Lots of good December Daily questions this year – thanks for taking time to ask!
Here’s a run-down of my responses broken down into categories (not necessarily in the order they were asked). Some questions have been edited for brevity. I’ve also included comments from others creating albums – you can see the full replies in the comments section of the question post.
MAKING THIS ALBUM YOUR OWN
Q : Do you have to stick to exactly what you do in the december daily or can it be a bit more personalized?
AE : Absolutely not. You should do exactly what you want. There’s no rules, no set instructions to follow and no way this is “supposed” to be. What you should do is tailor it to your family, your situation, your schedule.
Q : I would really like to try this project, but I struggle because I have one Christmas with my family the day after Thanksgiving, and a second with just my husband and kids on Christmas Day. It is too big of a time slot to do November and December for me, so I am not sure how to handle the album. Any thoughts?
AE : My first thought is what do you want to do? What if you begin the project with a page or two about Christmas with your family and then begin on the first documenting the season in your own home. It would make a really lovely beginning to begin with one celebration and end with another – how cool that you get to celebrate Christmas TWICE!
Q : Ali – I love this project, and may actually try to do it this year! (Maybe I should finish April’s Week in the Life first!) 31 days, or even 25 seems kind of overwhelming to me, and I’m afraid I wouldn’t finish it. Have you seen anyone do 12 days, or Christmas week, or any other version? Or, have you seen people title their project something other than December Daily?
AE : I think a 12 days of Christmas (traditionally from December 26 through Epiphany) – or maybe the week leading up to Christmas – is a fantastic idea. You can definitely title it anything you want – calling it 12 Days of Christmas would be awesome. Or Christmas Week or 7 Days – really anything – again, no rules.
As with most projects I do, I try not to take things too seriously or keep anything rigid. I like to go with the flow, to be ok with making adjustments as I go along. All that said, I do like to begin with a solid foundation – from there I can adjust as I go.
THE COVER VS. ALBUM
Q : I have all my supplies just can’t seem to find a album. The LSS stores nearby don’t have anything special so might have to drive out to Archivers to look. I would really like to make something homemade if I could though, any ideas?
AE : I struggle each year in finding an album – this is mainly because these albums tend to get thick (at least mine do) and I want to have room to expand. All that said, don’t let deciding on an album hang you up so much that you don’t attempt the project.
One of the easiest things to do is to just use some plain chipboard or even cardboard (see photo above). For my white cover I used the backing of a package of pattern paper. There were some good responses to your question in the comments as well – lots of people just using what they can find at home and turning it into a cover.
Q : I’ve always used purchased albums. I prefer 3-ring binders such as We-R-Memories. I’m curious, why you use self-made albums. I’m assuming that it has to do with bulk. I guess that simple step is the only thing holding me back. Is it as sturdy? Will it survive lots of handling? Etc.?
Q : Hi My question is I would prefer to use a album instead of the rings probably like a small 3 ring binder style so i can add or move pages easily. Do you have suggestion for one that would be thick enough to hold all the pages I’am thinking 8×8 for size.
AE : One of the reasons I use self-made or minibook style albums for December Daily is that it sets it apart from other projects I do. My regular albums are all 12×12, my annual Week In The Life project has been both 12×12 and 8.5×11. My preference for December Daily has always been a smaller, more artsy album.
I know that people in the past have done 8×8 albums and been happy with them – a lot of it depends on how much you plan to put inside (do you do a lot of dimensional embellishments, will you be adding layers to each page, etc). If you do go with an 8×8 album I would suggest a 3-ring that will give you more flexibility in adding/subtracting pages. American Crafts has nice 8×8 albums – but again, I’m not sure they can actually hold all that you might want to include. This also looks like a nice one from Making Memories.
I would say my books are sturdy. They’ve held up well (first one was back in 2007). They are put away during the year and come out with the decorations in December. My kids love looking through them, flipping through the pages, touching the bits of this and that – and I LOVE that they touch it and look through them.
Q : This is my first December Daily! I’m super excited and hope i can stick to it! I wasn’t really planning on ordering an album to put my pages in, so do you have a specific album that you recommend that is available at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s?
AE : See my comments above about albums.
Q : Any tips for keeping the albums durable, yet light enough for little ones to handle easily? My toddler loves photos, but I worry about failing adhesives and fragile papers.
AE : This is actually not something I really don’t think about as I’m making the albums. In the album I’m making this year the only page that has a fragile piece of paper is the white paper with the circles on it – I might add a sheet of clear acrylic to make it sturdier. As for the adhesives, I’ve really been happy with the Scotch Dot Roller, Martha’s Glue Stick, red line tape, staples, and my sewing machine (the stitching really keeps things together).
