7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas


The great gift idea I have for you today is a photo book. With nothing more than a selection of your own digital or scanned photos of hand, these are a cinch to craft online. As posible inspiration for your own creation, I\’m going to share with you the one I just completed.

When Teenager graduated from high school earlier this year, I decided to gift her with a photo shoot to record the occasion. On a lovely sunny mid-summer\’s day, Krista Kay showed up with all of her camera bags, creativity and lust for a good shoot crammed in the back of her car. Enroute, she had sped by a landscape of golden canola fields, punctuated with a few falling-down old buildings, and I sensed as I met her at the door, the seed of an idea had already been planted. As it turned out, boyfriend and I had to leave to attend a Calgary Stampede function, hence we hastily snapped a few family shots and then we left Krista, Teenager, Wee, and my son to their own devices. The results were stunning and crazily in tune with my wildest desires. You see, in the back of my mind I had pined for a series of photos which reflected the country life which has been so much a part of Teenager\’s upbringing, tossed in with a bit of her redneck nature, and accompanied by the equine who has most shared her journey – the infamous Blue. Krista delivered tenfold, and the resulting 100 or so photos blew us away visually.

However showing them to friends via my laptop slideshow began to feel a teensy bit like subjecting them to a very long and squirmy home movie. I decided I needed a better venue to showcase these photos. I\’m not a scrapbooker and my photo albums feel somewhat antiquated these days, so the idea of a photo book gradually formed.

My initial inspiration came in the form of an e-book Nancy Lowery of The Natural Leader shared with me a year or so ago, entitled Great Expectations – detailing her reflections of the past year.

\"\"After viewing the latest of Nancy\’s beautiful series, Breathe, and then subsequently flipping through a friend\’s photo book detailing her trip through Russia, I decided to give it a try myself.

To clarify, Nancy\’s e-book is a slight riff from the photo book in that the former is not a tangible object, but lives online. The photo book I just created for Teenager is a real book, two copies (one for our own and the second for Teenager\’s Gram. Hint, great gift idea!) of which are currently in print. I wish I had the actual book in hand to snap some photos for this post, but it won\’t arrive for another three weeks. I decided, if I\’m going to throw this out as a gift option, I best do it now, for it takes a bit of production time to pull it all together.

I used Blurb to create my photo book, primarily because it provides tons of custom options, but there is an endless list of choices in the matter of photo book purveyors. Have a browse at Shutterfly, which is a popular choice, as is Mixbook and Snapfish.

So, while this isn\’t the hard cover item we\’ll soon have in our hands, these are a few examples of the pages within, and gives you an idea of the choices when creating your own book. These screenshots are taken from a PDF file, which is a $2.99 option in the Blurb order form process.


I chose not to add text to the layouts, though it\’s simple to do so. In this case, I desired the photos to flow visually without the distraction of copy. It\’s easy within the layout options of Blurb to choose whatever combination of photos you\’d like, simply drag-drop them on the page and then choose a structure from the templates provided. You can change your layout with every page, and, as illustrated above, drop in a background color to the white space.

\"\"Alternatively, you can opt for \”full bleed,\” which allows the photos to run right to the edges of the pages. I liked the idea of profiling Krista\’s shots against my own older digital shots and thus, portraying Teenager\’s journey with Blue.

\"\"On the right, Krista having fun with the country side of Teenager, and an earlier shot of the kid, which may have been our first inclination of that hayseed side of her.

\"\"Another of what we in publishing refer to as a dps (double page spread) portraying a full color shot on the left, with a sepia tone and a couple of black and white shots on the righthand side page.

\"\"Compiling the now-and-then shots was just so much fun. You could apply this concept to a horse and rider\’s journey together, or the compilation of a lifespan of competition – that sort of idea.

\"\"I chose similar poses from earlier years for a pretty juxtaposition.

\"\"And chronicled a bit of Teenager\’s journey with the friends who have shared her horse passion over the years.


P.S. I must add this photo from the shoot, as it illustrates Blue\’s perfect co-operation on the day of, but then he always seems to know when a camera is focused on him and profiles his best side as only he adeptly can. He\’s such a ham.

I rounded out the story with photos of the grad ceremony, dance and a selection of family shots, both old and new. I suppose I could have gone on forever, but I capped the book at 58 single pages, including covers, chose a hard cover option, added on the PDF option and the cost came to approximately $50.00 for each of two books. Great value for a beautiful keepsake.

Some examples of other great equine blurb-created books you might like to view include:

– The Equine Art of Debbie Flood (stunning example of an equine artist\’s book)

– Equine Photo Paintings

– Or, you can even create your own yearly horse journal. 


Blurb promised to turn my online order into a real book in about 4 weeks, and while I didn\’t check delivery times of other purveyors, it might be diligent to begin sooner rather than later if you\’d like copies of your creation for Christmas. Then again, after-Christmas gifts are always a fun surprise.

So friends, I hope this gift idea is one you can grasp on to and make your own and if so, I\’d love to hear of the results.


3 thoughts on “7 Weeks ’till Christmas: Great Gift Ideas”

  1. Laurie Kambeitz

    Gorgeous! What a beautiful memoir for teenager to carry with her always!

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