Family Yearbook: Category Layout Design

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Creating our family yearbook is one of my biggest (and time consuming) projects of the year but one that I love doing and our kids love having on hand at the house.  I use Shutterfly to create my family yearbooks (and to store all of my pictures).  Shutterfly might be a little more expensive than other places (I wouldn't know, I've always been loyal to them) - but throughout the year they offer regular specials including sometimes 50% off of photo books (!) and free shipping.  So, it's always been worth the money to order our high quality yearbooks from them.  (these opinions are entirely my own and not endorsed in any way).  

I started the family yearbook project in 2012 and since have gone back and finished a 2011 yearbook and finished our 2013 yearbook this spring.  I'm currently working on finishing a 2010 yearbook (the year our first child was born) and then I think moving forward we'll just stick to the current years.

For our 2013 yearbook, I tried a new organizational plan instead of sticking to the chronological months of the year like I had in previous yearbooks.  And I must admit, I love the new organization.  It has given me the opportunity to use many more miscellaneous pics without trying to use up a whole page on something relatively insignificant in the year just because I love a particular picture. 

By setting up the yearbook by category instead of by month/seasons, the book flows by grouping pictures together that are connected in some way.  The kids have really enjoyed this 2013 yearbook because all of their favorite things are mostly grouped together - so it's easy for them to find all the holiday pics at once, or all the vacation/trip pictures at once.

At the suggestion of a friend, I'm going to share below the categories/questions on how our 2013 yearbook was set up.  If you are in the process (or planning) of creating a family yearbook, I hope these categories/questions can help you brainstorm various ways to organize your family pictures in a meaningful way.

Each category/section transitions like the page above with the overall theme listed and some photos that correspond to the category - usually pictures that I like but don't warrant a full page spread on their own.  In the case of the first category (Our Family), it is a double page spread photo of our family all together (which has been the same for all of our yearbooks regardless of set up).


1. Our Family -  this is a great section for using our favorite pictures of just the kids or us.  Lots of instagram pictures included in this section that are captured randomly throughout the year on random days.

Dad and Mum Page pictures and questions:
  • What was your favorite trip of the year?
  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?
  • What was the hardest challenge of the year?
  • Favorite husband&wife moment
  • #ParentingFail
  • Favorite meals
  • Best Lesson Learned
Pets Page
Individual Kids Page:  include what they were like this year.  Favorite activities, movies, books, funny things they said/did, knicknames, and things they learned

What was it like to live in our home this year? - This section also used many instagram and phone pictures.  Just the everyday captures of what it was like in our days.  It was a chance to showcase the tiny little things we do to spend the days away in this year, with the kids this age.

Home improvements
Things we did at home (playtime, cooking/baking)
Misc. pics of us at home together

With whom did we spend our days? - The kids love these sections as they are filled with familiar faces and obviously so much love.  These pages are usually created as some of the last pages when creating the book because many of the pictures are overflow from the holidays or events pages.

Big Brother & Little Sister page
Just us (Immediate family)

What milestones did we accomplish this year? - This was a fun addition to our book this year and was inspired by my 30th last year and Brandon taking on his first year of coaching.  After seeing the connection between those - lots of other things made it's way into this section including big Firsts for the kids and an obstacle race we participated in last year.

Milestone birthdays (30th)
Big Firsts (first haircut, ride a bike)
New jobs/change in jobs

What gave us cause to celebrate this year? - The pictures here are obvious and these pages would be included in any yearbook regardless of layout.  The benefit of a category organization though groups all of the parties and celebrations together which makes for a very happy and fun section to look at :)

Birthday parties (our friends and the kids')
Showers (wedding, baby)
Family reunions

What seasonal traditions did we enjoy?  - This is one of my favorite sections; it's all the little things we do throughout the seasons that have become like traditions for us.  They aren't huge events that we spend months planning, but rather the little things that keep us happy and specific to the seasons.  It's as though these little bits of fun sprinkled throughout the year are what keep us always looking forward to new fun events.

Yearly traditions (Screen Free week, Alumni events, Shark Week, local festivals)
12 Months of Kindness
Winter events (sled riding, hotel sleepover)
First day of Trout/hunting
Annual parties
County fairs

Where did we go to visit? - lots of pictures available because they are the events that I have my camera on hand.  These are the things I'm obviously documenting because they took some planning to accomplish.  It's nice to have them all in one section together and this is section that gets a lot of comments from the kids like, "When can we go there again?!!"

Kid playdate trips to new places (circus, indoor playground, outdoor concert, petting zoo)
Family Day trips (Lincoln Caverns)
Family vacations

What do the holidays feel like? - If there is a most joyful section of the yearbook, it is this one.  Which is part of the reason I made it last (it's easy to locate!)  The holidays are filled with so many smiles and loving traditions.  This is by far the kids' favorite category and we have spent time looking at the previous year's holiday adventures as we approach the same holiday in the current year - as a reminder to what we'll be doing and what it means for our family.

Single page photo collage for most holidays (Halloween, 4th of July, Easter)
Multiple pages for 'big' holidays (Christmas) including traditions, Kids & their Santa wish list, celebrations/parties

My favorite part of this style of yearbook has been that I believe it represents a more true to life picture of what it is like to be a part of our family for the year.  The overall feel of what it is like to be in this family this year; our kids this particular age, the family and friends we spent time with, and just the regular life that we experience right now.

Do you create family yearbooks?  How do you organize the pictures?

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