How I’m using cute photo gifts to teach my son about the meaning of family

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cute photo gifts
Nothing says family

Some of you who’ve been reading Offbeat Home & Life for a very VERY long time may remember when, over a decade ago, I wrote a series of posts called Log Cabin Contemplations, about spending time in the log cabin where I grew up. Well, I’M BACK BABY.

Ok, so here’s the deal: my mom recently moved back into the log cabin she and my dad built in the ’70s, after over a decade of renting it. But she wasn’t really using the upstairs at all, and so this summer she said that my 12-year-old son Tavi and I could take over a couple rooms.

Tavi is currently obsessed with interior design, so he jumped on the project immediately, transforming a loft that had been used for storage into a snuggly twinkly tween den. As for me, I turned a corner of the former living room into a bedroom with a seating area by the french doors that lead out to the porch. It’s been so lovely!

But this post isn’t just about the cabin… today, I want to talk about how I’m using cute photo gifts from Vistaprint to help my son gain a deeper understanding of his family legacy on this land.

My son is a smart nerdy kid, but he’s not super sentimental or smooshy… so I’m always looking for ways to help him learn more about the heartfelt squishy sides of life. With photo gifts, I’m not just talking about framed photos or silly little keepsake keychains… we’re talking about photo gift ideas that allow you to use your favorite photos in new ways.

So how am I using cute photo gifts to teach my tween about the meaning of family?

Since my family has owned this land for 45+ years, there’s a lot of photo history. My mom and my son have started a project of digitizing old slides… how funny was it teaching my kid what a SLIDE even was! He only knew the word from PowerPoint Slides!

Watching my mom and my son go through my parents’ old slides from the ’70s was pretty heartwarming. He got to dork out about the technology and teach my mom about color correction and filters, but also it gave him an excuse to sit and look at old photos that he never would have looked at before.

With all these family photos converted, then I started wondering what can I make with old photos? How can I make these family photos into souvenirs that aren’t just stuck on my phone, or sitting in emails I sent to my boomer parents? How can I make sure that these images of family are tangible and REAL to my kiddo?

Cute photo gift #1: Getting CREATIVE with a photo notebook that acts as a collaborative poetry experiment and collective gratitude journal

Note my typo on the cover. It’s supposed to be “collaborative” *facepalm* This is why Vistaprint tells you to proof your text really carefully but oh well.

Like most parents, one of the big lessons I’m always trying to teach my son is gratitude and appreciation. So I decided I wanted to combine two questions: what can be made with photos AND how can I encourage my son to express his gratitude more often. We’re also starting to have friends come out to the cabin with us for visits, and I wanted to have a way to remember all the experiences we were sharing with folks out there.

My solution? A custom photo notebook printed with a pic of the cabin on the front cover, with then custom-printed instructions on inside:

This notebook was a simple but fun way to get pics off the camera and out into a more tangible object. I mean sure, a framed photo is one way to see old pictures, but I wanted something that friends and family members could actually interact with… and creating this little gratitude journal / guestbook / collaborative poetry book felt like a great solution.


Custom photo gifts idea #2: Going PRACTICAL with a mug

Ok look, I know that this isn’t a new idea, but gifts like photo mugs or magnets to go on the fridge are time-honored perfect gift for a reason! They’re something the recipient can use pretty much every single day.

My mom is super pragmatic who doesn’t like “doo dahs,” if you’re thinking about the best photo gifts for someone like her, a practical gift like fleece photo blankets, a pillow, or a mug are smart gift ideas. Since my mom is a big ol hippie who drinks medicinal herbal brews from morning to night, I decided a photo mug with a portrait of her and my son was an easy personalized photo gift win. Plus, it reminds my son that he wasn’t always a huge tween… this pic of of him is from preschool and he’s such a cute little guy!

Vistaprint had a ton of cute pre-made photo mug designs to work with, and I went for this one:

You better believe it’s a reishi mushroom tea with goat milk in that photo mug!


Cute photo gift #3: GOING DEEP with an acrylic block!

Well, here’s what I did with one old snapshot:

This acrylic photo block is an old slide photo of me as a baby sitting on the land where the cabin is now built. I love the way the depth of the self-standing acrylic block gives the old image new life. I like the contrast between the clear, glare-free finish and the rustic wood of the log cabin.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sort of sick of sticking photos in frames. I love how this little block can stand on its own, and catch the filtered sunlight coming through the forest.

Plus, it’s a nice way to remind my son that his mom was once a baby just sucking her thumb sitting in some ferns. I want him to have a sense of the circle of life… and that the grown-ups in his life were littles!


Unique photo gifts #4: wood wall art photograph print

Part of the fun of printing cute photo gifts for the cabin is that I wanted to kinda match the rustic cabin vibe of the space. So while I went for one acrylic block, I also really liked how this wood print went so well with the logs.

My son is turning 13 this year, so I feel like we may be on borrowed time with him wanting to take selfies with his mom on the ferry. I know that this is always true with kids, but I’m just never sure how long something is gonna be a THING, you know?


Cute photo gift #5: photo coasters

Part of what I’m trying to teach my son is about how he’s got a legacy connection to this land. I was raised here, and now he gets to feel connected to the family property as well… so I got little custom photo coasters made from a photo of he and my mom on the front porch.


Of course now I’m scheming more cute photo gifts for the holidays…

With the holidays coming up (my family is more likely to celebrate Solstice than Christmas), I’m already scheming all the cute photo gifts I’mma make… here are the top ones on my list:

Want to get started on your cute photo gifts?

Head on over to Vistaprint now! They’ve got great templates you can work with to make making cute photo gifts super easy… Oh and I’ve got a lead on a couple discounts:

  • New Customers Only! Take $20 off $100+ with code FIRSTORDER
  • Take $40 off $300+ or $60 off $400+ with code SAVEBIG
    Both coupons expire 6/30/23

Comments on How I’m using cute photo gifts to teach my son about the meaning of family

  1. My mom is obsessed with Shutterfly, and does stuff like this all the time. We have collage posters of fun events or times in our lives, at least a few dozen mugs between our houses, reusable shopping bags, a few prints, a matching game, a few puzzles, and more magnets than is at all reasonable. The kids love that when they go to grandma’s house there are magnets and posters of them all over, and they can use mugs with their faces on them. And at our house, our front and back door are magnetic so they are COVERED in magnets.

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