Create meaningful and heartfelt gifts using photographs

The holidays are fast approaching and, if you’re like me, there are a few people on your list who can be a bit tricky to buy for.  But I’m here to help!

The people on your gift list are those closest to your heart. This means you have most likely created photographs this past year that would be meaningful to them! Grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, nannies, and teachers are just some of the people who may appreciate thoughtful photo gifts.

Here are some ideas for how to create meaningful gifts using the photographs you’ve taken this year:

Handpainted clipboard frames

We are a family of beach explorers and spend much of our free time along the Washington and Oregon coasts. So for this project, I decided to incorporate not only some of our most beloved beach photos from the year, but also some of the treasures collected by their little hands.

This project gave me the opportunity to combine photos of my children, their hand-picked beach treasures, and artwork all into one meaningful gift. Every step of this project brought me so much joy and is a great way to keep those little hands busy on a rainy fall day.

The clip board design is perfect because you aren’t limited to just one image. These clip boards comfortably hold a stack of 5-6 images so your recipient can rotate them from time to time.

I am a huge fan of eggshell finish square prints so I choose those almost always. I chose a couple for each child’s clipboard that I knew the recipient (in this case Dad and grandparents) would appreciate.

Then I let the kids choose of few of their own personal favorites that they wanted to add to each photo pack. My kids love being included in the entire process from click to print!

First, I applied a base coat of white to the act as a clean canvas for the kids to paint on.

Here is what we used:

  • Unfinished pine clipboards (I found these in the dollar bin at Michael’s)
  • Acrylic paint (including a neutral white to use as the base coat)
  • Children’s paint supplies (brushes, small palette, smock, etc.)
  • Small treasures your children have collected this year (optional but a fun touch)
  • Glue gun to attach your treasures
  • A single photograph (or a set of up to six photographs) for each clipboard gift.

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Then, I set the kids free with the paint and grabbed a cup of coffee to enjoy my thirty minutes of peace and quiet. (Also, if your child is too young to paint, handprints and footprints could be a fun alternative here.)

After their art dried, I slid each set of images under the clips and asked the kids to place their treasures around the photo stack. Then I used the glue gun to adhere them.

Driftwood wall hangers

These driftwood hangers are one of my favorite pieces of photo art in our home and make a beautiful gift too! As I mentioned previously, my family loves to be near the ocean. I chose to use driftwood that we found at one of our favorite beach spots for this project. However, any branch or beloved adventure stick will work just as well. Even a wood dowel or piece of bamboo would suffice. Here is what we used:

  • Driftwood or favorite sticks
  • Natural colored jute twine
  • Square prints
  • Scissors, stapler and clear tape

First I decided how many hanging columns of images would best fit on my driftwood and then how many images would hang in each column. It’s all personal preference. Since I was using smaller 4”x4” square prints and a piece of driftwood approximately 24” long, I decided on three rows of seven.

Then, I laid the images out the way I wanted them to hang. I scattered the different beach trips and colors within the photos so there was variation throughout the piece.

Next, I taped the pieces of jute to my flat surface (use a piece longer than you think you need so you have access.)

I reinforced each jute with about three staples. (Note: driftwood, is very soft and easy to staple right into. However, if you are using a hardwood adventure stick or piece of bamboo or metal, tying the top of the jute around the stick in a knot works just as well!

Lastly, for the larger driftwood pieces, we screwed hanging hardware into the back of the driftwood.

Stacking rock photo holders

As a little girl growing up in rural Michigan, collecting rocks was a favorite pastime. And even now, I still can’t visit a beach without collecting a couple favorite stones alongside my children to bring home.

We decided to put some of them to use as photo holders with this simple project that took just minutes to make! Here’s what we used:

  • A stack of our favorite photos
  • Flat smooth stones
  • Mineral oil (I borrowed this bottle of cutting board oil from my husband’s workshop but any mineral oil will do.)
  • Binder clips (I love the skeleton clips because they come in different metals and cover the least amount of the photo)
  • Hot glue gun

First, the kids joined me to bring the stones to life using the mineral oil. We simply dripped a few drops of oil on a paper towel and rubbed the stone, covering the entire stone. This immediately brings out the gorgeous rich colors and striations that drew us to the stones to begin with.

