Archives For holidays

Stuffie Stickers Hero

Kids love stickers. When my daughter was a toddler, we gave her pages and pages of stickers to play with—many of which ended up on the legs of an old table.

You can buy stickers of almost anything, from current movies and books to abstract shapes. But that plethora of options is also somewhat numbing—what’s special about another book of unicorns when you already have four?

So I decided to do something different one Christmas and made stickers of her favorite stuffed animals. It was easy, fun, and a great surprise when she realized that the animals on those stickers looked wonderfully familiar.

To make it happen, I took photos of the stuffies, built a sticker book at Moo.com, and placed the order. Each book has a minimum of 90 stickers, so you could make 90 unique stickers if you want—I uploaded a dozen. The books arrived in time to put them into my daughter’s stocking for Christmas morning.

Photography

You can take the photos using any camera, even a phone camera. I chose to set them up against a black background to make them stand out more. The Moo stickers are small, measuring just under an inch square (0.86 inch), and I wanted them to be immediately recognizable.

The lighting was nothing too complicated. I had previously made a homemade macro photo studio with lights on either side for another project. I used paper as the backdrop. As you can see here, I tried doing a white backdrop at first, but found that black ended up looking better for the final result. But of course you don’t need to go to those lengths. Mostly you want the stuffed animal to stand out clearly.

Lightbox

Squirrel

Edit and Prep

After importing the photos into Lightroom, I picked my favorites and applied any touch-ups that were needed. Mostly that was removing dust from the background using the Spot Removal tool, or fixing areas where the edges of the paper were visible (using Spot Removal or the Clone tool).

Since each sticker is a square, you could crop the shots in Lightroom beforehand, but Moo.com’s online tool to build the book is robust enough that I didn’t bother.

Stuffies lightroom grid

Upload and order

Next, I created a new StickerBook order at Moo.com, uploading the images for each sticker. The tool divides the number of total stickers (90) by the number of images you upload. In my case, I uploaded 12 photos, resulting in 7 stickers of each stuffie in the book. (Actually, six of the stuffies got 8 stickers, since 90 divided by 12 is 7.5—there’s one more page of the first six designs than the other page.)

Moo com sticker build

The books cost $9.99, plus shipping. That’s certainly more expensive than the stickers you can get at any toy store, but none of those are stickers of your child’s own toys. When my daughter saw that all of her fuzzy friends were in the stickers, she looked amazed. And that, in turn, was a gift to me.

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Print gifts finished book2

Still looking for holiday gift ideas? Start with the photos in your iPhone or iPad! Over at Lynda.com, I’ve written about methods for making photo gifts without requiring a trip to your computer. Apps and services can make prints, photo books, and other creations while you wait in line to see Santa.

I also spotlight a couple of interesting photo book options: Chatbooks and Groovebook are designed to make small books out of all of your mobile photos (with the ability to skip shots you don’t like, of course) inexpensively. Chatbooks charges $6 for a 60-page book, while Groovebook works as a subscription that costs $2.99 per month for a book of 40 to 100 pages.

This was a fun article to research. Check it out here: Make Photo Gifts Right from Your iPhone or iPad.

Macworld asked me to write an article about making DVDs as holiday gifts, which is interesting in light of the fact that nearly all Macs sold today don’t include an optical drive. Still, a DVD makes a great gift that most people will be able to view (since not everyone has broadband Internet access to their houses).

(I know it’s a bit close to Christmas to take advantage of this now, but I forgot to post something here when the article went live earlier in the month. Besides, who says all gifts have to arrive by Christmas anyway? I see it as a wonderful January surprise. I also want to be better here about posting links to articles I write.)

Lights