On the 12th and Final Day, I Gave a Traditional Gift

Well, it is here. The final post for Christmas gift ideas. This year will be the tenth anniversary of our family calendar. Not only do I include family photos and all of the standard holidays, my family calendar has all school dates and special school events for the grandkids. If it is your birthday or anniversary, a picture of you is on that calendar day. If you have a special reunion or favorite sport event, it is highlighted.

I would be lost without this calendar. I know my mom would too. It helps me keep track of my siblings and their families since we don’t live very close to each other. It also acts like a little yearbook. When I started giving this gift, my second niece had just been born. Now there are 9 grandkids in our family! What special traditions do you have for your extended family?

The Template: I built a massive Word document with tables and text boxes. Each year, I open the old calendar and update the months. I just checked out Shutterfly, and they now offer the option to customize the small “day” squares as well as the photos in the top page where the name of the month is listed. I am sure other photo websites are beginning to offer more flexibility in what you can add to your calendar. I may change over to Shutterfly this year after testing out the options.

The Months: I include pictures that relate to the specific month. For example, April this past year had all of the Easter pictures of the grandkids. If there is a month that does not have related pictures, I can dedicate that page to the grandparents or one specific sibling and his/her family.

The Dates: It is usually pretty easy to go to school websites and get a calendar of the current academic year. I cannot always get the dates for the following academic year, so sometimes school dates won’t go beyond June. I also include items like Final 4 (for my dad and brother) and Kentucky Derby (for my husband) and Mardi Gras (for me). It is fun to add dates that are not national holidays but are special events for my family.

The Photos: I keep a file on my computer throughout the year. Any time a family member forwards a picture, I save it to my calendar folder. OK, I will be honest. I have a main calendar folder with sub-folders of all the past calendars listed by year. Within those sub-folders are 12 sub-sub-folders, so everything can be saved by month.

The Printing: I save the document as a PDF and have it printed at FedEx Office. It is color printed on white cardstock, front and back. I have spiral binding inserted at the top and ask for a hole to be drilled at the bottom for hanging.

Thank You: Thank you, Beth. You inspired me to start this tradition many years ago when I saw a calendar your sister made for all of your family members!

On the 8th Day, I Gave Photo Gifts

I try not to give a picture of my kids in a silver frame to the grandparents every year, but it is hard to avoid. To be honest, someone in my family is getting something that is photo related at Christmas. First of all, I love photos. Secondly, it is just too hard to bypass once there are grandkids and family get togethers and new babies. However, you do not have to give a photo in a frame. There are many cool photo related gifts available. Here are some I like. What unique photo gifts have you found?

Idea 1: Easy123Art will take your digital photo and turn it into a paint by number. I gave my brother and sister-in-law a paint by number of one of their wedding photos the year they got married. These are not a child’s paint by number. One of my Atlanta friends completed two of these of her children, and they looked like professional paintings. She did say they take time and work.

Idea 2: Kolo 5×7 Vineyard albums are paper photo albums that hold 12 photos.. They come in a variety of colors. If there has been a special family trip or event, I will complete an album for a gift. When I went with my husband’s family to Yellowstone, I made albums for his parents and sister to remember the trip. When my whole family came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I made albums for everybody with fun family pictures from the parades. The albums are little “best of” collections. I keep a huge basket of them in my living room, and guests browse through them– or I browse through them when I need a little pick me up.

Idea 3: Have a photo turned into a postage stamp. There is a surcharge, but these are actual USPS postage stamps. If you do not mind paying a little extra, these are fun for baby announcements, holiday cards, or wedding thank you notes.

Idea 4: Smartphone covers or e-reader covers can be made with a special photo. My husband had one made as a Mother’s Day gift for my iPhone. He used Zagg.

Idea 5: Have photos inserted into a set of Tervis Tumblers. A good friend saved invitations from parties she hosted and mailed them to Tervis. She has a set of “party cups” with all of her party invitations sealed inside. There are some size limitations.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts

I know; it is a little early for holiday gift ideas. But I am an early shopper, and some of my fab ideas need a little lead time. I decided to post 12 of my best holiday gift ideas over the next month or so– all price ranges. These are gifts that work for mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, in-laws, grown-ups, children, and close friends. In return, please share your great gift ideas with me! Every year, I need a new arsenal when shopping for the 20+ people in my extended family.

Gift Idea #1: You will need 6 to 8 weeks for this first gift idea, so plan ahead. Order a unique watercolor portrait. Susan Woodard creates sketch portraits of children, animals, brides and grooms, and homes. Even though she does not paint the features on the faces, it is amazing how she captures people’s personalities in her paintings. I originally found Susan in New Orleans and had her paint a portrait of my two children. Since then, she has painted two 5×7 wedding portraits for a wedding gift for my sister (Aunt B), a sketch portrait of all of the grandchildren for my parents, and a painting of my home in New Orleans when we moved.

What to Do: E-mail Susan a jpg image. The photo must show above the head(s) to below the feet. She prices each piece based on the number of people or subjects. If you include something like a wagon or bike, that usually counts as a subject. You can pay an additional fee for the copyright to your painting and scan the portrait to use on a holiday card or personalized stationery. This is a special gift and is on the high end of my holiday price range.

 

P.S. Do not forget about the Gift Card Wallet Giveaway! It ends Sunday.