I finally ordered our 2014 family photo book (or chapter 5 of Our Adventure Book). In the past, I've used Apple, Shutterfly, and Artifact Uprising. This year, after reading this post from Ashely, I went with Blurb. I'm so glad I did.
I've shared before about why and how I make yearly family albums. In a nutshell, I love having a record of each year. Though I remember the photos so clearly when I make the book, I forget so quickly in a year or two. When I was younger, I often scrapbooked, but it took so many supplies. I prefer designing on a computer and having access to all my pictures. I also prefer the neat, compact size of a printed book rather than the stuffed feeling of a scrapbook.
Making these albums relaxes me. Some years I've done a theme. One year, I styled the book and text after Where the Sidewalk Ends, and drew a picture for the front.
Lately, I've preferred a more classic style. I started out doing this book week by week, but that became too much. So I organized it by month. Each month gets about four to six pages in the book.
Our pre-child books were relatively short (20-30 pages max). This book ended up being 84 pages. I also went with a bigger size (large format landscape 11 X 13) so that I could do spreads with more or bigger pictures.
Each month starts with two pictures of Liam and a little blurb below capturing the highlights of the month. This accounts for the majority of the text. I think the two picture start gives the book a more cohesive, unified feel, but I could be guilty of overthinking it.
There are a few places where I added extra text--a post I had written about Christmas morning or the story of how we found our house. I used posts I've written on this blog, as well as my long monthly journaling on Liam to figure out what to include in each little section's start.
Most months have a page or two with tons of smaller photos--often shots from my iPad or Jon's phone. I was afraid this would be too overwhelming, but due to the large size of the book, I like these pages a lot. They give me a chance to throw in tons of other pictures I would otherwise miss. Many of these photos are explained in the little blurb at the start of each month.
I loved using Blurb because their software is much more text-oriented and flexible than the other sites I've used. You can create spreads and then save them (which should save tons of time as I make the 2015 book).
Blurb also has great monthly coupon codes that they email. The quality is excellent, and I love the choice of covers. I went with a wraparound, which covers a neatly-bound cloth book. We'll see how the wraparound cover holds up to a toddler looking through the book!
I also love that Blurb lets you order a PDF version that is so nice to read on a computer, phone, or tablet. This provides a back up. I've heard of people who order a copy of each year's family album for each child (for the future). Ashely orders two copies--one to keep out and look at and the other to keep safe. That is a bit cost-prohibitive for us right now, but I'm very pleased to have a digital copy, should something happen to the original.
I plan to continue making these each year. They free me from physical clutter (I don't feel like I have to keep everything), give me confidence that my favorite pictures are well-preserved, and help us remember all the wonderful things about our family. I have Liam's baby book in the works, too and hope to finish it--as well as our 2015 book--before the new baby comes.
Tips for Your Own Albums
There are so many great options if you want to start your own yearly album (and I think you should!). Some families like to do albums of special events throughout the year (maybe one for Christmas or for a trip). While this may work great for some, I prefer the simplicity of one book each year that captures all the significant events within it. Here are my top tips for getting started.
- Just start: Don't try to go back to your wedding or even your first child. Start with 2015 right now.
- You don't need to be married or have kids! I'm glad I have my scrapbooks and journals from high school and college. You may not have as many pictures without kids, but one day you will want to see those ordinary details of life (the place where you worked, your car, or the best events from college).
- Find out what format works for you. Some people just order a book of their Instagram at the end of the year. This seems like a great, simple way to have a yearly record, particularly if you are an avid Instagrammer. I also love the idea of buying one traditional photo album each year and then ordering photos to fill it chronologically. You can add text or just fill it with pictures. We love looking at my mom's photo albums of our childhood, which are just prints organized by date. There are also tons of software options. My Publisher looks like a great one with good deals (including a free book for first-time users), and I never had complaints with Shutterfly.
- It doesn't have to be perfect! Sometimes I forget an important detail and go back and write it in. Once I misspelled Jon's first name on the back of the book (it looked normal in the cursive font I chose!). It's about doing something with your pictures and having a simple way to look through each year.
- Take pictures often. The yearly book gives me the chance to take pictures of all sorts of things ("Hey! I'm going to take some pictures for my family album!") and to badger friends and family members for their photos. It reminds me to get out the nice camera on an ordinary Wednesday for some evening shots of my husband mowing the yard and my son playing with the waterhose. That's probably the best benefit of all.
This is not a sponsored post.