How I Created a Personalized Children's Story Photo Book Gift for Mother's Day for Less Than $10
Family,  Mommy

How I Created a Personalized Children’s Story Photo Book Gift for Mother’s Day for Less Than $10

Make an adorable personalized children’s photo story book gift for less than $10 with Groupon and a smartphone app for Mother’s Day! 

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, have you picked out the perfect gift to show your loved one how much they mean to you?

This year I wanted to make a personal gift for my mother-in-law for all that she does for my family.  She has taught my boys some very valuable life skills and lessons.  My boys always come home from her house having learned something new!  She’s has taught them a lot about the outdoors like gardening, hiking, and wild life among many other things.  My boys love to help out in the yard whenever they get home and that’s always great because I want active, smart boys that spend time outside instead of in front of the TV or phone.

I’m hardly ever worried about my boys coming home loaded with sugar, not getting enough sleep, or picking up bad habits because she’s an amazing grandmother and caretaker that knowing my boys are in her care puts me at ease!  She has brought so many wonderful things to my boys’ lives that no one else could ever do and as a parent, I’m so thankful for that!  I know that my boys are so much better off knowing and spending time with her and that they will have better lives and futures because of it!  

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to do for her on Mother’s Day because sending flowers just didn’t seem to really grasp the appreciation my family has for her but I also didn’t want to spurge on money either.  I came across the idea of creating my own story book when my 4 year old tried to read one of his books to me.  I thought, “Wow wouldn’t that be cool to write a story about my boys’ relationship with their grandma?”  I just didn’t know how to do it yet.

When my husband and I got married 6 years ago, I created a photo book for our families and sponsors as a “Thank You” for all they did to support us.  I had used Groupons then to purchase deals to make 25 different photo books and I saved tons of money doing so!  I wanted to make a book that looked like a children’s cartoon so I searched for available iOS apps that would turn my photos into cartoon-like sketches!

How I Created a Personalized Children's Story Photo Book Gift for Mother's Day for Less Than $10

How I Created a Personal Children’s Story Photo Book Gift for Mother’s Day for Less Than $10

Here are some FREE iOS Apps to get that look I wanted to achieve:

For this project, I used the Photo Sketch app that has 10+ free sketch styles, 15+ textures, and the ability to modify each style’s brightness, transparency, stroke width, contrast, etc.  After turning my camera photos into beautiful sketches, I then used a simple photo editor app to adjust each photo for remove hard lines and allow for flow and smoothness.

Effects I recommend for this project: 

  • Blurring – Blur the hard lines with the background to soften transition of photo to background
  • Vignette effect – works great on black backgrounds and some apps even have White Vignette which is what I used for this project
  • Frames – Add a frame around each photo to erase hard lines

Here are some of the iOS Apps I’ve used to edit my photos:

  • Effects Studio ($1.99) – I got this when it was available FREE for a limited time – What I used for this project
  • Filterra – Free! One of my favorites to use
  • Effexy ($0.99) – Also a wonderful app that I got when it was available for free

After I completed edited each photo, I used a creative design app to add my children’s story, blend images together, and to adjust dimensions to fit the photo book (for this project I needed 8×8″ photos).

These are my two favorite creative design apps:

These also have a websites you can make your creative content which is what I recommend.  Sometimes it’s really hard to get your phone’s touchscreen to do exactly what you want!

Create a Personalized Children's Story Photobook 4 Mother's Day > Less Than $10! #MothersDay #Giftideas Click To Tweet

  • If you don’t have a photo of exactly what you need, you can always use Amazon product photos (which is what I used) or stock photos from multiple free websites like Unsplash.

Lastly, I went onto Groupon and searched for their latest deals on photo books and was able to find many different deals with companies like: Shutterfly,, Printerpix, Photobook America, Snapfish,, and York Photo.  I recommend finding a deal on hardcover photo books and definitely check out the fine print and each website before purchasing to browse what they have available beforehand.

For this project, I purchased a Groupon for a 20-page 8×8″ hardcover photo book for just $5.00 (originally $27.99) from York Photo!  An alternative website to try and find a great deal is LivingSocial.

The design process was very simple and had a step-by-step guide on how to use your photo book maker.  You can preview the photo book and you must Approve it before purchasing.  Don’t forget to add your Groupon Voucher and you’ll only have to pay for Shipping & Handling Fees!

