Ideas for Perfectly Personalized Gifts
I love personalized gifts – both to give and to receive. There’s something about having your name on something that makes it more special. And, since a picture says a thousand words, a customized photo gift is even better!
For Grandma’s and Pa’s
· Business Cards – Vistaprint.com
· Photo Coffee Mug – Snapfish.com, Costco.com
· Printed Photo Book – Snapfish.com, Costco.com
Many grandparents and great-grandparents do not know how easy and inexpensive it can be to print personalized business cards and stationery. My 88-year-old Grandma has a very long email address that is cumbersome to write out for new acquaintances. I had 250 beautiful business cards printed and shipped for her for under $10. When she opened them she was so thrilled that her cartwheel nearly landed her in the Christmas tree. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but she was really, really happy. My Grandma also flips for personalized stationery. Personalized stationery is very special, particularly for those who still write get well notes and thank you cards.
My Grandma cherishes her coffee. One year we made her a mug with a photo collage of her and the kiddos. That mug makes her coffee even more enjoyable each time she uses it.
Photo books are always a winner with grandparents and great-grandparents. Pull together a comprehensive memory book. Collect photos from all your relatives and put them in chronological order. Add some narrative text to create a biography of your favorite grandparent’s life. Or create a smaller brag book with fun pictures of the grandkids.
For Working Spouses and Desk-Jockeys
- Photo Calendar
- Photo Mug
- Photo Mouse Pad
- Framed Kiddo Art
If you’re a wife shopping for a hubby who spends most of his days away from home, look for personalized gifts that bring home to work. Find photos that show him having fun with the kids, or that show the kids demonstrating their love for him with a big hug or sloppy toddler smooch. Include the photos in a wall calendar or on a mug that he can have on his desk to keep the warmth of home with him all day long. I make a special calendar for my hubby each year that includes photos of him with the kids. He treasures it so much that I have to print two – one for him to keep safe in a drawer, and the other for his coworkers to mangle as they ooh and aah over our adorable cutie-pies. The first time I made one for him, he literally said, “This is now my most prized possession.”
For my sister-in-law I once made a photo mouse pad that included pictures of her and our kids smiling. It was such a moving collage of happiness that her eyes welled up with tears. Now, how many mouse pads do that?
Do not underestimate the power of framed kiddo art. I love the pictures my kids draw. When you frame a piece of kiddo art, you capture evidence of fleeting childhood whimsy. And their art usually also reflects their latest interests, from begging for a puppy, to drawing cars, trains, and other things that go vroom, to their favorite colors. Our kiddos change and grow up so quickly, but their art shows us what's happening in that little head right now.
For Your Gal Pals
My favorite gift for gals is a travel coffee mug with a customized photo insert of family fun or a fictionalized adventure. What do I mean by fictionalized adventure, you ask? Use Photoshop or its free twin, Paint.net, and paste your friend’s head on to any kind of graphic. If your friend loves Johnny Depp, put your friend’s head on Depp’s love interest from a recent movie. If she’s planning a trip somewhere tropical, put her head on a gorgeous sunbather on a beach. Feel free to go low-tech and clip your pics from a magazine and use some paste to put her head on there. That may be far faster, depending on what you’re trying to do.
There are a million opportunities for silly and fun personalized travel coffee mugs. Make it extra special by slipping a coffee gift card inside!
Kiddos feel that anything with their name on it is special. Cups, toothbrushes, and other personalized items help identify ownership and keep germs from spreading. If you haven’t done so already, maybe now is the time to get your kiddo a personalized ID bracelet with their name, address, and your cell number in case they ever get separated from you. My daughter loves her ID bracelet, it gives me valuable peace of mind, and it’s fun for me to see her wearing one just like I did when I was her age. I ordered my daughter's from AmericanMedical-ID.com.
You can also find books that allow you to slip in a picture of your child, so they appear as the main character throughout the story. My favorite is "When You Grow Up," produced by Hallmark. My daughter loves reading this book over and over again to see her face on the body of a cartoon doctor, baker, astronaut, acrobat, and deep-sea diver.
I draw the line at backpacks and shirts because I don’t want a stranger knowing my kids’ names. A backpack that says “DAVID” in large print across the back makes it just too easy for a stranger to be chummy and pretend he knows a kid or their parents.
Charm necklaces or bracelets provide a unique opportunity for personalization and beauty. For mothers and grandmothers, necklaces and bracelets are perfect for displaying charms to represent each child and grandchild. Select charms that celebrate their loves, accomplishments, and the special place they have in your life. It’s a wonderfully meaningful gift that will give them a warm, fuzzy feeling each time they wear it. Lockets with photos inside are also lovely.
For Far Away Friends and Relatives
Creating a photo slideshow DVD has never been easier. There are several different kinds of programs out there, but I have to advise you not to download one from the internet. I tried that and got a virus that paralyzed my computer for more than a day, and I nearly lost everything on my hard drive. So go to your local electronics store for a hard copy of a program, or order a hard copy online that you can install when it arrives in the mail. I use PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Ultimate.
A photo/video slideshow is relatively easy to put together if you have some computer experience and don’t mind a little trial-and-error. The opportunities for customization are entrancing. If you’re a creative person you should prepare yourself for being totally sucked in. Select the photos, videos, background, and fonts. You can customize the music, as well, which adds an indescribably wonderful dimension of emotion to the pictures.
Once you’ve created your slide show, burn it to a bunch of DVDs. Then you can print round sticky labels from Avery to adhere to the DVD’s. Download the label templates from Avery.com. DVD label creation allows for another opportunity to be creative. The final product is a meaningful, enjoyable and inexpensive gift that will be cherished by everyone in your family. And it will help your distant friends and relatives feel a whole lot closer.
Perfectly Personalized Presents
As you work on any of these gifts, remember to order them early to save on shipping. Also, I suggest organizing your photos before you get to work. Create a special folder on your computer’s desktop and put all of your very best pictures in there. Then, when you’re creating your photo projects, it will be easier to find the best pictures without going through a whole year’s worth of pictures over and over again.
Now you may be thinking, “So many ideas; so little time!” But think about the money you save by making inexpensive and meaningful personalized gifts. Rather than spending $50 to show the depth of your affection with a fancy store-bought item, spend $20 and an hour of your time on a customized gift. According to both math and emotions, personalized presents come out ahead.