Family Yearbook Ideas and Tips to Celebrate Your Happiness

Updated October 4, 2021
Family looking at photo book

Capture the joy and excitement of your family's past year by creating a family yearbook of recent memories. Include all of the experiences each member of your clan had, along with notes to help keep the memories alive for years to come.

What Is a Family Yearbook?

A family yearbook is a photo book that captures everything your family has experienced over the course of one year. You can make a family yearbook for your immediate family or for your extended family. These books typically include the highlights of the year for each family member and for the family as a group. Through pictures and short captions, you can capture your family's entire history one year at a time.

Mother and son making a photo album together

Reasons for Making a Family Yearbook

There are various reasons why different families choose to make a family yearbook. Some common reasons to make a family yearbook include:

  • To share it at a family reunion
  • To send with your adult child when they move out
  • To create a collection of family history that will last
  • To keep memories and important information organized
  • To send to family members who live far away so they feel present in your life
  • To give to grandparents each year as timeless, memorable gifts

Family Yearbook Theme Selection

Choosing a theme for your yearbook can help you create focused pages that blend well together and make one cohesive keepsake. Using a different theme for each year helps distinguish one yearbook from another if you plan to make this an annual tradition or collection of annual family yearbooks. Decide whether you want the tone of the book to be more lighthearted and fun or more serious and sentimental, then pick a theme.

Family Tree or Garden Theme

Use design elements like plants to show the growth of your family over one year. Add one leaf to the top of each page that has a letter on it, spelling out your family's last name by the end of the book. Separate each family member's section by using similar floral backgrounds in a different color for each person. You could even feature a tree on each page, but have it resemble the season of the events in the photos.

Page from an old photo album blue color

Shapes Theme

Different shapes can project different messages based on their common symbolism. Use a circle of love theme where all the pictures on a page are displayed in a circular pattern with text in the middle. You could also use triangles throughout the book, as they are the strongest shape, just as family bonds are strong.

High School Yearbook Theme

Take inspiration from classic high school yearbooks and sort family members by age, or add in typical sections like family superlatives, sports teams, and "extracurriculars" like vacations. You could even have a signature page for everyone in your brood to sign.

Family autographs page in family yearbook

Movies and Hollywood Theme

Themes like "family rewind," "behind the scenes" and "a star is born," are cute ideas for family yearbooks. Include design elements like film strip graphics with smaller pictures on them, or put each person's individual picture on a star background to showcase your gang of glamorous kin. Consider common Hollywood elements like awards and catchy titles for each page. Hold a family photo shoot where everyone dresses up as if they were headed to an awards show or movie premiere and use that as the yearbook cover.

Family Artwork Theme

Creative families can show how their family is a masterpiece by adding frames around photographs, turning them into pieces of art. Also, include original artwork from family members as the background for each page. Narrow the theme further by choosing a specific type of art, such as impressionism or pointillism, for each year's book. Every yearbook can have a different artistic angle woven throughout it, creating a collection of memories and of artistic ability and exploration.

Your Last Name Theme

When it comes to theme and design, take your last name quite literally. If your last name can be a play on words, go with it. For example, the Shields family could use a sword and shield theme by adding the family coat of arms to each page. For a family with the last name Baker, have everyone dress up in chef hats and add a saying that reads: "Baking up another year of memories."

Family Coat of Arms on Cover

Family Game Night Theme

Celebrate teamwork and fun by formatting each page to resemble a classic board or card game. Add individual headshots to playing cards or create a board game path by aligning photos in rows that wind down the page. Use scrabble-like tiles to spell out names and add in fun dice or sand timer graphics.

Use Travel and Trips

Get inspired by all the places and spaces you have been. Work in maps, images of classic monuments and landmarks, and exciting things you did on your many excursions. Have a page with a car on it, and inset your family members' faces in each of the car windows. Be sure to weave in famous quotes about travel, as well as family members' most wonderful and vivid memory of the year's trips.

Formatting Tips and Ideas for Family Yearbooks

Gather all the photos you want to include in the family photo book, then choose a layout based on those images.

