Ideas and Advice to Make the Most Joyful and Meaningful Gifts on Earth!
holiday package with customized gift wrap

Gifting idea: How to turn any regular gift into an extra thoughtful gift

Share article

 “We opened our gifts last night and we were blown away by your thoughtfulness” said my normally reserved 33-year old son.  I asked if he liked the color of the tablecloth… “I can’t believe you had that photograph!” he added. Then it hit me.

My son and his wife collect vintage Russell Wright dishware and I had given them a pair of crackled avocado green salt and pepper shakers – wrapped with a note that told their history and a photograph that made it real.

When my husband and I were newly married we purchased a small townhouse condominium that had been rental housing for many years. The developer had offered the renters a chance to buy, but the older couple who had lived there, Doris and Leo, wanted a change. We became friends during this process and when they moved, they left behind an odd assortment of items we might be able to use – including the avocado green salt and pepper shakers.

Over the years, we visited each other and when our first son was born, they came to greet the baby.  We took a photo that day – Doris in her stylish dress seated with Leo on our bright yellow sofa, glasses of red wine, and our baby son in Leo’s hands.

As I wrapped the salt and pepper shakers for this son and his wife, I thought fondly of Doris and Leo and suddenly remembered the photo stored away in a box of old pictures. It is amazing how a photo imprints in your memory and brings with it the happy emotion of the event.  I searched for the photo, added it to the package, and wrote the story in the card. I loved adding this photo to the gift, documenting the original owners and showing our son that he had met them long ago.

No one could have anticipated this moment when the picture was taken. And hearing my son’s praise, acknowledging the meaningfulness of the photo, created such happiness.

So how do you easily add a “PhotoGifter accessory” to any gift?


Organizing your Photos to Find Them

In this article, we’re going to help you discover effective ways to organize your photos to preserve them and easily find them when you want them – with tips from Cathi Nelson, photo management expert and founder of the Association of Professional Photo Organizers (APPO).

So many of us have envelopes, bags, albums, and boxes filled with old hardcopy photos AND multiple storage locations for our digital pictures—our hard drive(s), USBs, and albums and folders on different photo sharing sites.  Organizing them feels like an overwhelming task.  But it is a critically important one because we are the stewards of our history.  Sadly, we’ve heard one friend say that she is throwing her older photos away “because I have only one son and he won’t want any of these”.

Not true!

What our children (and other relatives) want is the stories. Especially ones that help them understand the family’s history. And your “archive” of old photos is what illustrates the stories. They also serve as a personal prompt to our memories!

The wonderful thing about having photos is that a picture that might not have deep meaning to you today, may be laden with meaning later.  How many times did I flip past the photo of Doris and Leo when searching for a different picture? Yet, it was the only photo that had meaning when paired with the gift of the Russell Wright salt and pepper shakers.

These photos should be sorted, scanned, and preserved with your stories. It sounds overwhelming, I know – but it is doable.



Photo Organizing Tip #1: Use This Easy Sorting Strategy.

Begin with one envelope or box of photos

Sort them into three piles:

A – (Always keep them) – This photo is extraordinary because you feel happy when you look at it or it documents a special memory or a story you want to share

B – (Box ‘em) – This is a secondary photos that you cannot bring yourself to throw away (we all have them!)

C – (Throw them in the Can) – This photo is a duplicate (remember the days of discounted double prints?!) or out of focus or just a bad picture.  You may be surprised by how many of these you have been storing over the years!


Photo Organizing Tip #2: Scan Your Photos to Create an Easy-To-Organize Digital Archive.

Now its time to scan the photos.  There are lots of ways to do this. We’ve identified the 10 best scanning tips and options here.


Photo Organizing Tip #3:  Name your Photo Files and Folders Carefully

Naming your photo files is critical. Its best to name your photos with dates. Begin with the year, followed by the month, then day.  You can follow this with a short description.  For example, 2019_01_11_Jane’s first birthday. Why use numbers?  One of the world’s experts on digital asset management, Peter Krogh said it best, “The most important trait of a file name is to be unique. It’s hard to make them descriptive and yet unique.”