Q : This my third year doing the DD and I have my papers mostly done and still working on a cover. I am doing a 11X 6 album this year. I am making my own album cover – already made 2 of them but one is being published under another title so I made another and now my hubby says it looks to close to the one I am getting published so off to the drawing board again. I was really wanting a canvas feeling album. what do you suggest I bind it all with. Knowing that it is going to be larger that what I start out with. should I just stick to the 3 rings or do you think I can bind it all and it would not fall apart?
AE : I don’t see why you can’t recreate the one being published for your own personal use (unless the contract you signed specifically stipulates that). I used a canvas album last year that I covered with canvas fabric – it worked great. You can read more about that here.
Q : I know you’ve been working on a source for your white cover paper, but have you found anything similar? I really love the simple look of it. I’m thinking about using a messy look circle stamp and clear embossing as an alternative.
AE : I wasn’t able to locate a second source. You can contact Oregon Art Supply and have them ship you some. I love the idea of making it yourself with embossing and a messy circle stamp – I think I saw someone do that in the Flickr gallery.
Q : I plan on doing a 31 day December Daily. I downloaded the #25 but was wondering if you have a 31 that I could use for the front cover.
AE : Sure – here you go (includes a PDF and PNG file): Download 31 December Title Here
Q : I would love to add charms to my binding but with the rings I’m kind of stumped. Do you have any suggestions on how to attach those oh-so-necessary do-dads?
AE : When attaching charms I tend to use jump rings or ribbon.
Q: Are you going to insert any extra pages in your album as you go? Specifically I’m wondering if you’ll be using any of the December Daily digital templates that you’ve released in the past. And if so, have you thought about how you’ll do that? This is something I’m thinking about doing since I think I’ll need more space to document the “what we’re doing” of each day and journaling. Do you have any 6×8 sized templates in the works?
AE : 6×8 digital templates are in the works. I had hoped to have them available last week but got distracted by some other work. Look for them coming soon. I might add in more pages – it’s just going to depend on the story I’m telling each day and if I think I can fit it into my current set-up. I might use the 6×8 templates as a simple way to include multiple photos on a page. I’ll add them in Photoshop, print and most likely just adhere that on the left side of the spread (see image below).
Q : Have you decided what will go on the back of the daily journal pages?
AE : In the photo above you can see that I’ve decided to go with having a two-page spread with the transparent page sandwiched in the middle for each day. This gives me more room for photos, journaling or adding other stuff like pattern paper, kids artwork, receipts, etc. So the back will be the BEGINNING of the next day.
Q : I know in some of your other albums you have inserted tags, receipts, and school papers. Will they be part of this album?
AE : Absolutely! One of my favorite things! I will either make additional pages or adhere them right onto the pages that are already in the album.
Q : Do you plan to have a cover page at the beginning of the book to explain anything?
AE : Yes, I am going to do this. Because I’ve decided to make “spreads” I need to add another page to the beginning of the album. It will be a simple cardstock page with the date and an inscription. I think it’s a cool way to begin the album.
Q : I am also using the KI Memories numbers “lace” in my album, but how do you plan to include that in the binding? Since the numbers are so random I am afraid it won’t line up right to get the jump rings through it. Perhaps a little strip of cardstock mounted to the back just wide enough for the rings?
AE : Julie answered this one in the comments section for me (thanks Julie). In the walk-through video (go here to view) I show how I adhered the lace onto the Hambly Clearly Heavy Overlay. I would not put the lace in as a page on it’s own.
I thought this idea from Suz was also helpful • Another idea: I actually just sewed a cut-down-to-size (6×8) plastic 8.5×11 sheet protector to slip the KI lace numbers into. I sewed one new side and then sewed along side the “plastic stitching” that was originally along the bottom and spine side of the page protector. I trimmed off the original spine side edge that housed the ring holes and just punched new holes into the sheet protector. A more readily accessible and more affordable option than the Hambly option. Note: Place the cut out 6×8 section of KI lace that you want to use inside the 8.5×11 sheet protector to get a more accurate idea of how the lace will fit in it. In other words, you need to leave a little extra room for it to slide in easily and not pucker. (The good thing is if you mess up, sheet protectors are way cheaper to do over!-lol) Another option: Use a plain transparency from an office supply store and adhere the KI lace to it for support.
Q : I have my chipboard cover (the red one you sampled for us) and have purchased my Daily templates that I’ll be printing on white Bazzill. I’ll be downloading them as PDF pages. Can I type into those if they are PDF? (I don’t really use PSE for scrapbooking) so I rely on other ways to get my scrapbooking created.
AE : I might be wrong but I don’t think you can type onto a PDF (unless you have Adobe Acrobat Pro). Something you can do is insert the PDF file into Word, create a text box on top, and type in your journaling before printing. You can also insert the PNG files into Word and create a text box on top of the overlay to type your journaling. For either of these in Word go to Insert/Picture/From File. I show you the steps of doing this in Word on this post.
