As we head into the busiest sales season of the year, it’s important to look at new photo products and holiday photo gift buying trends. Country Living magazine focused on gift buying trends in its annual “Christmas Giving” feature: “One of the positive things to have come out of 2020 is a renewed appreciation for small businesses, independent artisans and handcrafted products,” they wrote.
Many buyers have made an extra effort to shop small to help keep their local family- and individually-owned businesses afloat. The same can be said for online shopping that is drawing new customers from buyers who prefer to purchase their goods in a noncontact environment.
One innovative trend arising this year is the “letter box gift,” which became popular in the UK during its coronavirus lockdown. Letter box gifts are packaged in such a way they can slip through an old-fashioned 12×2-inch front door mail slot or letter box. Everything from chocolates to bouquets of flowers are packed into broad, flat boxes that are safely delivered through a mail slot or in a wall-mounted mailbox where they won’t draw attention from passersby. Most letter box gift retailers offer wrapping services and the option of adding a personalized message.
Whether your business offers mailbox friendly gifts or traditional delivery options, the most popular trend for 2020 holiday gift giving is personalized products that are appreciated by members of every generation. Wall-mounted or tabletop prints, glass ornaments and cozy warm photo blankets are all treasured gifts offered by a variety of professional printing outlets. Here are some of the trendy products you can offer your customers.
Holiday Photo Gift Buying Trends
Warm and Fuzzy
When choosing which products to offer, quality versus price is important. Cindy Levinson, owner of Photogifts.com, in Boca Raton, Florida, offers only one type of photo blanket. The woven photo throw is manufactured by weaving colored strands of 100% cotton into an image. Levinson says the woven throws are more expensive than dyed blankets; however, the quality and durability are worth it.
Based on a process used as far back as Egyptian times, woven blankets are created on a jacquard loom; it uses digital software to scan a photo and recreate the pattern using colored yarns. They come in two varieties: afghan and tapestry.
The yarn used to weave afghan photo blankets is the same thickness in both horizontal and vertical directions; yarns used to make the tapestry blanket are made in two different diameters. The thinner of the two yarns, called the warp, consists of six to eight different color strands, which combine to accurately recreate the original colors. The ends of the strands—fringes—decorate the blanket’s edges.
Woven photo blankets and pillows are two of the most expensive products Levinson offers, but she says customers are always thrilled with the results. The image reproduction is exceptional; the material is soft, washable and lasts for years without fading.
In addition, Collage.com, headquartered in Brighton, Michigan, offers fleece, plush fleece, Sherpa and woven photo blankets. It also provides more than 60 collage layout options, including designs celebrating children, parents, grandparents and holidays. Moreover, a heart-shaped collage can be filled with pictures of the customer’s pets or family.
Most Collage.com designs let customers choose a background color or pattern or add text, like a special date. Customers can also design the back of fleece blankets with more photos.
Wrap It Up!
No holiday gift is complete without festive wrapping paper. Zazzle.com expanded its wrapping paper designs to offer various photo designs printed on 60-pound matte, 64-pound glossy and 24-pound recyclable linen papers. Designs accommodate single repeated photos; multiple images in patterns; or a collage of Christmas graphics interspersed with the customer’s images.
Most of Zazzle’s wrapping papers are designed by independent artists. For instance, iCool-Create from San Jose, California, offers everything from embroidered jackets to personalized skateboards; HollyShop, from DC, offers holiday-themed invitations, greeting cards and gifts. What’s more, SEB specializes in black-and-white photo collage gifts. SEB’s wrapping paper designs incorporate 42 separate images, making them perfect for photo professionals and hobbyists to display their imaging talents.
Zazzle’s holiday wrapping paper is sold in 30-inch rolls—ranging from 6 to 60 feet long. Zazzle can also transfer the paper’s designs to other personalized products, like gift bags, tags, ribbon, tissue paper and wine boxes.
In addition, the popular artist-driven website offers a custom health and personal care product line. It comprises personalized plastic face shields; pleated cloth face masks; decorative face masks; travel-size hand sanitizer bottles; and one-time-use sanitizer packets. Whether as personal or promotional gifts, they make unique stocking stuffers for a health-conscious world.
In keeping with other remote business trends, the Redwood City, California-based company added an on-demand design platform that connects Zazzle users with expert, independent designers via video and live chat. For a flat fee, consumers are given direct access to a designer to help craft their product designs. Services range from creating a social media graphic to designing a company’s holiday card.
