved one who is deployed thereby keeping their memory close to the recipient’s heart while they’re away. I think this is one of the most unique photo gifts because very few people would be expecting one!
12) Photo Quilts and Blankets: Here's a great way to display your favorite photos without making a single hole in the wall: photo quilts and blankets! The quilts become a modern-day family heirloom and can be used either as a bedspread or as a wall hanging. The fleece blankets are super cozy for those cold winter nights and are almost always sprawled across our couch for guests to see.
13) Tree Ornaments: One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is decorating our tree. Unpacking and displaying all the ornaments we have collected through the years. When photos are included on your ornaments, they bring back so many great memories from year to year. So let’s not forget that one of the easiest (and, again, affordable) holiday gifts to give this year is a new ornament for their tree! My mom does a gift exchange with friends each year and has received so many beautiful ornaments for her tree. Why not make your friend a photo ornament memorializing good times spent together? Or spotlight the grandkids on a special ornament that the grandparents can proudly display to all their friends? A tree ornament can also make a special and unique gift for your children’s teachers, too!
14) Scanning: A non-tangible gift, but an extremely important one, nonetheless. Give the gift of photo scanning to a loved one to assist them in getting their precious memories, be they on prints, slides, negatives or film, digitizing for lifelong preservation. Once these memories are digitized, a whole world opens up for the family to share and re-live those treasured family stories. I highly recommend using a reputable company, such as Fotobridge, to assist with this process. There are many companies looking to profit off your desire to protect your memories, but who, behind the scenes, ship your items to foreign shores where labor comes cheap. When you send your items to Fotobridge, located in New Jersey, that is the first and last stop on their journey. Fotobridge is family owned and operated and I've met them personally. They handle ALL their clients' materials with kid gloves from start to finish and their track record is impeccable. You absolutely can't go wrong with a gift certificate from Fotobridge to help aging parents preserve their legacies. And if the thought of gathering and packing up your photos is too overwhelming, I'd more than happy to facilitate your order!
15) Photo Organizing: Last but not least, consider giving the gift of photo organizing to a loved one. There are so many of us that are completely inundated not just with our digital photos, but with a lifetime of prints as well. A photo organizer can help downsize their collections and consolidate them from multiple boxes and bags into one or more clearly labeled and categorized archival-quality boxes (see Legacy Box in photo slideshow below) that will take up much less room than before. A photo organizer can also help get overwhelmed families back on track with photos that reside on multiple devices and never get enjoyed beyond the occasional Facebook or Instagram post. And most importantly, a photo organizer can work with you to develop a back up plan so that your precious memories are stored in multiple locations and can never be lost permanently to natural disasters or hard drive failures. The gift of photo organizing is a priceless one! Contact me to purchase gift certificates for your loved ones today!
I sure hope I’ve helped kickstart your holiday gift planning with some truly original ideas to get your photos off your computer and into both your life and your loved one’s lives! Enjoy the slideshow below and please feel free to comment on your favorite photo gifts; I’d love to hear your ideas! As always, if you need assistance with any of these items, don’t hesitate to contact me, the sooner the better, to ensure your gifts arrive on time this holiday season!