This is a slideshow of how our children’s story book turned out:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The best part of this gift is the fact that my boys helped me put the story together! They’re going to be as excited as their Mimi when they see it!  I think I definitely found a worthy gift for a wonderful person!

Can you believe I made this for less than $10.00?!
If you’re a mother or grandmother, what was the best gift you ever got on Mother’s Day?
Did you like this gift idea for Mother’s Day?
What ideas do you have for a Mother’s Day gift?

I would love to hear from you! Please share with me your thoughts by leaving me a comment!

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Wife, Stay at Home Mom of two boys, and blogger. Friends and family call me Kaye but my personal favorite is "Mom." I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to be at home with my two baby boys. As an engineer by career, and stay-at-home mom by choice, I write about how to “Invent. Innovate. Design. Mommyhood” and what that entails.

  • Emma Shearer

    Great idea and I love your pictures.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you!

  • Marcie Wirtz Cheung

    What a fun idea for a MIL! I usually make photo books, but this is a great alternative!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you! <3

  • Jenn Goggin

    Great Idea! I love phonebooks, I get one made after each family vacation as a great way to keep all the pictures together. Love checking groupon for deals

    • Mommy Engineering

      Groupon has some of the best deals for photo books! It’s such a great gift!

  • mardenecarr

    I love personalized gifts. It makes me think that the person really gave it some thought. Even if it is not perfect, it is the thought that counts.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Exactly! It truly is the thought that counts!

  • Heather Staggs Garcia

    I love the idea of photo books as gifts! I’ve given several for Christmas and they are such a personal present. I’m sure your mother in law will love this one!!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I hope so! Thanks for visiting! I agree that they make awesome gifts!

  • Amber Nelson

    That is so much fun. I love personalized gifts, they really do make the best gifts!

    • Mommy Engineering


  • Elizabeth Colette

    What a great idea for a gift. I love photo books and so does my mother-in-law. Thanks for the great information.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I hope you find a great gift! Thanks for stopping by!

  • arita muhaxheri

    this is just brilliant , I’m so making one for this Mothers day<3 thank you love

    • Mommy Engineering

      thank you!

  • Nicole Anderson

    It would be just about impossible to think of anything that could possibly top this as a mother’s day present! I had no idea that this could be done like this and for the minimal cost. Just fabulous. I will be passing this on for sure.

    • Mommy Engineering

      thanks for sharing! Such an amazing gift that’s so inexpensive!

  • Muna Kenny

    It’s creative and beautiful idea! This is the best gift to present on Mother’s day.

    • Mommy Engineering


  • Terri Steffes

    How fun is that! The gift will be so appreciate but putting it together had to be a fun memory, too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mommy Engineering

      It was a fun activity for me and the boys! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Hil D

    That is such a cute idea for a present. Who knew you could make your own book look like a colouring book?!?!?!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I know! These phone apps are darn amazing lol!

  • Kristina Pache-Ferency

    Very cute and creative idea for Mothers Day. This would be a great gift and would be very memorable.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! Talk about personalized! It was fun to write the story and create the sketch photos!

  • Maria Manlangit

    That’s no neat! I use desygner also! But I never thought about making a personalized childrens photo book. That’s really cool, actually. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mommy Engineering

      i love that app! it doesn’t crash nearly as much as canva does lol! thx for stopping by!

  • Sondra Barker

    This is so neat! I love canva! This is so personal and creative but maintains a cost effect stance. Thats for the share.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I can only use canva on my computer, the app is a little glitchy for me! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Ej Nosilla

    Wow… this was a great Mother’s Day idea… I shared on Twitter. I really enjoyed exploring your blog and I want you to know… that I will be back! I also have told my children this is something I would like for them to do for me and it doesn’t cost them too much… .just their time… and I live by it’s the thought that counts…. stay blessed Queen and thanks!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve explored your blog and I love how well-written your posts are but mostly because they are from the heart! I love your cause and you are such a strong woman for what you endured as a single mom of color! I love how your struggles has empowered you to try to improve your community where you see fit! Keep it up 🙂 You are doing great 🙂

  • David Elliott

    Those personalized story books are awesome. You take a bunch of pictures that you have and you put them together to tell a unique story. I used to love making those for my trips to Disneyland with my daughter. They are awesome.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I love photo books and admit I hardly use them for special occasions. i really wanted to create my own story and make a book and didn’t really know any brand currently allowing that right now! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your thoughts!

