by Joy Starlin

The holidays are just around the corner and it's time to start thinking about what to give this holiday season. If you're like the members of my family, you're looking for an inexpensive way to show your family members how much you care, but not break the bank. In our family, all of the adults draw names between ourselves, and have a set budge limit for our gift. Because we are only getting a gift for one family member each, it allows us to take some time formulating the perfect gift idea for that person. Homemade Christmas Gifts are my favorite way to do something special for the person I've picked.

The attic at my mom's can be a scary place - it is crammed full of boxes of everything from old clothes to outdated computer manuals to boxes and boxes of pictures. The boxes of pictures I took away with me when I went to visit one day (with her blessing, of course) so that I could preserve them by scanning them into my computer and burning discs of everything. While I had them, I had such a great time going through them all that I wanted to share the fun. So, when I drew my younger sister's name for Christmas last year, I put together a customized photo book for her that showed her growing up and all of us having fun together over the years. I don't think she was more excited when she got her Cabbage Patch Doll as a kid!

If you decide to put together a homemade Christmas gift from all those old family pictures, the first thing you should do is gather together all the photos you have access to. Since digital photography has become so commonplace in the last 10 years or so, it should be easy to get photos from family if you don't have them yourself. Even if your Great Aunt Bessie won't let you take her precious pictures out of her house, and she has no idea how to run a computer, you can still get copies of her photos if you have a digital camera. Most digital camera's these days will allow you to take a picture of a picture. Just make sure you have good lighting when you take the picture so you don't get any reflections. Your cousins will thank you, too, because more than likely they have been trying to get their hands on these pictures as well! This will also make it easier for you to incorporate pictures into your designs that are of a uniform size, as you will be able to change the dimensions of the picture before you print.

Now that you have the pictures, you'll want to think about what kind of gift will be most appreciated by your recipient. The best way to do this is to think about what that person likes to do for fun, where they like to go on vacation, what they like to fill their house with, etc. Use your answers to these observations to determine what type of gift they would enjoy the most. Is your little sister a coffee fiend? If so, there are tons of places online where you can get a picture printed on the side of a coffee mug, along with any text you might want. Have a set made with different pictures on each and she'll be smiling every morning when she gets her daily dose of caffeine.

Does your sister love to decorate? Look at the types of things she has hanging on her walls and what's most important to her to come up with the right style. Take these style ideas and go down to your local craft store. Pick up an inexpensive album, some ribbons, applique's or other flat items that match her decorating style, get out your hot glue gun and make her a customized photo album based on a particular theme - say, pictures over the years of the two of you together.

Does your father travel a lot? Then maybe a mini photo album would be a good choice for him. You can upload a collection of photos to a digital photo site, pick a layout, insert your photos and print him a hard cover book that will hold up to the rigors of travel. A durable book of photos will be much better for him in long run, as it will not easily wear out. And even if he forgets it, the photos will be online so he can look at them whenever he wants!

There are so many choices out there of things you can do with family photos to convert them into gifts. All it takes is a little time to pull the photos together and a little creativity on your part and you can easily give a gift that will be valued for many years. - 39969

About the Author:
Joy Starlin has spent 20 years developing customized gifts and sharing them with others. Now she is sharing her expertise using her website on photography albums. If you're looking for ideas on giving a personalized photo album to somebody, be sure to click through the link and read the write up.