Tips for making family yearbooks

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

look what we got in the mail today!

Our newest Team Studer family yearbook to add to our collection, which makes our coverage through six years now:  every year of our family since having kids!

I first started making our family yearbooks in 2012 and as you can see above, as it was my first year and I had little self control, I went overboard with photo selection and ended up making two books just to cover the one year! As time has gone on, I have become more selective as to what makes it into our yearbooks and how they are organized.

I try to make our yearbooks cover most of the things that make up our days in any given year.  A glimpse into what it is like to be in our family for that time (kind of like my Around Here posts but only stretched out over the course of an entire year).  It is one of my very favorite activities to sit and look back through the years over a cup of tea in the afternoon with kids asking questions about every page and begging, "when can we do that again!?"

some photos of older yearbooks' spreads
Now, six years experience under my belt of making yearbooks, I know what I like and how to make it possible to continue this activity - even with a plate full of kid raising and activities that we always have going on.  This is something that's important to me personally, and also a responsibility that I feel like I have as the in-house memory keeper (and photo taker).  It is definitely hard work, but every time we get a new yearbook (or look through past ones) I'm reminded again at how important I think they are.

Here are my top five tips for creating family yearbooks without losing your mind:

1.Organize your photos:  Keep your photos somewhere all together and in an organized way that you know what you are looking at.  I keep my 'real' camera photos (from my DSLR) on my laptop organized by month of the year.  I upload those photos to my Shutterfly albums (also organized by month) occasionally through the year.  I do the same for the photos I take on my phone and upload them (organized by month) through the Shutterfly app to keep both 'real' camera photos and phone photos all together for each month.  So when I'm making my yearbooks, I can easily find photos from someone's birthday to add to the yearbook.  And it helps remind me the events or moments that need added to the yearbook after I give the month albums a glance over and realizing I completely forgot about that trip to the water park!

2.Don't be in a rush:  It honestly takes me about six months (at least!) to complete our family yearbook.  I set time aside on Fridays in my planner that say "yearbook work" and as much time that the kids are willing to give me uninterrupted on each Friday - sometimes that's 20 minutes, sometimes that's an hour (thank you Netflix!) - and I do a page or two, or edit pages that are already done.  There are certainly options where the books can be made for you with a click of a button and the magic of the internet, but I like being in the driver's seat when it comes to photo selection/size/color theme/etc so it takes me a while to get it all polished and complete.

3.Think about layout:  one of the best decisions I made for my own sanity was to organize my yearbooks by category instead of going month by month.  Now I have a intro section which walks through our current family status, including a page for Dad & Mum where we answer questions about the year (what was our favorite tradition/event? our favorite husband&wife moment, #parentingfail of the year, our best lessons learned, our favorite family meals, and our struggles&challenges that year)

And in every one of the yearbooks, the kids each get their own page always with the same photo format (twelve photos around the border) and I write a little bit about the kind of kid they are right at this particular age (personality, likes/dislikes, favorites, hobbies, etc)

From there, the yearbook is divided into seven categories:
What was it like to live in our home this year?
With whom did we spend our days?
What milestones did we accomplish?
What gave us cause to celebrate?
What seasonal traditions did we enjoy?
Where did we go to visit?
What do the holidays feel like?

And then activities and moments are organized throughout those categories.  So things like my volunteer work with the alumni association goes under the Milestone category, and the first day of fishing season falls under seasonal traditions, etc.

4.Hop around the book while working on it - it doesn't have to be perfect the first time through.  I start by laying out the categories and then depending on how I'm feeling on any particular day determines what page I work on.  In the dead of winter, sometimes working on our summer days to the lake are just what the doctor ordered.  I also pull more photos than I need for any page and use them for my People pages (sections: with whom did we spend our days and what was it like to live in our home).  A picture of the grandparents at the hospital for Rustin's birth actually ended up on our family page instead of Rusty's birthday page.  Our family and friends' pages - along with the kids' individual pages get photos slipped in all along the way of creating the rest of the book.  (And usually the very last page done is the Dad & Mum questions because it helps us remember the last year as I do my final lookover of the whole book when it's done, hah!) 

5. Remind yourself that the real gift isn't the photos in the yearbook, it's the memories that the photos help you remember. The thought of this has helped me be much better about selecting the photos that make it into our yearbooks (I'd guess less than half the pictures I take all year make it into the actual yearbook!) I try to make sure the photos that go into the pages evoke the feeling of what it is like to live this life right now in this age and stage of our family.  The photos and pages themselves turn out to be jumping off points for reminiscing and laughing about particular things that happened.  We spend more time talking about the pictures and the past while looking at the books together than we do reading the captions.

Do you do a family yearbook of sorts?  Or how do you keep and cherish all the photos you take along the year?  Any helpful tips to share? 

I have used Shutterfly for every year of my yearbook creation because I have been loyal to them since they have without any issues have held all of my photos since 2004 when I was studying abroad in Costa Rica.  Those were back in the days when I had to upload & dump my camera card after every weekend trip while abroad and then pray to the internet gods that my only proof of my experience was being saved on the Shutterfly website.  It was.  AND STILL IS.  in perfect condition, so I will always be loyal to them. (thank you Shutterfly!)  I find their book creation easy and beautiful and they are also my go to for holiday cards, birthday invites, and photo gifts.  This post has not been sponsored.  I just have always had a great experience with them and I'm sharing the love for a company that has taken good care of my some of my most precious memories. xxox

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