Archive for Jim

Disney Vacation Photo Puzzle Surprise

What a great way to surprise the kids with a Disney vacation.  The idea is simple, as most great ideas usually are. Here’s how it works.

  1. Find a photo that represents the vacation destination, Disney or otherwise.
  2. Order a Photo Puzzle using that picture.
  3. Give the Photo Puzzle to the kids and let *them* put it together.

There are two steps to the surprise. This first is when they start to recognize the image.  Most kids love Disney. It’s fun and exciting and everybody recognizes the Disney characters and images.  Their very own puzzle of Mickey Mouse is so cool all by itself.

The second step is when they realize that are *going* to Disney.  Some customers will add text to the image giving it away in the form of “Thomas’s Family Vacation to Disney – 2014”.  You can picture the excitement and screams of joy when that hits their brain. We’re going on vacation to Disney! There is nothing a pure and exciting as they joy expressed by children.

I use Disney as an example because it’s a popular choice for families. It has been since I was kid. But the surprise Photo Puzzle can be used in so many other ways.

We’ve all heard of the sixteen year old getting a set of keys to the car for their birthday.  How fun would it be to watch them put together a puzzle of their car!? Ever December we watch car commercials with cars in the driveway with bows on them.  It looks great on TV, but not very practical. Give them a custom Photo Puzzle instead.

Not only will the present be a great gift but the Photo Puzzle will be kept for years.  Each time it gets put together, you’ll get to relive the moment it was put together for the first time.  The time it revealed what the surprise and the gift was. It allows us to relive the memory over and over, year after year.

It’s about creating and preserving memories that last a lifetime.

KKFI Fundraiser Photo Blanket

Our customers come up with some of the best ideas.  Tom has bought a number of Photo Blankets from us but for a very specific purpose. He’s come up with a creative use for our Plush Fleece Photo Blankets as a fundraiser for KKFI, a community radio station in Kansas City, MO.

As any non-profit organization finds out over time, they run out of unique ideas at times on raising funds during pledge drives or online auctions.  I’m laying in bed and the idea hits me.  Those “photo blankets” are printed from actual photos people send in as jpg images.  What if I design an entire blanket as a PDF 60″x80″ of full length winter scarves with our radio information.  I went downstairs to measure my favorite winter scarf and was surprised to find it measured 80″ in length.  I went to the computer and fired up an application I used to design a monthly newsletter. I new I could designate a specific size of the document and I made it 60″x80″ which is the size of the finished blanket.  I then started to frame up and divide the width of the blanket into equal sections and what I came up with was the width of each scarf was 7.5″ and that gave me a small edge on both sides to allow the blanket factory “wiggle room’ aligning the image for printing (works perfect every time).  My design at top and bottom left 7″-8” of white space for the ends of the scarves and I fringe them to make the finished scarf. IMPORTANT NOTE: convert your deign to PDF and when you place your blanket order it MUST be “PLUSH FLEECE” to make the best scarf.

Before you start to cut up the blanket be warned to have your vacuum ready because as you cut the fabric you’ll get bits of fleece all over the place and you’ll need vacuum it all up.

Image 1 is the actual graphic design layout before I send it off to be printed on my 60″ x 80″ PLUSH fleece blanket.

Image 2 is the actual blanket I received in the mail.


Image 3 is a graphic close-up of the design and where to cut (yellow dashed lines).

To make the scarves I cut off the factory sewn borders, width of the blanket (image 4) and I cut along the sides (80″) to remove my wiggle-room border and discard all that fabric.

I then cut along the black lines I have in my design (image 5) that are the edges of each scarf. (see the yellow dotted line in image 3).

Image 6: to make the fringe on the ends of the scarves, cut 1″ wide sections up about 6″ to bottom of design. Don’t worry these wash up and don’t fray at all. The width of fringe is up to you but just make sure it is even widths. I don’t know if 1/2″ will work and prefer the wider fringe look.  Take all your finished scarves outside and shake them out to get rid of any fleece-bits.  Put them all in the wash machine and wash in cold on short cycle. I use very little detergent and I use fabric softener.  Dry on normal or 20 minute (low heat).

Remove from dryer and use your hand to brush with grain of fleece to show your design better.  You’ll know if you went in the wrong direction because it roughs up the design.

Image 7 is Tom Edmondson the designer of these 90.1 FM scarves wearing the “work of art”.

Tom uses these as ‘premium gifts’ for people who donate to our non-profit community radio station. They are a huge hit and I can’t keep them around because everyone wants one!

How To Make Your Own Collage Photo Blanket

Collage Photo BlanketI’m amazed at the creativity of some of our customers. We receive collage images created by our customers that show an obvious talent with graphics and photo editing. But it’s often not as hard as it seems. It really takes more time than skill but also decent graphic program. Using a regular program like Work or PowerPoint will not produce a high enough quality image for the best results. Photoshop is the best but also very expensive. There are a number of lower cost alternatives too.

A photo collage is simply a collection of individual photos combined into a new, single image. When saved, this new image can be used for your order. There are two big advantages to this. First, you can create your collage exactly was you want it. You can get fancy with the image placement by rotating and overlapping your photos. Second, you avoid the additional cost of us creating the collage. Since you are submitting a single image, you do not have to pay the collage fee.

The most popular item for a collage is our Photo Blankets. Most photo blankets are large enough to add several images and still reproduce enough detail in each of the photos.  The number of recommended photos as well as recommended image size can be found under the ‘Image Requirements’ tab on the product pages. If you need help or have questions about creating a collage, please contact us and we will help you out. Other popular collage items are our Photo Puzzles and Photo Cutting Board.

Our printing process is what’s called ‘full bleed’ which means some of the image gets printed off the edge of the actual product. This is how we ensure it gets completed printed top to bottom and edge to edge. This also means you need to be cautious when creating your collage in not putting anything important, like faces or text, too close to the edge. The size of this safe area varies by product.

A Collage Photo Blanket can include photos from the most memorable events in the gift recipients life. Putting them all together in a collage will be a very emotional gift and sure to be treasured for years. Tears of joy are a common response we hear of when seeing it for the first time. They are well worth the extra time and money. Ask anyone who’s received one.

Realtor Housewarming Photo Blanket

Our Photo Blankets make great gifts, this is nothing new. But using them as a housewarming gift is something new for many and a fabulous idea.

Many years ago, a realtor began buying Woven Photo Blankets from us on a regular basis and shipping them directly to the new home owners. In speaking with her she told me she was buying them as a house warminggift for her new homeowners. Each Photo Blanket had a photo of their new house and she had us add the text “Welcome Home” to each one.

She said it was one of the best ideas she’s ever had. The new home owners proudly display their blanket in their home, often on their couch, and mention it (and their realtor) to everyone one who sees it. What a great way to get referrals! And she’s received many heart-felt thank you’s from her clients who know she put time and effort into selecting a personalized gift for them.

Not only is the Photo Blanket a great housewarming gift, it’s also a great marketing tool for her. Think of all the wonderful things these new home owners are saying about her behind her back. They’re talking to their family and friends, to their new neighbors and anyone else who stops by the house and sees the photo blanket proudly displayed.

While this not the typical buyer of our Photo Blankets, it is a typical response from the gift recipient. They know someone (you) put thought, time and effort into selecting their gift and it’s something they can actually use and display in their home. And when they display it, they will talk about you to their friends. Not a bad thing, right?

If you’d like more information on our wholesale program for realtors and other professionals, please see our wholesale website, Original Photo Blankets, at