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Thrifty gift-giving served up on a platter

Larissa Newton
December 1, 2015

When it comes to holiday gift-giving, I’m a big fan of photos.

Every year since my daughter was born, I’ve given the grandparents a photobook chronicling the year of the Lil’ Stinker in our favorite photos. Photobooks can be pricey, but there are a few ways to cut back on the costs.

First, always check out deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial; you’ll usually find some kind of deal. As I write this, Groupon is offering discounts up to 80 percent off at MyPublisher, 89 percent off at Picaboo and 67 percent off at Shutterfly. So there’s no need to pay full price.

I tend to go a different route, though. My husband drinks Coke — and I mean a lot of Coke. Did you know that Coke has its own rewards program? MyCokeRewards allows you to collect points by entering codes from qualifying products. Once you earn enough points, you can redeem for all sorts of prizes, one being products from Shutterfly. An 8-inch-by-8-inch photobook, which normally retails at $30, will cost you 200 points. (For reference, a 20 oz. bottle is worth 3 points; a 12-pack of cans is 10 points.)

This year, I wanted to try something a little different.

My entire family — including my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nephew and niece — took a trip to Walt Disney World this fall. We got a ton of great photos, including the rare whole-family photo. (My brother is in the Air Force and stationed in Alaska, so we don’t get the whole crew together very often.)

Rather than just framing the photos, or ordering a canvas print, I decided to finally check out something I’ve heard a ton about, but never really tried myself: Mod Podge.

Mod Podge is this water-based, glue-type substance that pretty much does everything. Well, not everything. It’s generally used with decoupage (or the art of decorating objects with paper cutouts, according to Google). There are dozens of formulas and finishes. Best of all, it’s really not that expensive.

So, back to my project. Dollar Tree has these silver-plated platters with fancy edges that I thought would make perfect “frames.” Print out a picture, slather on some Mod Podge, and I’ve got a thrifty and unique way to display those treasured family photos.

What you need:

  • Platter or plate of your choice ($1 each from the Dollar Tree)
  • Picture printed from laser printer (52 cents from Staples)
  • Mod Podge (around $4 for 8 oz. at craft stores or Walmart)
  • Spray paint (optional) (around $3.50 at various stores)
  • Sponge brush

Instructions:

  1. If you don’t like the color of your platter or plate, go ahead and paint it the color of your choice. I’d recommend spray paint, as it’ll coat without streaks and be a lot faster than painting by hand. Let dry completely.
  2. Once you have your plate or platter selected, measure the area where your photo will be. Make sure your print is large enough to fill the area. To keep things economical, get a basic color-copy print from Staples or another office supply store. (Don’t use a print from an inkjet printer; the ink won’t hold up as well.) Cut out your picture to the desired size. (If you want, use fancy scissors for a decorative edge.)
  3. Using your sponge brush, paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on the area where the photo will be placed. Carefully position your photo. Mod Podge is forgiving, so you can gently reposition, if needed.
  4. Firmly press down the photo, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles.
  5. Apply a layer of Mod Podge over top the entire photo to seal it in. (It will look white and streaky, but I promise it will dry clear.)
  6. Let dry, then bask in your awesome craftiness.
  7. All in all, this fun project will likely cost you less than $2 per photo plate.

Note: You’ll see in the accompanying photos that I purchased dishwasher-safe Mod Podge. I don’t expect anyone to be eating off these platters. Instead, I’m using this Mod Podge on Christmas presents for my co-workers, which I wanted to remain a secret. But isn’t it fun to know you can even Mod Podge things on which to eat and drink?

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