Raise your hand if you have approximately 5,516 photos and 312 videos on your iPhone. Keep it raised if, since last March, you’ve had every intention of uploading those suckers to your computer. Now, high-five your neighbor if you know, deep down, that realistically it ain’t gon’ happen.
Let’s be honest. The thought of organizing, deleting, uploading, storing, and saving our photos can be overwhelming, at best. And, unless you’re my Granny (who LITERALLY is on a first-name basis with the Sam’s Club’s photo lab employee), you’re likely not going to get any pictures printed to store in a box because, well, it’s not 2003. However, if you’re like me, then within your growing number of phone pictures and videos, there are probably some pretty special memories and moments that you want to savor and remember.
Allow me to share a solution: the family yearbook. I started this tradition many moons ago in 2013, and I am so incredibly glad I’ve made these bad boys a priority. Our family yearbooks are a collection of stories and memories brought to life through pictures and words. There is no better feeling than seeing that orange Shutterfly package on my front porch in January each year. (Also, just a heads up: If you step foot in my home anytime in the early months of the year, there is an extremely high chance I will shove our family yearbook in your hands and force you to look at it while sitting uncomfortably close to you on the couch, staring at you and awaiting your positive feedback on my masterpiece. My love language is words of affirmation, people.)
Creating a family yearbook does require a bit of a time commitment. I always tell people that it takes me 20-30 minutes each month, but it is so worth it. Over the years, I’ve discovered tips and tricks to completing them a little faster and more efficiently:
1. Set aside time each month to dedicate to your family yearbook. The first year I did our yearbook, I attempted to complete the entire book at the end of the year. There are a few reasons that I suggest against this. Firstly, the process is overwhelming. Imagine sorting through twelve months’ worth of pictures and arranging them by month. Also, I really like writing a little summary of our month to accompany the pictures I choose for our yearbook. For me, it’s hard to remember what I did and how I felt last week, so typing up a synopsis of what I did and how I felt several months ago is nearly impossible. Now, each month, I choose a specific date and time (e.g. Tuesday during naps) that I am going to dedicate to updating our yearbook. Again, I plan for 20-30 minutes each month, but you may want to allow for a little more time until you are familiar with the process.
2. Choose a quality photobook company. There are many companies that allow you to create photobooks, so do your research and choose the best fit for you. In the past, I have always used Shutterfly. I like this company for many reasons. One, I like that I can save my yearbook projects and work on them throughout the year. Secondly, Shutterfly nearly always runs deals on their products; I don’t think I have ever paid full price for a yearbook (see Step 6). Lastly, Shutterfly has a phone application that makes uploading phone pictures into the photobook a breeze (See next step).
3. If the photobook company has a phone application, download it. Before I downloaded the Shutterfly application on my phone, I spent a ridiculous amount of time uploading my phone pictures to my computer and then transferring them into Shutterfly. Their application allows me to choose phone pictures to upload directly into an album in my Shutterfly account. Huge time saver!
4. Choose a theme or style for your yearbook, and stick with it! Consistency and routine just makes life easier, doesn’t it? By setting up your yearbook to essentially look the same for each month, you can save yourself a lot of time. I also think that a consistent theme makes the yearbook flow nicely and ties your year together in a beautiful way. You can still get creative. For example, Shutterfly offers several layouts for your pictures. What this looks like for me is that I open the month with a text page that includes the name of the month and a summary of activities. I usually share one or two of my favorite pictures from the month on the opening page as well.
5.Be honest in your writing. As I mentioned, I usually include a text page that sums up our month. For the most part, life is good, and I capture that with my pictures. However, it would be a lie to pretend everything the last four years has been a walk in the park. I also document when times are hard or when we, as a family, are in a tough season (e.g. illness, stress, etc.). It has been such a blessing to look back on our yearbook, remember when things weren’t going our way, and praise God for bringing us out of a dark time or season. Additionally, my hope is that my kids will look at these when they are older, and I want to really paint an honest picture of what life is like through our yearbooks.
6. Look for ways to save money on your yearbooks. Like I mentioned before, I have never once paid full price for my yearbook. Shutterfly commonly runs deals and sales on their products, so I wait until they do before I order. Also, I came across this blog post that shows a few ways to score a free Shutterfly book. Finally, I always ask for Shutterfly gift cards for Christmas, as I usually order our yearbooks in January. If you are new to Shutterfly, click HERE, for a free photo book. Or, e-mail us (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we will send you a code!
7. Add a memorabilia pocket. Shutterfly has an option to add a pocket at the end of the book. It’s relatively cheap, so I started adding it at the end of our yearbooks. In this pocket, I store our Christmas card for the year. You could put any small paper in here, really. It’s a great space to store a memory (e.g. ticket to a concert) that you just can’t seem to throw away. Shout out to my hoarders.
8. Display your hard work. Family yearbooks make great coffee table books. Like I mentioned, I obsess over our books and peer pressure our house guests into skimming through the pages. My kids really enjoy these too. They love looking at pictures of themselves and seeing pictures when they were ‘babies’. They also are great conversation starters: “Hey Hank, remember when we took a vacation to the beach and you played in the sand? What was your favorite thing about the ocean?”
Have I convinced you? Hurry, click out of the screen and get started. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below, and I will be happy to answer to the best of my knowledge!