Last-minute photo gift ideas

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The countdown has begun! If you're looking for a gift by December 25, it’s already too late to buy gifts using iPhoto’s photo service. For most other services, December 18 at 11 p.m. EST is last possible moment you can complete an order and hope for your stuff to arrive in time to be tucked underneath the tree. Here are some ideas for last-minute shoppers:

Holiday Cards

Not only does Snapfish have some particularly nice card designs this year, but if you choose to make photo cards you can get them right away. And I mean right away. I saved $10 on shipping by choosing to have my cards created at my local Walgreens. Best of all, within two hours I received an e-mail message saying they were done. Your options are more limited when you choose to pick up your cards—you must select a glossy finish and get 4-by-8- or 5-by-7-inch cards—but it sure beats waiting for the letter carrier to arrive and paying a big shipping charge. Kodak Gallery offers a similar option for its 4-bu-8-inch photo cards. You can choose pick them up the same day at your local Target.

Calendars and More

If you live near a Walmart, you’ll be happy to know it offers one of the widest selections of last-minute photo gifts. You can still order everything from calendars to (for the sports fan in your family) customized magazine covers and sports trading cards. Create your gift online at the Walmart Digital Photo Center and then pick up your gifts in the store usually within one to four days.

Photo Books

My favorite photo gift is the photo book—it never fails to impress the grandparents and it’s a great way to summarize the year, especially if you have little kids. But it can also one hardest gifts to do late. You’ve missed the iPhoto deadline, which is too bad, because really nothing is as easy to use when it comes to making a photo book. However, December 18 is the deadline for services including Shutterfly, Kodak Gallery, and Snapfish using next-day delivery shipping. You can order photo books from Lulu as late as December 20 if you choose “SuperMegaFast” shipping. (I assume that’s also “SuperMegaExpensive,” but Lulu doesn’t provide a standardized shipping costs chart.) Lulu has a lot of colorful themes too (including some targeted to specific universities).

One Truly Last Minute Option

If it’s too late to use a photo service, consider creating a slide show of your favorite photos and burning it to DVD. True, your relatives won’t have anything to show off on the coffee table, but it can be fun to pop a disc in the DVD player and look at photos with the whole family. (For some tips, check out Create Stunning Slide Shows.) Best of all, all you need to make a DVD is an hour, a blank recordable disc, and your Mac.

Have any other ideas to share with your fellow procrastinators? Let them know on the forums.

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