Photo Shoot: The Frugal Shutterbug's guide to gift-giving

·2 min read

The six days of turkey ended at our house last Tuesday. The bird’s carcass was simmered in a soup pot most of the day, yielding 4 quarts of wonderful soup, 1 for dinner and 3 into the freezer for Christmas gifts.

The next day’s mail brought a pile of bills foretelling the future for 2022. My friends at National Grid sent a very informative holiday letter. First they are now charging a “Revenue Decoupling Adjustment Factor” of a penny a therm. They recommend a visit to their website to uncover the mystery of that strange sounding toll.

The real eyeopener was down the page: the gas supply charge will jump from 46 cents to 72 cents, again per therm. Then there were the home and car insurance policies for next year, no surprise, they are also going up by double digit percentages. Throw in rising gasoline and food prices and supply chain fears, and the frugal shutterbug begins to wonder about holiday gift-giving.

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Five-year-old boxer Lincoln finds a nice spot for a rest in the children's library before heading out in the rain on a soggy but mild morning for the Osterville Free Library's holiday pet costume parade.
Five-year-old boxer Lincoln finds a nice spot for a rest in the children's library before heading out in the rain on a soggy but mild morning for the Osterville Free Library's holiday pet costume parade.

But help is on the way.

My go-to gift for all those on the “nice list” is a yearly photo calendar I make. Simply select 12 images and start printing. The software with my printer has a calendar function so it’s a drag-and-drop operation. A 5x7 acrylic picture frame displays each month, tie it all together with some silver ribbon and it’s a gift that keeps on giving all year long.

For even less work, there are many online DIY options for outsourcing the printing. Another great option for the hard to shop for photographer: buying used photo books.

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I know what you are thinking; Mr. Cheap can’t afford to buy a new copy? Thankfully there are still a number of bookstores on the Cape selling used books, and searching through the stacks is a great way to holiday shop, avoid crowds and stress. If your gift recipient balks about getting something used, mention the recycling benefits, or simply put them on the “naughty list” for next year.

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As I recommend every year, the best gift is always the cheapest and most warmly received. Find a photograph, old or new, then sit down and handwrite a long letter about the photo and post to a friend, relative or even Santa. This simple slowdown for both the writer and recipient will be a gift long remembered.

And just maybe your photo will end up under magnets on their refrigerator, the highest form of praise a photograph can receive. Then you can put on your Grinch sweater and hang out by the fire with the dog, celebrating the holidays.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Photo Shoot: The Frugal Shutterbug, Steve Heaslip's gift ideas

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