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Crafts Using Family Photos: Make Gift Wrap, a Journal and a Keepsake Box

Updated on September 27, 2015

Use Photos To Make Personalized Gift Wrap

Photo gift wrap makes the outside of the gift as special as the inside.
Photo gift wrap makes the outside of the gift as special as the inside. | Source

Don't Let Those Old Photos Just Collect Dust

If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of your old photos calling your name. Muffled, from the back of your closet where you haven't touched them in years, they beckon to be enjoyed once more.

There's the old photo of your little brother dressed up as Batman, pictures that tout your '80s "big hair," snapshots of that trip to Disney World, and the ones of dear relatives and treasured pets who have long since passed. Those photos yearn to rediscovered.

Dig them out from the closet and print the newer ones off from your computer. Don't let them sit any longer, neglected and unused. Let's do something fun with them!

A Collage of Family Memories

Include small photos and bigger ones, along with both color and black and white.  Don't worry if your photo collage is not perfect.  (Hey, your family's not perfect either, is it?)
Include small photos and bigger ones, along with both color and black and white. Don't worry if your photo collage is not perfect. (Hey, your family's not perfect either, is it?) | Source

Project 1: Photo Gift Wrap

What better way to celebrate a loved one's birthday, Mother's Day, or another personal milestone than to cover a gift in photo-themed wrapping paper? It is easy to create, and it will lovingly remind them of their life's journey.

Here are two examples of when I have used this.

Use All Those Great Cat Photos!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is Shep, taking the beauty of the Christmas lights in as we decorated the tree.Fancy's horns matched her personality, but we loved her.Stella is a princess and a recovering feral.  But then again, aren't we all recovering ferals?George Clooney is a Maine Coon, named after the movie star.  They both share awesome good looks and they know it.Bay Bay is a deaf cat who has a special place in our hearts.  He does not play well with others.  Not all of us do.
This is Shep, taking the beauty of the Christmas lights in as we decorated the tree.
This is Shep, taking the beauty of the Christmas lights in as we decorated the tree. | Source
Fancy's horns matched her personality, but we loved her.
Fancy's horns matched her personality, but we loved her. | Source
Stella is a princess and a recovering feral.  But then again, aren't we all recovering ferals?
Stella is a princess and a recovering feral. But then again, aren't we all recovering ferals? | Source
George Clooney is a Maine Coon, named after the movie star.  They both share awesome good looks and they know it.
George Clooney is a Maine Coon, named after the movie star. They both share awesome good looks and they know it. | Source
Bay Bay is a deaf cat who has a special place in our hearts.  He does not play well with others.  Not all of us do.
Bay Bay is a deaf cat who has a special place in our hearts. He does not play well with others. Not all of us do. | Source

Mother's Day Gift Wrap

I selected family photos of my mom's three kids at different stages, plus those of her grandchildren, several other relatives, and snapshots of her and my dad over the years.

I then wrapped her Mother's Day gifts in sheets of gift wrap that featured all of her favorite people and memories. What more appropriate way to recognize her?

"Older Than Dirt" Box of Gag Gifts

I also used the photo gift wrap idea when my brother turned 40. However, I added a twist. I selected photos of him at various stages of his life. I then wrapped both a shoe box lid and its bottom separately.

The box was filled with "Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's 40" gag gifts. Examples included a magnifying glass, a package of prunes, men's hair dye, and an ear/nose hair trimmer. I also composed a little rhyme about my brother being "older than dirt" and enclosed a ziploc bag of crushed Oreos (minus the creme middle) with gummy worms. I don't know who loved it more -- his kids or him.

Materials Needed
Photos (10-15 photos per 11"x17" sheet)
Clear Scotch Tape
11"x17" piece of white paper
Scissors
You have so many photos.  Why not relive the fun memories?
You have so many photos. Why not relive the fun memories? | Source
Put some of those selfies to good use.  Print them and use them for crafting.
Put some of those selfies to good use. Print them and use them for crafting. | Source

Instructions for Making Gift Wrap

Making photo gift wrap is easy. Here's how:

  1. Gather older and more recent photos of various sizes. Steer clear of images larger than 5"x7". Also avoid photos with a copyright, unless you've obtained proper permissions. Mix candid and posed shots, and include both color and black and white, if you have them. As long as the photos are personally meaningful and of reasonably good quality, differences in film quality over the years simply add to the effect.
  2. Arrange the images on an 11"x17" (or other large) piece of white paper, creating a collage effect. There is no need to cut photos. Simply overlap them strategically. Temporarily secure your photos to the paper using small pieces of double sided tape or backwards-rolled Scotch tape.
  3. Have a copy center run off several color copies of your collage using regular white 11"x17" copy paper. (Make sure they do not use photo paper. You want paper that is easy to fold.) Order more copies than you think you might need due to the custom nature of your project.
  4. Piece together several 11"x17" photocopied sheets. Make sure to line up the patterns at an appropriate point before taping. Secure sheets on both sides with a long strand of clear tape.
  5. Wrap your gift as you normally would.

