Holiday Gift Guide – Five Personalized Gifts Your Family Will Love

I can hardly believe that we’re already talking about the holiday season. Wasn’t I just out paddle boarding on Lake Michigan and digging holes in the sand with my kids?

I love giving personalized gifts for the holidays, but the more personal it is, the more time it takes to prepare. Let’s look at five personalized gifts that your family will absolutely adore.

1. Memory Box

memory boxportrait memory box

This has been my go-to gift for my husband (and now my family) for the past seven years. It comes with a customized image on the front and text on the spine. The box comes with 50 proof print images (you can choose to print images from your session or wedding with me, or you can send me your images of choice through, even if you’re never worked with me as a client before). The box holds up to 200 prints. The thing I love most about the memory box is that you can leave room for little mementos from the year. I kept the hospital bracelets and knit hats from the years my daughters were born, and I’ve also kept little handprints and a few of my favorite little art pieces that they’ve created. Now the top shelf of our bookcase is like a little row of time capsules—we can pull each one down and dive right into our favorite memories from that year. Get in touch to learn more about having your own custom memory box designed.

2. Mounted Prints

styrene mounted prints
Have you ever framed a print only to find that it slowly started to dimple or warp in the frame over time? Styrene mounted prints are mounted on a durable material that keeps them perfectly flat without worrying about bending, dimpling or warping in the frame. If you’re thinking about a single frame for a family member, consider a frame size or frame set that will cover at least 50% of the width of the visual space (for example, if you have a couch that’s seven feet long, you’ll want your frames to take up at least 3.5 feet above the couch; e.g. two). I offer professionally mounted prints for any photos that you have the rights to print (even if you’ve never worked with me before), but you can also create a 60 minute combined family session to share a session across family members and their families.

3. Framed Prints

Storytelling Frames

The 20×20″ Storytelling frame with nine 5×5″ mounted prints is by far the most popular frame—it’s a great way to tell the story of the year (or display photos from a session or wedding) in one place. A large family print also makes a great gift. And again, consider sharing a session with adult siblings—it’s essentially like creating your own mini sessions for each family, and you’ll get the added bonus of getting a group family photo with everyone together. If your family won’t be together until cold weather sets in, I now have the option for indoor studio sessions. Get in touch to learn more.

4. Album

custom wedding album design by Allie Siarto, Lansing, Michigan wedding photographer

A copy of your wedding album makes a great gift, and many parents love to surprise their children with wedding albums at holiday time. Parents—if you want to leave the final design decisions to the happy couple, you can present them with the initial design and then give them 30 days to make photo swaps and choose their cover before the album goes to print.

But here’s something you may not have thought of—what about turning your parents’ loose wedding prints into a fully designed album? This holiday season, I’m offering photo scanning at no additional cost to give you the opportunity to save older photos and turn them into a brand new album.

Or here’s another fun idea—include scans of children’s artwork in your album to reflect your favorite memories from the year in one place. Get in touch to learn more about custom albums (these take a bit longer to produce and create through the lab, so you’ll want to order no later than November 15).

5. Folio Box

wedding folio box by Allie Siarto, Lansing, Michigan wedding photographerwedding folio boxes by Allie Siarto, Lansing, Michigan wedding photographer
folio box and silver frame by Allie Siarto, Lansing, Michigan wedding photographer
Folio boxes come in 8×10″ or 11×14″ with the option for shallow (10 matted prints) or deep (20 matted prints). Add cover imprinting to make it extra special. These boxes make a great base when you’re building out layers on your bookshelf. Add a small frame and/or a little succulent to add extra dimension (my succulents are all fake—I don’t want to get dirt on the fabric).

Get in touch to learn more about custom photo gifts.

Bonus: Record Your Favorite Stories

My daughter loves falling asleep to stories, but a lot of the story podcasts that she listens to are full of advertisements. This year, I’m recording short stories from her favorite books and asking family members to do the same. That way, she’ll have a variety of stories from people she loves. This would be a cute add-on gift for kids—record short stories and include them on a USB. Tuck the USB inside a memory box, or tuck it into a pretty print box with your mounted prints.

You could do the same with stories from your year. If you’re giving a memory box to a significant other, record audio of your favorite stories from the year, and include the USB with the audio in the box. The addition of audio makes your “time capsule” even more fun to look back at. I use the free app Audacity to record and export audio.

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