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7 Homemade Photo Crafts That Make Great Gifts

By Casey Slide

mother and babyEvery family seems to have a member who either has everything, or desires nothing – yet we still feel obligated to give them a gift during the holidays. Oftentimes, too much money is spent on a gift they barely use.

This year, give up on buying expensive gifts. If you have children, make something that everyone in your family will love: homemade gifts featuring pictures of your kids. Not only will they love these gifts, but they’re fun crafts to make and they will save you time and money as opposed to wandering through the crowded shopping malls.

Here are seven ideas I used to create homemade holiday crafts using pictures of my baby, as well as the prices I paid for supplies (not including prices for supplies I already owned or was able to re-purpose from things found around my home).

Photo Gifts Your Family Will Love

1. Photo Jigsaw Puzzle

This is an amazing gift idea to keep your family busy and laughing for hours. Not only is this a fun activity, it makes a wonderful keepsake. It can be put away and reused once the baby is older and can help, or it can be framed.

Time: At least 30 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Approximate Cost: $14.00

Supplies:

  • Enlarged digital photo of baby: $2.99
  • Large piece of cardboard
  • X-Acto knife: $2.55
  • White glue: $4.00
  • Acrylic spray: $4.50
  • Old puzzle or dollar store puzzle (optional)
  • Additional copy of baby’s photo to be used as a reference

Instructions:

  1. Choose a digital photo of your baby that you’d like to turn into a jigsaw puzzle. Enlarge the photo to the desired size and print two copies. To choose the best size to make your puzzle, look at other puzzles you own as a guide.
  2. Using white glue, paste your photo onto a large piece of cardboard. Once the glue has set, use your X-Acto knife to trim the excess cardboard.
  3. To protect your puzzle from wear and tear, spray a layer or two of acrylic on top of your photo. Refer to the instructions on the spray bottle to know how long to let the acrylic dry before proceeding.
  4. Once your photo is protected by acrylic, it is time to cut it into pieces. One way to do this is to first turn your picture face down, and then, using an old puzzle or a dollar store puzzle, trace the outline of the pieces onto the backside of your picture. Another method for making the pieces is to freestyle how they will interlock.
  5. Using your X-ACTO knife, cut along the lines to create the puzzle pieces. Place the pieces into an old puzzle box to be reused for your new puzzle.
  6. Glue the additional copy of the baby’s photo onto the front of the box.

My Puzzle:
I opted to freestyle the cutting of my own pieces to give my puzzle a more abstract construction. This is also easier and less time-consuming than tracing an existing puzzle. It also allowed me to cut my pieces face-up, which I found to be easier and cleaner when using my X-Acto knife.

photo puzzle

2. Photo Soap

This is the perfect gift for any woman in your baby’s life. I have found that grandmothers in particular are excited to receive baby photo soap. Just like the photo jigsaw puzzle, photo soap is another two-in-one gift combining decoration and functionality. Also, making homemade soap is a great activity for your older children.

Time: One hour

Difficulty: Medium

Approximate Cost: $11.50 to make six soap bars

Supplies:

  • Baby photo: $0.19 for each photo
  • Laminating sheets: $1.79
  • Soft cloth
  • Round or rectangular soap mold: $2.49
  • Transparent glycerin soap: $5.99
  • Heat-resistant glass container to melt soap
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Spray bottle
  • Soap colorant (optional; I used food coloring)
  • Soap fragrance (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Choose the baby photo you would like to embed into soap and trim it so that it will fit into your soap mold. Laminate the photo by carefully removing the backing of the laminating sheet while firmly pressing down on the sheet with a soft cloth. Trim the excess laminating sheet so that it fits perfectly atop your photo.
  2. Cut the glycerin soap into small pieces. Put approximately one cup of the soap in a heat-resistant glass container and melt in the microwave for 45 seconds, making sure the soap does not boil. Stir the soap gently with a wooden spoon to melt the remaining pieces (without causing bubbles).
  3. Pour no more than 1/3 of the soap into your soap molds, and let it solidify. This will only take a few minutes. Do not pour any more than 1/3 of the soap in the mold, as the more you pour in, the more difficult it will be to see the picture.
  4. Pour rubbing alcohol inside a spray bottle, and spray the top of the solidified soap. Next, place your baby’s photo face down on top of the soap.
  5. Repeat the second step and add the colorant and fragrance, if you would like.
  6. Pour in the second batch of soap. Let the soap dry completely before removing it from the mold. You can put the molds in the refrigerator to expedite the drying.

