Photo Gift Ideas to Surprise and Delight: Wearable Photo Gifts

man wearing white t-shirt with family photo on it

Inside:  This post is the first in a 3-part series entitled Holiday Photo Gift Ideas and it explores wearable photo gifts.  Get a free printable planner to help you design your photo gift-giving schedule.

Read Part 2 Here

 Read Part 3 Here 

A Holiday Photo Gift Tale (Almost Gone Wrong)

The Christmas my dad bought my mom a slide projector, he knew he was breaking a cardinal rule.  I was around 10 or 12 years old and my sister 2 years younger.  He got us involved in the gift’s presentation, and boy, were we stressed.

My father was a Professional Engineer who worked for the Navy and specialized in engines.  Early in their marriage my mother had established the rule that gifts must not include a motor.  I don’t remember the details, but it may have been after he bought her a vacuum cleaner for Mother’s Day or her birthday.

I’ve written about my childhood on slides.  At this point we had amassed quite a collection and the only way we had to view them was a small electric slide viewer which served one person at a time.

So my father bought a Kodak slide projector along with a screen on which to project the slides.  The projector did, indeed, have a motor to run the fan which kept the high intensity projection light from burning up the slides.  But he had a plan to mitigate that little detail.


The Setup

Christmas tree with lights and presents

One night a few days before Christmas my mom was out last-minute shopping.  My father called my sister and me to the living room where the boxes containing the forbidden items were on the floor, in front of the Christmas tree.  He handed each of us fifty $1 bills and told us to open the boxes and hide them throughout the packaging.  He explained his rationale to us:  My mother would forgive him for the motor because she could buy something special for herself with the $100.

We spent a good part of the next hour doing his bidding.  We stuck them throughout the individual packing materials protecting the projector components  But we soon ran out of places.  So we had to dig deeper and start stuffing them into the pieces of the slide projector itself.  We finally got every bill hidden in and throughout the packing and parts, and my father boxed it all back up and wrapped it in Christmas paper.

I’m sure my mother noticed the large boxes under and behind the tree.  I don’t remember if she said anything, but the next couple of days were torture for me as I worried my parents would get into a fight when we opened our family presents on Christmas Eve.


Phew!  No Fight!

My mother kept it together, probably for our sake.  She believed that Christmas festivities were for children and it was up to the adults to make it magical.  And I think she saw the value in the slide projector.  But I also remember something she said about wishing he would take the time to find out what she wanted and buy it for her himself.

Despite all that, the slide projector and a screen got a lot of use in our family as we would sit together on the couch or on card table chairs, with bowls of popcorn on our laps, and revisit our family memories.  When I was a few years older, my father spent 4 months in Vietnam during the war as a Navy-employed civilian, and although he did not enjoy looking at the slides he took there, my sister and I found the world outside our own fascinating.

My father knew he was breaking an important rule, and he saw the value of the gift outweighing  that rule.  He knew that giving our family the opportunities to view our photos together would not only help us remember our past, but it would enrich our present and maybe even inspire hope for our future.  Although he technically gave it to my mother, it would benefit the family.

My mother always told me that the best gifts have a bit of both the sender and the receiver in them, that it encompasses the relationship between the two.  And that’s why I believe that often the best gift you can give may be a photo gift.  It’s meaningful, affordable (although there are some high-end options), and it often encompasses some kind of story.  I firmly believe we are a people of stories.


Unique Photo Gift Ideas to Surprise and Delight

This post is the first in a 3-part series entitled Holiday Photo Gift Ideas.   This post covers wearable photo gifts.


Download my free holiday gift planner so you can map out what photo gifts you want to give and to whom.  I’ll also add you to my mailing list to receive my weeklyish updates.  I never share your information and there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email.


Wearable Photo Gifts

Custom Photo Socks

As a teen and young adult I always wore crazy socks, but I never had a pair of photo socks!  These Shutterfly socks are cute, and there are lots of other designs to choose from.  Choose the style, upload your recipient’s favorite pet or person, and you have a wonderfully personalized and unique photo gift.


pink and white socks with photo of grandchildren and saying My favorite people call me Grandma
Custom Photo Socks for Grandma from Shutterfly
pair of socks with hearts and dog photo
Custom Photo Socks for a pet lover from Shutterfly

Photo Jewelry & Watches

Shutterfly also has bracelets, bangles, and necklaces.  Besides photo charms, you can optionally add birthstones and initial charms.  You might even want one of these pieces of photo jewelry yourself!


Unique Photo Gift of bangle with photo charm and birthstone
Photo Bangle from Shutterfly


Amazon has quite a selection of photo watches for both men and women.  This one makes a unique photo gift because the photo is engraved, unlike other photo watches which contain ink or paint.  You can optionally add an engraved personalized message on the back.


Photo Watch with engraved photo
Engraved Photo Watch from Amazon


Wearables for Kids

From babies to teens, photo apparel reminds children who loves them (and who they love).  Check out this onesie, this backpack, and this hoodie (for little and big kids).

Baby Onesie with photo of Mom and Dad on it
Photo Onesie from Amazon
kids backpack with family photo on it
Photo Backpack from Shutterfly
Hoodie with photo of dog on it
Photo Hoodie from Shutterfly

Other Wearable (Kinda) Photo Gift Ideas

Although not clothing, a custom photo blanketcan keep someone cozy on cold nights, and a phone can wear a phone casewith a photo to show off someone’s pride and joy. 


blanket with photo collage that says Love you to the moon and back
Photo Blanket from Shutterfly
Photo Collage blanket
Photo Blanket from Personal Throws
Phone Case with photo of family and the word love
Phone Case from Shutterfly

Start Now

Download my free holiday gift planner below so you can keep track of your photo gift ideas.  Be sure to read the rest of the series with many other photo gift ideas.   I’m willing to bet most of these places will have some Black Friday deals.  Start now and you’ll be ready to take advantage of any great sale that pops up.  And you can feel secure that you won’t be breaking any “no motors” rule.



Your Turn

Have you ever received a photo gift?  Comment below and tell us what it was and how it made you feel.


This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you purchase from a link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made at Amazon, again at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for supporting my business!




4 thoughts on “Photo Gifts to be Worn: Photo Gift Ideas Part 1

  1. Denall Moore says:

    Yes. Team framed photo that each player signed. Still have it & I ha Want coaches for over 10 years.

  2. I don’t remember receiving photo gifts, but I give calendars every Christmas full of family photos taken during the year. I love the examples in this article, especially the socks and the engraved watch. Very cool! I’ll bookmark this and come back to it soon.

    • Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for sharing. No one ever gives me photo gifts either, although my daughter gives me paintings. And thanks for the feedback!

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