Q : After reviewing your 2010 December Daily templates, I was having trouble visualizing how you plan to add/attach your journaling to your hybrid project. Are you going to insert your templates directly into your printer and print on your already prepared pages? If so, please explain how you set up your printer to print on nonstandard size pages. Or, are you going to print your journaling on other paper, trim it,and then attach it to your template or transparent pages?
AE : I am not planning to run the printed pages back through the printer again (which can be done by printing one on 8.5×11 and then adhering the one you have already cropped on top of that and re-running it through the printer). Here’s some of the things I’m thinking about doing for my journaling:
- printing out the journaling and adhering onto the already printed overlay
- adding my journaling onto a photo in Photohop and printing
- handwriting my journaling in the space
- using my typewriter
- using letter stickers to create a quote for the day
Don’t feel like it has to be the same for each day. There are lots of options for including your story or a sentiment
Q : This is my first year doing the Dec Daily…to say I am a newbie is not even coming close. What is the best way to determine where I should be punching my holes for the rings….I bought the templates from DD…I have a feeling I might thinking too hard!!
AE : You’re definitely thinking too hard. It really doesn’t matter and is completely up to you where you want to put the holes. I usually first punch the middle hole – about 1/2 inch in from the edge. The other two holes are 1 inch from the bottom and the top, respectively.
Q : I noticed that you used each of your transparency designs twice. Since I’m trying to learn as much as I can about design as I go, I wondered if this had a design purpose? Does it help the album flow or tie together or something, or just handy being able to get two pages from a sheet?
AE : I definitely like repetition, but it was more a way to simplify things since I was able to get two out of each 12×12 sheet.
Q : Do you do anything to reinforce the holes in the paper/transp so they don’t tear down the road? Do you use just a regular hole punch?
AE : I haven’t done anything to reinforce the holes. Last year I used eyelets and grommets for some of the holes. For punching holes I use a Crop A Dile (a highly recommended tool that goes through all sorts of materials).
Q : Ali, Love the idea of a December Daily. I made one last year and it was so much fun. I think its wonderful you made a very simple album this year to encourage people to “just get started”. However I found out when I sat down to start my album, the main reason why I liked the Dec daily is the fun I got from playing with ALL my stuff. To me this album is so liberating. I can play as much as I want! I don’t really try to work around the pictures BECAUSE I don’t have any yet! It’s an opportunity for me to be totally free. Thanks for making me feel that whatever I do, is the right thing for me! Okay, the question. I was looking for pictures from previous years. I think for your DEc 2007 album, the pictures are linked to the CK website and the links are no longer there. Is that album any place else?
AE : I envision that once I get into documenting some of the days I will still be playing with stuff, adding, subtracting and making things work for the stories I’m telling. One of the things I love about this project is that people do really make it their own. Some years may be more artsy, some simpler, some digital, some paper, some complex, some years you might have more time, some years might be way too busy, etc.
And it’s on my list to add the 2007 images to my portfolio. I think I need to re-shoot the album.
Q : On the days you have the baseball card protectors are you making a note ahead of time to take extra pictures that day to fill in all that space? I’m worried my pictures won’t work.
AE : On the days I have baseball card page protectors I don’t make a note ahead of time. In looking at my past albums I have usually done an “around the room” or “around the house” day where I took shots of decorations. Don’t be worried that your photos won’t work – YOU have the power to make them work.
Q : Do you use every picture on that specific day or do you mix them up a little to make it work in the album?
AE : It’s your album and you can do whatever you’d like with it in terms of using photos on different days. No one is going to know that you took a photo of your front door wreath on December 9 but used it as a photo on December 20. On many days I will take a lot of photos and just use one. BE FLEXIBLE. BE INSPIRED by the story you feel like telling on a specific day – it does not have to exactly follow the calendar of days.
Q : You’ve used lots of transparencies this year. Is the plan to make them identical front and back? I just struggle with using transparencies as album inset pages unless I plan to mirror image them sandwiching the transparency in the middle, mostly for the pics cause I don’t like the backsides showing.
AE : My plan with the transparencies is that I won’t be adding anything else to them. That means in most cases that on the back you’ll just see the back of what’s adhered to the front. In some cases I might repeat something on the back (like a tag) or I’ll add another small element that fits within the space you see on the back. If this is a major deal for you I’d definitely recommend setting yourself up for success by choosing things you can duplicate on the front and the back. Don’t let it stop you from telling the story of the season.
Q : I’m new at paper crafting and love the concept. I also love the transparencies for your foundation pages but I could not find anything comparable in my local scrapbooking supply shops – not too many in my neck of the woods. I’d love to know where you got yours, were they pre-printed? If not, how did you print on them? finally, what adhesive do you use to adhere things to them? On my end, I improvised with my current project, using the thick transparent binder dividers I picked up in a office supply store, which I cut down to size. It works but doesn’t have the same artistic look and feel.