My Soap:
I found that the most challenging step in this process is making sure that the base soap does not get bubbly. Not only is there a chance that the soap will boil while being heated, it can start to form bubbles when you stir it. In fact, your soap may already contain some bubbles when you purchase the base. Make sure that your soap does not boil while melting, and stir slowly.

photo soap

3. Decorative Magnets and Tins

Here is a crafty idea to brighten up any kitchen or office. These magnets and tins are sure to make your loved one’s day as they are hard at work.

Time: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Very easy

Approximate Cost: $3.50

Supplies:

  • Baby photo: $0.19
  • Metal tin with glass lid (found at craft stores): $1.29
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Small magnet (if choosing to make a magnet): $1.99
  • Glue (if choosing to make a magnet): $4.00

Instructions:

  1. Choose the baby photo you would like to use and print it out on printer photo paper. I like to print out the picture in black and white to give the magnets and tins a more sophisticated look.
  2. Using the tin’s lid and a pencil, trace the size of the lid onto the photo, and then use scissors to cut out the photo.
  3. Attach your photo to the lid by placing the picture up into the underside of the lid so that the picture shows through the glass. If you cut the picture just right, it will stay in place on its own. Otherwise, you can use a little bit of tape.
  4. If you are making a magnet, glue a small magnet to the bottom of the container that goes with the lid.

My Tin:
This is the most simple of all the crafts I created, and the least time-consuming. While I really like using black and white photos, I used a picture of my son in his homemade Halloween costume.

photo tin

4. Photo Booth-Style Photos

You don’t need a photo booth to get that iconic look of four photos in a column. By making your own set of photo booth-style pics, you can make them larger and sturdier to be hung on your loved one’s walls.

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Cost: $9.50

Supplies:

  • Four pictures of your baby at four different ages, of the same shape and size: $0.99 each
  • White foam board: $1.99
  • Pencil
  • X-Acto knife: $2.55
  • Glue: $4.00
  • Wall hanging fixture: $0.99

Instructions:

  1. Choose four photos of your baby at four different ages, perhaps at birth, three months old, six months old, and nine months old. Make sure these photos are the same shape and size. This project looks great with black and white photos.
  2. Arrange the four photos on the foam board in a vertical line, in sequence of age. Mark on the foam board where the photos need to be placed, as well as where to cut the foam board in order to have a long, thin piece resembling a photo booth strip.
  3. Use your X-Acto knife to cut the black foam board.
  4. Glue the four photos on the foam board and then glue the wall hanging fixture towards the top on the back so that it can be hung on the wall.

My Photos:
This is a fairly easy project. However, depending on how meticulous you want to be (creating a perfect rectangular strip and equalizing the spaces between photos), this can be slightly more time consuming than you may first estimate.

photo booth crafts

5. Magnetic Frame

This is another great project to make with your kids. You can combine the artistic abilities of your children with the cuteness of their baby photos.

Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Approximate Cost: $4.00

Supplies:

  • Baby pictures: $0.19 for each 4×6 picture
  • Drawing done by child on paper. Be sure that the drawing includes windows (such as a house or vehicle)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Laminate sheets: $6.99 for 10 or $0.69 each
  • Magnetic tape or sheets: $2.99

Instructions:

  1. Have your child draw a picture of an object that has windows, such as a house or a vehicle. Leave the area inside the window blank.
  2. Cut out the windows, and trim excess paper around the edges of the drawing.
  3. Choose a photo (or multiple photos) of your baby. When placed behind the cut-out windows, only the head of the child should show through. Tape the pictures in place.
  4. Laminate the drawing and photos.
  5. Attach the magnetic tape or sheets to the back of the laminated project.