Family Yearbook Sorting Suggestions

The book will make more sense and be easier to search if you choose a sorting method. Ways to organize the sections in your book include:

  • By month in calendar year order
  • By day in order from January to December
  • By week in calendar year order
  • By season in calendar year order
  • By family member, from youngest to oldest
  • By type of activity or event, like birthdays or vacations, in alphabetical order
  • By holidays in calendar order
  • My major events that occurred over the course of the year in calendar order

Ideas for Family Yearbook Layouts

Make your pictures the focal point on each page and caption each one with pertinent information about the image, such as date and location, personal quotes, or short anecdotes. Add the year to the spine of the book or label each yearbook with a volume number.

Standard Sections in Family Yearbooks

Based on your sorting method, choose which sections you'll separate images into.

  • Title page with all your family info, such as address and ages
  • Table of Contents, so family members can quickly get to the page they want
  • Dedication or Memorial Page, with an explanation behind it
  • Individual accomplishments, highlighting what each family member is proud of that year
  • Group memories, which are events and holidays everyone took part in, like weddings and Christmas
  • List of highlights, such as a memorable trip or even a kitchen remodel
Married couple look at their printed wedding photos spread across the table

Unique Family Yearbook Sections

Try to make one unique page that could appear each year if you make yearbooks regularly. This will make your family yearbook more personal.

  • Take a family photo in the same location year after year, making sure each person is in the same spot. Make it more amusing by requiring everyone to wear exactly the same outfit.
  • Create a family search and find by filling a page with tiny photos and including a list of images readers need to find.
  • Make "My Favorite Things" pages where each family member includes images of their favorite toys, books, music, places, etc. Include only the page title so future generations will have fun guessing which family member created each page.
  • On the back cover, create artwork using the family's handprints. Each year, the artwork is different in style, but the handprints remain the same.
  • On an inside cover of the book have a family tree. Throughout the years, the family tree will grow as family members marry and children are welcomed into the lineage. Look at the family tree change throughout the years.

Items to Include in a Family Yearbook

Just because you're creating a photo book doesn't mean you can't include images of other items. If you're making a digital yearbook, scan documents as JPEG files or take pictures of them to add. You can also add envelopes and clear sleeves to some books, digital or not, to actually hold the items themselves.

  • Certificates and awards
  • Ticket stubs
  • Recipes
  • Holiday wish lists or lists of gifts received
  • Letters and postcards
  • School assignments
  • Brochure covers or website screenshots for attractions
  • Holiday cards
  • Social media posts
Boy adding postcard to photobook

Family Yearbook Composition Ideas

There are tons of apps and websites you can use to create digital family yearbooks. For most, you'll need to create an account, upload your images, and pay as little as $10 for a small book. There are also several DIY versions you can make.

  • You can create a scrapbook, whether digital or paper, using fun photos and decorative papers.
  • A handwritten journal with pictures is a great, personal way to make a family yearbook.
  • If you have a photo album with individual photo sleeves, you can add both pictures and small written notes.
  • Create a fabric book using transfer paper to fuse photos to fabric.

Ideas for Collecting and Organizing Family Memories

Creating a family yearbook requires both time and organization. You can work on the book a little at a time over the course of a year, or collect items in one place throughout the year, then make the book at the end of the year. Either way, it's important that you keep all the information and photos you want to include organized.

Two generation women looking in photo album together
  • If you use a shared family calendar on your phone, choose one color that is designated for yearbook inclusions. Once an event is over, go back and edit the color to change it to your yearbook color. This way you'll be able to quickly look through each month and see what important things you wanted to add to the book.
  • Keep a family journal or notebook. Make a date to write in it daily or weekly where you list any important events or achievements.
  • On the first of January each year, put an empty decorative bin in a common area of your home. Each family member can add printed photos or other papers to the bin throughout the year for you to use when you create the book.
  • Create a shared online photo folder or album where family members can directly upload photos from their phones. Ask each person to add their favorite photos to this album for the yearbook.
  • Use sticky notes to add the date to any photo or important piece of paper so you remember when it happened, but don't ruin the item.

A Family's Year in Review

Family yearbooks make great baby shower, wedding or graduation gifts, and they are nice to have at home to share throughout the years. Consider your yearbook an upgraded family photo album that highlights everything you accomplished and experienced in one year together.

Family Yearbook Ideas and Tips to Celebrate Your Happiness