A One-Of-A-Kind Composition Notebook

Give a plain composition book pizzazz by adding special family photos.
Give a plain composition book pizzazz by adding special family photos. | Source

Project 2: Photo-Embellished Journal

Transform a basic composition book into a prized personal keepsake with your photos. These hardcover notebooks (9 3/4" x 7 1/2") are inexpensive and contain blank pages. You can find them in ruled, unruled, or even grid-lined varieties. Use your creation as a travel journal, diary, or one-of-a-kind school notebook.

Adopting this as a weekend craft idea, I found it to be an enjoyable way to connect with my teen. While I embellished my composition book with family photos, she designed one of her own, using photos of school friends and herself. She also incorporated a few photo magazine clippings of her favorite sports stars and singers. Finally, she added her name using large text cut from assorted magazines.

Ideas for how you could use this journal:

A "welcome to the world" pregnancy/early childhood journal - Fill the pages with your experiences during pregnancy while you wait for your bundle of joy. Include special messages about what you wish for your child. Document advice, family traditions, memories of your own childhood, and important lessons learned from your own life. Have other family members add their own messages. Embellish the cover with photos of family, pets, your home, the ultrasound, etc. Continue the journal with memories of your child's early development.

A grandparenting journal - Add images of old family snapshots to the cover, including small ones and larger ones, those in color as well as snapshots in sepia or black and white. Then, ask a grandparent to document his or her life story. Consider providing Grandpa a written list of questions as writing prompts. For example: "Describe your religious life as a child," and "How did you first meet Grandma, and how did you know she was 'the one?'"

A one-of-a kind school notebook - Get crafty alongside your tween or teen and let them design their own notebook for school.

Anyone can transform a plain composition book using photos and a few basic craft tools,
Anyone can transform a plain composition book using photos and a few basic craft tools, | Source
Materials Needed
color photocopies of photographs
black & write marbled composition book
scissors
ModPodge
1" wide foam paint brush
patterned Duct Tape
glitter glue (optional)

Helpful Products for Making the Notebook

AllyDrew Vintage Damask Masking Tape Japanese Washi Tape, set of 3
AllyDrew Vintage Damask Masking Tape Japanese Washi Tape, set of 3

Beautiful as well as sturdy, this Damask Duct Tape is a perfect way to embellish your craft project.

 
Mead Composition Book, Wide Ruled, 9.75 x 7.50 Inch Sheet Size, Black Marble, Bookbound, 100 Sheets (09910)
Mead Composition Book, Wide Ruled, 9.75 x 7.50 Inch Sheet Size, Black Marble, Bookbound, 100 Sheets (09910)

This marble composition notebooks has a sturdy cover, a binding, and is ready for you to craft away!

 

Instructions for Making the Photo-Embellished Journal

To create your journal, follow these easy steps:

  1. Select a variety of personal photos. Also consider cutting out a few images and text from magazines. For example, clip out letters of different sizes, fonts, and colors to spell out your name or "Journal."
  2. Obtain color photocopies of your images on white copy paper. Do not overlap your images when you copy them. I chose to photocopy the magazine clippings, too, so their look and feel would be similar to my snapshots.
  3. Cut out the photocopied images and arrange them as desired on the front cover of the composition book. Overlap them slightly. Use ModPodgeTM glue to secure each photo to the composition book in a collage arrangement. Make sure the photos entirely cover the composition book and extend precisely to its borders, with the exception of the left-hand side. Do not extend the photos past the composition book's black binding tape. Ensure that the images have no loose edges or wrinkles. Allow the glue to dry.
  4. Apply several coats of ModPodgeTMon top of your collage, allowing the glue to dry between coats. The glue can appear opaque when first applied, but it is transparent when dried. If you want to get truly fancy, before applying the last layer of ModPodgeTM, use glitter glue to accent small portions of your collage. Permit your work to completely dry before adding a final sealing layer of ModPodgeTM.
  5. When the front side is complete, repeat the process with the back cover.
  6. When both sides of the composition book have been embellished, cut a piece of duct tape the length of the binding. Apply the duct tape to the completed notebook, placing it on top of the black binding. It will overlap with your photos slightly.

