The New Trend in Gift Giving

By: Ava Leitner

With the holiday season fast-approaching, it's important to jump the gun and start thinking about which presents you're going to give your loved ones. After a lifetime of Christmases it can start to feel like you give the same thing every year, and that kind of monotony takes the spirit out of giving and the fun out of shopping. This year, there is a great new trend emerging that will allow you to give gifts that are 100% original. Your family and friends will cherish their gifts forever and love the thought and effort you put into them (when in reality all you had to do was click a few buttons). Personalized photo gifts are the trend of the season.

Although it seems complicated, a photo gift will be the easiest gift you'll ever give. You simply find a good photo gift store or website, submit your photos and your preferences, and they do all the work. Some places even gift wrap your purchase (although I would advise against it because it's always a good idea to see what you're giving just in case it doesn't turn out to your liking). Here are some great ideas for photo presents:

*Grandparents - grandparents love to show off their grandbabies. Collect photos of all the grandchildren and place a picture of each child's face on a different pillow. Grandma can line up her grandchildren's faces on the couch for everyone to see! In addition, a photo college blanket of all the grandkids will be a great way to curl up and stay warm at night.

*New Graduates - whether your child is moving out of the house and into his or her first college dorm, or graduating college and moving into the real world, a photo blanket or photo collage of his or her life through the years is a great keepsake that will warm hearts and keep them visiting home often. If you're a new graduate, this idea is also a great way to tell Mom and Dad thank you for their love and support through it all.

*Babies/Mothers - Photo blankets of the baby's first year are a wonderful keepsake that the child will keep and love forever. It sure beats your run-of-the-mill Baby Blankie! Use the same idea and give it to Mom on Mother's Day for an extra special gift.

*Collages - Some companies have staff that will aesthetically place photos together in a beautiful and artistic collage, so your recipient can hang it on the wall and enjoy seeing it every day.

*Artistic Montage - if personal photo presents don't really appeal to you, you can always create a unique photo gift using landscape or artistic photos so that you're giving an original work of art for the recipient to enjoy, rather than a personalized photo gift.

A photo gift will make any present extra special because it captures certain moments in people's lives forever. The recipient will think of you every time he or she curls up in the blanket, or lays their head on a pillow. If you have decided to give a photo gift to someone, there are a few things you should keep in mind so that you can give the most beautiful, high-quality photo gift possible:

*Make sure you submit only high resolution photos. JPEGs should really be at 1,000 pixels or higher so that they translate onto the fabric well. Choose close-ups with perfect clarity for best results.

*When selecting a company, try to find one that will show you samples of past work and guarantee your money back if you aren't pleased. Some fabric photos can come out grainy or discolored, so you want to make sure your company's methods produce a quality product. In addition, choose a company that matches colors in the photo to the yarn or fabric used in the gift so it looks as if it's meant to be woven into that fabric, rather than just placed there.

We hope that you and your recipients enjoy your experience with this thoughtful gift and find something to keep and cherish forever.

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Ava Leitner is a personal shopper for the rich and famous. Her photo blanket and photo pillow ideas along with her suggestions for assorted picture gifts had clients raving and started a mini trend among Beverly Hills and Hollywood residents.

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