  • militaryfamof8

    This is such a great idea! I would love to do this for my Mother in law from the kids.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I think your mother in law would love a gift like this 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Milton

    This is a beautiful custom made book and a really meaningful gift idea! Awesome!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you! Thanks for visiting!

  • Catherine Rahm

    This is genius! I love that you got the pictures to look like sketches! Brilliant and so creative. Thank you for sharing!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I really wanted to use my own pictures but create a children’s book so this was the only way I knew how! I just didn’t know I could create the sketches in color so I was so happy to find apps that let me do that! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Neha Saini

    This is a great idea! Personalized memories 🙂 This gift will be so appreciable but putting it together had to be a fun memory, too.

    • Mommy Engineering

      It was! I’m sure my boys are going to love it just as much knowing that they were a part of putting it together! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Brooke

    How clever are you!! Such a simple yet genius idea. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Aw thank you! I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Tereza Cityscape Bliss

    Oh man this is so cool – I don’t have children but I’m totally going to make some for my parents with us kids or maybe even for myself with the cats haha! Beautiful! x

    • Mommy Engineering

      haha I love the idea with the cats! You definitely don’t need to have kids of your own, maybe making one for your parents would be a cool blast from the past experience for them! <3 thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  • Ra’Nesha Wilson

    I love the idea it’s personalized and inexpensive. I love gifts with a personal touch.

    • Mommy Engineering

      It’s truly the thought that counts! I’m just glad I was able to make a tangible gift to match that thought! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Amanda Love

    I’ve never made a photobook like this before. I think it’s awesome! I love the concept and it’s a great way to keep memories as well.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I love making photobooks! Most are already pre-designed for different occasions and it’s really cool for wedding gifts! I started the photobook from scatch. I picked a simple theme and then erased the reloaded images to add my own full-page images. Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Mai C.

    This is really sweet and I’m sure you mom will appreciate this too. It’s a lovely idea and it’s a unique gift that only she will have.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m hoping she will like it! I’m just so glad I was able to find something other than flowers 😛 thanks for visiting!

  • Tonya Wilhelm

    What a great idea! I made a photo book for my Mom and she cried. She was so happy. Great idea for those thinking about it.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Haha, photo books have a way of bringing out some great emotions! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • lexhan

    good idea for a great mothers day gifting. photo-book can be such a fun gift, showing alot of love and memories all in one. this is so cute.

    • Mommy Engineering

      They are and I’m so glad that groupon/livingsocial has made it affordable! Thanks for visiting!

  • Jessica Taylor

    That is adorable! I would love to get something like this for Mother’s Day. Personalized gifts are the best!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I know! I love when they are personalized! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • SimplyMomBailey

    Seriously, this so cute. such an amazing idea. I’m definitely agent to give it a try during my next chance. Thanks for this!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Let me know how it turns out! thanks so much for visiting!

  • Jeanine @

    What an amazing idea. I wouldn’t ever think to do something like this. I should hint to my husband, I’d love something like this!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Dropping hints is great lol, send me his email I’d do it for you haha! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • erin fesperman

    What a great gift idea! I love that you were able to do it for less than $10! This way, all the grandparents and great aunts can get one!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Exactly! I wanted a thoughtful gift but nothing that would break the bank! I do have 2 kids to keep alive after all 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Almost Kosher

    I adore this! What a wonderful idea–I’m totally going to pin this for future ideas. Thank you!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Aw thank you! Thanks so much for saving this! I hope you will try it in the future! Thanks for visiting!

  • Elizabeth

    What a super gift idea this is! I’ll have to drop a not so subtle hint to my husband to make one! 🙂

    • Mommy Engineering

      Dropping not so subtle hints to my husband is like an everyday affair for me lol. Fortunately I blog so he could technically read my thoughts too 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting!

