December Daily® 2017 | Q & A

December Daily® begins tomorrow and as we ease into the beginning of the month I wanted to share some questions I received within the December Daily® Facebook Group recently. I've been sprinkling in my responses within the Facebook Group and am sharing all of them here to have them in one place. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a "Here We Go" post and then I'll be sharing my stories here daily leading up to Christmas Day. I'm so excited to share stories with you again this holiday season. 

#01

Carolyn Wright: Love seeing your traditions, your perspectives! How do you make choices as to what moments to include as there are days where I have more stories than others? Not my first Dec daily but trying to capture more as my niece & nephew get older & my Mom isn’t as well so moments collected mean so much more to me as I get older. 

If I have more than one story I want to include from a day I usually do one of a couple things:

(1) Use a 4, pocket page protector (3x4) and tell each of the stories in one of those pockets. I might have two stories that I pair with two photos or I might have four different stories I'm recording on cards to go into the pockets.

(2) Tell the story on a different day. Ten years from now (and sooner) no one is going to care or probably even be able to tell if something happened on December 2 or December 3rd.

(3) Create a page that includes list journaling that talks about each thing that happened that day. Those stories might be short - one or two sentences - but it's an easy way to include a bunch of "micro stories" that might happen over the course of the day.

If the story is important to you as part of your "overall" story of December this year then you should totally include it!

#02

Heli J Snr: What is your least favourite thing about Christmas? 

My least favorite thing about Christmas is the frenzy and the unrealistic expectations that can be really easy to fall into <3. Each year I work towards bringing the focus back to what's most important for me and my family in any given year. I want to create magic without feeling the frenzy.  I also don't like egg nog - ha. 

#03

Leslie Austria-Olmos: How do you organize your DD supplies?

I'm a fan of baskets, trays and boxes to "contain" my supplies. Here's a photo of my box for 2017. This will stay out on my work table during December to make the products I want to pull from easily accessible. I am a super fan of limiting the amount of products I'm working with to simplify the entire process and help me focus on the stories rather than the product when I'm working on my album during the month.  Other supplies I will reach for are basic things like adhesive, ink, and maybe paint are in the drawers of my work table.  I will also put my December Daily® stamps in this red box - just forgot to add them before taking the photo. 

#04

Lisa Marie: Do you get (and record) a lot of your ideas for next years dd Kit while working on this years? And When does designing a dd Kit take place (like, a year in advance, a few month in advance…or whatever)

We start planning the new December Daily® products about a year in advance. For next year we’ve already had a meeting to map out the majority of the product offerings and the design work will begin next month. Each year it’s gotten earlier and earlier in order to make sure we have all the product in the warehouse in ample time to get it shipped out. In terms of my ideas, I definitely take notes while I’m working on my own album about what I liked and didn’t like - what I'd like to have more of or less of or what felt just right. We also monitor feedback we’ve received via conversations and on social media from the community in terms of some of the things we decide to offer in the future.

#05

Annoesjka Halleriet: What is the one thing that makes that you want to do December Daily again, year after year? What keeps you motivated? And did you ever feel like you wanted a pause, just for a change?

The one thing that makes me want to do it every year is definitely the stories. What I love most at this point is looking at all the albums together and literally seeing the passage of time via the stories I’ve told in those albums. In my case that’s included my kids growing up, life at different houses, a marriage that ended, a new relationship that’s going strong, a new blended family - all those things are “seen” in the pages of my December Daily® albums along with my own personal seasonal reflections. I love seeing both the way things change and the ways they stay the same. The entire thing has simply become a way I experience the holiday season. 

I’m motivated because I really do love the project and I’m also committed to it because it’s part of my job. There’s definitely a piece of that in there too. That said, if I didn’t really love it I would find a way to change it up or do something different. 

Have I ever wanted to pause? Yes. There have definitely been times where I’ve imagined not doing it - for me that’s more related to my commitment to sharing my pages in December and the way that impacts my overall workload during the month. There was one year where I knew I was going to be traveling during the month so I went with a smaller sized album (4x6) and I loved even just that small change. 

I am totally a creature of habit. I like tradition and repetition and find joy and comfort in having a project like this as an anchor for how I experience my holiday season. It’s been a great lens through which to view my December stories. 

#06

Nerys Young: I love that you share, but do you put extra things in to your DD that are just for you and your family to see and not for us (the Ali fan club)?

Everything I do gets shared! Every once in awhile I might add something, but I go about it with the intent to include everything. 

#07

Ingrid Burton: What’s the best way to get started so I don’t feel overwhelmed? I got the kit for kids and am hoping to work on it for/with my 10year old son.

