Christmas in July – Photo Blocks Puzzle

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

Hey there…..I figured I would do a week of “Christmas in July posts” to get everyone thinking about all the cute crafts they can crank out for the holidays.

Plus, this way, you can start all this stuff now and take your time….instead of rushing around at the last minute like I usually do (I need to take my own advise :)

Anyhoo (my hubby informed me that this is annoying when he reads my blog… of course I’m gonna keep saying it! Love you honey!!! :)

The first craft I’m gonna show is something that would be a great gift for grandparents or aunts & uncles, or anyone that you may not be able to see alot.

Photo blocks puzzle!! (Woo Hoo!)

In fact, I made this set for my dad for Father’s Day (but I’m sending it out tomorrow since he just got home from the Middle East, so ssshhhhh, don’t tell)

This is something I saw here, but didn’t want to pay $20 bucks for a kit (even though they are cute!). So here goes:


9 blocks cut from a 2″x 2″ (in reality….a 1 1/2″x 1 1/2″)

Paint color of your choice

6 photos of your choice

Mod podge

A bit of free time

So, I’m not going to lie to you….even though this is a pretty easy craft, it will eat up some time just because you are doing six sides. So this is a great: do-after-the-kiddos-are-in-bed-while-watching-television craft.

First, don’t forget that some lumber supply stores will cut you wood for free or very cheaply. You can even get pre-cut blocks at your local craft store for a pretty reasonable price in the wood-working aisle.

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

Once you have your blocks…..make sure to sand them so they are pretty smooth.

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

Then, paint em’! You just need one coat since the paint will be pretty much covered up.

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

Then cut your pics down to 9 little squares for each side. For mine, the total size of my puzzle was just over 4 1/4″, so I cut each square just over 1 3/8″. But, there were a few squares that I had to trim just a tiny bit off before gluing down. So, just keep that in mind.

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

Also, I just printed my pics off from my own printer since I was in a hurry, so the pics aren’t the best quality. And, I had a little hard time with the colors trying to run when I put the Mod Podge on. So next time I know better :)

Once you get them glued down, and it dries……put a few coats of Mod Podge on to seal it up. Or, I did one coat of Mod Podge and when that dried, I sealed them with a spray sealer.

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

And….Ta da! A great gift for grandparents or even your spouse.

Or, I might make more of these for my kiddos since they keep wanting to play with this set :)
Maybe I’ll do one with pictures of Disney characters! They would LOVE that!

Have fun!

Christmas in July - Photo Blocks Puzzle by Not So Idle

UPDATE!! Click here if you want to get to the tute I made for a box and insert for these.

About Emily Mcdonald

Emily McDonald is the owner of Not So Idle Hands and lives in Colorado with her hot hubby and 3 cute daughters. When she's not battling ADHD, Fibro, or Migraines she loves to be downstairs playing with all her pretty crafty things making fun stuff. She also runs an awesome Etsy Shop by the same name where she gets to sell shiny supplies to make pretty stuff {check it out!}.


  1. What a great idea! What size photo did you start with?
    By the way, I gave away my first set of Be Blocks and my friend loved them! Luckily, I have 4 more sets I get to make. The only bad part was that at my Lowe’s the guy said he couldn’t cut my 4×4 with one cut- he had to rotate the wood. So I have some sides that take a LOT of sanding!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for doing this. I’ve been looking for a tutorial on these for so long and somoone pointed me to your blog. I love it!

  3. can i just come live with you for like a month of two and do crafts every day?! please! i want to do one or two or like 10 of everything you post but i never make the time to buy all the supplies etc.

  4. I’d also like to know what size photo you started out with, and did you just use regular photo paper?

  5. Ok, I’ve responded privately to a few people about the size of the pics….but I’ll post it too so everyone can get a quick answer :) I cropped my photos in Photoshop till they were ALMOST the size I needed and then cut them down to size once they were printed out and I measured AGAIN (measure twice, cut once). I also printed mine out on regular paper….but it was hard since the modpodge was making the ink try to run. Next time I will still crop them at home and then just print them out on photo paper. You will maybe need to use a stronger glue to tack down the photo paper……like “Aleene’s Tacky Glue”. Hope this helps!

  6. Thank you for this tutorial!! I’m trying to come up with crafty gifts for Christmas this year and this one is definitely on the must make list!

  7. I love this!! It looks too difficult for me though! I am stopping over from Disney’s site.
    – CougarTales

  8. I love the picture blocks and added them to a post about some different type of picture blocks at Thanks for you creativity.

  9. I featured this on my blog today.

  10. Super cute! I would make this for my cousins- and use pictures of far away relatives they rarely get to see.

  11. Super cute! I love that you also showed the steps for getting this project made. I see other ideas on your side bar too! I’m here to explore.

  12. I soooo want to make one of these! Great idea!

  13. Love this idea! Linked on my blog!

  14. WOW!!!!!!!!

    m ^..^

  15. My MIL made these for my kids when they were little, and they loved them! They still love them! :) Thank you for sharing!

  16. Totally want to make this for Christmas. I followed your Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns and loved those.

    Can you use photos that are already printed? Or is it best to print them off your computer?

  17. I love these photo blocks. This is such a great christmas idea. I posted a link at for a great gift idea. Thanks!!

  18. These are great! I posted this to my blog today. I made 2 sets for my son & did a holiday ornament variation.

    Thanks for the great crafts!

  19. Those are so cute!! I wonder if it’s too late to run out, get the supplies, and make these for the grandmas for Christmas this year. :)

  20. Sarah- no, it’s not too late, I got my supplies a month ago, but I only started making them today. :D

    BTW, I’m making them for my nieces.

  21. Thanks so much for this – making one for grandparent’s this year and might be able to make 2 more for friends . . . .they will love them!

  22. Hi! Just wanted to say that I love your blog & I especially like this project for Easter.
    I’ve featured you on my blog here:

    I hope you’ll stop by & check out my blog. You can get my new featured button on the top left hand side of my blog sometime. Cheers, Jenn

  23. Ok, I have been wanting to make these for so long. I do not want to buy a pre-cut kit from the craft store (too expensive!) but I’m having an awful time figuring out with wood to get at Home Depot. Some of the corners will be slightly rounded, others will be 90 degree angles. Also, Home Depot can’t cut it to the exact measurements I want. I tried today and all the blocks are 1/4 inch too long. So frustrating! What wood did you use?

  24. Jessica~

    Well, hubby cut mine for me and knows I’m very anal and particular about things being perfect :) Sometimes I had to look through the pile to find a piece that was good and had good angles all throughout. You could just try to sand them down a bit if they are too long or get an inexpensive mitre box and cut them at home. Hope this helps!


  25. Jessica, are you looking through the big, long pieces of lumber? There is a section in Home Depot (and Lowe’s) where they have perfect 90-degree square dowels.
    I believe they are located near the trim work.

    I used those last year to make three of these puzzles and a set of building blocks. My nieces and daughter loved their gifts!

  26. LOVE these! I’m going to feature them twice today – once in my “Gifts for Girls” and once in “Gifts for Boys” as part of my Christmas series. So fun!

    And I just found your blog. I also have 3 girls, so I’m excited to poke around and see your other fab stuff!


  27. Beautiful! I definitely need to make this! Thanks so much for sharing! This is an amazing blog!


  1. […] would love to get a fun Photo Block Puzzle with pics of the grandkiddos on […]

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