This post is part of a series on how technology fits into my family life, sponsored by Dell. See my other posts, and posts from other writers, at the Dell Family Tech page. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a Dell Inspiron One 2320 Touch computer! Details at the end of the post.
As if I weren’t dependent on my computer already, now that the Holidays are here, I realize how much more I rely on it during the gift-giving seasons. Over the years, I have found that these are my favorite, let’s call them go-to, online services for creating personalized gifts and also saving me money.
Many years ago I started making photo books as gifts for my husband and my provider of choice is Blurb. Photo books are by no means a new thing, in fact they are quite common place now. But if you know my husband you would know that quality is a big deal and the final product Blurb produces meets his very discerning standards. For me, Blurb’s technical interface is very intuitive and the photobook layouts are plentiful so that I feel as if I have enough choices to create exactly the book I I want.
For the holidays, I make my husband a photo book of our family including my favorite pictures of the year and include funny things my son has said and scans of our son’s favorite artwork. This year the plan is to make books for other close family members like grandparents as well. The time-consuming part is locating all your photos and making sure you have them uploaded to your computer and then Blurb. The making the books? That’s a snap and where time flies by because your having fun.
Last year I discovered the new holiday card company, Pinhole Press. Even though I didn’t get my holiday cards there a new gifting tradition was born. Through Pinhole Press you can easily create customized photo notepads. Last year, I made many for all of my immediate family members. Grandparents, aunts and uncles. Hoo boy, what a success! A relatively small gesture with a big payout. The family loved it. I loved it because I just uploaded some photos, personalized them and within a few minutes these gorgeous photo notepads were created. My only fear was that my family wouldn’t scribble on them because they didn’t want to “ruin them.” So I bought each person two. One to use, and one to save. This year, each family member will be getting another pair with a more recent picture of my son, the subject of everyone’s affection.
A few years ago I discovered the fabulous video slideshow service that is Animoto. Within minutes you can create a personalized video greeting using your favorite photos, video and music that can be emailed to your loved ones and also uploaded to YouTube or Facebook. You can easily add text for personalization. I love it because the user interface is super intuitive and once you’re done uploading your photos you press a button and Animoto syncs the pictures to music, effectively creating what looks like a music video (watchout wedding videographers). One year when I was struggling to find a great Father’s Day gift, I quickly (like it took two minutes) made my husband his own Father’s Day music video. Since the folks at Animoto are smart, they now make things even easier for folks with readymade holiday video greetings. All you do is add your photos and text and all Holiday special effects are there to impress your friends.
This is one of my best annual investments. As you know, Amazon Prime gives you access to free two-day shipping on almost all of your Amazon purchases. I call it my schmuck insurance. Because when I haven’t had it, I’ve felt like a big schmuck to be paying full-price for expedited service. And, there are no other times that you feel the need to have two-day shipping like you do than during gift-giving seasons (and I’m not only talking Christmas– it’s Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc) when inevitably you needed something yesterday.
Retail Me Not
I wrote about Retail Me Not on Black Friday and don’t want you to miss the memo on this service. It’s my go-to site before I purchase anything on the internet. The Retail Me Not site aggregates all the secret and widely-shared discount codes for major and small web retailers. Usually I save myself at least 10% on my purchase and/or free shipping. Huzzah!
How about you? Any web services that you regularly frequent during the gift giving seasons? Spill it.
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Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a Dell Inspiron One 2320 Touch computer!
GIVEAWAY RULES (read them, as you have more than one chance to enter the giveaway)
The giveaway will run until Friday, December 16, 2011, 11:59 p.m. EDT and is open to all U.S. residents. A winner will be chosen at random using Random.org from all eligible entries. Each reader has two chances to win by leaving a comment on this post (#2 in the series), and the final post (#3 in the series), which will go up next week. Readers can also leave comments on the final two posts by other Babble Voices writers participating in the Dell Family Tech campaign. Note: Not all Dell Family Tech post comments are eligible for this giveaway so look carefully at each author’s posts to see if comments left on them are valid for this giveaway.
One comment per person per post, please. The chosen winner must respond within 48 hours of notification to claim their prize. Good luck!
THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. I WILL CONTACT A WINNER TOMORROW, SATURDAY DEC 17.