There are basically two types of holiday shoppers: those who meticulously plan their gift list months in advance, and those who rush through the aisles of their favorite stores days before Christmas looking for the “perfect presents” and stocking stuffers.
Of course, photo gifts are perfect for adding a personalized touch to holiday giving. In addition, stocking stuffers are most frequently left to the last minute, so it’s important to plan for both the prepared and unprepared shopper when planning holiday sales.
Mothers are typically the holiday planners, setting up family portrait sessions for the year’s holiday cards and social media posts. They also escort youngsters to the mall to see Santa Claus, creating another opportunity to share special memories with the family.
Photo labs working with professional photographers and/or print-order customers would do well to expand their gift offerings to include smaller, less expensive personalized products for stocking stuffers like the ones we’ve selected.
Cindy Levinson, owner of Photogifts.com in Boca Raton, Florida, has seen the benefits of product diversification since starting her business in the 1980s. She caters to a diverse clientele, ranging from mail order customers to professional shooters. Like most photo labs, she sees a big boost in sales before the holidays, including a stable of repeat customers who order stocking stuffers every year.
Photo sculptures, cutout photo ornaments and cutout key chains are among the most popular products. “Photo ornaments are one of our biggest sellers,” says Levinson. “We don’t use templates. Professional artists determine the cuts. Each picture dictates the format, giving a superior finished product that complements the photograph.
“Customers come back every year to order cutouts of their children, which they give as stocking stuffers, package decorations and ornaments. We have customers who take photographs throughout the year specifically posed to make cutouts.”
This year, Photogifts.com added luggage tags made of durable, fiberglass-reinforced plastic printed on one side with the client’s photo and the words “Mine” or “Not Yours” on the other. “Those have been very popular for backpacks as well as luggage,” Levinson says.
They also introduced nine-inch plush animals, just the right size to peek out of stockings on Christmas morning. A miniature printed photo T-shirt adorns each animal. Customers can order matching T-shirts in children and adult sizes, so they can match their favorite Teddy.
Photogifts.com also offers matching mug and puzzle sets: an 11-ounce printed heart mug with a 72-piece puzzle and a 15-ounce rectangular printed mug with a 252-piece puzzle. Both ship with puzzle pieces packed inside the high-quality ceramic mugs, which serve as guides for assembling the puzzles.
Personalized stationery is another opportunity for creating unique stocking stuffers. Yours Truly, a line of personalized products developed by Shutterfly designers Molly Wintroub and Pinckney Templeton, offers a series of easel calendars consisting of 12 5×7-inch cards printed on thick premium cardstock and coated with a matte or pearl finish.
Depending upon the design, the cards are displayed vertically or horizontally using a slotted bamboo stand. Two popular easel calendar designs that stand out among the dozens of themes available are “In Dog Years” and “A Purrfect Year”—perfect gifts for pet lovers.
Moreover, Yours Truly, along with Shutterfly’s other design lines, offers a wide range of stationery products suitable for gifting, from personalized stickers and gift tags to cards, notepads and sticky notepads.
Another popular on-demand printing site, Zazzle.com offers hundreds of unique, personalized gift ideas. Launched 10 years ago as a family business, Zazzle has since opened manufacturing and shipping offices around the world. The company has a dozen high-profile branding lines, like Disney and Getty Images, as well as lines created by up-and-coming artists.
Marsh Enterprises of Olathe, Kansas, developed a line of photo collage products perfect for Instagram images. Gifts range from cell phone cases to desk organizers as well as key chains. In addition, they include classic printed acrylic styles and printed wrist lanyards in different colors. The Instagram 11-photo collage wrist key chain measures 1.25 wide by 6.5 inches long. Eleven square-format images are printed on a double satin ribbon and attached to soft cotton webbing finished with a metal key clasp on one end.
Photo retailers catering to last-minute gift shoppers can turn to one of the best-known suppliers in the photo and promotional markets. Neil Enterprises, founded in 1961 in the Chicago area, specializes in photo novelty and promotional items.
They range from photo frames to photo buttons, key chains, snow globes. Neil offers many other products that also can be personalized using customers’ prints. Sold in cases of 12 to 100 pieces, these unusual photo- and holiday-themed products are perfect for filling stockings with affordable personalized gifts.
One of their newest products is an acrylic photo smartphone stand. The clear phone stand features a 2.5×3.5-inch pocket that displays a photograph. It ships flat and assembles by sliding two pieces together. A notch in the plastic allows the user to charge the phone. In addition, Neil Enterprises’ PhotoRoo photo phone pocket is a perfect companion to the phone stand. The credit card wallet holds two cards and fits on the back of most smartphones. A clear, 1.25×1.75-inch pocket displays a favorite photo.
Neil Enterprises is probably best known for its festive holiday photo frames. This year’s selection includes the familiar ceramic mini frames with Santa Claus, snowy woodland scenes and other classic motifs.
A set of hand-painted nutcracker picture frames is among their newest offerings. They are available in two color combinations, with fuzzy white beards and hair. The 14-inch nutcrackers can stand majestically on a fireplace mantle, displaying 4×6-inch photos in vertical or horizontal frames.
These are just a sample of the beautiful personalized photo gift items you can offer. You may decide to produce them in-house or partner with an affiliate program. With just a little creativity and imagination, the possibilities are boundless!