Photobox’s resident gift guru, Matt James of Party-Ideas-by-a-Pro, is an award-winning party planner who’s produced birthdays, weddings, and events for A-list celebrities such as Stella McCartney, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sir Elton John. He shares his inspirational ideas for using Photobox products to create thoughtful and meaningful Christmas gifts.

 

As a professional party planner, no matter whether I’m producing a birthday party, anniversary or wedding, I always try to make every celebration as personal as possible. It’s the quirky little touches that communicate the host’s personality, tastes, and interests – be it a ‘my last supper’ inspired dinner menu, napkins printed with ‘fun facts you may not know about the happy couple’, or a dessert table stocked with ‘a few of my favourite things’ – that create the memories.

Similarly, that’s why photographs often make the most meaningful gifts. Because they’re uniquely personal, evoke a memory and celebrate the person or your relationship with them.

Reasons We / I Love You, elevates a traditional photo gift, making it even more personal. You create a thoughtful and sentimental present that’s sure to tug at their heartstrings!

1. How it works

Simply take individual photos of friends, family, and loved ones holding up a sign explaining one thing they love about the person. This might be something profound, such as ‘you always believe in me more than I do myself’, lighthearted, ‘the weird way you lick the chocolate off your Jaffa Cakes’, or sentimental, ‘the way you rub my feet when I’m sick’.

The idea is to focus on celebrating the person, highlighting their admirable qualities, characteristics, personality traits and even the weird little habits and obsessions that make then who they are.

It’s a great way to make a special someone feel loved and ensure it’s an occasion they’ll remember. Even better, you don’t even need to get everyone together to create the photo. Instead, each person can take their own photo and send it to you to arrange, which makes it easy to include friends and family living far away.

Check out my tips for creating the best photograph at the end of this page.


2. Who it’s for

Whether it’s the kids reminding dad they love the way he carries them on his shoulders for Father’s Day, a boyfriend revealing he loves the way his girlfriend tells Starbucks baristas her name is Beyoncé for Valentine’s Day, or the entire family telling Grandma they love that she taught them to perform random acts of kindness for strangers for her 80th Birthday, this is an incredibly versatile idea that can be used for almost any occasion.

You can also execute this idea in different ways depending who you’re giving it to. For example, you could create it using just yourself in each photo – listing nine different things you love about someone as an affectionate Christmas or birthday gift for a sibling, best friend or boyfriend/girlfriend.

Alternatively, ask a group of their closest friends to create a meaningful milestone birthday present, or get work colleagues to make a poignant retirement or leaving gift.

Finally, you could involve the entire family to create a thoughtful gift for a parent or grandparent (although it can also work well when it’s just kids in the photos – say for Mother’s/Father’s Day or for Grandma at Christmas).

Remember you can always vary the title to make it more appropriate for a particular occasion – it doesn’t have to be what you love about the person. It could be ‘The secret to happiness Is…’ as a wedding gift for some newlyweds, ‘Things we’ll miss about you’ as a leaving gift, or ‘The best thing you taught me was….’ for a parent or grandparent’s birthday.

3. How to turn it into a gift

This is undoubtedly a uniquely personal and touching gift that the recipient is likely to treasure for years to come. Therefore, I suggest giving it to them in the form of a gift that they can display or use in their everyday life.

Wall Art

Frame it, supersize it, or print it onto canvas, this idea lends itself perfectly to a range of Photobox’s Wall Art gifts. There are lots of different options available – from a traditional Canvas and Timeless Framed Print, to stylish Aluminum Mounted or Wooden Wall Prints – that’ll ensure your recipient keeps this special gift proudly on display. Check out the full range here.

Photo Book

An alternative way to present this idea is to collect all the individual ‘Reasons We/I Love You’ photographs up into a keepsake Photo Book designed with one image per page. This is a lovely way for the recipient to flick through and read all the heartfelt messages from friends and family, one at a time. Check out all the options here.

Calendar / Desk Art

Other ways to ensure the recipient gets more use out of the gift is to give it to them in the form of a Calendar using the same ‘one image per page’ design as with the Photo Book, as a freestanding Photo Block, or as a Wooden Desk Print so they can see it every day at home or work. Check out all the options here.

Everyday Gifts

Photobox has numerous other small gifts, such as Phone/iPad Cases, Cushions, Personalised Beach Towels, Jigsaws and more – all of which you could customise with your ‘Reasons We/I Love You’ photos.

 

Tips

Here are some of my pro tips for creating your ‘Reasons We/I Love’ you photograph:

1. Decide on your sentiments

First, choose what you want everyone to express. It doesn’t have to be ‘Reasons We/I Love You’. What’s most appropriate largely depends on the occasion and your intended recipient.

2. Choose the gift

Before you set about creating the photographs, think about which gift from the Photobox range you want to apply it to. This might influence whether the final image would be best arranged as a square or rectangular collage, how many individual images it should consist of and consequently, how many people you include in it.