Deck the Halls
For a more traditional holiday gift and popular stocking stuffer, look to the myriad of companies that offer personalized photo ornaments. With the large number of professional labs offering these products—from pro photographer services to consumer gift suppliers—there are literally dozens of sources and options from which to choose.
Bay Photo Lab, headquartered in Scotts Valley, California, offers metal and bamboo ornaments; they make great complimentary gifts for clients. The grain and texture of the bamboo ornaments create a natural warm tone as well as vintage feeling uncommon with more traditional surfaces. Bay Photo can print photos with the bamboo showing through in light/white areas; or the lab can add a white ink underlay to make the colors pop.
Metal ornaments are also printed using the same dye-infusion process as Bay Photo’s full-size metal prints. Specially coated aluminum is infused on both sides and finished with a red ribbon.
In addition to metal ornaments, Nations Photo Lab, in Hunt Valley, Maryland, offers card ornaments in packs of 25 5×5-inch postcards. The cards are printed on semigloss, premium matte, pearl and linen acid-free papers.
What’s more, among the consumer-oriented sites, Shutterfly, also located in Redwood City, offers three options: traditional glass balls printed with photos and messages on the outside and filled with glitter on the inside; two-dimensional, 3-inch glass ornaments in square, round or hexagon shapes; and Shutterfly’s popular white ceramic ornaments with delicate cutout edges.
MyPhoto.com, in Delray Beach, Florida, offers 2×2-inch square and round mini glass ornaments. They are printed in high definition on crystal-clear glass that shimmers when surrounded by lights. Ornaments include a gift box and hanging ribbon. Although images are only printed on one side, they are viewable on both sides. The mini and full-size 4×4-inch ornaments are among Myphoto’s newest personalized glass products.
Unique Artisan Photo Gifts
Moreover, no gift-shopping adventure is complete without a scroll through the independent artist shops of Etsy. One newcomer caught my eye with its bright, fluorescent photo sculptures. GiftsJourney is a family-owned business in Sugar Land, Texas. Michael Yu, owner, says they opened their Etsy store early in 2020. However, GiftsJourney is a two-and-a-half-year veteran of the personalized gift business.
Its website, giftsjourney.com, offers various gifts, but personalized products are most popular. “I think nowadays people want unique gifts, if not expensive ones,” says Yu. “They serve an emotional need; a gift using your own photo is perfect for that purpose!”
Among the popular personalized products are 3D custom photo lamps. The line includes 3D lamps, LED night lamps and 3D moon lamps. The first two employ LED lights to outline the photo’s primary subjects, making them ideal for pictures of couples, children and pets.
Yu began selling the line two years ago. “It’s simple, artistic, beautiful and, at the same time, it has all the details (of the original image).” Each 3D lamp is handmade. “We have an artist who manually draws the contour lines and then we send it to the factory to manufacture it,” he explains.
Custom Photo Lamps
The custom photo 3D lamp measures 9.8×6.7 inches and sits on a wooden base, either round or elliptical. The round is Bluetooth supported, powered by a rechargeable battery and glows with a single color—warm white.
The elliptical base is powered by a USB-type plug-in; it also glows in three colors—warm, warm white and white. The elliptical base is not Bluetooth supported. The company also engraves the lamps with a short quote chosen by the customer.
Artists also design GiftJourney’s LED night lamps, but the LED image is surrounded by a wooden frame. Customers can use the framed image as a table- or desktop decorative light or as a unique nightlight. The USB-charged lamp glows in three colors.
The 3D moon lamp is a round glass ball with textured features that make it look like the lunar surface. Manufactured by Magic Lunar, the lamp is available in five sizes from four to eight inches in diameter. The company engraves the customer’s photo on one side of the globe and a short quote or phrase on the other. The moon lamp also comes with a wooden stand that houses a rechargeable battery.
Further, he’s open to sales and marketing partnerships with retailers and photographers, as he originally started his business selling to retailers several years ago. “We’ll make sure the product is perfect,” he says. “Our goal is to bring the most beautiful memories to you, your clients and your loved ones, through our personalized gifts.” You can reach him at email@example.com.
In these days of social distancing and spending so much time at home, consumers are looking for ways to stay connected. This holiday season, there’s no better way to connect than sharing memories with personalized photo gifts.