Memories Outside, Treasures Inside

Your keepsake box will be a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Your keepsake box will be a one-of-a-kind treasure. | Source

Project 3: Keepsake Box

Store treasured mementos in a one-of-a-kind keepsake box. Add your photos to a kraft plain paper mache box and you have a customized work of art. Paper mache boxes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, including round, oval, hexagon, rectangle, square, and heart-shaped.

Stroll through the aisle of your local craft store or search Amazon.com. You'll find that paper mache boxes have been specially designed to meet a variety of functional purposes: recipe boxes, tissue boxes, jewelry boxes, and a even a box purse.

Think of all the possibilities!

ModPodge and a little creativity transformed a plain kraft paper mache box.
ModPodge and a little creativity transformed a plain kraft paper mache box. | Source
Materials Needed
color photocopies of photographs
kraft paper mache box
scissors
ModPodge glue
1" wide foam paint brush
Secure each photo using ModPodge, ensuring that there are no loose edges or wrinkles.
Secure each photo using ModPodge, ensuring that there are no loose edges or wrinkles. | Source

Instructions for the Keepsake Box

  1. Choose a variety of personal photos based on the size of your box. Square and rectangular boxes are easiest to work with.
  2. Obtain color photocopies of your images on regular white copy paper.
  3. Cut out your photocopied images. Use ModPodgeTM glue to secure them to the surface of the box in a collage formation. Make sure there are no rough edges. Allow the ModPodgeTM to dry. Work on the base and lid separately. For the lid, gently fold the photos over the edge of the box and glue the loose edge to the inside. If you are using a box with curved edges (e.g., round, oval), reduce the chance of creases in your final product by working with smaller images and avoiding the use of excess glue under the photos.
  4. Apply several protective coats of ModPodgeTMon top of your collage. Allow the glue to dry between coats. (Note: The glue can appear opaque when first applied, but it dries clear.)
  5. When the sides are dry, repeat the process with the bottom of the box.

Nifty Products for Making A Keepsake Box

Now, Tell Us How You Did

Hopefully these projects have inspired you to make practical use of your photos. Photos were meant to be seen and enjoyed, so don't hide them.

Let us hear from you if you've been able to use these ideas. We'd love to learn about

  • your experience with the project(s),
  • others' reactions to your work of art, and
  • any fun twists that you added.

Happy crafting!

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Susan - Thank you for the kind kudos. I do hope you are able to try it. It always gets a huge reaction from the receivers.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Heidi - Thanks so much! It was a BIG surprise to me. Have a great week.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 22 months ago from Arkansas USA

      Love these family photo gift ideas! I wouldn't have thought to print pictures that way on regular paper so it could be used on craft items. Great examples! Congrats on today's Hub of the Day!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Heidi - Thank you! It was a big surprise!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 22 months ago from Chicago Area

      Such a cool idea for the holidays! BIG congrats on Hub of the Day. Well deserved. Sharing on Twitter, too. Cheers!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      Kristen- There are so many things that can be done with those photos! I made my grandmother a family photo quilt, for example.

      Sorry to hear about your mother. You may not have photos, but you have the memories.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 22 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Flourish, my friend, this was a terrific and thoughtful idea on using old photos for crafty ideas on so many special occasions. I love them all! I wish I kept my mother's photo albums last year before I threw them away after she died. I did know she did make shadow boxes, which was close enough to keepsake boxes. Congrats on HOTD!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      ChitrangadaSharan - I didn't know until your comment! Thanks for stopping by and for the alert. Have a great week!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 22 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations for the HOTD!

      These are brilliant ideas and so creative. I have always loved clicking pictures and thus I have so many rare, old and lovely photographs of my family. Due to the digital cameras we hardly go back to our paper photos.

      Thanks for the reminder and I am going to try some of your suggestions.

      Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Anna - It's a fun and personal way to let someone know you care. People really love to see themselves in these photo craft projects. Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment!

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      These are great ideas. Inexpensive, personal and very creative. I think I will give the wrapping paper a try, simple to make and it looks great.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Mariewj - I'm glad you found this useful for all those photos! I hope you get a chance to try the projects out.