AE : Most of my transparencies are from Hambly Screenprints. I purchase the majority of my supplies online from either Scrapbook.com or TwoPeasInABucket.com. Also, I wanted to point out to you (you might not know this) but all the products I used and showcased in the posts that show the album include links to the products whenever available (normally in orange type). You can click on the name and be taken directly to a place to purchase the product.
The adhesive I use is a combination of rolling adhesive, staples, and stitching with my machine. When I use the rolling adhesive I usually will adhere something on the back side to cover up the adhesive.
Q : I see that you sew a lot of your items to transparencies such as here: http://aliedwards.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/IMG_61331.jpg. I’m very excited about the transparencies ideas, but am not much for dragging out the sewing machine. Is there an adhesive you would recommend that would hold paper or chipboard to a transparency?
AE : My next go-to is a stapler. See my answer above on adhesive.
Q : Have you ever tried to print your own transparencies? I used to do it all the time in my corporate job when preparing presentations. Could even print in colour. But, of course, the transparencies were probably quite a bit thinner than the versions you are using.
AE : I have printed on transparencies before (3M InkJet Transparency) and it works. I’ve mainly done black and white – you can see where I’ve done it with some of my digital overlays here. They are thinner but they do work!
I also liked the idea in the comments from Pam of using staz on ink and stamps to create your own pattern transparencies.
Q : I am not sure if this has been commented, answered on before… I like the 12 x 12 size therefore am doing 12 x 12 in sheet protectors, how would you incorporate transparencies with using a sheet protector, I love the look of your albums, but I am not able to go without my sheet protectors. Any suggestions?
AE : I would simply slip a transparency inside of a page protector – add number accents like I did if you like and then just slide it in. Another thing you might consider is cutting the transparency in half (length-wise so that you have a sheet that is 6×12). Slip that into the page protector and cut & stitch the page protector. Watch a video of how I do that here.
Q : Just wondering what you use, or is the best way to cut the hambly transparencies especially the thick ones?
AE : I just use my Fiskars trimmer. The thickest one I run through a couple times – works great.
Q : Are there any kits out there? I don’t have a stockpile of supplies to draw from and I’m not really interested in having lots of extras kicking around after December…
AE : There is no official kit for this project this year. I totally get you on not wanting a lot of extras. After December I box mine up with my holiday decorations and they are out of the way until it’s time to start planning my album for the next year.
A couple of my sponsors offer kits and supplies specific for December Daily: Evalicious, Ormolu, Elle’s Studio, Shabby Chic Crafts. I also love the little books from Elise Blaha and cute embellishments from BananaFish Studio.
TracyBzz had a great suggestion to do a search on etsy for December Daily. Here’s that search result page.
IDEAS & INSPIRATION
Q : Do you keep track of ideas/inspiration for finishing the page that come to you as you make your foundation pages? How do you remember these things? For example, if you have the vision to put a picture in a specific spot while creating the foundation page, do you mark it somehow so that you will remember it when you come back to it in December? I think I remember seeing you put post-it notes on pages last year – do you have any other tips? Or do you let it go and let the creative process re-inspire you once December rolls around?
AE : Good question. I don’t really think about what’s coming as I make the foundation. My goal is to just get it set up and ready to go. I’ve done it enough times to know that whatever I make will be just fine and I’ll be able to work with it once the month begins. Definitely a go with the flow process for me once I have the initial structure established.
I think keeping a little list of ideas to go with the album is a great idea. Especially if you are taking some time to look at previous years examples on Flickr – you might see things you want to incorporate. Post it notes would work great – you could also just write directly onto the page – most likely whatever you add there will be covered up with content during the month.
Q : Do you have any favorite Christmas scrapbook products this year?
AE : There’s always lots of things I like. Here’s some of the things I’m loving (you can see all the supplies I used in my album foundation here):
- Jenni Bowlin Chipboard Buttons
- The Girls Paperie Tinsel & Twig Sticker Pad
- Anna Griffin Georgette Holiday Collection Cardstock Pack
- I always find little bits of goodness from Papier Valise – she’s got some cool wallpaper packs in the paper section
- Father Christmas Collection 6×6 Paper Pad from Pink Paislee
Q : My question isn’t so technical: Once your foundation is done, how do you cope with not being able to work on it anymore for the entire month of November? I am dying for December to get here so I can start taking pictures already!!
AE : I work on other projects – my list is long!
THE “DAILY” IN DECEMBER DAILY
from my 2009 December Daily
Q : Do you have any advice for making sure you add something every day? This is my first year doing this, but as a college student that has finals in the middle of December, I’m really worried about adding things every day. A few days just might say “STUDYING.” But I know this is about marking the mundane as well. So I guess another question is about how to make the mundane “fit in” with the exciting “Christmas Stuff”
AE : First off I just want to say how I think that it’s so cool you are doing this project! Secondly, the mundane fits in simply because it is life. I think that’s part of the beauty of these sorts of albums – life is such a mix of basic stuff, celebrations, ups and downs. All of that together is life.
