By Ruth Topper
Think for a moment about the best gift that you ever received. Most likely, it was something personal; a gift given from the heart. One of the best gifts I ever received was a baby gift for my daughter (who is almost 15 now). My best friend from high school, Gloria, sent me a baby album where she had personally pre-designed all the pages. The album didn’t have any photos in it—just places designated for them. The album had been put together so thoughtfully. At first I was afraid to do anything with it—it was just too beautiful! I finally “got brave” and started filling the pages with photos and writing stories. As the pages came together, it sparked excitement—over my pictures and my baby girl.
After a conversation with Gloria, who lived in Minnesota while I was in Pennsylvania, I learned that she was a Creative Memories Consultant and this was called “scrapbooking” (not a household term at that time!). As a consultant she sold products and helped people celebrate their photos and families by teaching them how to make albums. This struck a chord with me and within a matter of a few months I became a Creative Memories Consultant too! I had no idea where this path would lead me at the time since I recently had gotten “Off the Merry Go Round” with the birth of my second child and wasn’t really looking for a job or home-based business. Would I be able to do this? Well, if longevity has anything to do with it—then yes, I can. I recently celebrated my 14th anniversary as a consultant. After all these years I still enjoy helping people “love their photos” and celebrate them in meaningful ways. Although there have been financial benefits over the years I always tell customers that they are the biggest blessing I have received. I have gotten to know people in a very personal way as they share their family photos and stories with me.
As we approach the holidays (and other gift-giving occasions) we often are looking for thoughtful gift ideas. I would put albums on the top of the list. Albums have a “wow” factor about them. In fact, grown men have been known to shed tears! This idea may scare you a little bit because you envision hours of hard work to create this “masterpiece.” I’m here to reassure you that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. Albums are a gift of “heart” not “art.” Pair your photos with your words or the words of a pre-designed album and you will deliver a gift with impact.
Here are a few album ideas:
1. Simply Said Book from Creative Memories (hey it’s something I know after 14 years as a consultant) – This is an amazing little gift for under $20. It’s quicker than an album but more than a card. There are a variety of themes to choose from: Hope, Joy, Dream Big, Teacher, Love and Grandparent. Each book has 24 pages that are pre-designed with word prompts. You just fill in the blanks and add 6-10 photos to complete. You should be able to complete this magical gift in one to two hours.
2. Album Kits – Album kits are available in a variety of themes such as baby, wedding, vacation, Christmas, etc. at many retail and all craft stores. You should only need to provide photos, adhesive & pens to finish your album. One of my current favorite ideas for a theme-oriented album is a recipe album. You can either photo copy or write recipes onto cards, add some photos of the cook, recipe provider or the final yummy product and insert into an album. This is sure to be a treasured gift for graduates, newlyweds or family members.
3. Digital Albums – Digital albums have become very popular in recent years. To create a digital album you just need a computer, digital images and album making software available through various photo websites and retailers. Most of these sites have pre-designed pages available to make creating pages simple and fast. One of the greatest advantages of digital albums is making multiple copies is a snap. A few years ago at Christmas I decided to make a digital album of childhood photos for my two sisters. I had to scan almost all the photos for this project. I used pre-designed pages that allowed me to “drag and drop” my photos onto pages, added some stories and “sister” quotes. The final product was a priceless memory of our bond as sisters.
4. Traditional Scrapbooking Albums – For those who may want to express creativity in their own way there always is the traditional scrapbook album that comes with blank pages so that you can truly transform the pages into your very own. Although this option may take more time it certainly is always well worth it. The year my mother celebrated her 80th birthday I spent several months working on an album of her life. It included pictures of her and her siblings growing up, the story of meeting my dad and getting married, the addition of her three “girls,” her worldly travels, births of her grandchildren and letters/photos that I solicited from her family and friends. It truly was a masterpiece—if I must say so myself! She revisited it a few years after I gave it to her and it took her more than three hours to read cover to cover!
People want to know they are loved. Albums featuring photos and stories are proof of that love. Give a gift of love to someone—your grandmother, dad, children, friend, etc… We would love to hear your stories so please tell us about an album that you gave or received that was thoughtful and special to you.