One of the things that really helps me a ton is focusing on just one story per day. I tell myself over and over again to keep it simple and manageable - it’s not a record of every detail over the course of the month. What I love most about this project is the combination of all the stories together in one album (vs. any one particular story). Another thing that helps me is limiting my supplies and just sticking to what’s available on my table vs. digging through everything I own looking for the most “perfect” product. Focus on the story vs. the product. Some stories will be long + some stories will be short  and that’s another part of the beauty of focusing on one story per day. 

With my girls, who will both be working on their own little 4x4 albums, I’m just going to let them do whatever they want and not try to make it into something I want. I plan to talk to them about my approach - looking for a story to tell and just telling that one thing. I imagine for them they will just want to play with the stuff and I’m going to be totally okay with that too - it’s where there are right now as 8 (almost 9) year olds. 

#08

Jay Owen: What is your 'enough' for DD this year?

I love this question because I’ve been thinking about it a lot while we were on our familymoon. After doing this project for so many years I’ve got a pretty good rhythm down for identifying and documenting my stories during the month. I love being witness to the evolution of the month - the ups and downs and loud and quiet moments. My enough for this project usually includes using what I have (vs. looking for the “perfect” product) and keeping the focus on the words and photos. I want an album that is reflective of this season of our lives - who we are and what December looks like this year - that’s enough for me. 

Related post: Establishing Your Own Enough In Memory Keeping: https://aliedwards.com/2016/10/establishing-your-o...

#09

LeeAnn Thoresen: I get worried I'm repeating the same thing year after year. I look for differences and try to create new stories but life is very much of a muchness each year. How do you avoid repetitiveness (understanding that some repetitiveness makes December December).

Good question! Here’s the deal: an entire year has passed in your life. It’s your own internal reflections that are likely the difference even if your tree is placed in the exact same spot with the exact same ornaments as last year and the year before. I tell similar stories every year - something about the tree, something about twinkle lights, photos from around the house - but all those stories are infused with my own personal reflections about life this year. You might be focusing too much on the facts vs. your own personal feelings about the season this year which are nuanced - that might help you have a new perspective on the stories you tell this year. 

When I’m paying attention and deciding what stories to tell, my goal is to capture the spirit of this particular season (and to me the “spirit of the sesaon” is a combination of facts and feelings). Some pieces will be the same and some will be different. There’s a whole lot of beauty in that. 

#10

Tania Thomson: I'd like to know how you know when to take a close up photo or when to take it from a distance, particularly when there's a group of people or a lot happening in the frame. Also what makes you consider using the photo in b&w verses colour?

I often take both shots (far away and close up) so I have the ability to choose which one I might want to use in my album to tell the story I end up wanting to tell. That story might end up being about the whole group of people or it might end up being about one or two people so having taken shots from a few different angles will give me more options. In general I find that I often like to show more of the scene with a wider angle - I like seeing all the “stuff” of life in many of my photos. 

Most of the time if the color is “off” - usually at this time of year for me it means it’s way too orange (“warm”) from taking photos inside in low light - that’s when I’ll change a photo to black and white. 

#11

Marie Midori: I love your approach to scrapbooking, and your products always seems so well thought out! Do you have any product ideas for DD (or in general) that you have wanted to add to a kit, but thought was too crazy to try?

We don’t generally get too crazy with our ideas - I think this is mainly because I really want to make things that will help people tell their stories vs. coming up with the “coolest” or “craziest” new things. I tend more towards the tried and true generally. 

#12

Ann Belle: What's your favorite kit you've ever worked with?

Ah! I think every December Daily® kit feels like my favorite when we first get to see the products! I really loved the contents last year and I really love them this year too. There are always specific embellishments that I totally love - one of the things I really love in this year’s kit are the 1/2 circle journal cards. I can’t wait to use those!

If by chance you were asking about my favorite Story Kit™ themes, I think I really loved the Magic theme (back in March 2015). Really though I love each one in the way it gives me an opportunity to tell different kinds of stories each month.    

#13

Nadine Mizer Nyman: Note taking advice for the stories that have to be told later.

My recommendation to you is to first decide what kind of note taker you are - do you prefer writing by hand or writing on the computer? If you prefer writing by hand I’d suggest getting a small notebook (we design a December Daily® Log Book to use for this purpose) and simply writing out one story at the end of each day (or whenever a story comes to you through the course of the day that you’d like to document later on). If typing is more your style I’d recommend using something like Evernote (that’s the program I use for note taking), Notes, or an app like Day One (a journaling app). Whether you prefer handwriting or typing the key, in my opinion, is having a home to hold those stories until you are ready to create with them. 

I think my overall approach to the stories would be the same. Each day I would be looking, listening, and paying attention to see what story I wanted to tell and then simply taking the time now to write out the story and then combining it with my photos and embellishments later on (I actually love this approach because it’s really “starting with story”).

