A Practical Gift Solution: How to Make a CD or DVD of Photos

Updated on October 7, 2017
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Catherine earned her Bachelor's Degree in art and has always found it fascinating how good design evolves from basic function.

What do you get for those who already have everything? How do you come up with something really special while staying within your budget? The answer came to me while cleaning my closets over the summer.

I ran across a large cardboard box of family photos. As I began sorting by the decade, I realized that in no time at all 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.

Getting Started:

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

Search through photo albums and boxes for favorite pictures and ask other family members to contribute. There is no limit to the type of format: polaroids, Instamatic, 3x5, 4x6, etc. Slides can be converted too. Once you have them, gang them up on the glass of a flatbed scanner, copy, and send them to your computer.

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. | Source
There are many software programs available.
There are many software programs available.

Step 3: Select your software program and make a DVD.

There are many types of slideshow software available for both novice and professional applications. Basic computer editing programs like Final Cut Pro and others can be used for photo slideshows with video clip additions and music. These give a bit more creative leverage. Slideshow specific software like PRO-ShowGold 6 can be easily downloaded from your computer and is compatible with Windows 8. This program has built-in editing capability too! Some other easy- to- use programs include Photo Stage Slideshow, Kodak EasyShare, and Wondershare for both Mac and Windows 8/7/Vista/ XP. Here is a link to the Top 10 programs for 2015: http://photo-slideshow-software-review.toptenreviews.com/proshow-review.html

You will need a blank CD which has 700MB of space. An average photo is approx. 1MB and a song in MP3 format about 6MB, so 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 those with impaired vision.

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

Step 4: Customize your DVD w/ a personal graphic design.


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 graphic library or your own uploaded images with a variety of fonts and effects. My personal favorite is the affordable Epson Artisan 730 which is a combination printer, scanner, and FAX machine.

Step 5: Put the disc in a sturdy sleeve, write a personal note, address it, and drop in the mailbox.

The Gateway CD folders are economical and easy to use. I have bought them in 10 packs and decorated them with with thin fabrics and ribbon, rice papers, rubber stamp designs, and customized photographic labels. The paper surface also accepts fine point permanent marker like sharpie with crisp detail. It's fun to get creative in making a one of a kind presentation!

The gift of a custom DVD which features 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 geneaology 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 both computer and TV, so they are a good choice for a person with limited access such as an elderly 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.


Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Catherine Tally


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      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 22 months ago from Los Angeles

        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 profile image

        manatita44 22 months ago from london

        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.

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 3 years ago from Los Angeles

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

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 4 years ago from Los Angeles

        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 profile image

        FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

        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.

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

        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

      • peachpurple profile image

        peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

        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

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

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

      • Monis Mas profile image

        Aga 5 years ago

        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!

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

        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 :)

      • Fossillady profile image

        Kathi 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

        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

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

        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 profile image

        epigramman 5 years ago

        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

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

        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 :)

      • cat on a soapbox profile image

        Catherine Tally 5 years ago from Los Angeles

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

        Happy Holidays!

        Cat :)

      • kashmir56 profile image

        Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

        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 profile image

        wabash annie 5 years ago from Colorado Front Range

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


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