  • JustOneMommysOpinion

    This is adorable! What a creative and unique gift! I would love one of these for Mother’s Day 🙂

    • Mommy Engineering

      Aren’t they so cute? Time to be dropping some hints to your kids and/or hubby lol ! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Lauren Kunin

    I love this gift idea. Mimi is going to love it! What an adorable story…I read through it. Thank you for sharing. And pre happy Mother’s Day to you as’re a great mom.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Mimi will love it! I’m so glad I was able to find the perfect gift idea! Thanks so much for visiting! Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

  • Amber

    I so love this idea! I’m all about unique gifts. I might have to make one of these.

    • Mommy Engineering

      That’s awesome! So glad you liked it! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Robin Rue

    This is such a lovely idea. What mother wouldn’t just LOVE this?

    • Mommy Engineering

      RIGHT?! haha, I hope so! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh

    What a lovely Mother’s Day gift idea! I really love the sketch look, and what mom wouldn’t love to have one of these!?

    • Mommy Engineering

      I know! the sketch look just totally puts this together for me! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Alicia Vanatta

    This is such a cute idea for kids to give moms on Mother’s Day!!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! Thanks for visiting!

  • Janel Berchielli

    Those look like some very creative apps that I hadn’t heard about before. I will have to get them a try and see if I like them. I do love canva though it’s one of my favorite sites to create stuff for my blog

    • Mommy Engineering

      Definitely, I love that most are free or affordable and you can exercise some of your creative side! Canva is great and when I’m on my computer that is what I use. I definitely use the Desygner app more on my phone because it doesn’t crash nearly as often LOL! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Allison Lancaster

    This is an awesome idea for Mother’s Day! I really love the sketch idea look and using photos is a perfect gift for any mom!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! thanks so much for visiting!

  • Ana De Jesus

    Personalized books do normally cost a lot of money but this photo sketch idea is a really lovely personal touch, I might look into it for future projects x

    • Mommy Engineering

      They can get costly so using groupon or livingsocial is such a great way to keep your costs low! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Maria – Tough Cookie Mommy

    I love personalized gifts like these for Mother’s Day. It lets moms know that you took the time out to create such a sweet gift for them.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Aww thanks! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Janella Panchamsingh

    I have not even looked for a gift yet. and the time is approaching so fast

    • Mommy Engineering

      I felt the same way too! I hope you find the perfect gift! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Laura Romberger

    This book is such a sweet creation. Making it yourself makes it so much more special too.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Aireona93

    This would be a great gift for my mother and mother-in-law. I didn’t even know this was an option in the past.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I’m so glad I was able to show you what a great option this is! I hope you give it a try! How can you beat this personalized gift for under $10! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Adriana Martin

    How thoughtful and lovely this portrait is. Photography allows us to keep alive so many great memories we create with those we love.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks so much!

  • Journa Liz Servito Ramirez

    I love this.. It’s budget friendly.. and the fact that it is personalized makes it great and special! Perfect mothers day gift!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Those budget-friendly things is what I LIVE for! haha! Thanks so much for visiting! So glad you like it!

  • Ophelia Tang

    This is such an awesome idea! Will keep this in mind! Thank you!

    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like 😉

    • Mommy Engineering


  • Liz

    I love the results that you have achieved with these apps – and the lovely book that you have created! I thought that you just used a service, but you made it truly handmade – love it!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m so glad you like it! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Sona Sethi

    This book is so warm and personable. Love the way you have used the apps and technology to make it happen.

    • Mommy Engineering

      I just love how far technology has come to make this reality! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • michenn

    Awww this is a really cute idea!! And it’s so creative! I’m sure any mothers heart will be touched if they receive this.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you!

  • Jessi Joachim

    This is too cute! I should do something like this for my mom, I know she would love it. The price is really spot on as well and easy to afford.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Exactly! I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Cindy Nicoletti

    This is adorable. I love the idea. So affordable.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you!

  • Lauren Cheely

    Oh wow, what an adorable idea. I would love someone to do this for me of my son for mother’s day!

    • Mommy Engineering

      It’s so cute! Start dropping some major hints girl! haha, thanks for visiting!

  • Yuen Mi

    What a great, and sentimental idea. I know my mother would love, and at under $10? What a steal!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I know! There is no need to spend a lot of money on gifts really, it’s truly the thought that counts 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

  • Lady Gourmet

    What a beautiful idea for Mother’s Day…this is a wonderful gift.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you! I’m so glad you like it!

