16 Creative, DIY Photo Gift Ideas to Send Loved Ones


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More than ever, it's critical to send gifts that come from the heart. Not only that, it’s well-known that anything made by hand takes a lot of thought, preparation, and time. All of those things make a DIY gift so much more special than something you click, buy, and send to loved ones.

Overview: Our Top Picks

Photo Gift Ideas for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day

Photo Gift Ideas for an Anniversary or Valentine’s Day

Birthday Photo Gift Ideas

Sympathy or Memorial Photo Gift Ideas

Jump ahead to these sections:

Look below for some ideas that almost anyone can make using anything from scavenged beach items to store-bought acrylic ornaments. The hardest part will be either deciding which photos you like best or how many DIY gifts to make.

Photo Gift Ideas for Father’s Day or Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are all about saying thank you to your parents and grandparents for all they’ve done. So, here are a few DIY projects you can do on your own or with the kids so that you can send your very best.

» MORE: Online obituary that is 100% free. Honor a loved one beyond a newspaper.

1. Photo clock

What you’ll need:

  • Adhesive: this will make your photo stick to its surface
  • Enlarged photo: one that celebrates family
  • Drill: to make a clean hole for the clock kit
  • Clock kit: don’t forget the battery
  • Picture hanging hardware: make sure they can hang up their gift

Choose a photo that expresses your love well. That way, each time your dad looks at the time, he’ll see that his loving family is never far away. If you make a rustic clock, he can hang it in his work area out in the garage.

2. Ornaments

What you’ll need: 

It may not be the holidays, but sometimes you’ve got to keep the spirit glowing all year round. Plus, giving your parents something to look forward to can brighten their moods, especially during unusual life events.

Pro-tip: Adhere two pictures back-to-back so that if they happen to adjust themselves, you won’t see the backside of a photo.

3. Photo flowers for grandparents

What you’ll need: 

Gerbera daisies are some of the happiest flowers, but why not make them even happier? Gather up the kids for another craft project and get started creating a garden of gerbera daisies. When finished, you can send a bouquet of sunshine right to the grandparent’s doorstep.

4. Photo planter with succulents

What you’ll need: 

  • Clay pot: pick a size suitable for photos and decorations
  • Succulents: these easy-care plants brighten any windowsill
  • Paint and brush: dress up the clay pot with a burst of color

These little pots are perfect for those photo flowers in the previous idea. Plus, a little bit of sunshine resting on any windowsill is a great pick-me-up any time of the day. When decorating, take into account their decorating style.

Photo Gift Ideas for an Anniversary or Valentine’s Day

Skip the boring old standbys and check out a few dynamite ideas that’ll knock their socks off. Whether you’re displaying your love for all to see or tucking it away in a bottle, we’ve got some ideas to match your skills and needs.

5. Gallery photo wall

What you’ll need: 

This idea will capture your life together beautifully. But before you randomly hang up your artwork, first arrange the photos and artwork on your kitchen table. Then, take a photograph of each design version so you can compare likes and dislikes. Once you’ve chosen the arrangement, return the design to the table for any last adjustment. Finally, hang it all up.

6. Heart-shaped photo display

What you’ll need:

  • Photos: choose from various-sized photos to make it interesting
  • Surface background: your decorating style is the inspiration for this project 

Here’s a romantic gesture for the other half of your heart. There are several ways to arrange all of these photos, but one thing is sure. Overlapping photos can look messy and over time and may start to curl at the edges. That means uniformity and precision cutting will stand  the test of time. 

» MORE: An online memorial is a perfect ending to honor and celebrate someone's life. Create one for free.

7. Inkjet photo on pallet wood

What you’ll need:

  • Address label paper: peel off the labels to expose the paper beneath 
  • Printer: ink will easily transfer from the shiny side of that paper to your pallet wood
  • Pallet wood: cut to size, then sand and dust with a tack cloth
  • Photo: flip it horizontally to avoid transferring a backward image
  • Wood block: press against the backside of the paper to transfer the image 

Here’s a project that’ll suit the couple whose life has seen their fair share of ups and downs. Choose a photo that says you’ll stand the test of time, no matter how weathered the boards become. 

