How to Make Gifts From Old Photographs

How to Make Gifts From Old Photographs

Everyone has piles of school pictures, old photographs in shoe boxes and plenty of memories taking up space and waiting to be scrapbooked. Family photographer Betsy McCue shares that even in the digital era, where most photos are delivered to you digitally and through an online gallery, it’s easy to print them. But, if you don’t have a specific idea for how to use them, they can end up collecting dust and eventually getting stored in a shoe box under your bed.

Whether Polaroid, 35 mm or digital, black and white or color, there will always be a plethora of resources for this project. What a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation, birthday, anniversary or anytime gift idea.

Jewelry Boxes and Frames, a Beautiful Way to see Memories Everyday

Covering an old jewelry box, new box with hinged lid, frame or other item with flat or rounded surfaces is an easy way to use old photos. The result is beautiful and timeless.

When using the collage method, make sure to have enough photographs that have a similar theme or subject to cover the lid or the entire project. Add beads, dried flowers, old jewels or any other appliqué for additional style and flair. Simple wooden boxes with hinged lids can be purchased for under $5 at craft stores. They can be left in their natural state, painted, varnished or completely covered with the photos. Adding appliqués is not necessary and perhaps not desirable when giving this gift to a gentleman. Some small trinkets found at craft stores depicting fishing rods, sports or wild animals may be used to make a more masculine gift.


  • box, jewelry box, or men’s valet box, or picture frame. The frame size is not important as to the photograph that will be displayed inside, but the surrounding framing material should be at least one inch in width.
  • scissors
  • enough black and white or color photographs to cover the project completely, or a single picture to be strategically placed.
  • one bottle of Modge Podge
  • one sponge brush approximately one inch in width

Preparing the Object for Old Photographs

Dust your project or clean with soapy water if material allows. Make sure the surface is completely dry. Decide on the pattern, whether one or two selected pictures or a collage. Cut out the photographs and pre-arrange them on the surface. Make sure when approaching corners, that you over lap the pictures for an even seam. Take each picture and apply a moderate amount of Modge Podge to the back, replace in the indicated area. When the surface is completely covered allow 24 hours to dry.

After the first application of Modge Podge has dried arrange the added flowers, buttons, appliqués, etc. on the surface where desired. Carefully apply a moderate amount of Modge Podge over the embellishments, making sure they are completely covered. The Modge Podge will act a glue and secure the items to the project. Allow another 24 hours drying time.

Apply one last application of Modge Podge to the entire surface of the project, including the attached embellishments. Allow 48 hours for completed drying time. The project is now finished. A beautiful display of memories are sealed and protected. What a wonderful heirloom quality gift for any occasion.


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