From the Kenosha News on 12-17-06

Create and share photo gifts

Once you have digital pictures, the possibilities are almost endless what you can do with them. Pictures can make great Christmas cards and/or holiday gifts. Below are some ideas.

VistaPrint.com offers a number of free items you can get, including a desk calendar, photo Christmas cards, and photo magnets. Note that shipping and handling is not an insignificant charge, and you’ll get very frequent e-mails from them after ordering. I ordered some Christmas cards and return address labels, and they turned out nicely and arrived in a very timely fashion.

I uploaded the last set of digital pictures we took to Walgreens.com (a change from Walmart.com, which I used to use.) Walgreens allows me to store my pictures on their web site for year or even longer if I’m an “active customer” – meaning that I buy something occasionally. Their upload process is easier than at Walmart, allowing me to upload bigger batches and add photos to existing “albums.” Walgreens.com also has a HUGE variety of gift items that I can order based on my digital pictures. These include any and all of the following: cards, Christmas ornaments, T-shirts, mugs, trivets, pet bowls, clocks, blankets, posters, playing cards, puzzles, and more. One disadvantage to the Walgreens service is that, when you share your photos through their web site, the people you send the link to must sign up for a Walgreens photo center account in order to view them.

There are many photo-related projects you can do yourself. If you have a color printer, you can purchase photo paper, iron-on T-shirt transfers, photo magnet “paper,” blank post cards, and so on. Check out Avery.com for all types of printable forms and design templates that help you use them. Make sure you choose the forms that work for your particular type of printer – inkjet or laser. When doing T-shirt transfers, remember that the image must print backwards on the transfer in order to come out right on the T-shirt.

Compare the prices and benefits of do-it-yourself with some of the pre-made gifts. T-shirt transfers cost from $1.50 to $2.00 each, whereas a finished T-shirt costs about $15. However, the biggest image you can print on a standard T-shirt transfer is 8 1/2” x 11” but a larger image can be professionally printed onto a T-shirt. Also, the cost of the printer ink and the shirt itself should be taken into consideration. Blank, printable post cards cost about $23 for 100 from Avery.com, whereas printed ones from VistaPrint.com cost $30 for 100 – not much more. Of course, with the blank cards, you could make 100 different cards, whereas the VistaPrint will make them all the same.

With just a few days left before Christmas, you can get various printable forms from local retailers – like Office Max – to make some last-minute gift items. Also, on-line photo gift retailers like Walgreens can ship your gift directly to the person you want it to go to, saving time and shipping cost.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 12-17-06