#14

Sheriff Rosa Smith: How do you decide which photos to photoshop words onto when doing DD? You don't want every photo but what tips if any could be used to decide that. Also do you ever get any time for just you and your family?

Most of the time it really just depends on the photo and the amount of words I want to include. In this project I don’t usually add words to every photo before printing (I have done that in the past in projects like Week In The Life™). I think it often depends on the space available on the photo - some photos lend themselves better to having words on them such as ones with lots of “white space” (sky, cement, wall space, etc). If there’s not really space for words because there’s a lot going on in the photo itself I’m not likely to add words to the photo. 

I think it also often depends on how simple I want the page to be or what the overall design for the daily story is going to be. It’s super quick for me to add my story right onto my photo and add it to a page protector - there are definitely days when I appreciate that so much (and I love the look in my albums). 

Of course I have time for just me and my family! During December I have a very steady work-flow because of my commitment to the project but time with family is my main priority when my work day is done. 

#15

Linda Nicholson: Whose albums do you enjoy viewing for December Daily? Nicole Coughlin Where/ Who do you get your inspiration from?

I combined these two questions since they both had to do with inspiration. I love seeing what people are posting here in the December Daily® Facebook Group - there are always great story and product-usage ideas being shared here. In terms of people, I’m always interested to see what these guys are creating for this project: 

I also still love looking at Pinterest for visual inspiration.

#16

Satoko Nakamura Biegler: What do you do with the leftovers from the past DD kits? I use some in my PL albums and also use in the next years but still there are a lot of leftovers.

I often share any extra supplies leftover with local friends or with local schools. I used to keep a lot of holiday products from year to year in a box but at some point a few years ago I stopped doing that - most likely around the time that we started offering more kits/products. 

#17

Jessica Haines: If you have a day where you are not feeling in the Christmas spirit, how do you get past that to work on your album, since you commit to making the pages each day?

There are usually a bunch of days I’m not feeling in the Christmas spirit in December. Ha - I think that’s pretty normal. There’s a couple ways I approach those days: (1) I write about how I’m feeling in an authentic way - maybe I’m tired or stressed or sad or worn out or just not into it and I’ll write about that - that is totally a December story. It is totally okay to also just skip a day - this absolutely does not have to be an every single day project. (2) Use the project itself as an opportunity to actively turn around your attitude/feelings. Use it to really look to find the joy, to create some magic but doing something new or different or just giving yourself a break, to take some action to change your mood. 

#18

Maria Pellegrini Everhart: Is it as effortless for you as it seems to be ? Like are you so used to it that the stories and photos and how to scrap it all just come together for you?

It’s not effortless but I definitely have a rhythm. I am really used to it (memory keeping in general) because it’s been such a huge part of my life for so many years now. I know what I like to work with. I know what kinds of stories I like to capture. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel creatively. All those things free me up to keep it simple and focus on the words + the photos. I’m also a quick decision maker and truly believe that whatever story I tell on any particular day will be just fine for that day whether it’s long or short. I’m also motivated to get it done so I can move on to other things I’ve got going on (both work and family) and having some time constraints makes decision making for me even easier (some people are blocked by that but in general it motivates me). 

#19

Michelle Hunter: This December is your first remarried...how will you be 'marrying' surname/s initials? Will you be including those as a design element as you have in previous years? 3 different surnames in my house and I am yet to find a way to do this that is appealing designwise.

We are staying as Edwards + McKercher so when incorporating last name initials I’ll likely be sticking with “E + M” or something along those lines. 

#20

Heidi Laferriere: Can you do this project using traditional scrapbook layouts instead of pocket pages?

Sure! You can make this work in whatever ways you want in whatever style you want. When I first started doing this project (10+ years ago) pocket pages weren’t even a thing. I made my albums with rings and chipboard and created individual pages for my stories. You can totally still do that! This year I’m incorporating a lot both outside and inside the page protectors. You can see more of those past albums here: https://aliedwards.com/projects/december-daily and via my blog archives here: https://aliedwards.com/blog?tag=December+Daily®

#21

Outi Suominen: There are only two of us at home anymore. What would be a nice way to include our children (4) and their families (10 grandkids) into my album? Only when they come over? They are still in my mind all the time…

I love including the voices of other family members in my albums. I almost always include an email received from my parents as a story for one of my days. Depending on the level of technology your extended family uses consider taking screenshots of FaceTime conversations, copies of emails or letters, etc. You can also invite those voices by sending your children emails with questions for them to answer that you can then include in your album. You can also ask them to share photos with you of what’s happening in their lives this holiday season. 