My Magnet:
My son is too young to draw, so I drew a train, which is something he loves. When I showed him the final product, his face lit up. I don’t think we’ll be giving this craft away as a gift anytime soon!

photo magnet

6. Mosaic Coaster

Impress your friends and family members by creating a tiled mosaic coaster featuring your baby’s photo embedded in the center. Not only is this a fun project, it will also give you some practice if you ever plan to replace your home flooring with tile.

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Approximate Cost: $31.50 for four coasters

Supplies:

  • 1×1 inch baby picture: $0.19 for each photo
  • 1×1 inch clear glass or lamination paper: $1.79
  • Mosaic coaster molds: $6.99 for four
  • Tiles: $7.99
  • Mosaic adhesive: $4.99
  • Grout: $3.99
  • Blow dryer
  • Sponge
  • Superglue: $4.99

Instructions:

  1. Cut the mosaic adhesive to fit into the bottom of the mosaic coaster mold, and place the adhesive inside.
  2. Arrange tiles on top of the adhesive leaving the middle empty. Don’t stress too much over the spacing of the tiles. Even if they are slightly uneven, the final product will still look amazing. The unevenness only adds character and a homemade touch.
  3. Laminate your photo and make sure it fits well into the empty spot in the center of the coaster.
  4. You have two options for your photo: You can either put the picture underneath a 1×1 inch piece of glass, or you can put it over the grout. If you choose the first option, insert your picture and glass into the mosaic now.
  5. Using a blow dryer, heat the adhesive until it melts. This should take 30 seconds at most. Let the adhesive dry and the tiles cool.
  6. Once everything is set, put grout on your coaster and smooth it out until all the spaces are filled. If you are going with the second picture option, you will have a square inch area in the middle with grout. Wipe away any excess grout with a sponge.
  7. If you chose the second option for your picture, wait until your grout dries. Then, superglue your photo onto the large grouted square.

My Coaster:
I was surprised at how easy this craft was to complete. Although my tiles were not perfectly placed, my coaster looks professional. I went with the second option for my picture only because I had a difficult time locating a small glass square. If you have a small picture frame, the glass from the frame could be used.

mosaic coaster

7. Picture Clock

This is a surprisingly simple project to complete. All you need is a clock kit and a little motivation – but your friends and family members don’t need to know that! This is another project that is sure to impress.

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy to medium

Approximate Cost: $8.50

Supplies:

  • 12 pictures of your baby (if your baby is older than one year of age, I suggest using a picture for every month of your baby’s first year of life): $0.19 each
  • Clock-making kit (found at craft stores): $5.99
  • Old CD
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • AA battery: $0.25

Instructions:

  1. Assemble the clock kit according to the directions. Use the backside of an old CD as the clock face.
  2. Insert a battery into your clock to make sure that the clock works properly before proceeding.
  3. Cut out the pictures of your baby. The size you decide to make your pictures is up to you, but remember that they will all need to fit onto the CD. You may need to rearrange and re-cut.
  4. Once your clock is working and your pictures are arranged properly, glue them onto your CD clock face.

My Clock:
I took a photo of my son in the same spot every month of his first year of life, so these pictures lent well to the idea of the clock. To ensure that my pictures were all the same size, I used the first picture that I cut as a guide to trim the remaining 11 pictures.

photo clock

Final Word

All of these homemade gifts are simple crafts that can be completed in an afternoon, and they also make for a fun holiday activity that you can do with your older children. These inexpensive gifts are enjoyable to make, and will be cherished by your friends and family for a lifetime. Happy crafting!

Do you have any photo craft ideas that would make great gifts?

(photo credit: Casey Slide, Shutterstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • Bencamom

    The picture clock is GREAT. Can you tell me approx what size pic to start with? I’m thinking a wallet size would work, but not sure. Thanks..

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