(Image by StacyandBrian2)
There’s something simply magical about birthdays, isn’t there? For the children in our lives, birthdays can turn into a Major Event with cute invites, a theme, lots of friends, decorations, games, goodie bags, the works. But I think adults can love birthdays, too! After all, “it’s my birthday” is the license you get to pretty much do anything you want: to eat cake, to sing silly songs (see above), to wear kooky hats, eat dessert first, and to generally just party it up for your special day. You only get this one personal holiday a year, right? Gotta make the most of it.
I think it’s safe to say that this accumulation of birthdays also means an accumulation of birthday photos, right? Right. I’ll share some ideas for creating birthday-related projects you’ll love, as well as some tips for upcoming birthday celebrations, so you can capture the best of the events to come.
Photo Book Idea #1: One Tradition, Many Birthdays
When I was growing up, my family had the tradition that each Birthday Person received an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen for their birthday, personalized with their name and a picture that represented something about them. And the fact that we all got to share in the deliciousness made this a tradition we could all get behind. Here’s my sister Julie and her 6th birthday cake. (Rainbows? Hearts? This is something my 6 year old daughter would love, too, so some things never change).
We have years of ice cream cake + birthday photos, and this is something that I will put into a photo book of its own. I love all the different pictures drawn on the cakes, and how they evolve over time. Does your family have traditions relating to birthdays? Think about putting together a photo book of a single tradition that crosses many birthdays.
Photo Book Idea #2: One at a Time
This is the classic “fill the whole book with one party” scenario, perfect for those milestone birthdays, or if you’re one to go all-out for a child and you took plenty of photos. For my own children, I’m taking this approach because I am a photo-taking fool who happens to love parties (and small faces smeared with cake).
(Image by StacyandBrian2)
Be sure this photo book has a single color scheme, whether you’re creating individual digital scrapbook pages or whether you’re using one of the Shutterfly photo book templates – it’ll add uniformity to your book.
Photo Book Idea #3: Year-by-Year
While the idea of having an individual photo book for every single year might be really cool, sometimes it simply isn’t practical. If you’re like me, and you lived your childhood (and maybe even some of your adulthood) before the age of digital cameras, you’re probably lucky to have a dozen photos from any one birthday event. I DID get lucky at my 10th birthday, and have 14 shots. Woo! But still not enough to make a whole book. So, consider grouping the birthdays you’ve got into 5-year increments, or ten if the photos are particularly sparse. Trying to find baby photos for your photo book may be a challenging.
In this groups-of-years scenario, your photo books might go:
- Me, ages 1-10
- Me, ages 11-20
Another approach is to group years AND people, so you can include the birthdays of every family member into one book, divided roughly into chapters by year. Like so:
- Birthdays, 1973-1981 (this would include the years all my siblings were born, too, and I’d just include shots from all the birthdays that occurred each year)
- Birthdays, 1981-1986
The added benefit of working the “groups of years” scenario is that if you’re in the middle of a segment – say you’re working on Birthdays, 2005-2010, you can simply keep your Shutterfly project open and add pages as needed until your year group ends, then get the book printed without feeling like you’re missing something.
Photo Book Idea #4: Milestones
Another approach for those sparse-photo years is to tackle birthdays in a roundabout way. Say you’re celebrating a 70th birthday. Your album could actually be the gift you give your birthday person, complete with “70 Things We Love About You”, special photos and memories through the years, or a “Then and Now” approach. It’s a great way to add in those old birthday shots as well!
(Image by AlietaE)
Okay, so you’ve decided on an approach for your birthday album. And whether you’ve got 200 photos or 10, here are some additional cool tricks you might think about, for birthdays past AND future:
#1: Include the Birthday Cards
Create a plain white or solid background for a two-page (or four-page) spread in your PhotoBook (or put a cute background in and leave the rest blank), and get it printed with those pages left blank. When you get your book back, paste the actual birthday cards in to the blank pages in the book. You can paste the backs of the envelopes with the card inside, or paste the back of the card itself onto the Photo Book page. It’ll be wonderful to look back in the years to come on the thoughts of those special to the birthday person.
#2: Add in a Guestbook
Have everyone who attends the party write a message and their signature with a fine-tipped Sharpie marker on letter-sized sheets of paper (several messages can fit on a single sheet). Scan these in (make sure you set your scanner to the “photo” setting to capture the best detail), and add them to your book just as you would a photo.
#3: Interview the Birthday Person
Sit your Birthday Person down and ask them a series of questions, maybe something like this:
- What do you wish most for on your birthday?
- What’s your ideal birthday celebration?
- What do you want to eat for your birthday dinner?
- What’s your favorite accomplishment of this last year?
- What are your hopes for your next year of life?
Include the questions AND the answers in a text box within the Photo Book. If you can, repeat the interview year after year to watch the answers change.
For future parties, try these tips:
#4: Create a photo booth
Set up a backdrop (or go outside in front of a fence) and let your party guests take photos of themselves using a remote or your camera’s self-timer. For older kids and teenagers, toss in some hats, sunglasses, and feather boas and see the cool stuff they come up with! Add them in to your birthday photo book, possibly styled like photo booth shots in columns of black-and-white pictures.
#5: Photo Ideas for Parties
Sure, you’ve got the requisite Bringing Out The Cake picture, the Blowing Out the Candles picture, and maybe one or two of Little Mr. Birthday Man with his paper cone hat on. But there are so many more shots you can take that will deepen the story and give your photo book a journalistic touch. Try these:
- Balloons on the mailbox or the approach to your party location
- A shot (from a low angle) down the decorated table
- Close-up shots of any hanging decorations (beautiful if they’re by some lights or a window)
- Close-up shots of the stack of wrapped gifts
- Are the kids playing a game? Be sure to get in close to try to capture smiles and laughs (even blurry!)
- Ask your child to close his/her eyes and make their wish while you snap the perfect wishing photo
- Capture candids of all the guests
- Measure your child against the wall, and snap a photo of you marking their height
- Will the kids make a craft? Get right down to a close-up on small hands, glitter, glue, and the supplies they’re using, as well as a finished craft.
- Capture your child giving out his or her goodie bags to their friend
- Be sure to capture any goodbye hugs and smiles as the guests leave
(Image by AlietaE)
Birthday celebrations – no matter when they happened – can make beautiful photo books with the right approach. I hope these suggestions have helped you for birthdays past AND future!