Ken Goldenberg is a Producer and Reporter for Channel 6 TV in Orange County, CA, as well as a long time MiceChat reader and a good friend. Ken sent us this great idea for creating customized souvenirs. With Christmas less than two weeks away, this is also a crafty gift you can whip up just in time for the holidays.

I think we’ve all been there… That last day on your trip to Disney and you realized that you still want to take home that one special memento, something that years later you’ll look at and it will bring back memories of that family trip. Or perhaps your searching for a fun gift for your kid that will not only be creative, but special just for them. Well, I have an idea for both of those scenarios: A photo puzzle!

Puzzle pieces

Last year I wanted to give something different to my nieces for Christmas. They like to do crafts so of course I thought of paint sets, bead making kits… and puzzles. I liked the idea of a puzzle and being they love Disney I naturally looked around for character puzzles (Frozen…duh!). But then I had an idea! Usually once a year they come to visit us and naturally go to Disneyland and/or Legoland. I had an idea, why not create personalize puzzles. Photos of each of them with my daughter at one of the theme parks they went to. Solves the creative part, and reminds us of a family fun time we all had! Perfect!

I also decided to get a puzzle made of just my daughter from our trip to Disney World earlier that year as an extra Christmas gift for her. It is really easy to do and there are many online companies that do this at relatively low prices. Walgreens, Walmart, Shutterfly, and so on. I chose because they seemed to have the most options at the time. I was a bit worried because that company actually prints and ships their puzzles from Taiwan, but they arrived on time and turned out great! I even ended up getting one of ME for a family “white elephant gift” (although truthfully, the one of me was a true keepsake…..hee hee). All told I spent $47 for 4 puzzles ranging in size from 8×10 to 12×16, and that included shipping! You’re not going to beat that buying generic souvenirs at a themepark!

Here’s a few tips:

For kids choose age-appropriate puzzle piece sizes, larger ones for younger kids, more challenging smaller pieces for older kids. Most companies also have various sized puzzles, even round ones.

Also for kids, choose photos that have varied patterns, bright colors and contrast that will make it easier for them to put together. And make sure THEY are the focal point of the picture taking up at least half of the space (crop your photo if needed). The last thing you’d want for a young child is a photo puzzle of them standing of in the distance in front of Spaceship Earth! Imagine putting that together. If you notice on the puzzle of my daughter (at the fountain in the lobby of Port Orleans, French Quarter Resort), there are lots of variations in colors and patterns. Her bright pink shorts, Mickey t-shirt, green plants, yellow glow in the background and so on. Yet the cement fountain offered some challenge that fit her age. And naturally, choose a good quality hi-res photo. Almost any phone now days will do the job just fine, as mine was taken with an iPhone 5s at the time.

Completed puzzle


Best of all, it’s fun to put together with your kid, and once it’s done you have the choice of framing it (as we did) or putting in back into the box and make it again another time. Maybe it’s something that will be put away and years later your now grown child will pull it out with their own kids to put together!

And don’t forget these make great gifts for grandparents! Old folks love to do puzzles —I know, I work in a senior community. And what grandparent won’t love a puzzle of their grandkids?!

Whether it’s for a gift, or just a great vacation memory, a personalized puzzle is fun for everyone and a simple craft to complete!

Have you created photo puzzles? What are your tips? Do you have related craft idea which can be completed in time for Christmas?