Clearly Shutterfly should have sponsored this post.

One of the things I like about reading other blogs is that people post the best ideas, which you can then copy or tweak and make your own. Example numero uno is an idea posted on Feeding the Soil. Sara, the blog's author, writes about sending printed photos to her son's grandparents every month. She mentions in this post that she gave this as a gift to the grandparents one year for Christmas. Genius!

Since we were trying to take a more relaxed approach to gift giving this year (for financial reasons, among others), I decided to create something called the Noah of the Month club. We ordered custom photo frames from a shop on Etsy and promised all sets of grandparents that we'd send them some printed photos of Noah every month in 2013! Boom. Every grandparent's dream.

Here's how it worked:

Step 1: We hired a local photographer to do a newborn photo shoot at our apartment when Noah was one month old. We were on the fence about this because of the cost, but since we knew we'd use the photos for Christmas gifts, it felt like an investment and in the end I'm so happy we did it!

Step 2: We found this lovely Etsy shop that makes custom 4x6 frames and ordered one for each of the sets of grandparents and a few other family members as well. They came out SO nicely!

Step 3: Once we got the newborn image files (and died a thousand times of cuteness!), I ordered a set of prints from Shutterfly for each set of grandparents and some extras for family.

Step 4: We'd been using a service called Treat to make special cards for family and friends since Noah's arrival, so I printed up special "You're now a member of the Noah of the Month club!" cards for the grandparents. We chose a photo for each frame, threw the extra photos in the greeting card, and wrapped the whole thing up.

Step 5: Now the trick is to not post every photo we take of Noah on Facebook so that we can save some for the monthly photos! Once a month I'll upload a few images to Shutterfly and have them mailed to each set of grandparents.

It'll be a little work once a month, but it's totally worth the time and everyone loved them. I can't say enough about Treat and Shutterfly... we love their services and they send out so many coupons for free stuff and discounts that it gets addictive.

OH! One other little gift idea for the way out...

Speaking of free coupons, I had one for a free photo book from Shutterfly so I made a little book for Noah called "Noah's Family." I grabbed photos of all of his aunts, uncles, grandparents, godmothers, etc and organized them in a simple 20 page book. I figure that this will be a fun way for him to always remember his family members, even if we don't live right next door to them. I imagine pointing to each page and saying "Noah, who's this?!" when he's old enough to talk. Fun, right?!

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