  • Kindness In Demand

    I love this idea. I want to make my kids some for Christmas. Saving this for later.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m sure this would be a great idea for Christmas too!

  • Lori Vachon

    What a fun idea that’s creative & from the heart! Those are the gifts cherished the most!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Me too! 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting!

  • PrimeBeauty

    This is such a fun and unique Mother’s Day gift. I always love homemade gifts because they are something you want to treasure forever.

    • Mommy Engineering

      So very true! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Candice McReynolds

    That is such a great gift and gesture! Your mil is such a blessing. Enjoy your Mother’s Day!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thank you! She is a blessing 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Shannon Graham

    That’s amazing! It can get pricey doing presents like that!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I know! That’s why I love Groupon haha! Great deals! Thanks so much for visiting!

  • Angela Milnes

    Wow, It really looks good and sweet idea for Mothers day. I bet my mom would love this too

    • Mommy Engineering

      I bet she would! Thanks so much for visiting! So glad you liked it!

  • Natalie Loves Beauty

    I love affordable DIYs! This is such a great personalized gift idea for Mother’s Day.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Me too! I’m all for DIY gifts so this was just a bonus for being super inexpensive! Thanks for visiting!

  • Jean Standley

    This is such a cute gift, I’m sure it’ll go down well! I love to give photo gifts, its so nice to do something personalised. Plus shopping for good deals is definitely a winner!

    • Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely, I totally agree with you and I’m so glad you liked this! Thanks for visiting!

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Omg what a cute photo book!!! This would really make a great gift for any holiday!!!! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t just love getting photos!

    • Mommy Engineering

      I know ! Just takes a little imagination .. and the right app haha! Thanks for visiting, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Leo T. Ly

    This sounds like a fun idea for the kids to choose the pictures to make it for grandma. I think my mom would love to have on of these gifts.

    • Mommy Engineering

      Absolutely! Though I believe most moms would! Thanks so much for visiting 🙂

  • Chi

    This idea is very interesting! Thanks for your sharing! I think it’s very sweet:) All moms would like this so much:)

  • Azlin Bloor

    Photo books make such fantastic gifts. I love the convenience of it, ready templates that you can just “fill in”. Must look at getting one for father’s day!

  • Emily // The Best of this Life

    This is such a creative and personal gift – I absolutely love it! I know any mom would be so touched to receive it.

  • Nikki

    That is such a cute and totally unique idea! I know your mom is going to love it. As much as I love ready-made photo books (where you just slap in the picture and go), doing it this way really shows you put your heart into it.

  • Jalisa Marie

    I love these types of gifts. You can have them for reference and not just for a one time thing.

  • Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    This is very creative of you! I love that it is personalized and it not so expensive!

  • Heather

    What a nice Mother’s Day gift idea. This is a great project for so many holiday gifts!

  • Chanel van Reenen

    This is an amazing idea and I wish I would have thought about it sooner! I love that it can work for any occasion and you cannot beat the price point!

  • Nikki Arnold

    I love the idea of a personalized photo book because I did this for my mom last year and she loved it. I would like my kids to do this for me, but I’m not sure my hubs would think of that hahaha.

  • HilLesha

    It has been awhile since I’ve made a personalized photo book, but I do agree that they make wonderful gifts! I think I need to create another one sometime soon, especially since my family and I have created so many memories since the last time I’ve made a photo book.

  • Molly

    I have never know of these apps before but have tried ones that just make a collage of pictures you have on your smart phone. This looks a lot more personal.

  • Emily Sy

    This is a great idea. I love photo books and for less than 10 bucks that’s a great deal. With our smart phones, it’s easier to take shots and create these cute photo books which would make an awesome Mother’s Day gift.

  • Casey Fossett Powers

    How very creative and it turns out fantastic! No bearing that gift…she will love it!

  • Dani

    Unfortunately I STILL am procrastinating on my mothers day gift. I can’t believe I have waited so long.

  • Krystal

    What a sweet way to celebrate mom! I haven’t made a photo book in a long time.

  • Tiara Wilson

    Oh my goodness, this is absolutely beautiful. I would love to make one of these for my kiddos. Thank you for sharing this beautiful gift. I love it. <3

    • Mommy Engineering

      Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!