8. Message in a bottle

What you’ll need:

  • Clear bottle: choose one that you can seal, no matter the size
  • Photo: anything with a sepia tone will look aged 
  • Typed note: print from your computer and cut to size
  • Sand: sand and shells will give the bottle some extra weightiness

This iconic symbol of devotion and love can take pride-of-place inside your home instead of the ocean. Fill it with a picture and some sand, then seal it shut for safekeeping. Finally, arrange any shells and driftwood you’ve picked up to create a display centered around your bottle.

Birthday Photo Gift Ideas

Whether you’re decorating for today’s style or appealing to a touch of nostalgia, here are some DIY birthday gift ideas that will fit the bill. Check out super simple ideas below for something that sparks an interest.

9. Refrigerator magnets

What you’ll need:

  • Bottle caps: on the back of a photo, trace around the edge for an exact fit 
  • Magnets: adhere to the bottlecap and let dry

Are you wondering what to do with old photos? One option is to create some magnets for your refrigerator using old bottle caps. Choose any size that suits your means from a soda bottle to a pickle jar. Then adhere the photo to the inside and the magnet to the opposite side of that. 

10. Glowing luminaries

What you’ll need: 

Remove the glass pieces from the lantern and cut the photos to size, then adhere. Insert the glass back into the lantern and add a candle. The soft glow of a photo luminary will look amazing resting on a bedside table or bookshelf. 

11. Film and frames

What you’ll need: 

  • Rolls of film: unused film still in its box
  • Film camera: check your storage closet or the thrift store!
  • New frames: wrapped up in paper
  • Greeting card: signed, with instructions

It’s easier than ever to pull out your smartphone and snap, edit, adjust, and crop your digital photos. But, rolls of film are mysteries. So, here’s a great way to make a DIY memory—and adventure. Just plan a day of adventure, take lots of photos, and cross your fingers that closed eyes are minimal.

12. Alphabet letters

What you’ll need:

  • Alphabet letter: an initial is an obvious choice
  • Photos: use photo paper that can easily be molded around the letter shape

When a piece of flat cardboard or pallet wood won’t do, then chose a 3D object for your art piece. Adhere the photos randomly to the letter—even overlapping when needed. It’s an excellent idea for both teenagers and just-married couples.

» MORE: Grief can be lonely. Create space for your community to share memories and tributes with a free online memorial from Cake.

Sympathy or Memorial Photo Gift Ideas

If you’re looking for ways to express your love for someone who’s passed, check out some ideas we’ve discovered below. Pick one that lets your skills shine, so your project stands the tests of time.

13. Photo cube

What you’ll need: 

  • Acrylic photo cube: available in most craft stores
  • Photos: enlarged so you can cut and adhere to size

A photo cube isn’t a typical somber gift, but it is forward-thinking for those days when the tears fall less frequently, and smiles return most ardently. Until that time, the photos you choose should speak of the loved one’s character and passion for life.

14. Driftwood wall hanging

What you’ll need:

  • Driftwood: a long, thin piece will work well
  • Twine or rope: use a hole punch to loop and secure the photos

Here’s a DIY project for the person whose heart and soul melted into the sea. Any picture showing them fishing or swimming in the ocean will work, especially if you can find some fishing line or twine to secure the driftwood photos. 

15. Polaroid coasters

What you’ll need:

If you recall a polaroid's look, then you know they have two skinny sides and a slender top. They also have a thicker border at the bottom. So, when you're trimming the photos, make sure to leave a wider space at the bottom. Finish with a coat of acrylic spray to protect the images.

16. Digital memory book

What you’ll need:

  • Thumb drive
  • Digital movie program: add videos and music, too

If you don’t have the software on your computer, you’ll need to subscribe to a program to create a digital memory book. Include clips from movies, photos from throughout the years, and, of course, their favorite music. Then, make a few copies to drop in the mail or share it on your social media page for all to enjoy.

DIY Gifts Take Thought, Preparation, and Time

When you receive a handmade gift, you know you’re in for a special treat. After all, someone has spent time and energy to create a one-of-a-kind gift with only you in mind, as opposed to making a click-buy purchase. So, hopefully, you’ve found one at least one idea where you can make someone a gift from the heart.

If you're looking for more gift ideas, read our guides on engraved gift ideas and death anniversary gifts

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