A few months ago, I bought a small photo scanner, actually my first purchase ever from Woot.com.
I had scanned photos before, but with my overlarge MF8100C printer/scanner/copier. It was just too troublesome, because I actually had to stand-up, walk to the scanner, scan, go back to the PC, for each photo.
The VuPoint scanner was much more portable and easy to use. The only downside seemed to be having to put the photo in the small plastic feeder. But nevertheless, scanning went quite fast.
I scanned many of my childhood, teenage, high-school and college pictures. Next, I used Google’s Picasa to crop and do small color adjustments. It was quite simple. It also has red-eye adjustment, which fortunately I didn’t need. Then I uploaded my photos to my Amazon S3 storage using a plug-in in the Firefox browser. I wanted to make sure the memories were in a self place, and I didn’t want to upload all the childhood pics to Picasa, Flikr, or Facebook.
The cropping feature was great,
because I could take a bad photo with a lot of furniture, and focus on the main people in the picture. I also found Picasa easier to rename the pictures (over the previous tool I was using, IrfanView). Picasa also has a straightening feature which was needed on a few photos.
If you scan your pictures, a great gift for a parent would be a digital picture frame with the the best photos loaded onto it.
My other recommendation, is to be selective. Maybe you want to scan everything, but when you show your photo album to someone, pick the best 10 or 20 pictures ahead of time.