Don’t worry about adding things everyday. I usually start off really strong and then end up having to do a couple days when I have more time as the month goes along – that is NORMAL. On those days when I can’t/don’t get a page done I’ll make a note of what I want to add with a sticky note. Don’t let that stop you!
I thought the comments in response to your questions were great. Here’s a few of those suggestions:
- From Tina Batori • How about your class schedule showing finals schedule? Or the package from the “No-Doze” you take to stay up and cram? It’s my first DD year, too, and I’m writing ideas now so I can remember to document them when the time comes.
- From megan P • or perhaps a picture of you books, or coffee cup, or you school r backpack? I also like the idea of the schedule.
- From Cathy • If you want it to be Christmasy, you could take a picture of the books, you studying with Christmas coffee cup or if you study at someplace like starbucks or bookstore, take a picture of you under some Christmas decorations studying, etc.
- From Jess L. • I’ll second (or 3rd) the idea of including your schedule. Other ideas: a tuition bill, blue book, your final paper… Take a photo of your favorite place to study — why do you like going there? Even the “mundane” today will be fun to look at years from now — do you have a favorite route to class/shoes/winter coat/outside of your apt/neighbors/bouncer/technology, etc. (I’m totally dating myself but wish I had a pic of our giant answering machine and landline right now! LOL!). I am now living in the same city where I went to college and some of our favorite hangouts have been remodeled or demolished … wish I had a few wide shots of some of these places, inside & out, for comparison.
- From Jessica D. • I’m in college, too, and last year when I was writing some ideas on how to document school/exams, I came up with these (just to give you a few more to think about):
• I really wanted to document my bus ride to school. I took the same bus with the same people all semester, so I wanted to document that whole part of my life that is just so “everyday” we don’t really think about it
• I also wanted to get a picture of my desk while I was studying (it can get crazy!)
• The coffee cup picture is a good one. I also wanted a picture of the menu of my favorite coffee shop near campus. I love when they put the holiday flavors on the board!
• Lastly, I wanted a picture of all the DVDs I wanted to watch once I was finished with exams and could relax. I knew that this could be done any day because I wanted to journal about all the things that I wanted to get done not what I actually got done. I think documenting your plans and then seeing what actually happens can be just as informative and memorable as documenting your daily activities!
- From Melanie Hughes • Last year alot of my plans got scuppered by illness so I have a photo of baby nurofen in there which records all the parties we missed, teething and croup all in one photo. I also have a photo of my husbands briefcase for his last day at work before the holidays, a positive pregnancy test, our backyard under snow and on days where there were no photos, I recorded a Christmas memory, fav Christmas poem, song etc.
Q : What do you do on the days that you have not done something Christmasy?
AE : Here’s some of the things I have done in the past:
- photos around the house of decorations
- stuff that the kids are doing/what they brought home from school that day
- books I’m reading
- stuff that’s come in the mail
- regular activities – like soccer practice
- photos of us hanging around the house
- no photo and just a bit about how you’re feeling that day.
Q : I made two books last year (one for us and along the way made one for my mother-in-law who live a thousand miles away… maybe I should mention that she called and said she cried and laughed and read DD 5 times the first day and was ready to WALK that distance to see us…). My question: is there a list of possible activities for December? I don’t want my 2010 DD to be similar to last year. I want to include variety of pictures and activities, but I don’t always have enough ideas for every day.
AE : See the link above to the activity list on the Flickr page. I also wanted to comment about a couple things you mentioned: (1) love that you made one for a loved one as well – what a great gift to give and (2) I actually like that themes are repeated in my book from year to year – decorations that re-appear, things we do that are traditions that might seem the same on the surface but are experienced in new ways each year.
Q : How often are you finishing a layout/page? Do you set aside time each day to complete a page? Even with a pre-assemble/template, I had a hard time keeping up with my DD last year –I’ve already decided to do a better job of writing daily notes/journaling, but I’m worried about getting backlogged again. (I don’t have a photo printer at home.) Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
AE : I do mine everyday. Part of that is because I want to post here everyday to encourage and keep people going. Also, I love getting it done. I enjoy the process and I enjoy it even more when it’s getting done. During December it’s a really nice way for me to end my day – it’s a time to reflect on my day, see what happened, how are we celebrating, etc.
The best way to make it happen is to make a commitment to do something each day. We all make choices. I don’t watch a lot of tv which gives me more time.
Also, if you feel like you’re getting bogged down you might need to SIMPLIFY what you are doing. It doesn’t need to be complicated or take a really long time. It can be as simple as printing a photo and writing your journaling in the space you have set up for yourself.
