We have lots of intentional and accidental traditions in our house. Seano and I both seem to be creatures of habit. Not that we aren’t up for spontaneity, but we seem to function best in routine. One tradition that started accidentally but has become incredibly intentional is our annual family yearbook.
I started our yearbooks in 2010 when we got married. I was hoping to find a way to document wedding photos, honeymoon memories, and other great experiences that didn’t make the wall or frames in our home. I settled on a photo book. I didn’t expect to enjoy the process as much as I did or value the end result so much. So, I turned it into an annual family yearbook. I haven’t missed a year since!
The first part I really love is taking photos. I take 100 for every beautiful one I capture. But, man, those beautiful ones make it worth it. And the other 99 still capture memories and beautiful moments with my family and friends. The books became a way for me to share our photos with the people we love that come into our home. I always display the latest and greatest book on one of our coffee tables and the others are on a bookcase that anyone can access. It’s amazing how often I come around a corner and see someone flipping through one of them. The people that are typically in our home are showcased throughout them and they enjoy seeing the photos as much, if not more, than I do.
Nearly as much as I love taking photos, I enjoy laying out and designing the book. I always utilize Shutterfly for this process although there are dozens of other companies you could use. (I even think Mac computers have a built in feature for this.) I have gotten very comfortable with their system and always love how my books turn out so I continue to design and purchase through Shutterfly. Typically, half way through the year, I’ll upload my photos from the first half of the year and lay out the photos. As I get closer to the end of the year, I’ll start designing the pages and working on the second half of the year. I enjoy this and so it’s nothing for me to spend 8-12 hours perfecting our book. If you’re not willing or unable to commit that kind of time, Shutterfly also has an option, Simple Path, that automatically populates the book for you.
Shutterfly has tons of free backgrounds (although I find myself sometimes using the same ones over and reworking them), fonts, stickers and other digital scrapbooking tools. But, they also have a small fee to use special backgrounds and stickers you like. I usually end up doing a combination of free and premium pages.
The only problem is, the more children I have, the bigger the books get. Based on Shutterfly’s listed prices, the 8X11 book I always select can get expensive very quickly. The books come with 20 pages as part of the base cost and you pay an additional $1.29 per page. I am a Shutterfly email subscriber so I receive lots of promotions from the company. Once my book is complete, I typically wait for an email letting me know photo books are 40% off or more. This usually reduces my book in the $60 range (keep in mind, I said my books have been huge lately) which is a fee I don’t mind paying once a year.
Here’s how the process works:
- Select your path type (this is where you can have Shutterfly design for you, you can create a custom design, or use Simple Path to have Shutterfly populate the book for you). I always choose Custom Path.
- Select your size. (I always choose 8X11.)
- Select your book style. You’ll pick a basic template for your book but then be able to customize anything you wish.
- Upload photos.
- Layout photos.
- Design pages with text, backgrounds, stickers, etc.
- Shutterfly will print and ship to your door.
Overall, I love the process and how our books always turn out. Has anyone else bought into annual family digital yearbooks? Do you make smaller, but more frequent books? I’d love to her your take and process.
Check out these JBJ posts too!