If you’re looking for a great way to surprise your entire family with customized gifts that are memorable, valuable, and even funny– you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a few ideas to use as a jumping-off point for your own custom holiday gifts to make everyone on your list happy. Get your order in soon to take advantage of our 35% off holiday promo.

First, a couple general tips for ordering customized gifts.

1. Group photo

For most of us, it’s only on special occasions like holidays and reunions that we get to see our entire extended families. Make those moments count with a carefully taken group shot: When everyone is there, you have good lighting and a nice background. Take a high-quality photo
. Take a few. Get them to “say cheese” or some funny word that isn’t as cliche.

A good photo will result in a better print, and make everyone happy about how they look.

Then, instead of putting it in a nice picture frame and hanging it on the wall like everyone else, take it to another level with a shirt design that everyone can enjoy as they go about their day– and take their entire extended family along with them.

Here’s an example with a lovely looking stock photo family. Instead of a square, I put them in a nice oval design with a border and some text below it. This is just one example of many possibilities. For even more ideas, check out my post on ways to make better custom photo t-shirts with borders, masks and frames.

This particular print, which is full color, would need to be a digital, direct-to-garment print, otherwise known as DTG.

Screen printing this kind of image is not recommended if you want full color.

Using digital printing is great for smaller orders. If your order is going to be more than a couple dozen, you should use screen printing. The thing is, for this group shot and most others, we’re talking about a lot of colors, which can get cost-prohibitive. Screen printing pricing is partially based on number of colors, and for this we would need seven or eight, maybe more.

So, what to do? Simple. Switch to gray scale to screen print it. Not only is it more cost-effective, but it has a classic/vintage look. Some people might appreciate it more than full color because of that. Here’s the same design, but printed with black, white, and gray ink. Three colors rather than eight. This alternate choice can apply to the rest of the ideas in this post, as well.

2. Memorable moment

For a group of friends, the only thing better than reliving great memories together is making new ones. If you don’t have an opportunity before the holidays to take a new group shot, dip into the archives and find that photo everybody remembers. Play around with some concepts for it. Have some fun and don’t be afraid to come up with a crazy idea.

Just don’t get too crazy– unless you want them to end up as a never-worn novelty: a pajama top at best, and an oil mop for the garage at worst. Balance out any goofiness with some restraint. As long as the group gets the joke, no one else has to. Similar to my advice about branded swag, make something people will want to wear out. Even if it’s just to the local diner.

3. In loving memory shirts

If your family or friend group has recently lost a loved one, consider if it’s a good time to make some memorial shirts for everyone to have. We print these all the time at Teelabs. It’s a great way to keep the person’s memory alive and keep them close to your heart (literally). My advice here, as usual, is to keep it simple and classy.

Black and white image, some kind of border or frame, their name, and their years alive. Be warned, though: this gift is likely to bring people to tears. So be prepared for that emotional moment, and to be thanked for a gift they will treasure.

4. Celebrating love

Why wait for an anniversary when you can honor the relationship of your mom and dad now? Or grandmother and grandfather, if you’re lucky enough to still have them in your life. A shirt like this will show them how much you care about them, and at the same time, teach the younger family members the value of a lifetime of love.

5. Joke or funny family saying

Laughter is the best medicine, and it also makes a great gift. If you’re the type of person known for a healthy sense of humor, you probably already have a few ideas you’d like to put on a shirt. I could give you some examples of funny T-shirts, but there are literally gazillions of them. Ok, figurative gazillions? The point is, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

That being the case, a good tip is to avoid anything arbitrary– anything that can be easily found elsewhere. Pretend it’s an ad or a brand. Here are a few examples of silly family sayings that I found floating around:

“The Davidsons. In our family, crazy is a relative term.”
“Why be normal? (When you can be a Davidson)”
“The Davidson Family. We put the fun in dysFUNctional.”

Ideally, you should use your own family’s catchphrase, put a spin on something already out there, or come up with a new one. Similar to the memorable moment idea, make it about something shared– something personal to you and your friends, family or coworkers. An in-joke. The more unique the better. Also, avoid being too obvious or literal when using graphics.

6. “Sweaterize” your design

We all remember those ugly sweaters from holidays’ past, and we’ve all seen the trendy new ones you can get at Target or wherever for that Ugly Sweater Party coming up (yep, everyone is doing them and no you cannot escape). But what if you could turn any design into an ugly sweater look? Recently, we’ve found an effective way to apply this style to any design.

But does any design work for that holiday sweater look? Not really. You want to use design elements that mimic the style, and add your own twist to it. You can easily create something in our Design Studio and then just have our Art Department “Sweaterize” it for you. Put the instruction in your order notes or contact one of our sales reps to help you place the order.

Pro tips: Keep it simple. Keep the number of colors low. Repeat elements such as trees, snowflakes, and small geometric shapes. If you have Photoshop or the free app Photopea, make your own “pixel art” which is the starting point for the ugly sweater look. Make a canvas only 200 pixels wide by 300 high max. Then start painting with pixels and get us that file!