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Simple gifts: Photo calendars in a snapfish

Submitted by on Friday, 28 November 2008 No Comment
I started the Simple Gifts concept last year, on another blog under another name for another reason.

Last year, it was inspired by a fellow blogger on a site I moderated and her post venting frustration with the commercialism that she'd seen overrun the holiday season.

The blog hit me particularly hard that evening as I watched a then-4-year-old little greed monster comb through a catalog and name millions of things he "had to have." I vowed to do better, and we did.

Last year, using the ideas I'm going to be posting in the coming month, we made gifts for virtually everyone on the list. Most projects were simple enough that the guys could, and did, help. They had a blast making the gifts and presenting them to the recipients.

This year, there are reasons other than philosophical ones to cut back on spending.

None involves stitch work or yarn because I'm a klutz about that sort of thing. They are heavy on the cooking and computing side, though.

We'll start with computer-based photo calendars.

What to get for the doting grandparents who have everything? That was the problem I was faced with a few years ago.

Snapfish.com solved my problem.

Everyone needs calendars, even me. I live by Outlook reminders, but last year I went back to a good old-fashioned paper model in the kitchen to help keep my not-as-technically savvy husband straight.

And what could be a better gift for far-flung relatives than 12 months of the young'uns? Snapfish makes creating personalized calendars incredibly easy. Simply open an account, upload your images, click on the store tab, click on calendars and get started.

The designs are a little cheesy - or maybe I'm just tired of looking at them after four years - and the templates are limited. It's frustrating enough that I considered designing my own and having it printed at Kinko's. I got over that notion when I called Kinko's for an estimate and found out it would cost $30 per calendar. Ouch!

The advertised price at snapfish is $18.99 - and that hasn't increased over last year -- but there are a number of discount coupon codes offering up to 20 percent off posted on various Web sites that you can use to trim that. There's also a 25 percent discount for duplicate items.

Kodakgallery.com, another photo service, offers a calendar for $19.99, and that site currently is offering free shipping for orders of $50 or more. Kodak's price hasn't increased from last year, either. See! It's possible for retailers to hold the line.

Last year, I added photo books to my snapfish order. It's my way of apologizing for being a procrastinator. I take photos all the time and even remember to upload them from my camera. But when it comes to sending them on to snapfish and actually ordering prints, I fall woefully behind.

For $4.99, I'm getting 45-photo (4x6 or 5x7 for $6.99) spiral-bound book of the guys' greatest hits (and misses) over the past year. The $5.99, by the way, was a special offer last year, but it's the regular price now. The 25 percent discount also applies here if you order more than one.

There's also a 5x7 photo book with a number of design options that I purchased last year because I had a discount coupon for $5.99. At $11.99 this year, though, it's a bit above my price point. Last year's books did look fantastic, though. You're still limited to templates, but there are a wealth of them. There also are a number of page color, photo border and cover selections. They're stingier with typefaces than I like - you're limited to three sizes - and their character limits are parsimonious as well. What can I say - nothing irritates a writer more than seeing white space where words could be.

I managed to squeeze a lot of images into both gifts -- 37 in the calendar, but you have to crop tight to pull that off. Most pictures are going to be tiny, especially in the 5x7 book, so think extreme close-ups on faces.

Both gifts were easy to create, and the interface is easy to learn. The calendar took about an hour and the photo book about two last year, but that's because I got anal on my alleged final review and started swapping pages around to make sure each guy got his time in full-page photos. I had to -- Big Guy was sitting on my lap as I worked.

It will, of course, take longer if your images aren't already stored on the site, but snapfish offers great bulk uploading capabilities. I set up my upload of 70 pictures - did I mention that I'm a procrastinator? - and went on about my business while the computer churned for 45 minutes or so.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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