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Holiday Photo Gifting

See images of your children, pets and projects on unexpectedly useful items

A great cell phone feature is the device’s ability to snap spontaneous photos anytime, anywhere, requiring no loading of film, no special lighting and no tripod (though a selfie stick does occasionally come in handy). Smartphones have a self-contained camera that allows each of us to take and collect photos.

But then what? What do we do with all those photos of our children, grandchildren, pets, plants and travel destinations? Beyond traditional photo albums or picture frames, or storing them on DVDs, what can we do to share all those fabulous shots? The answer is “plenty.” Both local and online merchants are offering an unprecedented variety of create-your-own photo products, allowing even rookie photographers to design extraordinary holiday gifts.

The best gifts I’ve ever given

I discovered a couple of these online shops by accident while Christmas shopping last year. Before long, I was fully absorbed with placing my digital photos into pre-formed templates to create some of the best-received holiday gifts I’ve ever given.

Thanks to Shutterfly.com, likely the internet’s best-known producer of personalized photo books, I used over 70 photos to produce an 11”x 9” full-color, 32-page, hardcover memory book. The book was a gift for my grandson, then a high school senior, and it captured many moments of his final year playing high school football. Knowing a few others who would cherish those same memories, I had book copies made for his parents, grandfather and aunt. The cost per book was under $60. Though the time it took to select and position the photos was considerable, the actual set-up took less than a couple of hours. As gifts go, it was a hit.

My daughters love pictures of their pets as much as photos of their children. For them, I made artsy gifts at Minted.com. Minted uses original graphic designs to create wall hangings, greeting cards, gift wraps and backdrops for personalized paper products. By inserting photos of my grandpups into beautifully designed templates, I personalized a variety of wrapping paper with matching gift tags that my daughters used all year for their own gift-giving. Wrapping paper can be bought in minimum quantities of 5 for about $15. For damage protection, they are delivered rolled in sturdy tube mailers.

Make a mural

MuralsYourWay.com is a site that resolves the problem of a blank wall by covering it fully with a significant photo that you’ve taken. Maybe it’s of a garden, a dream car, or a spectacular sunset loved by your gift recipient. An image rising floor to ceiling is striking on nearly any wall in a home or office and promises long-lasting enjoyment. Murals Your Way sells create-your-own murals in 3 standard sized panels. Prices start at around $150. Simply load your image in .jpg format into the company’s online template, enter your preferred dimensions, choose one of the 6 material selections, then submit your order. It’s that easy.


From photo books to customized wrapping paper, to gift tags or self-sticking labels, my family enjoyed seeing images of their children, pets and project. Most importantly though, these gift ideas gave me a chance to share many of the photos that otherwise would remain largely unseen on my phone.

Local Options

While online merchants offer unique opportunities, there are many independent, locally-owned businesses that can transform your photos into wonderful gifts. As a bonus, many specialize in customizable pieces, allowing you to leave all of the creative problem-solving to the professionals.

American Frame
400 Tomahawk Dr, Maumee.
419-887-8030 | americanframe.com
American Frame’s artists can frame your creations or even print them on canvas, and they offer plenty of tools and guidance for someone looking to frame their work themselves.

We’ll Frame It
328 W Dussel Dr, Maumee.
419-897-0591 | wellframeit.com
Since 1995, We’ll Frame It has been turning Toledo area photos and memorabilia into beautifully designed keepsakes, with plenty of options to choose from.

Laura’s Framing Place
4400 Heatherdowns Blvd, #9.
419-893-7263 | facebook.com/laurasframingplace
Beyond simply framing your treasured photos, Laura’s has plenty of ideas for incorporating their framed works with your home decor.

Frameworks Art and Frame
5660 Mayberry Square E, Sylvania
419-885-8787 | frameworksartandframe.com
Open since 1984, owner Michael Calandra’s shop offers the latest in unique designs as well as classic choices to give your memories the care they deserve.


DeVaul’s Fine Framing
3136 W Sylvania Ave.
419-720-8040 | devaulsframing.com
Designer/framer David Poulson and owner James DeVaul bring over two decades of experience to their custom matting and photo mounting, with a wide variety of options available.


MugCrazy Cow Graphics
Mobile graphics location.
419-466-2108 | crazycowgraphics.com
Visit Toledo’s first mobile print shop to turn your photos into keepsakes, like mugs, shirts or “photo slate” with the image of your choice printed onto stone.

Frame Shop Art Gallery and Gifts
909 S McCord Rd, Holland.
419-868-7101 | hollandframeshop.com
Beyond their tremendous framing work, Frame Shop can turn any photo into a unique work of art, making it look like an oil painting, watercolor or even a line drawing.

2940 Douglas Rd. | 734-308-3948.
Custom photo gifts and jewelry made by designers with over 40 years of experience in photography.

Kohne Camera
120 W South Boundary St., Perrysburg
419-385-9500 | kohnes.com/printing
Plenty of unique photo ideas— cards, canvas, posters, photo books, apparel, wood prints and more— can be found at Kohne.

2022 Adams St. | 419-318-2029.
Jupmode’s custom screenprinting has been seen on clothing, cups and many more items made for promotional purposes and special events. Check them out!

Things Remembered
5001 Monroe St (Franklin Park Mall).
419-474-0486 | thingsremembered.com/stores/toledo-oh-43623
Beautiful 3D photo crystals, storage boxes, snow globes, collages and more can be found at the Franklin Park location of this national keepsake chain.

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