If simplifying the process is going to help you keep up, enjoy it AND complete it…well, that sounds like the way to go for me.
Q • I am thinking about doing a Dec. daily album but I don’t do something EVERY day in Dec. A lot of days are just very routine with work and school and not much happening to do with the holidays. I don’t want to stress out about this project but want to have fun with it. Plus, I have a wide age range of kids (15, 12 & 4) and am not sure I will have enough to go into this album. Any suggestions?
AE : Actually, my guess is that you probably do something every day in December (maybe not Christmas related but life is happening all the time and stories are being generated with every step we take – that’s actually part of the reason this album is called December Daily). We don’t do something holiday related everyday, but there’s lots of life-activities happening that are stories which can be told in this album as well – see some of the ideas listed above.
I’ve got a big spread in my kids ages too. I think there are lots of things to capture in each of their lives – from the decorations in their room, to how they are anticipating Christmas, to playing with each other, to what we talk about at the dinner table.
There are SO MANY stories to be told.
Q : Does your husband get involved in the December Daily process? If so, how? I am doing this to document my son’s first Christmas and I want my husband involved too, but with him being gone 17 days out of the 25 I need some ideas on how to do this without focusing on the fact that he was gone.
AE : Chris’ main role is in taking photos. He’s great at grabbing the camera and helping to capture whatever we’ve got going on around here. He’s also great at getting photos of me to include.
If your husband will be away I love the idea of inviting him to write letters or postcards to your son (you could even pre-select the cards for him if he’s not the type that would get them on his own) – he could talk about what he’s doing, or include little Christmas things he sees on his travels.
I thought this was a really nice response in the comments from Paula: My husband travels lots too and I struggle with how to make him more involved as well. This year for my album I have asked him to write our daughter a letter to be included in the album not just one from “us” but one from each of us so she can gain a different perspective from us both. Another thing I do is take photo’s of when she is “on the phone” with him – this is just simply a photo of her with the phone as she is only 2 and doesn’t hold it up to her ear yet, but I put the phone on speaker and let her hold it so she can “talk”. Another thing I do is when we Skype I take photo’s of that and it is really cool to see your husband on the computer and us looking at him. My daughter loves this! Another idea is get him to document his days away by writing something and taking a photo or 2 of what he does on those days. I find that it still documents our December even though we aren’t doing it together. My husband took photo’s last year of the santa in the shopping centre in the town he was in. That was really cool!
Q : Hi Ali, I’ve been reviewing my DD09 album and thinking about this year’s version. I loved making the album and for each date page I faithfully recorded an event or task that happened on that day. But I am wondering about making it looser this year and not being so rigid on keeping it in date order. Maybe just fill in what ever comes to mind each day, be that an event that day or something I want to remember from another day or even year. So my question is: How do you approach what to put on each page? Before Dec 1 arrives do you have a list of things you know you want to record and date in mind for each topic? Do you capture just things that happen on that day specifically or make a page from another memory and place it in any order?
AE: My approach to this album tends to be along the lines of record whatever I’m inspired to document on that particular day. You do not need to follow a rigid schedule or stick to anything specific – I think it’s a more enjoyable process for many people if you let whatever is inspiring you at the moment be the jumping off point for the day.
This album is not really supposed to be a play by play of everything the happens in December (of course you can make it that way if you want but it’s never been my intent). For me it’s more about capturing the spirit of the season in photos and words in a minibook format.
I’m not methodical in having a list of things I must do – I know I’ll want to include somethings (like an image of Simon with the advent calendar or write about visiting Santa) but I’m not rigid in when that needs to be included in the album. Usually it’s on the day it occurs, but sometimes there’s more than one story on a particular day. In that case you can add more pages (REMEMBER FLEXIBLE IS GOOD) or tell a story from yesterday on todays page.
Q : Do you stress about the mixing of patterns and colors? Do you try and keep it all in the same tone on purpose? I have a tough time mixing up the colors and patterns. I try and push my design envelope, so I was curious if there was a way that you could help me out with the mindset of not having to have everything totally 100% match/coordinate throughout the album.
Q : On a similar note, do you keep a specific “style” in mind to stick to throughout, or do you intentionally mix it up? Or not care too much about it?
AE : If you take a look at my past albums you’ll see that what matches is that the stories are all from my family – that’s what matters most to me. I don’t use one product line – I’m definitely a mixer and a matcher. One of the things I really like to do is to keep it simple just use one pattern paper on a spread – there are so many great ones out there that I like to let the pattern do it’s job of looking cool all on it’s own.
I don’t really think too much about style as I go through – I think more about getting the words + the images in that I most want for the season. I usually keep things very simple with one embellishment and a pattern to go along with the photo and the words.
