4 Ways to Solve the Last-Minute Picture Frame Gift Challenge
Your Awesome Photo in a Picture Frame
“Whenever I am scrambling for last-minute gifts, my go-to solutions are picture frames with a photo that captures a funny memory, a sentimental moment, a travel adventure, or a quick candid of a friend that has turned into a favorite.
I know I can find the right photo. Pulling it all together – getting it printed, finding and buying the right photo frame, getting it assembled – all in a hurry, is usually my challenge. Often, I settle for a not-perfect picture frame from a nearby store because the time crunch overtakes my creativity.” (SH, a Photogifter)
To help you solve the Last-Minute Picture Frame Gift Challenge, we’ve identified four short-cut shopping choices that save you time and reduce the stress of last-minute gift-making. These options help you explore frame selections quickly so that you can be creative—even at the last minute—and get the ooh’s, aah’s, and thank you’s that you deserve.
In this review, we give you shopping tips and identify special features at each retailer to help you identify the option that’s best for you.
This insight is based on our past corporate experience—involving visits to hundreds of stores and first-hand interaction with photo and framing business leaders at Michaels, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walgreens, and many other retailers. When we say there is a wide selection of frames available, we know that this is an area of strategic importance for the retailer’s business—and your customer satisfaction is important to them.
As a start, we’ve provided a quick review of retailers who can help. For full details and deeper merchant reviews, scroll down past the Quick Takes.
RETAILER QUICK TAKES
Best for custom look
With Frame Express, Michaels custom framing staff will assemble your ready-made frame (purchased in-store or brought from home) with a custom mat and your choice of glass for a distinctive look.
Estimated Time: 24 hours
Best for knowing what’s really available in store
Kohl’s online refreshes its in-store selection of frames every 10 minutes so you have up-to-the-minute selection.
Estimated Order to Pick Up Time: 2 hours
Best for large selection (and no payment now)
Bed Bath & Beyond has a large selection of frames with a cool compare now feature—and will set aside the frame for you without payment for up to 2 days.
Estimated Order to Pick Up Time: 2 hours
Best for a convenient buying experience
You can accomplish more in a Target shopping experience than at many other retailers. Look for a store that offers both framing and photo printing.
Estimated Order to Pick Up Time: 2 hours
Best for fastest photo printing and framing
Order both your photo and frame online–-and pick up within an hour. But, remember: you will need to place two separate orders on two separate websites.
Estimated Order to Pick Up Time: Under 1 hour
What follows are the full details on your four last minute framing options and merchant recommendations.
1. SELECT YOUR FRAME ONLINE AND RESERVE IT FOR QUICK PICK UP
We’ve evaluated four national retail chains known for their robust selection of ready-made picture frames, where you can select a frame online and have it packaged and waiting for you in the store. This way you can shop online at any time of the day or night, compare designs and prices, and buy the frame. Then you can pick it up quickly and add your special photo—all within hours.
Here’s what we can share about these services.
(1,200 locations) has arguably the largest selection of ready-made picture frames in store, including lots of collage frames if you want to use more than one photo to share your memory. Michaels is noted for quality custom framing, so they have solid standards for their ready-made frames.
With its huge selection—and their referral engine that shows you other, related frames while you search—you can make your decision easily and get just the design that you want.
Be sure to look for discount offers. Michaels promotes frequently so there is always an attractive offer. Once you place your order, Michaels will send a confirmation email, and they will send a second email once your order is ready for pick up. The turnaround time can vary. It can take 45 to 90 minutes for the store to receive the order, and additional time to fulfill it.
It’s always a good idea to call the store to confirm that your frame is ready. You will pick up your order in the custom framing department, now called Aaron Brothers Custom Framing at Michaels, where a staff member is usually available.
Michaels owned the Aaron Brothers store chain, well-known on the West Coast for expert framing and art supplies, and recently brought its staff into Michaels stores.
The Aaron Brothers framing staff is quite knowledgeable, and you can ask them about ways to customize your frame order quickly to make your last-minute gift more special. Plus, Michaels has a huge collection of craft items to enhance your frame and picture creatively if you would like to do it yourself—from specialized mats to decorative stickers to wasabi tape, and more.
(1,158 locations) Kohl’s has a good collection of ready-made picture frames in a wide array of materials, colors, sizes, and styles—from 4×6 tabletop photo frames with printed sentiments to 16×20 matted wall frames, and lots more. Kohls also has a large selection of collage frames.
Just be aware that you do need to add your own hanging wire to wall frames!
The Kohl’s website is especially helpful. You can sort for frames available in-store and filter by size, color, materials, price, and even occasion (lots of baby shower, wedding, and sports frames at the time of our review!). There are customer ratings and comments providing more information—and a referral engine that proposes other frames based on your previous selections. Best of all, the website will list all the stores where you can purchase the frame within a 50-mile radius—and the list is refreshed every 10 minutes, so you get up-to-the minute availability.
Kohl’s offers lots of promotional discounts, so the prices are attractive. Orders placed online before 5pm for in-store pick up are typically ready within 2 hours at the Customer Service Counter, and you can request a text message to notify you when it is ready.
You can also designate another person to pick up the frame for you, if you’re running short on time. Note that online orders placed after 5pm are not fulfilled until the next day.
(1,550 locations) – When we checked, Bed Bath and Beyond had 2,205 picture frames online – and you can quickly sort for those available at your local store. At the time our review, there were 163 frames available for same day pick up in our local store! This assortment includes high-quality basic frames, floating frames, collage frames, panoramic frames, frame sets, and frames with special sentiments for babies, friends, pets, weddings, and more.
