I don’t remember how old I was when my mother brought home two heart-shaped boxes. She set them down on the kitchen table in front of my sister and me.
“Open them,” she said, waiting to see how we would react.
“Make Your Own Valentines,” I read on the front of the box before lifting the top.
Inside was a treasure: crispy paper doilies that we had to pry apart with our fingernails, soft, downy feathers that we rubbed against our cheeks, and glistening jewels with adhesive on their flat backs. There were also red, pink and white paper hearts, heart stickers, and a red pen. What more could a little girl ask for?
My mother bought these kits every year until we became too old to do the valentine exchange at school.
When my daughter was young, I also bought her kits and art supplies to make her own valentines. Like my mother, I believed not only in the power of creativity, but also that more care and thought goes into handmade gifts than many store-bought ones.
In fact, when I cleaned out my parents’ home in 2015, I came across a valentine Robyn had made for my Dad, a widower, when she was 7 – I know because my Dad wrote 97 on it. That tells me it meant something to him that he wrote the date and saved it. I think he appreciated her smart-aleck humor.
As family photo keepers, we know the power of photos to tell our stories, to document the events in our lives, and even to show our love. So it’s only natural that photos and gift-giving go hand-in-hand.
Handmade Photo Present Ideas
I wrote earlier about photo present ideas you can order online. In this post I want to share some ideas that you can make, quickly and easily, at home. Most require very little in the way of materials and are not hard to make. I’ve linked to the source articles, which include a list of materials and a tutorial.
For Your Significant Other
Over the years I’ve given my husband many photo gifts and other tokens of my love. He took them to work and kept them in his office. In 2017 he started working from home, and when I walk into his home office, there they all are – on the wall, on his desk, or on his side table. He might be running out of room, but that will never stop me! (And I don’t think he minds.)
1. Now & Then Framed Photo Set
Whether you’ve been together 3 years or 30 years, you probably look at least a little different than you did when you first met. Find a picture of the two of you from your early days and another more recent one. Get them printed in the same size and orientation, such as 5×7 portrait, and put them in a double frame for a “Now & Then” throwback.
2. 52 Things I Love About You
This adorable little bookis made from a deck of playing cards. I think it can be made even more meaningful with the addition of photos. You could either substitute out some of the “things” for photos cropped down to size, or they can be placed on opposite pages. The tutorial includes instructions for using any software in which you can create text boxes, but I bet the digital scrapbooking gals could really take off with this idea!
3. Memory Key Chains
Although the author of the tutorial for these key chains intends for them to be used as wedding favors, they could be used for any reason – including Valentine’s Day. You need an inkjet printer and a few craft supplies, and you are on your way. This gift could also be good for a new driver or anyone, not just your special one. It just depends on the photo.
4. Memories in a Jar
These memories in a jar can commemorate a special date, a special trip, or just the relationship in general. Additional props can be added, or use a black and white photo and fill the jar with olive oil for a vintage look. The tutorial shows both options.
For the Kids in Your Life
Here are some cute photo present ideas for kids.
5. LEGO Picture Puzzles
LEGO Duplos can be used to create a fun puzzle for any age child. The kids will enjoy not only putting the puzzle together to create the complete picture, but also mixing and matching to create silly photos. Be sure to give 2-3 puzzles, even if there’s only one child so they can make their wild and crazy creations.
6. Photo Bracelet
Any little girl would love this photo bracelet although it’s actually nice enough for a mom or a grandma, too! It’s made from a really big popsicle stick (aka super jumbo craft sticks) and decorated with small square photos.
7. Personalized Bookmarks
These fun photo bookmarks can be made using preplanned photos, or any photo of a person that can be cut out from the whole photo. Great for any bookworm in your life.
For the Other People You Care About
Sometimes there are other people we like to give Valentine’s gifts to – our best friend, a child’s teacher, or an elderly relative. Here are some ideas for them.
8. Family Photo Tree
This family tree makes a great conversation piece as well as a heartfelt gift. I also think it could be used for all types of displays – grandchildren, a child’s friends, classmates, or cousins, for example. I would likely cut heart shapes, rather than flower shapes, for Valentine’s Day.
9. Accordion Photo Box
This very easy accordion photo box looks great when it’s finished and is a good gift for anyone with kids/grandkids – or friends – or cousins. You could even give it to your spouse with photos of the two of you over the years.
10. Photo Luminaries
Glowing photo luminaries can add a touch or elegance or fun to the room, depending on the photos chosen. You can put real tea light candles in them or battery operated ones. Dim the lights and enjoy the flickering memories.
I hope these ideas have inspired you. Let me know below which one (or ones) you like the best and might give a try – either this Valentine’s Day or for any other gift-giving occasion.
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