I also love enlarged images that fill up the whole page. That cuts down on the need to think about/stress on product selection and it keeps the focus right where I want it.
Q : How much of the foundation do you put together in advance, not knowing exactly what photos and what words you’ll want to include for each day? I’m not exactly sure how much room to allow, especially since my pages are different sizes. Is there a set answer to this? Or do you just flex with the pages and do it as you go? I guess what I’m struggling the most about is assigning numbers to the pages, and then being in a dilemma when I have more/less to say than that day’s page allows for.
AE : You can see my entire foundation that’s completed for 2010 here. I like to have a base structure in place before December rolls around. From there I’m free to adjust, add, subtract, play as I go.
In the past when I’ve done books with a variety of page sizes I’ve always looked forward to what the next day brought in my design – to me that’s a challenge that I like – how can I make the story I want to tell today fit into the constraints of what I’ve got in front of me. All that said, I know that lots of people will create their foundation in advance and then move things around during the month to fit better with their stories – either way is a good approach.
If the numbers are bugging you now just hold off on adhering them now. Many people choose to do that!
Q : You have already created the “foundation” for your December Daily project. Once December starts, do you print pictures as you go? Do you wait until January to print and assemble?
AE : Yes, I print as I go and work on it most days. My album is done before January. I love to work on this project and then I love to put it away until next year (I am SO DONE by the end of the 25 days).
Q : I have a newbie sort of question for you. I picked up my Bazzill cardstock in my scrapbook store today but was wondering do you find it easier to print first, then cut to 6×8 or cut first then print? Also, do you think I will have a hard time with this project and putting it together if I elect NOT to use transparencies over each day?
AE : I printed on 8.5×11 and then cut down to 6×8. And you will have NO PROBLEM putting this album together without the transparencies. It’s your book .
Q : If you are using the digital overlays with a picture full page, do you print on photo paper and adhere to cardstock so you can use the back of this page? or do you get it printed somewhere else?
AE : I‘m likely going to print photos on photo paper and adhere into the album (on the cardstock page). I print at home using my HP Photosmart B8550 printer.
Q : A question regarding the overlay page – if I understood you correctly you will sometimes add photos/journaling on the already printed overlay/cardstock, and other times put the overlay on top of photo(s) and then print these. With the latter option – will you put the printed combined photo/overlay on top of cardstock, or just insert the photopaper “as is” into the book? If you insert the photopaper “as is” – what do you do with the back of the photopaper, will you add photos/journaling there as well? (I guess what I am asking is if it does work to add photopaper on the back of photopaper, as when comparing that of adding photopaper on the back of cardstock)
AE : You can definitely adhere photo-paper back to back! Either way is totally fine and will depend on what you have the day before.
Q : I’d welcome your thoughts/comments on: (1) Incorporating photos of your Children’s Xmas crafts in the DD albums – and what do you do with the crafts after Xmas? (2) Documenting Xmas activities that occur prior to the start of December (we have our first Xmas Party next weekend!) (3) Documenting gifts given and received on Xmas day in the DD album (4) Have you thought about going back and doing DD albums for years prior to starting the DD albums (2006?)? (I think that your digital templates would be great for this) (5) Also, what adhesive do you recommend for sticking photos back to back?
AE : Here’s my thoughts:
- Love the idea of photographing kids crafts (especially with them in the photo). I’d likely hang onto them throughout the season and then unless they were SUPER special I’d recycle them (this is totally just me, if it were my own Mom she would likely keep them).
- For events that occur before December, unless it was something really important (like the person above who actually celebrates Christmas with their family right at Thanksgiving) I’d just skip them and start with December 1. It really depends on the event. Remember, one of my personal goals is to not make it more complicated than it needs to be.
- I usually include some images of gifts from Christmas day. I also often will do a layout about the actual day as well. Here’s December 25 last year, and in 2008. This year I’d like to include some bits of the packaging as well.
- I haven’t thought about that at all – mainly because for me this is a very seasonal, in-the-moment project. Part of what I love about it is that I’m reflecting as I experience the month. It’s a lot different than going back and trying to remember what happened in the past. I could definitely see using the digital templates to create pages from Christmas’ past, but not in the same way that I create these albums today.
- I like the Scotch rolling adhesive.
DIGITAL DECEMBER DAILY
Q : Do you have any plans for an actual digital album for those of us who are digital–sort of like the one you made for Week in The Life? Loved that one, bought it, and would be super excited if there was a December one too!
AE : Sure! You can purchase any of the three December Daily template sets I have available at Designer Digitals: vol 1, vol 2, and vol 3 (made for 2010). In addition you might want to check out the 31 Days 12×12 overlays which work alongside the vol. 3 layered templates. You can read the post I did about the templates here.
Q : If I choose to do all digital and size 12X12. Can I use a service like Shutterfly to assemble my product and do you have a 12X12 all digital completed I can see.
