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Beacon Senior News

Holiday Photo Gifting

Dec 02, 2019 03:23PM ● By Beacon Senior News

Turn those photos on your phone into creative, personalized gifts

Cell phones are great in that their self-contained cameras give you the ability to snap a spontaneous photo anytime, anywhere and without limit, allowing amateur photographers to amass an impressive photo collection in no time.

But then what? What do we do with all those photos of our children, grandchildren, pets, plants and travels? Beyond placing them in traditional photo albums or picture frames, or storing large volumes on DVDs, what can be done with all those fabulous shots of our beloveds?

Plenty. Online merchants offer an unprecedented variety of create-your-own photo products, allowing even rookie photographers to design extraordinary holiday gifts.

I discovered a couple of these online shops by accident while Christmas shopping last year. Before long, I was logging onto several of them, fully absorbed with placing my own digital photos into pre-formed templates to create some of the best-received holiday gifts I’ve ever given.

Photo books:

Shutterfly (, is likely the internet’s best-known producer of personalized photo books. I used over 70 photos to produce an 11"x 9" full-color, 32-page, hardcover memory book. The book was a gift for my grandson, then a high school senior, and it captured many moments of his final year playing high school football. Knowing a few others who would cherish those same memories, I had book copies made for his parents, grandfather and aunt. The cost per book was under $60. Though the time it took to select and position the photos was considerable, the actual setup took less than a couple of hours. As gifts go, it was a hit.

Gift wrap and more:

My daughters love pictures of their pets as much as photos of their children. For them, I made high-quality artsy gifts with Minted ( Minted uses original graphic designs to create wall hangings, greeting cards, gift wraps and backdrops for personalized paper products. By inserting photos of my grandpups into beautifully designed templates, I personalized a variety of wrapping paper with matching gift tags my daughters used all year for their own gift-giving. Wrapping paper comes in vivid color print on individual sheets cut 20" x 28." The sheets can be bought in minimum quantities of five for about $15.

My firstborn liked her wrapping paper gift well enough to frame. Now, photos of the furry portion of her family—Max, Lulu and Quincy—hang predominantly in her living room. My youngest daughter’s gift wrap featured not only Lulu, her King Charles Cavalier, but also some of the chairs she professionally redesigns. She uses the wrapping paper on gifts for clients, some of whom liked seeing their own renewed chair on their gift.

Wrap the wall with dramatic murals:

Imagine resolving the problem of a blank wall by covering it fully with a photo you’ve taken yourself. Maybe it’s a photo of a garden, a dream car or a spectacular sunset loved by the person you want to gift. An image rising floor to ceiling is striking on nearly any wall of home or office and offers the promise of a provocative gift with long-lasting enjoyment.

Murals Your Way (www.murals sells create-your-own murals in three standard sized panels. Prices start at around $150 for a mural 3' 11" wide by 6' 1" high.

The company also sells custom wallpaper cut from a selection of high-quality materials. To create your own mural panels or wallpaper, you simply load your image in .jpg format into the company’s online template, enter your preferred dimensions, choose one of the 6 material selections then submit your order. It’s that easy.

My family has fully enjoyed seeing images of their children, pets and projects on unexpectedly useful items. Plus, these photo-gifting merchants made the creation of the gifts easy and fun. Most importantly though, they gave me a chance to meaningfully share many of the photos that otherwise would live largely unseen on my phone.