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June 06, 2017

4 unique photo gifts for grads

Whether its gift ideas that remind graduates of home or decor for a new pad, these should brighten Graduation Day

Gifts Graduations
Pictli Pictli/for PhillyVoice

Framed photos provide decor for your graduate’s new home, and you can also get one for yourself to hang on the wall.

Graduation is a bittersweet interlude for many students. This transitional time is sprinkled not only with nostalgia, but also with hope for the future and the realization that fulfilling a lifelong dream is possible.

Whether the students in your life want to be astronauts, artists, business owners or firefighters, the end of their schooling is cause for a grand celebration. There is no better gift than one that includes photos of their lives.

A photo gift will remind graduates of their home as they take off on their next adventure. They will remember you and all the many others who helped them on this path, and the gift will serve as a continual reminder of your support. So with that in mind, let me introduce you to four creative graduation gifts using photos.

Mixbook, original photo on Houzz

1. Create a photo book

Custom photo books that can be created online have grown in popularity. For a graduation photo book, you could pull together photos from the past year or compile a lifetime’s worth of memories into one book for the graduate, family and friends to enjoy.

Photo books are also a timeless way for graduates to connect with new people as they move onto their next adventure. The grads can easily pull out their photo book to share their life and home with roommates or new friends they make in class or at work.

Related: Give them new home decor for their next home

Online photo book companies:

○ Mixbook, shown above, is free to use while you design your photo book. You can also pick a template, such as Graduation Year in Review, and autofill the photos to save time. Mixbook has the option to upload photos directly from your social media accounts, and it offers multiple book sizes and cover finishes. When you’re ready to order, book prices start at $15.99.

○ Picaboo photo books start at $19.99, and the company even offers you the chance to receive a free photo book when you refer the site to others. Picaboo provides you with inspiration from other graduation photo books and can help you design one similar to the examples with predesigned templates.

Pictli, original photo on Houzz

2. Frame the celebrations

A classic gift is to frame a graduation or senior photo. Framed photos provide decor for your graduate’s new home, and you can also get one for yourself to hang on the wall.

This is something you can do yourself, but online companies have made the process faster and easier.

Related: Frame their photos right – pick one up here

Framing companies: 

○ Pictli will print your photos in high resolution, whether you import from your phone, computer or social media. Then you select an ethically sourced frame. You can even have it gift-wrapped and shipped directly to your graduate with a personal note.

○ Framebridge is another excellent option when it comes to getting your photos framed, as it custom-designs all its frames. You can choose your own frame or work with a designer for free. You can have a photo printed on archival paper or send in a physical photo. The company is also an excellent option if your student is an artist, as sending in the student’s artwork to be framed professionally would also be a great graduation gift. Framebridge will build your frame in two to three days and ship it to you for free. Frames start at $39.

ProShow by Photodex, original photo on Houzz

3. Make a montage

A new creative gift fit for the 21st century is the video montage. A montage is a more engaging way to look back on the past because, unlike photo books, it can include videos. If your graduate is ever homesick, a montage can serve as a way for him or her to look back on fond memories.

Professional photo organizers in your area offer services like creating a montage of your graduate from birth to graduation using photos and video. You can also do it yourself by scanning photos from childhood and putting them to music; however, this will take more time than it would to hire a service.

Related: Turn a cherished photo into a painting for a gift they won't forget 

Online assistance: 

○ Animoto can help you create a video montage. You can start with a 14-day free trial period, and then after that, it’s $8 a month. The company offers design-rich video styles, and you can edit within the site, choosing from a selection of songs.

○ Smilebox offers graduation slideshows that you can share on social media or play at graduation parties. You pick the photos, video and music, and then Smilebox will fill them into a graduation template that you can edit to your liking. The service is free, but you can put this slide show in a digital photo frame with an upgrade.

○ Photodex, shown above, offers a service called ProShow Slideshow Tools, which allows you to create stunning slide shows of your graduate. Not only do you have the option to create a slide show on the go with the web version, but you also have access to effects that will spice up your slide show through the use of style or transition packs. You can start with a 15-day free trial. Then prices start at a one-time payment of $69.95, or the web version is $48 a year. But you can create free slide shows using the web version.

Backstory Media, original photo on Houzz

4. Film the family

Another excellent idea is to film an interview with your graduate. This gift serves as a kind of time capsule in which they speak about their hopes for the future and their favorite memories from school. They may refer back to this often, especially if they choose to go to college, where long study days may make them question why they ever enrolled.

Filming options:

○ You can do it yourself on your phone; however, if you are unsure about how to get quality photos and video, I recommend taking an online photography course, such as one from Nick Kelsh. A good place to start would be a four-week basic photography class, currently $197. Kelsh’s courses are known for their instruction on how to take great photos and video, regardless of the camera you’re using. This means that using your smartphone is an option.

○ If you’d rather hire a service to create a video for your graduate, Backstory Media can take care of everything for you. The company has an option where the video crew comes to your home and sets up the interview like a conversation around your kitchen table, including not only the graduate but family members and friends too. Your home will be professionally lit and staged for the conversation while everything is recorded in HD. Professional editors and producers will use the best stories from your graduate and overlay the interview with photos, music and other home movies to create a video biography.

Graduation is but a short interval in life — a pit stop on a young person’s way to his or her future. A graduation gift with the personal touch of the items I mentioned above will be sure to be used over and over again as your graduate moves through the stages of life. This reminder of home says, “I love you and I’m proud of you.”