Photo: Reza Estakhrian/Getty Images

D├ęcor That Gets the P-A-R-T-Y Started
Whether you're planning a birthday surprise or a baby shower, a personalized twist on the classic party banner—you know, the one with the cutout letters—is what can really get the guest of honor gushing. Bloggers Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson include this how-to in their new release, A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book.

For the photos, Chapman recommends choosing simple images with a clear subject—think one or two people, not a crowd shot—so the banner doesn't look busy and hard to read. Then, select a few of the banner's cutout letters and trace each one onto a photo. Cut out the images and glue them to the letters. If you plan on keeping the banner long-term, use an acid-free adhesive, Chapman says.

Photo: Courtesy of Baking for Good

Bake Up Sweet Memories
Those dessert photos you post on Instagram look good enough to eat, and with Baking for Good, you actually can devour them. The online bakery lets people submit up to six photos to be turned into square-shape sugar cookies for $36-$40 per dozen. The sweetest part? At checkout, you can select a cause that will receive 15 percent of the net proceeds from your order.

Photo: Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman/A Beautiful Mess

A Not-Sold-in-Stores Smartphone Case
Yes, you can snag a custom-made cell-phone cover for just a few dollars, Chapman says, and it only requires minimal crafting skills. First, buy a clear plastic case on eBay, Amazon or at a phone-accessories shop—we found iPhone cases listed as low as 57 cents—and trim a photo to fit inside it. Then, cut holes for the camera or any buttons the photo case would cover. Place the photo in the case, followed by your phone itself. It's so easy you could trade out the images as frequently as you change your Facebook profile picture.
moo cards

Photo: Courtesy of

The "But I'm Bored!" Lifesaver is known for selling customized business cards that allow you to place a different photo on each one—and they can also be used to create a card-matching memory game for kids. The company's former vice president of marketing, Lisa Rodwell, ordered 50 cards for her niece and nephew and had pairs of family photos printed on one side. The kids shuffle the cards, place them photo-side down and take turns flipping over two at a time, trying to find the matching pairs.
lil blue boo

Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Hackshaw/Lil Blue Boo

A Room Freshener with Real Personality
If a bowl of potpourri makes you feel a little too grandma-ish, a photo sachet can be a welcome fragrant surprise in your dresser drawer. Ashley Hackshaw offers a full tutorial on her blog, Lil Blue Boo, using photo transfer paper, a filling of your choosing and two small squares of fabric. For a vintage, rustic look, she recommends using white muslin for the front of the bag and beige linen for the back.

Photo: Courtesy of Pillowmob

One Quirky Homesickness Reliever
This gift seems made for college students or anyone living a long way from home: Simply upload a photo to Pillowmob, choose a shape and fabric color and about three weeks later, a huggable, oversize face arrives at your doorstep. Any photo can be used, though pictures of people's pets, food or selfies are most common. For best results, the company recommends taking photos in natural light and making sure there are no shadows on your subject's face.

Photo: Janis Nicolay

The DIY Bench Everyone Will Think Is Designer
This project requires a little more effort, but it creates the sort of conversation piece you'll notice every time you walk through the door (or sit down to take off your shoes). In a guest post on, Etsy storeowner Janis Nicolay shows how to transfer a photo onto the top of a painted bench. The key is making sure that the photo is flipped—or mirrored—because you're essentially placing the picture facedown on a bench coated with a special solution to transfer the image onto the seat. (If you're not familiar with editing photos online, you may want to take the image to a photo-printing service to make sure that it is mirrored and cropped to the right size before printing.) After letting it sit overnight and rubbing off the paper photo the next day, you're left with only the imprint on the surface of the bench. It's kind of like applying a temporary tattoo, but on your furniture.

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