A Practical Gift Solution
What do you get for those who already have everything? How do you come up with something really special while staying within your budget? The answer came to me while cleaning my closets over the summer.
I ran across a large cardboard box of family photos. As I began sorting by the decade, I realized that in no time at all I had filled a gallon-size ziploc bag with just Christmas pictures alone! That's when I had a brilliant idea: why not compile those photos and add a soundtrack to share with my extended family? It would be perfect for the holidays! The gift was so well received that I now recommend it for all occasions including weddings, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother's Day.
To get started, you will need the following equipment: a computer, scanner, CD burner, CD-R discs, and some type of slideshow software.
Search through photo albums and boxes for favorite pictures and ask other family members to contribute. There is no limit to the type of format: polaroids, Instamatic, 3x5, 4x6, etc. Slides can be converted too. Once you have them, gang them up on the glass of a flatbed scanner, copy, and send them to your computer.
Step 1: Select your favorite photos.
Step 2: Send images to the computer.
Step 3: Select your software program and make a DVD.
There are many types of slideshow software available for both novice and professional applications. Basic computer editing programs like Final Cut Pro and others can be used for photo slideshows with video clip additions and music. These give a bit more creative leverage. Slideshow specific software like PRO-ShowGold 6 can be easily downloaded from your computer and is compatible with Windows 8. This program has built-in editing capability too! Some other easy- to- use programs include Photo Stage Slideshow, Kodak EasyShare, and Wondershare for both Mac and Windows 8/7/Vista/ XP. Here is a link to the Top 10 programs for 2015: http://photo-slideshow-software-review.toptenreviews.com/proshow-review.html
You will need a blank CD which has 700MB of space. An average photo is approx. 1MB and a song in MP3 format about 6MB, so there should be ample room for a nice display of pictures with favorite music from start to finish. You can adjust the settings for the time lapse between each picture. A good general rule is about 3-5 sec. although some may prefer a longer delay for detailed and unfamiliar pictures or those with impaired vision.
Whether you decide on a chronological order or random selection, drop the uploaded pictures into the program and select "Create CD" when done. This will burn your pictures to your disc. Your computer will prompt you to select additional copies if needed.
Step 4: Customize your DVD w/ a personal graphic design.
Giving your disc a professional customized finish:
All major printer brands today offer models with a CD/ DVD printing option. These built-in templates allow you to print customized covers from a graphic library or your own uploaded images with a variety of fonts and effects. My personal favorite is the affordable Epson Artisan 730 which is a combination printer, scanner, and FAX machine.
Step 5: Put the disc in a sturdy sleeve, write a personal note, address it, and drop in the mailbox.
The Gateway CD folders are economical and easy to use. I have bought them in 10 packs and decorated them with with thin fabrics and ribbon, rice papers, rubber stamp designs, and customized photographic labels. The paper surface also accepts fine point permanent marker like sharpie with crisp detail. It's fun to get creative in making a one of a kind presentation!
The gift of a custom DVD which features audio/visual memorabilia will be treasured by both young and old. It is a great way to remember and celebrate the lives of lost loved-ones and to introduce geneaology and traditions to new family members. Packaging can be as simple or as sophisticated as desired from ready-made mailers to beautifully hand-crafted photo-frame sleeves of artisan papers and trims.
Boxes of pictures and bulky photo albums are impractical for sharing with a group and can't easily be sent to family and friends who live far away. Personalized DVDs can be viewed on both computer and TV, so they are a good choice for a person with limited access such as an elderly family member in a convalescent home, a soldier overseas, or someone stationed to work in a remote place. They are economical, fun to make, and sure to bring both laughter and sentimental tears. They will be watched over and over again and cherished through the years.
© 2012 Catherine Tally