Frugal Photo Magnet Gift Idea

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For Gv's first Christmas, I created this gift for our family.  It was perfect for her inaugural year, but even though I wanted to continue to making personal presents each Yuletide, I elected to keep things a little simpler this time around.

So I made these fun photo magnets out of holiday cookie cutters.  I figured turning something like this into a magnet would work well because it was small and would still give everyone a chance to see Gv's smiling little face on a regular basis.  Even if people didn't put magnets on their fridge (I didn't used to), then they might still stick them on a spare fridge or freezer in the garage, the washer or dryer, or onto a file cabinet.

These little trinkets weren't too difficult to make, either.  The hardest part was figuring out what size to print the photo out at (I just did this on my home printer).  To do this, I measured the cutter openings and then resized my chosen photo using the basic photo editing software that came on my computer.

I was able to fit six photos on each page of photo paper.  Then I just set the cutter on top of the photo, traced around it, and cut it out.

I slipped the photo into the cookie cutter and then put a few dabs of hot glue around the back edges, just to make sure it didn't fall out of place after I got the magnet on.

I'd made magnets in the past using inexpensive magnet paper for the printer, but I knew that wouldn't be strong enough to hold up these cookie cutters, despite the fact they were made out of lightweight plastic.  I'd planned to get this paper in the hopes that it would work better, but I decided to first try to use a bunch of free magnets we'd gotten in the mail.

You know the ones.  Local businesses send them out with their cards attached, or they come on the front of the phone book each season (who even uses a phone book anymore, anyway?)  I'd always held onto these magnets to use in my classroom (I'd glue all sorts of classroom signs and printouts onto the tops, which didn't cost me a dime!), so I had a pretty decent supply to work with.

The free magnets were all large enough to use with these cookie cutters.  I just set the cutter on top of the magnet, traced around the outer edges, then cut it out with plain old scissors.  Finally, I ran a line of hot glue along the top edge of the magnet and then set the cookie cutter down carefully on top.

VoilĂ !  A cute little personalized gift for everyone to open and enjoy.

And this idea doesn't just have to be limited to Christmas, either.  You could easily make one for any birthday or holiday gift, just by using different cookie cutter shapes.  I'm actually thinking that it would be the perfect present for Mother's Day, so if you're still scratching your head trying to come up with a great personalized present for Grandma, this might just be your salvation.

I even think this could work for an annual gift, because family and friends could easily enjoy displaying several photo magnets of Gv as she grows each year.  I'm already on the hunt for some great cookie cutters that have simple shapes with large openings.  I've found some great possibilities, like:

this set of 50 animal shapes
a colossal set like this one that includes all sorts of holidays as well as an alphabet
or just the alphabet and numbers
or just a simple group of fun year round shapes
or maybe even these sets of flowers, hearts, and stars

If you use your own free magnets, you can see that this project can cost less than a dollar a present, but even if you have to buy magnet and photo paper in addition to the cookie cutters, this idea will still come in at less than two bucks a pop, which is great for those times when you have a heart for giving to a zillion people, but a pocketbook that can only handle a handful (think of favors for a child's birthday party, or even a wedding!).  

The one thing I was disappointed in with this project was the quality of the colors when I printed the photos out.  We'd been having printer/ink issues and I'd thought everything was all sorted out, but the colors still came out a little wonky when I went to make these gifts.  By that point, I didn't have time to have the photos printed somewhere else, so I just made the best of it.

Sigh.  I miss my old printer.  I'd had this one for years and it printed perfect photos, but our house was hit by lightning a couple of years ago and the budget just didn't allow for this gem to be replaced.  I'm hoping to get another in the future, though.

Are you still trying to come up with a great gift for this Mother's Day?  Or maybe you're looking for a frugal, but personalized wedding or birthday party favor to send home with your guests.  With the variety of cookie cutters out there, this idea really lends itself to several different occasions ‐ which one do you like best?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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