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Do you ever take a look at all your photos on Facebook or Instagram and feel overwhelmed at the thought of organizing them for printing? Or, to make it even more painful, when is the last time you actually printed photos?

If you take a look at my photographed life outside of Facebook, evidently I fell off the face of the earth between 2001 and 2010. Nine years of my life—missing. I seem to have resurrected around the time of my first cruise in 2010, simply because I traveled with friends who like to dress up and we took tons of pictures that I wanted physical versions of, and one of my birthday gifts on that trip was a beautiful photo album entitled “Cruise Memories.”

Thankfully for me, my brother got married a year before me and gave my parents a wedding album he’d made on Blurb for their Christmas gift in 2010, so I knew that would be our gift to them the following year. But after that? I knew I’d fall off the photo wagon.

When we found out in the fall of 2011 that we were expecting the Little Butt, I thought—for about ten seconds or less—about keeping a baby book. But I knew we wanted more than one kiddo, and I also know myself. There is no way on this earth that I would ever be able to keep up with a baby book and photo albums for one child, let alone (hopefully) three.

That fall while we were both suffering from morning sickness, I visited my friend Christy of Whole Foods on a Budget. At the time she was working on two photo book projects: a family cookbook, and her annual photo album. When she told me how she kept up with an annual photo album with three-going-on-four kids along with the rest of her busy life, I was sold.

Three years later, I’m still up to date. Clearly Christy knows what’s up.Photo albums title on scatteredfashionista.wordpress

While this idea is completely stolen from Christy, I’m going to tell you my personal system down to the nitty gritty.

First of all, I organize my photo album to run December through November. I use this as a Christmas gift for my parents and grandmother, so that pressure forces me to get it done. I strongly urge you to have some reason for a deadline. Every Black Friday I try to wrap up the album Thanksgiving pictures because all the best photo book specials end by Cyber Monday. There are more specials during the month of December, but I kind of freak out if we get too near December 25th without the books in hand.

Secondly, I keep two files in the pictures folder on my computer. The first one just has the year as the title: 2014. The second has the album title: 2014 Xmas. As I upload pictures to my computer or download them from Facebook, I organize them into files within 2014: 00 December, 01 January, 02 February, etc. I use the numbers because it keeps the files in order.Photo filing system 1 on scatteredfashionista.wordpress Photo filing system 2 on scatteredfashionista.wordpress

Third, as I work on each consecutive month (which in a perfect world would be in the month following so I’m always up to date, but who lives in that world?), I move my absolute favorite pictures from the 2014 file to the 2014 Xmas file, which also has matching sub-files such as 00 December.

Fourth, I work month-by-month in filling, organizing, and decorating my album. I use Snapfish, but any reputable photo service works just as well. With Blurb you have the advantage of downloading their free software and working offline, but their prices are much steeper, so for the time being I stick with Snapfish.

Photo spread on scatteredfashionista.wordpressFifth, proofread!! And proofread again. In my wedding album I used lots of quotes, which I cut and pasted. Somehow I missed the first letter in one quote. It bugs me every time I see it.

Sixth, if you’re willing, wait for the special. Snapfish has regular specials, and lots of BOGO deals, so you could even get two photobooks for the price of one.

Enjoy! The Little Butt has loved looking at our photobooks since he was about a year old. Each Christmas I order an extra copy for him (which I keep in the wrapper for the time being) and plan to do the same for our daughter starting next year. That way they each will have a photo history of their lives, and it’s no extra work for me.

Do you have tips or tricks for organizing your photos and keeping up to date? I’d love to hear them!