Another thing I’d love to mention here is that my approach to these albums (and all my projects) is that I’m documenting my story. I am the main character in this story so most of them are about what I’m experiencing, seeing, hearing, and feeling. I include the other characters in my life - depending on the story, the day, etc - but the main story I’m telling (and the only one I can really tell) is about my own experience in life.

#22

Deidre Mitchell: I struggle with the 'writing' of the story. It always feels like I'm just spitting out 'facts' and when I try to put in the feelings, it seems like its the same (feelings and words to describe)...every time. I struggle creatively....my factual accounting brain is really stuck.

For this question I feel like I need a little more information. I wonder a couple things: (1) Are you being too hard on yourself and expecting your feelings based journaling to be really deep (when the reality might be that what you are writing is already just fine)? (2) What are the feelings that you find yourself writing again and again? 

Here are a couple suggestions: 

(1) Try writing like you talk - use a conversational tone like you are talking to a friend and telling her the story. Most likely you’d probably give her a combination of both facts and feelings to round out your story. 

(2) Remember that there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to do this. Feelings can be really simple: good, bad, happy, sad, fun, boring, etc. and they don’t have to be a super long expression. 

(3) Keep practicing. If your intention is to add more feelings to your stories you CAN totally do it - keep writing, keep asking yourself how you feel (sometimes just identifying your actual feelings can be a challenge - especially if you are wanting to go beyond the basics). 

(4) Remember that it’s the overall story told throughout your album vs. any single story that is most important (this helps me story worrying about whether I’m telling a “good” story on any particular day). You can do this!

#23

Vanessa Templet Babin: What do you do when you have two or more stories in a day? Some days I do something during the day then a night I might have another event. I know it’s my book and my stories, but just curious how you would handle a day like that?

I often spread out those stories and will use one of them for the next day (depending on whether it was something I really wanted to include as a main story in my album). Other times I will tell a story that includes more than one event - maybe as a general recap of the day vs. focusing on one specific story. For me, night events often get told on the following day simply because of the way I approach working on my album (I do most of the work in the morning when I have access to natural light for photography and video editing).

#24

Mary Henson: How do you edit your content? Stories/photos/extras (cards, tags, etc)? Do you have a number you go with or do you just focus on what you are most drawn to from that story/photo/extra? I always feel like I have too much and then editing takes so much more time because I'm going through so much!

Becoming an editor of your own work can be a challenge - especially when you feel like “everything” is important. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that what I love most is having a finished album and for me to finish an album I’ve got to make choices - often quickly - about what I’m going to include because I simply can’t include it all (this goes for almost all my projects). I’m a quick decision maker when it comes to storytelling and often find that one photo is all I need to support the words of my story (even if I took 20 photos). 

#25

Kelly Matti: How do you have the motivation to start reading a new book after you have finished a really good book? I always struggle with this.

Most of the time by the end of a book I’m already hungry and excited for the next one. My list of books to-read is long so there’s never a shortage of something I’d love to start reading next. Sometimes I wait a couple days and sometimes I dive right into the next one.

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10 thoughts

  1. chp97 says…
    11/30/2017

    Happy to see these again all in one place. Definitely inspiring to hear more of your thoughts & ideas on such a special project & season. Thanks Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. homemakermichigan says…
    11/30/2017

    Ali,

    Thank you for the insight into this project via these question/answers... I found them to be very helpful. I was wondering if you plan on using your phone or camera to take your pictures? Congrats on your marriage! I am so happy for you!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      11/30/2017

      Hi! I will use both for this project - just depends on what is happening.

  3. smultringunn says…
    11/30/2017

    Thank you for collecting all of these in one place!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. birdnscrap says…
    11/30/2017

    Any ideas about how to handle/scrapbook difficult times when everyone is so celebratory?
    A family member is having cancer surgery. We aren't feeling much like celebrating December. I'm sure others have this kind of problem too. Illness, loss, etc.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      11/30/2017

      My main focus in the years when I haven't felt like celebrating has been to use it as an opportunity for reflection - to tell the story of what is real in that season. I also use it as an opportunity to find the smallest pieces of joy because even in the darkest times there are also moments of joy.

  5. lkecovich says…
    11/30/2017

    "It’s been a great lens through which to view my December stories." YES!! ❤️

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. scraplea says…
    11/30/2017

    Love this! Thank you for taking the time to put all of the questions and answers here for us. Great information!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. lasteve1 says…
    12/01/2017

    So excited for the project this year! One more question I have—you mentioned Anna and Audrey are going to be creating albums this year as well. Are you planning on sharing those? I’m just curious to see how the kids kit worked in practice... but I realize that could be more personal since it’s their stories.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Msaula says…
    12/01/2017

    Thank you, Ali, for sharing these here. My mind is swimming with ideas for my DD now!

    Reply 0 Replies

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