Holiday Gifts in a Snap(shot)!


If for you, ’tis the season to feel frazzled, here’s a variety of fuss-free gifts for everyone on your list. They’re personalized, quick, and easy (and grandparents think they’re the cat’s meow)!

For many of us parents, especially moms, holiday gift shopping (no matter which holiday!) can be challenging. It often becomes just one more activity added to our already overbooked lives.

But, fear not, there is a much less time-consuming, easier way to give gifts to anyone on your holiday list—grandparents, aunts, teachers and friends. It’s creative photo gifts. Since these gifts are inexpensive, easy to do, and always well received, you simply can’t miss. The perfect gift for everyone and a keepsake to be cherished for years to come, photo gifts are treasures sure to put a smile on your loved ones’ faces. Whether homemade or bought, photo gifts always suggest that you’ve spent a little more time and thought on the recipient, which is always appreciated. Who doesn’t love to feel special?

Everyone can be an artist! It takes very little time and very few art supplies. Some suggestions for photo gift projects are:

  • placemats
  • bookmarks
  • calendars
  • special occasion or holiday cards
  • magnetic acrylic picture frames
  • scrapbooks
  • personalized clothing or other gifts made of fabric

There are numerous types of unique and fuss-free photo gifts. Just ask Wendy Sinclair-Hall, a mother of four from Missouri and a photo gift-giving pro. Wendy says, “[Projects] have to be simple and I need to be able to do them in a very short time. Simple, easy, quick!” She has created a variety of gifts that “look cute and that the grandparents think are the cat’s meow.” And note that older kids can do many of these projects, too!


Arrange favorite pictures on an oversized piece of colored cardstock. Decorate with stickers, your kids’ drawings and/or a special message, then laminate. Make just one, or create a set with each one representing a member of your family. This is a fantastic gift for your child’s playmates, family members, or friends. Grandparents really love these! Every time someone uses these special placemats, they’ll think of you and yours.


Bookmarks are another great craft idea. Use the same method as for the placemats, cutting cardstock down to size. You can then decorate them with a favorite picture, quote, poem or story. Laminate the bookmarks, finish off with a hole-punch and ribbon—and voila! You have the perfect gift for a caregiver, babysitter or teacher.

Gather up your favorite photos from the past year, one for each month, to create this custom gift that will be used year-round . There are many software programs, such as, with which you can make calendars at home. Or you can let someone else do the work for you at a website or your local print shop.

Special Occasion or Holiday Cards

In our electronic age, a handwritten card that arrives via snail-mail is a rare treat. And a card personalized with a special picture makes a big impression. Photo cards are always keepers and often prominently displayed for all to enjoy. Enclose a gift certificate or money gift in your personalized photo card to add an extra something special. At your local craft store, you can find blank notecards already cut, scored, and ready to decorate. Print or have developed a favorite snapshot, glue it to the front of the card, then decorate it with stickers or rainbows. It’s the perfect personalized gift!

Cards are particularly appreciated by relatives who don’t live nearby and miss special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, sports activities, and dance recitals. These special people may want to share children’s milestones such as crawling, walking, or losing their first teeth. Custom printed holiday cards are another way to send the very best. can do that for you, too. Of all the cards your loved ones will receive this season, you can be assured that yours will be in the front row.

Magnetic Acrylic Picture Frames

Lori Sullivan, a mother of four from Dallas, recalls finding herself in a quandary about an activity for the Candy Cane Breakfast she hosted for the girls in her twin daughters’class last year. Each girl was asked to wear her pajamas and bring an ornament to exchange with friends. Lori says, “Everything was ready. Invitations were sent out, the food was all set, but I needed some kind of craft the girls could take home as a memento. Picture frames are always a big hit, but I wanted something durable that they could proudly display at home for many holiday seasons to come.” That’s when it came to her—magnetic acrylic frames, available at any local craft store, that the girls could decorate.

At the Candy Cane Breakfast, the girls were supplied with holiday stickers, letter stickers to spell out their names, and small adhesive decorations in the shapes of candy canes and snowflakes. They had a blast decorating their very own frames. What really made the frames special was that Lori and her co-host took a group picture of the girls with a digital camera at the beginning of the party. They then printed the pictures on a small photo printer for the girls to slip into their frames at the end of the party. If you don’t have a photo printer, send a helper (Dad, perhaps?) out to the local drugstore to print and duplicate your pictures in a snap. Most places have convenient do-it-yourself photo machines. All in all, the frames were a hit with the girls and their moms, who were very impressed with Lori’s ingenuity. “Besides everyone loving the frames, the best part of this craft was that it was original and so easy. It was inexpensive too!” Lori says.


At a recent gathering, family members passed around a wedding scrapbook. By the time it was my turn to get my hands on it, I could tell this was no ordinary photo album. What I held in my hands was a high-quality, custom printed work of art. Beautifully bound, the pictures were printed right on the pages. I had never seen a wedding story captured in such an original way. Immediately I thought to myself “this cost a pretty penny.” It was nice enough to have been bought. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that it was homemade and inexpensive. Not only that—it was easy, too!

To make the scrapbook, the couple gathered their favorite pictures, wrote personal captions for each, and placed an order online at They received this family heirloom in the mail a short time later. Best of all, it was fuss-free! Think of all the possibilities available with this gift. You can memorialize your family history, your family’s favorite moments of the past year or baby’s first year, and give the scrapbook to a special someone who will love and appreciate it forever. This is a gift that is sure to make a lasting impression!

Personalized Clothing or Other Gifts Made of Fabric

Personalized apparel makes a great gift that you know will be worn and loved. At your local craft store, you can find fabric transfer paper with easy instructions on how to print and affix photos. Or look for wearable “blank canvases” on which you can iron a special picture. Embellish with iron-on appliqués and fabric paint, and you’re done! Kids love anything that has their names printed on it. Why not add a picture of a favorite pet, friend, or family member on your preschooler’s tee shirt? Or put a photo on a onesie, burp cloth, sweatshirt, or soft cotton blanket for a baby gift. How about a photo on an apron or tote for Grandma? The possibilities are endless. This really is a fantastic gift for most everyone on your list.

Think about other gifts made of fabric. Iron-on fabric transfers are a great tool for larger projects for the home. One such project is a family quilt. Don’t worry if you’re not the “sewing” type. Your local fabric store will usually have a large directory of seamstresses. Choose one or several special pictures to build your quilt around. The results are spectacular, and you’re giving not just a gift but a family treasure. Alisa Slagel, a mother of two from Arizona, tells of a friend who made throw pillows using a beautiful black and white picture of her daughters. She added the caption “Grandma’s Girls” and then gave this gift to both her mother and mother-in-law. “[They] were really cool!” Alisa says of her friend’s gift idea.

Holiday gift giving need not be a hassle with these creative, fun ideas. So start checking names off that massive shopping list with these truly original and memorable gifts for the loved ones in your life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture on a gift is worth two thousand. You’ll have discovered a great way to start a new family gift-giving tradition.


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