Tired of boring baby books? Try one of these fun and unusual ways to make the most of your little one's milestones.
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The Shadow Box
A shadow box frame is an affordable and easy way to showcase not only baby photos, but also special mementos such as a prized toy or baby rattle. "What I love about creating shadow boxes is that anything looks charming and artistic when contained in the box," says Jeanie Engelbach, a professional organizer who archives photos for her clients (www.photojeanie.com). She uses swatches of wallpaper from the baby's room or a collage of congratulatory cards scanned for the box's background. "The precious mementos of infancy can be properly archived while proudly being displayed. I've also designed these boxes as year in the life, which is an interesting diversion from the photo library."
Other items that can be included are your baby shower invite, the birth announcement, a cherished romper, and the baby's handprints and footprints. You can hang the box anywhere in your home, and utilize the top and bottom of the box. "I place items too large or bulky to fit inside, such as baby blocks spelling out the name or a baby rattle, suspended from the frame," Engelbach says.
Make a Quilt
Slide Text "I saved my favorite outfit from my kids' first year of life, and had a lap quilt made out of them," says Cindy McCarthy, a mom of two from Chicago and founder of onthegoChicago.com, a website for families. "That way I can save a little piece of all of those special outfits--coming home from the hospital, favorite romper, first birthday outfit, etc.--in a useful way." You can make a quilt for each child and hang it in her room for display, or put it away as a special gift when each is expecting a first child.
Don't know how to quilt? No problem! You can find people to create the quilt for you on Etsy.com or at local sewing stores. Or check out the memory blankets at Willow Creek Studio's website (www.willowcreekstudio.net). You can send in 16 to 36 clothing items from your baby's wardrobe and the site will stitch a blanket for you. Prices range from $95 to $205.
Celebrate Special Events
Give holidays and special occasions more meaning by incorporating baby's best items. "Use baby shoes and socks as ornaments to decorate a Christmas tree, or, as we've done in our family, a 'birthday' tree," suggests Lynn Colwell, founder of CelebrateGreen.net. You can also create custom ornaments using your personal photos on sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish.
You can wrap your child's holiday, birthday, and graduation gifts with personalized wrapping paper adorned with your favorite family photos. The wrapping is easy to create on sites like Giftskins.com Expressionables.com and 123Print.com.
Don't be afraid to cut up clothes that are not worth saving except for the sentimental value, Colwell says. "They can be used to decorate picture frames, photo books. If you have enough, they can be made into a braided rug or a cute tea party tablecloth and napkins."
Sadie Ryan Tiles (www.sadieryantiles.com) will imprint birth announcements, baby photos, and more on antique-finish keepsake tiles, which can then be displayed in any room in the house. Each tile is handmade and costs $49.95.
You can also display baby's photos--and keep track of milestones--with a personalized wall calendar for your home office. It's perfect for busy parents who don't have time to fill out an entire baby book. The calendars at Tiny Tales (www.tiny-tales.com) make it all a snap: You simply place the appropriate sticker on the day to mark the milestone. When the year is through, start a new one and put the previous year away for safekeeping.
Scrapbooking is fun, but it can also be expensive and time-consuming (not to mention that not all of us have been blessed with the creative gene!). Sites like ScrapBlog (www.scrapblog.com) and SmileBox (www.smilebox.com) let you create unique scrapbooks featuring your best baby and family photos. You can also scan other mementos--announcements, cards, tickets, etc.--to include in your book.
Once your baby becomes a toddler, you'll no doubt have plenty of drawings and paintings made by those little hands. Show off your budding artist's work with a custom-made book you can create at My Little Picasso (www.mylittlepicassoonline.com). Instead of keeping your child's artwork in bins or taped to the fridge, you can have them scanned into beautiful books that won't fade or get damaged. Prices range from $75 to $225.
The Day Baby Was Born (www.thedaybabywas born.com) is a new way for expectant parents to capture and experience once-in-a-lifetime memories by integrating with Facebook. The site also offers a pregnancy journal, news and facts from baby's birthday, photo upload capabilities, a letter to Baby, and more.
You can create a virtual scrapbook using Flickr (www.flickr.com) or another photo-sharing site to create your own "Day in the Life" gallery for your child. And Memolane (www.memolane.com) can capture photos, videos, music, tweets, MySpace posts, and more for a book that can be shared online with family and friends.
Creating a blog that details all of baby's milestones, as well as the cute things he does every day, can preserve the memory for you while it keeps friends and family members updated on his doings. Post photos and videos, and allow everyone to leave messages for baby to read when he's older.
You can start your own blog for free at sites like Blogger.com and BlogSpot.com, and can set it up as a private account so that only people you invite can view it and post comments.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.