How to Make Gifts from Old Photographs

Utilizing old pictures, jewelry boxes, frames, ribbon, dried flowers and other embellishments, this craft idea is perfect for any gift giving occasion.

Everyone has piles of school pictures, old photographs in shoe boxes and plenty of memories taking up space and waiting to be scrapbooked. With the addition of digital cameras, many photos have made their way out of closets and under the bed, to files in the computer.

Whether Polaroid, 35 mm or digital, black and white or color, there will always be a plethora of resources for this project. What a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation, birthday, anniversary or anytime gift idea.

Jewelry Boxes and Frames, a Beautiful Way to see Memories Everyday

Covering an old jewelry box, new box with hinged lid, frame or other item with flat or rounded surfaces is an easy way to use old photos. The result is beautiful and timeless. The example in the this article is of an old jewelry box, owned by the woman in the picture. This is a unique idea to utilize a belonging of a loved one, while displaying their image. In this example, one photograph was used. In other projects using the same technique, several photos may be utilized to make a collage effect.

When using the collage method, make sure to have enough photographs that have a similar theme or subject to cover the lid or the entire project. Add beads, dried flowers, old jewels or any other appliqué for additional style and flair. Simple wooden boxes with hinged lids can be purchased for under $5 at craft stores. They can be left in their natural state, painted, varnished or completely covered with the photos. Adding appliqués is not necessary and perhaps not desirable when giving this gift to a gentleman. Some small trinkets found at craft stores depicting fishing rods, sports or wild animals may be used to make a more masculine gift.


  • box, jewelry box, or men’s valet box, or picture frame. The frame size is not important as to the photograph that will be displayed inside, but the surrounding framing material should be at least one inch in width.
  • scissors
  • enough black and white or color photographs to cover the project completely, or a single picture to be strategically placed.
  • one bottle of Modgepodge
  • one sponge brush approximately one inch in width

Preparing the Object for Old Photographs

Dust your project or clean with soapy water if material allows. Make sure the surface is completely dry. Decide on the pattern, whether one or two selected pictures or a collage. Cut out the photographs and pre-arrange them on the surface. Make sure when approaching corners, that you over lap the pictures for an even seam. Take each picture and apply a moderate amount of Modgepodge to the back, replace in the indicated area. When the surface is completely covered allow 24 hours to dry.

After the first application of Modgepodge has dried arrange the added flowers, buttons, appliqués, etc. on the surface where desired. Carefully apply a moderate amount of Modgepodge over the embellishments, making sure they are completely covered. The Modgepodge will act a glue and secure the items to the project. Allow another 24 hours drying time.

Apply one last application of Modgepodge to the entire surface of the project, including the attached embellishments. Allow 48 hours for completed drying time. The project is now finished. A beautiful display of memories are sealed and protected. What a wonderful heirloom quality gift for any occasion.