Better Than School Pictures: 5 Creative Ways to Watch Your Child Grow

Libby Kane
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Between Facebook and email, we’re trading pictures and stories about our children at an incredible rate.

A lot has changed since the days of film.

But how many of us will look back at our status updates ten years from now? How many of us will print them out and put them on the wall to show our children’s future prom dates?

Because the silver-framed, professional snapshot is so overdone—not to mention expensive—we searched high and low for a medium adorable enough to do justice to our kids, and affordable enough to get started today.

We found five fun, new options to keep your memories fresh and your wallets full:

1. The Thumbprint Tree

The thumbprint tree is a craft project in which family members dip their thumbs into paint or ink and stamp “leaves” onto a drawn trunk. We originally came across this idea for an entire family, but it works just as well for kids only. Family blog Schnegel Stuff gives easy-to-follow instructions—all you’ll need is paint or ink, a marker and paper.

Let your children make a new tree every year and create your own “forest” to keep in a scrapbook. “Carve” the date into the trunk with marker and have your kids choose the colors of the leaves. This way, you’ll not only have record of their cute little prints, but also their favorite colors.

 Image: Factory Direct Craft 

2. Yearly Bios

The idea behind the yearly biography is to integrate a picture and a profile. Ask your child the same questions every year–either the standard list of “favorites” or something more eclectic, like “If you could be any animal, what would you be?”

Then, superimpose the answers on a favorite picture using Powerpoint or Photoshop (if you don’t have either program, the app PicFont will do the trick, and you can do a free 14-day trial period.) Finally, pop the result in an album or frame. By the time your child turns 18, you’ll have a record of his personality from the time he first started to speak. (Here are some examples we like, for inspiration.)

Image: Modern Parents, Messy Kids

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What tips do you have for entertaining your family on a budget? Do you have any fun ways that you keep the memories alive in your own household?
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3. Hand in Hand

We stumbled across the idea of nesting handprints on family blog Tres French Hens, where the author traced and cut out handprints from each member of her family and “nested” them together. (Find more in-depth instructions here.)

It turned out so cute that we got to thinking: Why not trace your child’s hand every year and nest those? If you affix the original print to the back of the frame with your rubber cement or tack of choice instead of glue, you can pull it off each year to place the bigger hand behind and watch your child grow in a decorative, fun way.

Image: Tres French Hens

4. The Time Capsule

There’s no rule that says time capsules have to be shoe boxes buried in the backyard. How about photo jars on the counter instead? We love the idea of using a Mason jar (or clean sauce jar, or pickle jar!) as a family time capsule.

Leave it open throughout the year and pop in movie tickets, dried flower petals from the school play, shells from your beach vacation and a favorite, current family photo. On New Year’s Eve, cap the jar and put it away to be ooh-ed and ahh-ed over down the road.

Image: Oh Crafts

5. Month by Month

Gallery walls have been all the rage for a while, and we love this fun twist: Hang 12 photo frames, matching or mismatched, and add a favorite kid photo for each month of the year.

As each month comes around again, pop in a new photo of the fun you’re having that month and put the old one in an album reserved for photos that were once on the wall. This way, you’ll have a running record of your favorite moments and an album full of the pictures you love most.

Image: Becky Higgins

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