Some gifts, such as their Collage Canvas, have a built-in collage-making template that let you choose from different grid-style configurations, then upload individual photos and choose where each one goes.

Other gifts, such as their Timeless Framed Prints or Mugs for example, need you to assemble the collage yourself (see instructions in step 5, below) and upload it as one complete image.

In these cases, choose your gift and make a note of the dimensions if different sizes are available. Then look up the product on this chart to determine the best ratio for your collage and how many individual images you’ll need to achieve an evenly spaced grid-style collage like the examples below.

Similarly, a gift such as a calendar needs 12 individual images (although I’d recommend using 11 individual photos and then ending the year with the group collage featuring everyone).

3. Consider the title image

Once you’ve calculated how many individual images best suit your chosen gift, you might want to think about reserving one of those to use as a title image to explain what the sentiments are i.e “Reasons we love Daddy…”. This would just be one person holding up a sign with this written on, so it matches all the others. I’d then suggest you position this title image as the center photo in the final collage if you’re making a square collage, or in the top left-hand corner position if it’s a rectangle. (See the images above for reference). This just helps put the individual sentiments into context, so they can be read without explanation.

4. Give clear instructions

Not shooting all the photos yourself, but rather asking people to take their own photo and send it to you? Assuming you want there to be some consistency between all the images, be sure to give specific instructions on things like:

  • Background: specify whether they should take the photo against a plain white wall, a red brick wall, a green hedge etc. I’d suggest emailing everyone a sample photo and asking them to recreate it as closely as possible.
  • Lighting: indoor or natural outdoor lighting can have a huge impact on how each image looks. So depending on your choice or background, be sure everyone takes their photo in similar lighting conditions to avoid some appearing darker than others.
  • Clothes: be clear on what type of clothes everyone should wear. Do you want people to dress smart or are you happy with more casual jeans and t-shirts?
  • Sign: what size, shape and type of sign they should hold? Will it be a chalkboard, a piece of grey slate or a plain white A3 card? Similarly, make sure they all use a thick marker-style or felt-tip pen so the writing’s clearly legible. If you want complete control over how each message will look, you could ask everyone to email you their message. Then you can type it up in Word or Powerpoint in the font you want and email it back to them to print off at a specific size and orientation, such as A4 landscape.
  • Position: I suggest asking everyone to take full length photos, which you can then crop down to square size later. With this in mind, give clear instructions on where they should hold the sign. In front of their chests works well if you intend to crop around waist height.
  • Orientation: have everyone take their photos in landscape mode, allowing plenty of empty background on either side of them and above. This’ll give you the option to crop to square, portrait or landscape when creating your collage later.
  • Resolution: most smartphones nowadays take high resolution images but remind people to check their settings are on the highest possible resolution settings before taking their photos.
  • Sending: a large hi-resolution image might be difficult for people to email to you. If so, tell them to use a free online service such as WeTransfehttps://wetransfer.com/r.com

5. Create your collage

Once you have your individual images, use your computer’s photo software, such as Microsoft Photos, to crop them all to your chosen orientation; square, portrait, or landscape – depending on what works best for the ratio of your chosen gift. Then upload to one of the many free online collage makers, such as picbow.com or photocollage.com.

On the photocollage.com site, under the ‘collage’ drop down menu, first select the ratio for your chosen gift that you established in step 2 above (i.e 1:1 for square or 4:3 / 16:9 for landscape). Then, if you want a grid-style collage, just hit ‘Auto collage’ and drag to rearrange into the correct order. If you want to add white or black grid lines to separate each photo, the best way to do this is to choose ‘Set background’ from the ‘Collage’ drop down menu, select white or black from the color palate. Then click on each image one at a time and pinch in the top right and bottom left hand corners. You’ll just need to align them carefully to make sure the gaps between each image are all the same width.

Once you’re happy with the layout, from the ‘File’ drop-down select ‘Save in high resolution’ to save the collage to your computer. Then upload this image to Photobox and apply to your chosen gift.


Simple Canvas

Print your photo edge-to-edge on your Canvas Print and let your picture do all the talking.


Square Prints

Don’t leave your Insta shots on your feed, put them on a Square Print – they’re already in the right format!

Retro Prints

Go for a 70s style with these vintage-inspired prints. You can even add a caption or write on them with marker pens later.


Collage posters

Put up all of your favourite shots in the spotlight with a supersized collage poster.


Framed Magnet Collage

Change your photo collage in a flash with a set of photo magnets and frame.


Little Moments Photo Book

Tell your story in a flash with this small 25-photos book.


Photo Diaries

Admire your favourite shots while getting organised with a photo diary.


Square Magnets

Turn your fridge into wall art with your set of 9 photo magnets.


Box Framed Prints

Add depth to your creation with a 48 mm deep frame and make your snap take centre stage.


Wooden Photo Panels

Turn your best snaps into wooden works of art.


Acrylic Prints

Give your photos some serious wow-factor with an acrylic print that makes colours truly pop.


A4 & A3 Personalised Wall Calendars

Opt for a traditional look with our classic Wall Calendar.