AE : Absolutely. You can upload your saved JPG images to Shutterfly and make them into a 12×12 book. Click here for more information on how to go about that process.
Q : My question is for all of you. Do you have a blog or facebook page that you can share what you are making? I know Ali does a flicker account but I like to actually see more details than just a picture. If you do can you please share it?
AE : Hi Terri – often times when people post photos to Flickr they also include a link to their blog that has more details or information. I’ve also got a few things I’m working on that might make sharing easier. I’ll let you know when/if that is able to come together.
Q : I have a question regarding taking indoor photos. I’m currently on day 2 of my Week in the Life project and will be participating in December Daily (just about completed my book). An issue that I’m running into that I know will come up in December is my indoor photos being yellow and grainy. My house is on the dim side to begin with so some of this is to be expected and using the flash on my Nikon D80 only washes out the subject in the foreground and darkens the areas in the background. I’ve been playing around with different settings and use a tripod at times but have not found anything that works. My questions: 1) Is there a setting, ISO, etc. that you use when taking indoor photos w/o a flash? Your photos always look quite a bit less yellow and grainy. 2) I understand that you sometime use an external flash, which one do you use or what is you advise for searching for a good external flash?
AE : Also, my photographer friend Tracy Clark did a guest post about taking indoor photos during Week In The Life in 2008. You can read that post here.
Comments in response to your question did a great job of answering + it sounded like you were able to take their suggestions and get some good results inside:
- From Heather • What I do is first, turn on as many lights as I can. Then I set my ISO as high as I can, on my camera that is 1600. I shoot mostly in aperture priority (Av on my camera), and set the aperture as wide open as I can go (4.5 down to 1.8, depending the lens I’m using at the time). Finally, after I upload, I use Auto Correct or Auto Level in PSE to adjust the color if I need to. I don’t have any good suggestions about camera flashes since I try to avoid ever using one (and I only have the built-in on my camera too). I would think it would depend on what brand your camera is.
- From Terri Porter • I also try to avoid using my flash when at all possible, using some of the same techniques that Heather uses. If I absolutely HAVE to use my flash, I use a diffuser which keeps you from getting that “blown out” look of too much flash. Ask at your camera store what type of diffuser will work with your camera. I got mine (for my Canon 40D) from garyfong.com. It’s called a Puffer and it works really well.
- From Paula in Australia • Hi Leah the ISO change does make a huge difference… just a bit of friendly advice from someone who has made the “mistake” ISO 1600 photos when blown up too big can look grainy too especially if you are taking them in daylight if you forget to change the ISO back when outside … I took a lot of photos of my daughter during the day outside in full light that were beautiful but taken on ISO 1600 because I forgot to change it back. They were ok but were grainy when I got them printed and got more grainy the bigger I went with the photo’s. Just thought this may save you a bit of heartache.
Q : i am wondering about the size of photos to use for the baseball card page protectors. i have bought several different types in the past and haven’t had luck printing out my photos to get them to fit. i usually have to crop them too much or mat them on cardstock. what size do you print them out at?
AE : The photo size for those slots is 2.5 x 3.5.
Q : I was just wondering if you were planning on putting the album in some kind of box or anything after it’s all completed- to keep it nice and dust free?
AE : My December Daily albums are stored in my Christmas tubs that include other decorations, ornaments, etc. They come out just in December.
As I was putting together this post I came across something I wrote last year that I think makes sense to re-post today:
WHAT I LEARNED (2009)
- I am reminded once again that if I don’t jot down notes to myself or document something specific for a particular day I will not remember it. The details or even something that would have been a great little note is gone if not written down. I do use the photos as jumping off points, but without the written words it’s a lot harder to remember details even just a couple weeks later.
- In looking back through my previous year’s albums I think I will go back to the simple 2 or 3-ring approach with a front and back cover next year (vs. an album). I liked the adventure of doing something new and trying something different this year, but I think my preference is for the other format. I also think I like the smaller sizes better.
- I liked creating those stitched-pocket pages but didn’t really like having more than one of them in the album. I did end up with one on the last page (after the 25th) that worked well as a place to store extra bits from this holiday season. I ended up wanting to just see a photo or paper instead.
- I really liked using the eyelets to secure the holes on each page.
- I wish I would have kept more of the packaging from some of the gifts to include in the album (fun way to remember some of those gifts).
- I am planning to create another layout about the holidays for our family album that will include more photos from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I like that my December Daily becomes more of a highlight (or a favorite photo selection) rather than holding everything.
- In the end, as I gave this album a little hug and packed it away until next December, I said a prayer of thanksgiving. Thanks for the opportunity, thanks for the awareness of the blessing of our everyday lives, thanks for another season of magic and joy.
For a full list of December Daily posts from 2008, 2009 and this year go here.