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Digital Memories: How to Create a Custom Gift

Catherine's enjoys finding creative ways to preserve family memories and loves to share them with other DIY enthusiasts.

Here is some creative packaging for your DIY gift.

Here is some creative packaging for your DIY gift.

Rediscover Your Forgotten Memorabilia

Have you ever wondered what to get those elderly relatives who already have everything and struggled to find something really special while staying within a budget? The answer may be hiding in a closet on a forgotten shelf.

When organizing my own closet, I discovered a large cardboard box of family photos. In little time I had filled a gallon-size Ziploc bag with just Christmas pictures alone! That's when I had a brilliant idea. Why not compile those photos and add a soundtrack to share with my extended family? It would be perfect for the holidays! The gift was so well received that I now recommend it for all occasions, including weddings, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother's Day.

Materials Needed

To get started, you will need the following equipment:

  • a computer
  • scanner
  • CD/DVD burner
  • CD-R or DVD discs
  • Some type of slideshow software

Get the family involved in choosing favorite memories and sort out your selections. Photographs of any format will work. Once you have them organized, gang them up on the glass of a flatbed scanner, copy, and send them to your computer. Slides can also be converted but require a more specific type of equipment with mounting trays.

Step 1: Select Your Favorite Photos


Step 2: Send Images to the Computer

It's easy to gang up the pictures on a scanner screen to send to your computer.

It's easy to gang up the pictures on a scanner screen to send to your computer.


Step 3: Select Your Software Program and Make a DVD

There are many types of slideshow software available for both novice and professional applications. A basic computer editing program like Wondershare DVD Creator can be used for photo slideshows with video clip additions and music. These give a bit more creative leverage. For reviews of the latest Top 10 programs for 2022 visit:

You will need a blank disc which has 700MB of space. An average photo is approximately 1MB, and a song in MP3 format is about 6MB. There should be ample room for a nice display of pictures with favorite music from start to finish. You can adjust the settings for the time lapse between each picture. A good general rule is about 3-5 sec. although some may prefer a longer delay for detailed and unfamiliar pictures or for viewers with impaired vision.

Whether you decide on chronological order or random selection, drop the uploaded pictures into the program and select "Create DVD" when done. This will burn your pictures to your disc. Your computer will prompt you to select additional copies if needed.

Personalize a keepsake CD with a favorite image.

Personalize a keepsake CD with a favorite image.

Step 4: Choose a Custom Design for Your Disc

All major printer brands today offer models with a CD/ DVD printing option. These built-in templates allow you to print customized covers from a graphics library or your own uploaded images with a variety of fonts and effects. The affordable Epson XP-830 is a combination printer, scanner, and FAX machine with a CD/DVD printing template. For other recommendations, visit:

Creating your own tags online is easier than you'd think!

Creating your own tags online is easier than you'd think!

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Step 5: Create and Personalize a Disc Holder

Recycled brown kraft paper sleeves are economical and easy to use. Available from Amazon or Etsy, they come in 25 packs and can be decorated with thin fabrics and ribbon, rice papers, rubber stamp designs, and customized photographic labels. It's fun to get creative in making a one of a kind presentation!

Here's another ceative wrapping idea.

Here's another ceative wrapping idea.

Step 6: Finish With Creative Gift Wrap and Tags

The gift of a custom DVD featuring audio/visual memorabilia will be treasured by both young and old. It is a great way to remember and celebrate the lives of lost loved ones and to introduce genealogy and traditions to new family members. Packaging can be as simple or as sophisticated as desired from ready-made mailers to beautifully hand-crafted photo-frame sleeves of artisan papers and trims.

Boxes of pictures and bulky photo albums are impractical for sharing with a group and can't easily be sent to family and friends who live far away.

Personalized DVDs can be viewed on a computer or a TV DVD player, so they are a good choice for a person with limited access such as a family member in a convalescent home, a soldier overseas, or someone stationed to work in a remote place. They are economical, fun to make, and sure to bring both laughter and sentimental tears. They will be watched over and over again and cherished through the years.

© 2012 Catherine Tally


Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 30, 2016:

Hello Manatita. I appreciate your thoughts here. I'm glad you like the gift idea but understand that some people might find the process too technical or one that requires additional equipment. As an alternative, you could gather pictures and take them to a service who will upload them to discs for you. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment! Have a nice weekend:)

manatita44 from london on July 30, 2016:

I think your ideas are brilliant...truly brilliant! You are explaining it, all right, but I don't know that I can gravitate in this area with so much on. Still, I really love your Christmas ideas. Much Peace, cat.

