Today's Guest: Kristen Duke

Hello friends! My name is Kristen and I'm a potrait photographer in Austin, Texas.

Besides taking lots of pictures myself, I love teaching workshops to help others learn how to take better pictures. I have a little book called Say NO to Auto to help those that can't make it to my workshops. I also love to blog and share all things crafty, home decor, parties, as well as some yummy recipes I enjoy. I love all the ideas and support around the blogosphere, and grateful the gals of Eighteen25 joined me on my first series of Decorating with Portraits in September.

Today, I am sharing with you a wonderful last minute gift idea that is sure to delight anyone on your list....Pictures! It's a no brainer that I gift my parents and grandparents pictures of my family and children each year. It's what they love and something unique only I can give. But this gift idea is geared more specifically to young children (but I'm sure adults would enjoy it as well). It can be done in just a few short steps and even on Christmas Eve if needed. It isn't too fancy, but it is well loved. I suppose you could get scrabook paper out and make it extra fancy, but I think it is the simplicity of the pictures that draws my kids in (and I worry less that it will be ruined).

The kid friendly personal photo album
It's as easy as 1.2.3.
1) Turn on the computer and select 25-30 images per child
2) Print said pictures as 4x6's to your favorite 1 hour photo lab
3) Find a mini album to slide in those images

Print out a bunch of pictures. Yes, those pictures that have sat there for years and have never jumped out of the screen. They deserve to have a life and be enjoyed! I made this mini album for each of my 4 kids last year for Christmas, and they have loved it all year long. You can find the simple 24 print albums at most any store for $5 or less. Some are cuter than others...most feel pretty cheaply made, but that's what makes it easy to give to the kids as a gift because you don't care if it gets bent in all directions. I think this album above holds 36 pictures. I printed a variety of images from my "nice" camera to my camera phone....the whole family on vacation, the 4 kids playing in the rain in the street, just me and my hubby, grandparents, individual shots current, and individual shots as a baby. Here is a close up of some of our pages, just to give you an idea...and a glimpse into our life;)

If you don't want to wade through past pictures, just highlight the past year. Some pictures I liked so much, I wanted them each to have, so printed 4 of that same shot. Others, just one. I ordered a big stack from Sams Club of about 150 pictures and waded through them once I got home. It was too much to decide ahead of time what to do with them. One of the kids favorite shots is a picture of my hubby sticking his tongue out as a silly face. This makes my youngest laugh each time she see's it and she wants to immitate daddy being funny sticking his tongue out. It's a great quiet book in the car or church and especially fun to put pictures of family that they might not be seen too often.

It's part of my philosophy that children need to see images of themselves happy. With their siblings, their parents, etc. because it builds their self esteem and their sense of family. It is concrete engrained images of joy in life.

See...simple! Now aren't you thinking...."why didn't I think of that?" Or maybe you have thought of it....but I love giving this gift, because I see the smiles all year long. Just the other day I caught my 11 year old son enjoying pictures from his album all smiles. Melts. My. Mothers. Heart.

Hurry've got 4 full days before Christmas! If you'd like to hop on over to my world, today on my blog I'm sharing a yummy holiday treat, a Peppermint Ice Cream Dream Dessert....or if you want to learn how to take better pictures of your Christmas tree lights, check it out here. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

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this would make a fantastic last minute gift for so many people on my list. thanks for sharing it with us today kristen. now i'm off to check out that peppermint ice cream dream dessert. that sounds yum-o.

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