Hi guys! This is Lisa and today I’m going to share my starting place and strategy as I dive into completing my 2022 album. I’m feeling especially motivated to get my album done this year since I have really fallen behind in any kind of weekly/monthly documenting. In the absence of a family album this year, a completed December Daily® album becomes particularly precious.
The first scrapbook page I ever made was a December Daily® spread back in 2016. I have always joked that this project was my gateway drug. Since then this project has held a special place in my heart. Since 2016 I have completed a few of my December Daily® albums, probably half. I’m a big believer in the fact that there is joy in the process. That doesn’t mean I don’t begin every December with the goal of a finished album, it just means that I don’t carry around a lot of guilt if I don't.
One unintended perk of NOT finishing my album, is that when the Fall rolls around I can take advantage of all of the excitement that inevitably happens around our December Daily® release and dive into finishing the previous year. And I love that I’m not alone! Throughout the years we’ve had some amazing guests here on the blog share their #donebydecember strategies and progress. Check out that hashtag for some great advice and beautiful pages.
So, without further ado, here are some of things I'm doing as I get ready to finish my December Daily® album.
Know thyself and lean into what you love.
Before getting started, I like to manage my own expectations. Sort of like a pep-talk before I can fall into any kind of comparison trap. Seven years into this project, and memory keeping in general, I am becoming more confident in my style and my process. What I do and how I do it often looks very different from everyone else in the community. And that’s ok. It’s actually pretty awesome. One of the things I love the most about embarking on this project with the community is the wide variety of styles and approaches when it come to documenting our December stories. After lots of trial and error and experimenting with different styles and approaches here’s what I’ve learned about myself:
- Simple + Graphic spreads for the win. That will always be my style. Is that boring for some folks? Yep! For me? Nope. I think simple can be beautiful. This is the project where I will occasionally step out of my comfort zone, but it will always be more important to me to get more stories told versus creating gorgeous, interactive spreads. But I sure do love looking at them!
- Big photos, always and forever. I love to take pictures. For me, photos often convey the feelings I’m not to able to express with words.
- I love to play with type. I enjoy using typography in fun, creative, and unexpected ways. Also, I apparently have a thing for the word joy.
Take inventory of what's done.
My next step is to take a look at what I've actually completed. I was surprised by how few pages I completed in 2022. Maybe half a dozen. In the beginning of the month I lost my godfather and had to fly home for his funeral and celebration of life. I remember it was hard to find my rhythm after that. But I’ve been here before. I know that it’s important to me to take photos and jot down the notes because I will come back to the project even if it’s a year (or several years) later. Here are my completed pages:
Reconstruct the month.
A year later it can feel overwhelming to revisit a project like December Daily®, especially when I have so little of the album complete. But even without a dedicated journal, it can definitely be done. And I’ve done it before. Here’s how I reconstruct my month:
- My phone. A quick search in photos will pull up all of my photos for the month. For me, that includes a lot of screenshots. Things like emails and text messages. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking screen shots so I know they will be in one place when I come back to the project. Your calendar/schedule is also a great resource for what was going on during the month.
- Social media. I'm typically sharing updates over on Facebook for out of town friends and family and sometimes I can grab captions (or even photos) from there.
- School calendar. With school age kids, the school calendar basically dictates my life. I make sure that I keep the physical copy the school hands out with my supplies when I pack them up each year.
- Lightroom Catalog. This is where all of my DSLR photos live. I export and organize by year, then by month. You can sync your smartphone to your Lightroom catalog to simplify, but I choose not to for a variety of reasons.
- My husband. I also do a quick search of his photos for the month of December. He will sometimes have photos of me or the kids that he never shared. We’re also in the season where we have to divide and conquer for practices or events, etc, so he will have photos I don’t. Additionally, there are sometimes photos I like to grab that share pieces of his life I’d like to include in our album.
Once I've done all of the above, I sit down and make a spreadsheet of stories. I take inventory of the stories I have photos for, and those I don't. I have a column that is the chronological list of what happened each day in December. Then I make a list of the micro stories (or filler stories) that are not really associated with a date. Then I put together my numbered list of stories, 1 to 25, that will comprise the album. This is different from my chronological list. On occasion we have days where we have three events and I'd like each of them to be a story. Or, alternatively, we have a day where we didn't really do anything. Some people approach the project where story one is December 1st, story two is December 2nd. That's not the approach I take. I'm putting together an album of roughly 25-30 stories. I know a lot of folks in our community do the same.
Pare down my supplies.
Like most people, I pack away all of my December Daily® supplies at the end of each season. Since joining the AED full-time a few years ago, I’ve been lucky to receive the entire collection. That translates to a lot of product. Before I get started, I decided to go through and pare down my options to my favorites. I recently bought a little cart (really late jumping on that bandwagon) and I love that everything is organized and ready to go.
Revisit my albums.
I love revisiting these albums and wish I did it more often. As I flip through each album I’m looking for a few things:
- Recurring stories I want to be sure to include or look for. That incudes repeated pictures. I can’t go back in time to take these pictures, but it’s helpful as I get ideas flowing for documenting 2023.
- Things that I'm missing or want more of. Also for 2023, but I can potentially still fill those gaps for 2022 by digging a little deeper.
- Page designs I like and want repeat. Or things that didn’t hold up well. For instance, Minc on transparency does not hold up well. I love the look and have found if I laminate it, it lasts longer and feels more like our shop transparencies. Also, I hate glitter. It always seems like a good idea and I always regret it later.
- Perspective. This may seem silly, but revisiting these albums and reminding myself that it’s the stories and not the pages that I love…keeps me motivated and focused on my goal. It’s also a great reminder that I am not looking at any imperfections…so stop stressing about the little stuff. I will also ALWAYS have typos. It is what it is.
Linda has shared some incredible content that takes a deeper dive into this topic. I highly recommend you check it out here.
I love how I included older photos in this spread. I rarely do that and it adds context to these stories. Especially for years where I have not completed an album.
Always a goal to include more photos and stories about me, while also giving myself grace because I refuse to carry any guilt about it.
More micro stories like these. Stories about the stuff and the things we're watching. Not enough of these stories in my albums.
More stories about our spaces. Love seeing this view of the house in Florida. After we've been hit by a few hurricanes, some of this landscaping has changed. It's always the same until it isn't.
Make space for "bad" photos. This is a page about a noodle fight Mike had with the kids and we were all laughing so hard we were crying. None of these photos are any good, but together they tell a great story.
Look around. I stepped outside to take a picture of the gorgeous and weird purple sunset (that's not a filter!) but realized the story I really wanted to tell was this sweet moment between my husband and kids. My spouse hates being in photos, so I have to be creative.
Make space for the hard stories. This is a personal choice. You may not want to include hard stories in your album. But I do, with certain constraints.
Know your strengths. There are a few spreads that I've made in the past that turned out pretty cool, but that I would never make again. This may be somewhat controversial...but here they are. Maybe it's because they took too long to execute...or the final product looks great, but that comes at the cost of telling the story. But these are spreads that I learn from, too.
Make a plan.
At this point I’m ready to get started. I need to decide if I'll stay with the 10x8 size or change to 6x8. I had been thinking it might be easier to move through a 6x8, rather than a 10x8. I've completed more 6x8 albums than I have 10x8. I’m second guessing that. I’m also seriously contemplating a design formula. In terms of a specific series of page protector configurations to further simplify the process. There are currently 10 weeks till December 1st. That’s roughly two pages a week. I would love any opinions you guys would like to share regarding switching album size and also whether you’d consider a design formula for this project!
You can find all of my December Daily spreads from the past seven years on IG: @frecklepickle