10 ways to turn those family photos stuck on your phone into adorable gifts


Unless you’re incredibly organized, hundreds, if not thousands, of photos exist on your smartphone right now.

Awwww…look at that one! It deserves to be celebrated.

With the holidays approaching, why not take the most precious photos of friends and family and turn them into keepsakes? 

It’s a win-win. The photos are saved from phone obscurity and one more gift is off your list.

Shutterfly has been in business of saving and displaying photos for 20 years. Among the most popular ways people use their smartphone photos is to put them on travel mugs, on calendars, in photo books, including children’s story books, and on candle glassware, said Shutterfly’s Chief Marketing Officer Mickey Mericle.

Shutterfly has an app, a website and it allows you to save your photos on the site for free for years. 

“It’s such an emotional experience,” Mericle said. “People forget what happened eight years ago. And it’s nice to have this safe, unlimited free environment where you have these memories you can look back on and create something.”


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Here’s a look at some fun Shutterfly projects and more services that turn mobile device photos into gifts this holiday season. 

Children’s books

Looking for a gift for the child that already has everything? Toddlers enjoy nothing better than looking at photos of themselves. Pinhole Press creates Itty Bitty Photo Books. These 3-by-3 inch photo books help preschoolers learn colors, shapes, animals and more with their face front and center. These cost 2.99 for 1 book or $24.99 for 3.

Photo books

Sure, this is common. But with Artifact Uprising you can finish the Everyday Photo Book in minutes. The website and app’s motto is “move photos off your device and into your life.” With one photo per page, choose from a 30, 40, or 50-page fabric cover book, upload photos to archival unbending pages on 100% recycled materials. Prices start at $59 for a 7-by-7 inch book.

Mix Book Photo Co.

Mixbook.com also allows users with a smartphone or computer and a creative spirit to quickly put together a Family Photo Book. Choose from a host of book albums ranging from whimsical to rustic. Prices start at $30.

Letters or numbers

Shindigz elevates the collage theme with either a 24-inch hand-held or 46-inch letter or number. Note: Saving smartphone photos to a desktop or laptop computer gives users more options when creating their letter or number collage. Prices range from $14.99 to $26.99.

Personalized blanket

Keep loved ones cozy all season long with the My Favorite Things Personalized Photo Blanket by Personalization Mall.  This custom printed, machine-washable blanket allows for up to nine photos, a choice of five colors and two lines of text.  It measures 50-by-60 inches and is made of polyester fleece. Prices range from $49.99 to $69.99.


Take your loves ones, favorite vacation spots and and pets with you anywhere by assembling them onto a colorful tote. Upload up to 32 photos with Stitcha, creating a 16-inch-by-16-inch polyester tote big enough for a laptop with black cotton straps. Cost is $62.

Dining ware

So adorable I could eat. you. up! Shutterfly proves you can put photos anywhere by capturing images in ceramic bowls and in children’s plates. The kids’ plates include the child’s name, are dishwasher safe, BPA-free and can feature up to 1 to 3 photos. Ceramic bowls are hand-wash only but microwave safe. Ceramic bowls are $12.50 and up. Children’s plates are $9.99 and up. 

Polaroid magnets

Choose a set of six or 12 photos to add a touch of retro to someone’s dorm room, kitchen, or work space with Pinhole Press’s Polaroid Magnets. Customize the magnets with a personal message. Cost is $29.99 for a set of 12.

Rubik’s Cube

Because why not? Personalization Mall has the Pet Photo Personalized Rubik’s Cube, the Cute Couple Personalized Photo Rubik’s Cube and the My Photo Personalized Rubik’s Cube options. Select four photos to pair with two solid-side colors. The center square carries the Rubik’s Cube logo. Cost is $29.99.  

Night light

Help someone’s holiday shine brighter with a photo night light from Shutterfly. The night lights come in a range of colors and designs perfect for little ones or families. A single photo or a collage of up to nine photos can be used against white or dark backgrounds. Add text to include a family’s name or mark the occasion. The indoor night lights are made of porcelain and bulb is included. Prices rang from $15 to $30

Phone cases

Choose your level of protective phone case in clear, black or white, find the model that fits your phone type and then choose your photo at Collage.com. Prices range from $14 to $30

Follow the latest from USA TODAY Parenting at usatoday.com/life/parenting.

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