Ideas and Advice to Make the Most Joyful and Meaningful Gifts on Earth!
Mother opens her Boombox during a family zoom

7 Photo Gift Ideas to Bring Families Together during this Unusual Time

This has been an extraordinary year – despite uncertainty and stress we’ve found ways to appreciate the warmth of friends and family—albeit in new ways. This year has resulted in unique photographs – pandemic porch portraits and ZOOM screenshots—as well as awesome photos captured in quieter moments: our children’s smiles, pet’s antics, and inspiring views of nature around us.  While many of us will not be with our families, our photos have the unique power to create emotional connection, evoking happy memories and warm smiles.  What better time to give a meaningful photo gift!

Here are some of ideas to capture this unique year with joyful gifts.

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Instagram Friendly Print

logo for Artifact Uprising site

Why We Like This:

  • The Great Pause of 2020 brought time to experience nature as never before. For many, quiet reflection outdoors resulted in beautiful nature photos posted on Instagram as a way to connect.
  • Turning a friend’s instagram photo into a framed print says “thank you” for sharing beauty and hope during this extraordinary time. 
  • Framing your own favorite Instagram post is a way to document this period with a reflection or memory.

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • Give your favorite photographer a framed print of a photo they posted on Instagram.
  • Frame one of your own favorite Instagram photos and give it–with your story of why it is a meaningful reflection from this extraordinary time.
  • Frame with likes and comments…or not…your choice!

Where to Get Them: Artifact Uprising has beautiful gallery frames. Hint: if accessing your instagram account from your phone be sure your pop-up blocker is off.  For best quality printing of your photo without Instagram text, use your original photo!

Big Love in Small Packages

Why We Like This:

  • When you are far away, a little love can go a long way” is a Greetabl message — and we couldn’t agree more!
  • Greetabls are a beautiful box containing a small gift and a personalized message..
  • Greetabl offers great variety of small gifts to purchase for the box — from candy to bath bombs to ornaments, key chains, mugs, gift cards, and more.  It’s worth a look!
  • Best of all, you can highly personalize your Greetabl with your photos and message (if you have writer’s block, they have lots of great suggestions!) and photos.
  • Plus, you can earn $1 credit for every $10 you spend when you sign up for Greetabl rewards. You’ll be giving free Greetabls in no time!

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • Stocking stuffers for sons and daughters who are far away
  • Inexpensive but very thoughtful gifts for anyone on your holiday list
  • Perfect as a Hanukkah gift
  • A surprise pick-me-up to say “I’m thinking of you” anytime

Where to Get Them: Greetabl. Sign up for emails and get 10% off your first order. 

sample of Greetabl holiday box designs
Sample of Greetabl holiday box designs
Interior of personalized Greetabl box
What does a Greetabl box look like inside? Here's one personalized with photos and message.

A Book of Childhood "Souvenirs"

"All About Me"

Why We Like This:

  • We all have “stuff” made by our children that we’ve saved: colorful artwork, letters to Santa or the Tooth Fairy, Mother’s Day school projects, Father’s Day cards…
  • You can turn this memorabilia into a unique childhood history book — more meaningful to the kids than a baby book because they remember these events.
  • They prompt lots of family stories. 
  • And, they are a way for adult children to share happy glimpses of their childhood with a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse.
  • It’s a very tangible reminder of a parent’s lifelong love.

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • Gather all your memorabilia by child (drawings, letters, 3-dimensional art projects). Add photos of your child at different ages, if you like.
  • Group these items by theme (e.g. drawings of animals, pirate ships, the family, etc.). Theme is often easier than chronology — and often reveals emerging lifelong interests!
  • Take photos of these objects on a white or black background, depending upon what color you want your pages to be. Hint: children’s artwork often looks great on black, but white is often more flexible when you create your book.

Where to Make Your Book:

There are lots of places to make good quality photo books.  For this project, we like:

Shutterfly for its many creative choices — seven book sizes, six cover options, and hundreds of page layouts, background colors and patterns. The storyboard helps you quickly structure the book, grouping content for each page to easily refine later. This really helps when you’re sorting such a diverse collection of image.

Mixbooks for its super-intuitive, super-easy book builder, its rich library of creative ways to customize your book, and its uncluttered work window with a larger view of the page than you find with some other merchants. Mixbook also has a 100% Happiness Guarantee; if you are not happy, they offer credit or a refund.