Then, we stacked the stones in sets of two and adhered them together with a generous amount of hot glue. Finally, we adhered a clip to the top of each stacked stone piece.

Drop these precious little handmade holders into a small gift bag with a stack of your favorite prints for a gift that beats the traditional frame every time.

Photo books

Photo books are a timeless gift of memories that come in all different sizes and span a pretty vast price range, so it can easily fit into any budget. I have three different albums I’ve gifted in different sizes and prices ranges.

First are these adorable miniatures soft cover books I made for my three children. They are full of memories from one of their favorite beach trips of the summer. They are 5”x5” and hold 32 images on matte paper, perfect for little hands.

I created this 8.5” x 8.5” soft cover, layflat photo book we are gifting to my in-laws. I designed it using Pinhole Press and was extremely pleased with the print and paper quality.

This album is a compilation of iPhone snaps and pretty photographs taken with my Nikon from a week-long summer vacation to the Oregon coast with Grandma and Grandpa. I know this will be a cherished Christmas gift from the three kids!

Pro tip: don’t limit your photo books to only your professional quality images. Sometimes the iPhone snaps capture favorite memories when you didn’t have your big girl camera handy.)

Lastly is our annual family photo book. Each one becomes a family heirloom. Our story. All our favorite memories printed and bound. And it’s cherished beyond measure.

Maxing out at nearly two hundred pages, our 2017 edition was a beast and a labor of love to create. But it was so worth it!

I dedicate time to designing our family album every January/February, after the holiday decorations have been boxed and stored and things have quieted down a bit at home. It is my gift to myself after surviving the hustle and bustle of the holidays!

When it arrives, I’m so excited I have butterflies in my stomach. This photo book is not just an investment of time and money. It contains all our most cherished memories of the year in one book that I can hold in my hands and feel and touch and smell.

I envision this special book standing the test of time to be handed down for generations.

Packaging

When you hand a loved one a beautifully-wrapped package, you’re telling them how special they are to you before they’ve even opened their gift. And for that reason, packaging has always been one of my very favorite parts of gift-giving.

Your prints can make beautiful, gender-neutral package toppers that will be cherished forever. Simply swap out that generic pom pom bow for matte or eggshell print of an image. You know it will bring a smile to your loved one’s face!

Attach the print to your gift box with tweed or a small piece of your favorite washi tape. The simpler the design, the better. And as an added bonus, if the photo you choose for the top of the gift has both the recipient and gift-giver in the photograph, the image replaces not only the bow but the gift tag too!

I promise you this: it will feed your photographer heart to pull these beautiful images you’ve

created throughout the year off your hard drive and into the hands of the loved ones on your list. It is the most amazing feeling to share your images!

It is the best feeling to see your loved ones open them. To see them enjoy your art. To relive the memories all over again. And to see them displayed and to feel them in your hands.

So don’t hum and haw! The holidays are around the corner and you don’t want to wait to the last minute! Start now. Choose one of the ideas above that speaks to you. Include your children in the process. And create something meaningful this holiday season for the ones you love.

You will be so glad you did.

Want to learn more ways you can get creative with your photographs?

With thousands of exclusive educational articles and a community of experienced photographers to answer all of your questions, Clickin Moms is the BEST place to learn and grow in your photography journey.

About the Author:

Jess and her husband, Adam, and three children live and love in a small town nestled in the mountains outside of Seattle, Washington. Jess is a Click Pro and newborn photographer, and most enjoys artfully photographing her family’s outdoor adventures in the Pacific Northwest. Jess is a lover of light, movement, and storytelling in her imagery.

One Comment

  1. Jamie Nov 06 2018 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Thanks for these great ideas! Which company do you use for your big family year book? That looks like a beautiful one!

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