There is a very cool “compare” feature where you can select up to four items and see product details side by side – and there are lots of customer reviews and questions answered so that you can get a very good sense of what the frame is really like.
You can shop online, compare different frame designs, check in-store availability within a 25-mile radius, then reserve your frame for in-store pick up using your credit card—but your card will not be charged.
You will receive an email confirmation that your frame is “Ready for Pick Up” within 2 hours. Simply, show this email at the Customer Service counter and pay for your frame at pick up. In case something comes up and you cannot get to the store, your frame will be held at the Service desk for up to 2 days. Note that there are always price discounts, especially if you sign up for Bed Bath & Beyond emails.
For a very fresh selection of modern frames check out CB2, “Crate and Barrel’s hip, modern little brother”.
While there are just 18 locations nationwide, most are in or near major cities so there may be one near you.
The frames at CB2 are “wicked!” as one 5-star reviewer called them, with sleek designs in materials such as brass, marble, white-washed oak, gunmetal, pewter, leather…you get the picture! It’s a beautiful website, with clear presentation, detailed customer reviews with timely CB2 responses, and super helpful live chat.
In-store availability is refreshed every 24 hours, so there is a chance that you might see something you like and later learn that it is not available today—but you will be notified quickly. Place and pay for your order online and you will receive a “Good News” email within minutes with availability and fulfillment time.
If the item is not available in store today, you can cancel the order. On CB2 the frame assortment is elegant and customer reviews are very articulate with cool decorating ideas.
2. UPGRADE A READY-MADE PICTURE FRAME WITH CUSTOM TOUCHES AND ASSEMBLY
Here’s a service that many people don’t know about.
Michaels offers Frame Express in its Aaron Brothers Custom Framing department. It’s a reasonably priced in-store service that enhances your framed photo with many features you normally get only with custom framing—
and its typically completed within 24 hours!
With Frame Express, bring your photo to Michaels and buy a frame from
their in-store inventory—or bring your own frame from home (this is very cool for vintage picture frames!). The capable Aaron Brothers framing staff will professionally assemble your ready-made frame just the way you want it— with your choice of:
- Custom mat
- Specialty glass including UV protection that most ready-made frames do not have
- Paper backing
- Mounting hardware
- And an official custom framing seal.
The turnaround time for Frame Express varies based on store workload, but in
our experience the Aaron Brothers staff are friendly, highly skilled, and focused on customer service. You may be able to get your Frame Express order done while you shop (but don’t tell them we told you so!).
This is a great way to get the professional look and protection of custom framing for a small upcharge.
Prices vary by the number of custom features you add, and the assembly fee is $15 – $20 at the time this review was published. Read the fine print on the Michaels discount coupons; they sometimes apply to Frame Express making this another reason to use this option.
3. PRINT THE PHOTO AND SELECT A READY-MADE FRAME AT THE SAME STORE
Ordering your frame and photo from the same retailer certainly simplifies the challenge of creating a last-minute gift. At both Target and Walgreens you can create your framed photo gift with less stress by purchasing your frame online, then placing your photo order, so that both items are ready for you within hours. The only hassle is that you will need to place two separate online orders: one for the frame and one for the photo as the ordering processes are different.
(1,822 locations) has a wide selection of frames with many different styles, and lots of informative customer reviews to help you make your selection.
When you buy the frame online, you won’t pay any delivery or service charge—and your frame will be waiting for you at the Guest Desk counter within 2-4 hours.
Just wait for an email from Target telling you that the frame is ready and you’re good to go! Not all Target stores have a photo lab, so order your photo first to ensure that you can pick up your photo, your frame—and some wrapping paper for the gift all in the same location!
Note: Some, but not all, of the merchants we reviewed have an affiliate program that provides a small commission. This does not influence our recommendation decision or increase the price you pay for the product – but helps us offset the cost of this site. You can click with confidence – and thank you for your support!
(9,560 locations) – One of the most convenient stores in the U.S. is also the easiest solution for a framed photo gift. Did you know that 78% of the US population is within 5 miles of a Walgreens store?
Nearly all Walgreens stores have photo centers—and sell picture frames—so you can quickly assemble your gift with one quick trip to Walgreens.
Best of all, the Walgreens website shows all frames available—with the current stock count by store. Once you have selected your frame, place your photo order for pick up at the same location. You can make one convenient trip to purchase both the print and frame.
The only issue we have encountered is that you can’t guarantee that the frame on the shelf will be in good condition, especially in a high traffic store, so be sure to select a store that has at least 2-5 of your preferred frames in stock.
4. ORDER THE PHOTO AND FRAME ASSEMBLED FOR YOU
As of this writing of this review, only Walgreens Photo offers pre-assembled floating frames. This cool product, called a Custom Floating Frame, is available for a single picture or a collage. Your photo is printed and adhered to a backer board, then framed in a gallery-style frame creating the illusion that it is floating against the wall.
The Custom Floating Frame measures 13.5” x 11.5” x 1.5” and holds one 8×10 or 5×7 print, two 4×6 prints, or four 4×4 prints. You can customize the look by selecting the backer board color (white, black, or clear) and frame color (black, walnut, white). It’s a stylish product, and a happy “one-stop-shopping solution” when you are in a hurry.
Remember though, you need to order this specifically through the photo section of the Walgreens website.
Gifting a moment… with your amazing photo and a beautiful frame… is a truly meaningful and personal gift. These shopping tips can help you pull it off—with style, even at the last minute.
If you’d rather give a photo without a frame…
If the stress of finding an appropriate frame at the last minute gives you agita vs. energy, try gifting your photo printed on canvas, metal, or wood. All look great without a frame. You can get these made within 3-4 hours at Walmart, CVS, or Walgreens. Check your local store to see which products are available.