Boombox for Grandparents...or Mom...or Dad

logo for Boombox gifts

Why We Like This:

  • High impact way to say “I love you” — at least 50 times
  • Beautiful wooden keepsake box filled with up to 150 artfully designed personal messages and photos
  • Easy collaboration tool online so that all family members and friends can upload photos and messages. Tool helps remind collaborators, if necessary!
  • Boombox works with the project owner to make the gift perfect, sending multiple proofs to ensure satisfaction.

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • For Grandma, a beautiful box filled with messages and photos from her children, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and family friends.
  • For Mom and Dad with photos and stories…to say thank you…and we love you.
  • A digital copy for all family members–creating an heirloom of special photos and memories

Where to Get It:

Boombox was founded by Christina Geist as a tool to assemble and share memories and to honor individuals with a personalized collection of stories, reminiscences, and photos. Website recommends 4 weeks lead time to collect messages, but a family organizer can beat this time!

Mother opens her Boombox during a family zoom
A mother opens her Boombox during a family ZOOM prompting an hour of family stories and laughter

Fun and Challenging Puzzles

Why We Like This:

  • Puzzles are a fun, challenging way to spend winter hours, prompting memories and conversation.
  • Any photo works!  Family, pets, travel, food, nature — even favorite restaurants, old school, and neighborhood photos — anything that prompts a story and a smile.
  • Puzzles can be made at any level of difficulty –based on the complexity and detail in the photo you choose and the number of pieces you order.
  • They are a great gift for anyone — large piece wooden or plastic puzzles for young children, traditional cardboard and magnetic puzzle pieces for adults.

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • For older family members, create a 2,000 piece puzzle with a reunion photo – the family resemblances will make this super challenging!
  • Teach children about cousins, aunts, and uncles who live far away with a fun family photo.
  • For travel companions,  use an awesome photo from a former vacation — and start planning your post-pandemic adventure.
  • For brothers and sisters, use a photo of a beloved pet (fur makes a challenging puzzle!), a favorite summer place or shared family experience.

Where to Get Them: PuzzlesPrints – While the website is not filled with beautiful product images, this is one of the best puzzle manufacturers we’ve used.  It offers puzzles from 15 to 2,000 pieces — and in a wide range of materials:  traditional cardboard, plastic, wood, and magnetic pieces. And, you can add text anywhere on the puzzle. Free shipping within the USA if you order two or more puzzles!

Family Cards & Games

Why We Like This:

  • Family games are a great way to spend time together. Making the playing pieces more personal just adds to the fun.
  • You can customize a standard playing card set and even poker chips with photos.
  • Better yet, you can create your own card game (and your own rules!).
  • You can customize a set with a single photo — or you can personalize each card, front and back!

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • Make a standard playing card set with four photos (one for each suit) — four grandparents? four pets? four favorite ice cream fantasies?
  • Create “Just Guess”, a collection of family photos on one side with questions like “Guess Who?”, “Guess What?”, “Guess Why?”, “Guess Where?” with the answers on the other. Lots of memories and lots of laughs!

Where to Get Them: Printer’s Studio has a wide collection of cards and games that can be customized: playing cards, game cards, personalized card boxes, poker chips, memory games, trading cards and more. The builder is straight-forward but takes a little effort.

Create your own playing cards with family photos that evoke funny stories and happy memories
The answers can be as simple as copying your sister's facebook post!

Seriously...Personalized Gift Wrap

logo for GiftWrapMyFace.com

Why We Like This:

  • It’s surprising!
  • And, personalized gift wrap brings you a little closer during this time of distance.
  • Many designs feature 1 to 5 different faces, so you can create gift wrap from your whole family.
  • The print quality is good and the paper is high quality:  unlaminated #60 matte…not the thin, shiny paper.

Thought Starter Ideas:

  • Use a photo of  “giftee” on the wrapping paper: it makes it clear who the package is for (you won’t need to add a card or label!) — and it honors them, adding more love to your already thoughtful gift.
  • Put a photo of you (and your family) on the gift wrap — a surprisingly simple way to say who the package is from.
  • Feature a newly engaged or married couple on gift paper for engagement parties, weddings, housewarmings
  • Do you have a friend who’s very attached to their pets? Create wrapping paper featuring pet lover and pets!

Where to Get Them: GiftWrapMyFace.com has a great assortment of gift wrap as well as gift ideas (e.g. personalized socks and masks). Check out the Elfie-Selfie gift wrap that you can make dance!

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