    • profile image

      mariewj 3 years ago

      I was actually looking for ideas on what to do with photos for some thoughtful Christmas gifts and here I found a whole lots of inspiration. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Crafty - People love to see photos of themselves and loved ones on practical items (gift wrap, the memory box, journal). When my grandmother was in the hospital a few months ago, I gave her the memory box pictured, and it was quite the conversation starter with every nurse, visitor, doctor and cleaning person who entered her room. She was undergoing major heart surgery then rehabilitation afterwards and was especially fond of seeing photos of her own daddy and mama. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      What fun and creative ways to use old photos! I have a ton in a bag in my closet that I was going to scrapbook with, but I can see how these ideas would make great gifts!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Dolores - Placemats are a great idea. I could see using them for kids who do not see grandparents and other far-away relatives all that often (or just for displaying photos of the kids' younger selves). Great idea. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I like the keepsake box the best - it's lovely! I once made a couple of place mats from family photographs. I had them blown up and laminated!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Au fait - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. Your idea of a photo tag is a cute idea!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I love crafting but there is so little time for everything I have to do even before considering them. I do find time on rare occasions, or more accurately, take time.

      You present some great ideas here and those people who like to make thing for Christmas need to get started pretty soon if they're going to be done in time. This hub has great ideas for gifts.

      One thing I would add -- using photos on name tags instead of names. Crafted in the right way, the name tag could become a keepsake and even an ornament on the Christmas tree -- an additional little tie on to the main gift.

      Enjoyed reading this hub!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Happyboomernurse - Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing. We love to keep happy memories alive this way. I hope you are able to try these easy projects!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      Wow! These photo craft ideas are terrific.

      I especially love the gift wrap and journal projects.

      You did a great job putting this hub together and including so many suggestions on how to personalize gifts.

      Thanks for sharing this info.

      Voted up across the board except for funny, and shared.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      btrbell - Glad you like these. They are fun and easy to make and are great reminders of loved ones near and far. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Cute idea! Thank you! This is one I will definitely do!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the visit, Rebecca! I do hope you are able to try one of these fun projects.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I have loads of old photos and wondering what to do with them. Thanks for these cool ideas!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the read, comment, and vote, moonlake! I appreciate the time that you took to stop by!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I love your ideas their so easy to do and I would think people really enjoy getting wrapping paper with family on it. Thanks so much for sharing. Voted up...

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Rajan, for the read, comment and share. Rediscovering old memories tucked away can be fun and bring people together. Hope you have a chance to take a look at your old photos sometime soon.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Beautiful and so creative! I love these ideas for making personal gifts that are personal and bring back fond memories.

      Voted up, useful and beautiful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you, livingsta, for the read, comment and vote! I hope you have an opportunity to try one of these. They are fun to make and get rave reviews from recipients. Thanks for stopping by!

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is so beautiful. What a brilliant idea?!?! Thank you for sharing this with us. I am sure anyone will love such gifts! Thank you for sharing this with us. Voted up useful and interesting. Sharing!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      DREAM ON, thank you for the nice comment. I gave the keepsake box to my grandmother who is recuperating from a heart operation in the hospital, and it was a huge hit. She absolutely loved seeing all the people who loved her most. I filled the box with hand lotion, homemade goodies, and other small items. It was a great pick-me up and conversation starter, and one of the nurses even wanted to make one for her own mother. Hope you can use the idea with your photos!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 4 years ago

      What a great idea.So helpful and now I have to pull out those dusty old pictures from under the bed and back of my clothes closet.I never heard of modge podge glue before.It makes everything so much nicer.Pictures are so much better shared than left to look at on a rainy day.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Glad you enjoyed these, Kathryn Stratford! I hope you get the chance to try them at some point. Thanks for the read and the follow!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      These are very creative projects! I would have never thought of having photos copied, and used as wrapping paper. How clever! I also like your "Over the Hill" gag gift. That is funny!

      Thanks for sharing these with us. I am sure I will find use for these in the future!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Glad you enjoyed it. When I have used it, it has been a tremendous hit! Hope you're able to use the idea. Thanks for the read.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      I love the idea of family photo gift wrap for extra-special gifts!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you, easylearningweb! I hope you'll be able to use these ideas. They were fun projects that got great reactions from the people in them as well as others who saw them.

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 4 years ago

      Great hub and wonderful ideas! I have made posters and collages in past, but I love your idea for the keepsake box. :-)

      Voted up and useful!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you, kidscrafts! We put goodies such as hand lotion and candy in the box and gave it to my grandmother as a gift. Didn't even need to wrap it. I appreciate your read and comment.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Very nice hub FlourishAnyway! I did several montages of pictures when I was a teacher to celebrate the 10 years of the school.

      I love the idea of the pictures on the box.... just brilliant! It makes a very special gift!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the read and the encouraging comments, agusfanani. I hope you can put your old photos to great practical use.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

      Very interesting and those projects look workable. I'd like to practice them so that I can make good use of my old photos . Thank you for sharing this beautiful, useful, interesting hub.