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on April 11, 2015:

Hello peachy. Photographs and family mementos make great personal gifts. Thanks for stopping by:)

peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 11, 2015:

i print my kids photos into an album, it was a memorable gift

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 05, 2013:

Hello, FlourishAnyway-

I'll bet your personalized DVD was a favorite gift with very touching and unexpected images and dialogue. I am so glad that my hub gave you the encouragement/info you needed. I agree that these DVDs make great gifts for grandparents who can easily enjoy and share both audio and visual highlights of their families w/ friends. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. It is much appreciated!

My best,

Cat :)

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 05, 2013:

Making your own DVD and adding customized music and special effects is such an awesome idea. (If I could figure out how to do it, I know others can.) I did so to memorialize my cousin's wedding, even capturing some candid videos of what relatives wished for the couples. It was funny, touching, and enjoyable to put together. And it was a one-of-a-kind DVD. I often think that this idea would be nice as a birthday gift for a grandparent. Thanks for providing the encouragement.

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on January 17, 2013:

Hi peachpurple, Thank you for your endorsement of this idea. It's always nice to hear from someone other than me who has pleased family members with a personalized DVD.

I appreciate your comments and the vote UP. Take care.

:) Cat

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 17, 2013:

I have done a couple of personalized DVD video of Chinese new year trip back to hometown and everyone in the family loves it. A wonderful idea for a gift for any occasion. Voted up

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on December 16, 2012:

Thanks Moni Mas :) I really appreciate your stopping by and leaving the thoughtful comment. Happy Holidays!!

Agnes on December 16, 2012:

What a lovely idea! Thank you for all of the useful tips! That is definitely a gift that keeps on giving for years to come!

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on December 13, 2012:

Hi, Kathy. So good to see you here! I'm so glad you liked the idea. It's so funny how many memories can accumulate in a box of photos. Yes, we will show it again this year and share the laughter and tears as we remember those who are no longer with us.

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. My best to you!

Cat :)

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on December 13, 2012:

You know what? That is a great idea and I like how it came about kind of by accident! So are you going to show it at Christmas this year? Voted up, Cheers

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on December 05, 2012:

Hi Colin,

Indeed! It's amusing just how living life changes one's youthful perspectives :) Thanks to another fave hubber, Kashmir56, I remembered to tune in to The Letterman Show. I especially enjoyed the witty remarks of John Paul Jones. Jimmy Page has always been unbelieveable to watch on stage. I love his insightful recounts of the band and musings on music . Age has been good to him! Warm wshes to you too :)

epigramman on December 05, 2012:

Hello dear Catherine - always so nice to hook up with you and thank you so much for your beautiful comments and support. Yes it's true about technology - I remember as a boy that home movies came in reel to reel tapes - my how far we have come and will continue to do so in the near future. I also remember slide projectors too - now everything is so fast and immediate in our new digital generation although that said there is nothing like 'one's own eyes still playing the part of the camera' as I always say 'my eyes are the camera' and it will always be that way - everything goes through the eyes first. (and last)

On a musical note there is a fascinating You Tube video featuring the 3 original members of Led Zeppelin on the David Letterman show a few nights ago looking quite old - they were honorees of the annual Kennedy Centre ceremonies - Buddy Guy also got in and they all met the President

Sending you my warmest wishes and good energy to you and your family from lake erie time ontario canada 3:31pm

and imagine that - The Who are still touring as well

"I hope I get old before I die" lol lol lol

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on December 03, 2012:

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for your enthusiastic "thumb's up." I really appreciate your sharing too. I think that putting photo and audio memories on DVD is such a wonderful way to remember those who are no longer here. I smile and cry when I see my mom & dad, fave aunts & uncles, and our beloved golden retriever. I always enjoy hearing from you and wish you a very happy holiday season. You will ALWAYS have a friend and fan in Los Angeles.

My best,

Cat :)

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on December 03, 2012:

Hi wabash annie. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. I appreciate it.

Happy Holidays!

Cat :)

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on December 03, 2012:

This is a perfect Christmas gift that any family member would enjoy getting or giving, thanks for sharing this !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on December 03, 2012:

I loved your ideas ... thanks for sharing them.

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