Today I am sharing a project/idea that is near and dear to my heart.
About 5 years ago, my MIL approached me and asked me if I thought there was any way I could figure out how to do some kind of a family magazine. Her brother has been putting together a HUGE family “newsletter” for her extended family called the Thompson Tribune for years and years. Mary (my MIL) was wondering if I could start doing one for just our immediate family. She also had the cute idea of making it more like a fun gossip magazine rather than your standard family newsletter. We decided to call it US Yearly (a play on the magazine US Weekly) and we usually write our news up in a reporter like style… “sources say” and “Landee was overheard saying”… you know, stuff like that. It makes for an entertaining read along with documenting what we were all up to that year.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
My main issue was to find a company that would print it out like a magazine. I wanted it to be soft covered, stapled down the fold, glossy pages, etc. After doing some research I came across lulu.com. They had just the services I was looking for! They offer a variety of book sizes and types but one of them was the soft cover magazine style I wanted. They required jpeg or PDF images for their pages so, with remedial photoshop skills anyone can make one! You just need to know how to add photos and text to an 8.5×11 blank photoshop canvas.
We’ve been doing them for about 5 years now and I gotta say, they just keep getting better and better!
Here is the basic outline of any given US Yearly Issue:
1. Cover: I have the most fun putting these together. These are two of my favorite covers I’ve created so far.
2. Letter From the Editor: Written by Yours Truly. Not a big deal but a little blurb, usually related to the cover story. My musings on whatever I want really… basically self-indulgent nonsense. The rest of the family tolerates it. 🙂
3. Throughout the magazine I will put in collages of family get-togethers we have had throughout the year. These are nice for when you need two particular pages to be facing each other so you need a random filler page and things like that. Not to mention that you just want these fun events in the magazine!
4. Anniversaries: This is an idea I stole from Mary’s brother’s newsletter. We all write in memories that happened 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 years ago in our family. They range from big things like “Reid and Shelly get married” to not-so-big things like “Chrissi voted ‘Biggest Spaz’ in the 8th Grade.” And since not many of us were around 50, 60 and 70 years ago, we get to learn a lot about Grandpa and Grandma’s childhoods and early married life! This is one of my favorite pages in the magazine each year.
5. Main Body of Magazine: Each person gets their very own page! We try to do 5-10 photos of each person along with a write-up of what they had been up to that year. I do the adults in order… oldest sibling and spouse facing each other, next oldest sibling and spouse facing each other, etc. Then I do the grandkids in order of their age as well. It’s just easier that way. I have one SIL who does her own pages and sends them to me. The rest send me photos and the text and I put their pages together for them.
6. More random pages of family events as needed…. maybe you recognize the Cousin Carnival? 🙂
7. Every year I have everyone answer the same 5 questions. It has been funny to see how the answers have changed over the years! Oh, and I had them text me “silly faces” for this section this year. I do the photos a little different every time.
The questions are:
1. What is your proudest accomplishment from this past year?
2. What is your favorite way to waste time?
3. What is your latest obsession?
4. What is something new you tried this year?
5. What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
Other things we have done but don’t do every time:
- Our second issue was dedicated to my FIL’s mother who was turning 90 that year. Everyone wrote up a memory about Grandma Dot for the magazine. She loved it, of course!
- One year we had everyone write up any childhood memory. These are a great read and our kids love them.
- The first year I did a Crossword Puzzle Quiz in the back, drawing the answers from the magazine content but no one wanted to write in their magazines so I haven’t done it since. 🙂
SOME THINGS I’VE LEARNED AFTER FIVE YEARS:
1. Ask for news and photos early and work on the pages as they come in. It’s a big job if you try and do it all at once.
2. Take a lot of photos throughout the year! It definitely helps that I know how to work a camera and that I have an AMAZING professional photographer for a SIL. I then have many beautiful photographs to work with which makes the magazine just that much better. But I believe ANY photos would look great put together in this way!
3. Simplify the individual pages! For the first issue I was addicted to digital scrapbook papers and embellishments. Each page was a “work of art”…. but now, they are already looking dated. I now have all pages be on white backgrounds and the only thing I play with is the fonts. This makes the pages come together so much easier and they look more like that classic magazine style.
4. Make sure your pages are at least 300ppi. I had a bad experience there with low resolution once.
5. Get started now! I am so grateful that we started this magazine when we did. Look at how much these two have changed in 5 issues!
Plus, since the first issue we’ve had 4 babies born in to the family and my MIL has gone through fighting and surviving breast cancer. I am so glad we have it all documented for future generations.
Hopefully this has inspired you in some way! Let me know if you have any questions!