Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Creating Digital Holiday Gifts

By Christina VanGinkel

With the holidays arriving in just a few weeks, coming up with gift ideas for the hard to buy for, is a task already at hand. Family members seem to be especially hard to figure out for me. For instance, what do you get for the grandparents who have a houseful of every imaginable appliance and personal possession or for a doting aunt or uncle who have nearly every item known to man? I decided to look no further than my digital camera and home computer, but then challenged myself to go beyond the typical framed print, to give them not just another disk of pictures or a few quickly saved video clips. I decided to go the extra mile and actually create them all gifts 'with' the video clips and pictures!

You can do the same thing and it is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. You can give them something they can use on their own computer every day, a gift that comes from the heart and includes photographs or video clips of their favorite grandchild or niece or nephew.

Using a program such as Photo Story, create a DVD or CD of photographs that you edit with text, sound clips, even music. You can easily import any pictures you have, assemble them in the order you want them to play, and add sound clips you record yourself, even music. You can also add text as you go along to every picture, or to only those you choose too. You can then pull them together in any order you desire, mixing and matching as you go. Essentially, you are creating a digital scrapbook that they can then play on their own home or office computer, a personalized digital scrapbook that is.

A video you create yourself of all your favorite family clips from the past year is also a good gift. Personalize each one for the person receiving it. Make them the star of the show or their favorite youngster; add some fancy editing with ease by using a program such as Windows Movie Maker. There are other more detailed programs available, but Windows Movie Maker is easy enough for even a novice to use and create in, and advanced enough that the recipient will never know how quickly and easily you made their fantastic gift.

Once your gift is assembled and you have burned the disk, do not just wrap it up or toss it in a gift bag. Print a few sheets of wrapping paper on your home printer, including some of the same shots you used to create the disk. Add a few holiday themed pieces of clipart to give the whole package definite holiday flair.

If you want to step the gift up a few levels, include a gift of the same program you used to create your masterpiece. On the other hand, for the techno newbie, bestow them with a digital camera all their own. Prices are now affordable enough that you can practically give every single person on your gift list their very own digital starter camera. Top off the gift with a great big decorative bow and wish them the very best holiday season yet!

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