Last Thursday, the first night of Hanukkah, Etan Rosenbloom, 41, went to his office holiday party at Cara Restaurant, an airy, farm-to-table spot in Los Angeles.
Mr. Rosenbloom, who works in marketing for a music industry company, thought he knew what he was going to receive for the companywide Secret Santa. “We were all supposed to write down five things we would want,” he said. His list included Haribo gummy products and a six-pack of craft beer.
But the colleague who drew his name went rogue, and instead bought him socks with his 6-year-old daughter’s face printed on them. “It was a photo from Disneyland, and she was holding a churro,” he said.
He loved the socks. “They are really comfortable, but they also look cool,” he said. “I feel like they fit my vibe.”
He was also touched by the thought and effort that went into this gift, which involved his colleague going through his Instagram to find the perfect picture. “She thought so much about this,” he said. “I was a little bit teary.”
While it has long been possible to go to print a photo on a mug or T-shirt, it is now possible to personalize almost anything. Want to put someone’s mug on oven mitts, underwear, golf balls, pajamas, e-cigarettes, puzzles or ornaments? No problem.
Some companies selling these products say they are seeing greater demand this holiday season. Josh Cellars, which makes customizable wine labels, reported a 105 percent increase in sales of its customized labels this year from the same time in 2022, with an average of 25,000 personalized labels ordered every week, the company said.
Slickwraps, a company that puts photos on electronic devices including iPhone cases and Beats headphones, said it had to extend printing hours to keep up with the increased demand this holiday season. “We receive so many different types of pictures,” said Jesse Erickson, a manager at the company. “Sometimes the photos are sweet; sometimes they are weird.”
Gift Wrap My Face, which prints wrapping paper with real faces on it, said it had seen a 10 percent increase in sales from a year ago.
Mr. Rosenbloom acknowledged that some people could find it “creepy” to receive an object covered in the face of a loved one, but “I know people who would be similarly tickled by a gift like this,” he said.
People giving personalized gifts say you can strike different tones depending on the item you choose.
Last year Molli Barger, 30, who works in sales for a tech consulting firm and lives in Dallas, gave her fiancé boxers with her face all over them. “I used a straight-on, headshot of me,” she said. “My fiancé put them on immediately, and he still wears them. They are in his rotation every couple of weeks, and every time, it makes both of us laugh.”
While that gift was “super cheesy” and “primarily a gimmicky thing,” she said, this year she decided to personalize wine labels for her two best friends using Josh Cellars, putting a photo of all their dogs on them. “This type of gift is more sentimental,” she said. “It’s about commemorating our friendship.”
She plans to invite them to her house one night before the holidays and surprise them — so long as they don’t read this article — by placing the bottles on the table. “I think they will laugh, cry, and immediately open the wine and drink it,” she said. She plans to then display her empty bottle on her bar cart.
Every holiday season, Katie Lewis, 32, a publicist who lives in New York City, exchanges gifts with a former roommate who now lives in Australia — always with their own faces on them.
“It doesn’t cost a ton, but it’s funny and cute and shows you are thinking of someone,” she said. “It’s also extra fun for us, because we are so far away.”
While she did socks the last two years, this year she is giving a pillow. “We have traveled together so we have a bunch of photos of us sleeping on a ferry in Greece or on a subway,” Ms. Lewis said. And as former roommates, “it’s nice to have her face on something in my apartment.”