Storage folders should also be names with dates. For older photos that are harder to date, you can create folder with broad dates and themes. For example, 1980’s_Camping.

Photo Organizing Tip #4:  Where to Store your Digital Photo Files (hint:  its not one place!)

There are lots of places to store your digital photo files – on your computer’s hard-drive, on a USB, or in the Cloud.  The Association of Professional Photo Organizers recommends that you use all three methods.

Your photos are priceless and we all know that technology can change.  As a rule of thumb, keep two copies on different media and one copy off-site.  It also helps to keep hard copies of your most prized photos.  Those can always be scanned again – and they are easy to retrieve when you want to add one as a gift accessory!

Photo Organizing Tip #5: Tell and Celebrate Your Stories

And how do you preserve your story with your photo?

  • Photo Prints – Write gently on the back of your photo with a Stabilo All pencil. Never use standard markers, cheap pens, or highlighters as the oils, solvents, and other chemicals in these materials can bleed, smear, or contaminate your image – and they are non-erasable.

You can also use a soft #2 pencil on the back of photos that are printed on “fiber-based” photographic paper. However, pencils will not work on the newer plastic- or resin-backed color photos. The Stabilo-All pencil works on all photo print surfaces and is available in a variety of colors.  Remember to

  • Always work on a clean, hard surface
  • Write near the edges of the photo (not the middle!), and
  • Use a light touch to avoid the pressure of your handwriting pressing through to affect the image

If you are writing on plastic (polyethylene) backed photographs or archival sleeves you should consider using waterproof Lumocolor Permanent Markers or TechLiner Drawing Markers.  These pens are made with high-quality, acid-free ink and will not bleed through or damage your photographs. Be sure to test their drying time before writing and then stacking your pictures or slipping them into sleeves. The ink will smear if its still wet.

  • Digital Photos – Some of your story is captured in the metadata attached to the image (date and location), but the story is not complete without your details. You can add tags identifying the event and people in the photo – but the “real” story, the narrative, is best captured in your own words.  Some Cloud storage sites, such as Google Photos enables a description box for each photo.  Tell your story there.
  • Create a video telling your story and showing the photos that illustrate your story. You can create the video easily on your phone.  Remember to use the file naming convention above when naming and storing your video!
  • Create a photo book to tell your story with multiple pictures and your own words and artistry. This is an extraordinary gift! A “permanent” record, from the heart, that can be shared with many others. There are lots of excellent places to create photo books. Investigate Shutterfly for the wide range of templates available, Blurb for its clean, professional-look, Mpix (good paper variety and speed of printing, and Picaboo for great variety of book style options including a genuine leather wrap!

These tips are just the basics. For more practical tips on photo organizing, we highly recommend reading Photo Organizing Made Easy, Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed (by Cathi Nelson, founder of the Association of Professional Photo Organizers (APPO).

Also, consider enrolling in APPO’s informative and easy-to-follow online courses designed to take you step by step through the organizing process:

Printed Photo Organizing Made Easy guides you through the process of organizing (and digitizing) your printed photos, memorabilia, old media, and home movies.

Digital Photo Organizing Made Easy includes short video tutorials, handouts, and a resource guide to teach you how to find, organize, and consolidate your images & videos into one manageable library so you can easily access, share, and backup your important memories.

Or, buy both courses at a discount.  Each course include short video tutorials, handouts, and a resource guide – and, if you would like to access a community of fellow organizers, a private Facebook group to respond to questions.

Save 15% when you use this code: PHOTOGIFTER15

And prepare to be emotional.  Organizing your photos brings forward a flood of memories:  many happy, some sad, all meaningful. They are the stories of our life.

Finally, if you would like additional help, consider hiring a Professional Photo Organizer. APPO has certified a community of over 700 personal photo organizers who share a passion for telling people’s stories – and can help you organize and preserve yours.  Click here to find a professional organizer who can work with you to create the digital photo library your family deserves.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *