Birthday Photo Book Tips + A Free Photo Book for You

by jessicaturner on September 4, 2014


tips for creating beautiful birthday photo books and a free 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly
We love birthdays in our family and go all out for the kids’ birthday parties.

Because we literally take 100s of photos, I always make a photo book about the party. This summer Adeline had a Hello Kitty party and Elias had a Star Wars party (posts coming later this month) and I have recently been working on their birthday party photo books.

Since I’ve been making these types of birthday photo books for the past 5 years, I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips on putting them together. It’s not rocket science, but sometimes it’s nice to read through someone’s process, right? Many of these tips are applicable to any photo book. (This post contains affiliate links.)

photo book tips
I should note that I typically make 8×8 hardcover Shutterfly photo books. I find their quality to be excellent and they often offer awesome deals. (Current promotion: through 9/11/14 get a FREE 8×8 hardcover book with the code BOOK4FREE  – more details below.)

Birthday Themed Photo Book Tips

Pick the best birthday photos first: If you have a lot of photos, select your best photos to upload to Shutterfly (or whatever site you are using). This makes the process of putting together the book go much faster because you aren’t wading through a bunch of photos you don’t want to use.

Photo book tips
Group like photos together:
The books are more enjoyable to look at if like photos are grouped together. I generally do one theme per two-page spread.

Use different layouts: It also helps to use different photo layouts across your page spreads. My favorite style is to use a large photo on one side and then multiple photos on the other. I love that Shutterfly also offers the option to use one photo across a two-page spread because the result is always stunning.

photo book tips
Organize the photos chronologically
Typically we do games, then cake, then gifts at my kids’ parties, so that is generally the way I organize the birthday photo books. I also always include a spread about the theme, decorations and anything else special about the party decor.

photo book tips
Use a great photo on the cover:
I always pick a special photo of just the child for the cover of the book. There’s nothing better than a full-bleed photo on the cover, in my opinion. Also, don’t forget to label the binding!

photo book tips
Get personal:
I always include a personal note to my child at the end of the book. This is an opportunity to celebrate what makes your child uniquely them at that age and leave a legacy of love in the book.

Shutterfly Coupon: Free 8×8 Hardcover Photo Book

photo book tips
Right now Shutterfly is offering a killer deal – all customers get 1 free 8×8 photo book with promo code BOOK4FREE. You will have to pay shipping and handling, which for me is usually about $7.99.

Want a larger size? Redeem BOOK4FREE as a credit and upgrade to a larger size of your liking.

I love free photo books! This offer is only available through September 11, so get to work on your photo book right away.

Bonus tips: If you have never read my 5 tips for creating a photo book fast, you must. Photo books do not have to be time consuming!

I hope this post inspires you to create a photo book that will be cherished for many years to come.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie September 4, 2014 at 9:53 am

I too love shutterfly books! I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and you inspired me to do the same annual birthday books for my girls! I’ve been waiting for codes to order their 4th and 1st birthday books respectively so thank you, thank you, thank you! Love your blog! :)


jessicaturner September 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. It means more than you know. I’m so happy you’ll be able to take advantage of this!


Nurse Bee September 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

Ohh thank you!! I make books for my girls every year (a sort of yearbook) and needed some codes. I don’t think I’ve ever paid full price for a book!


Jacqueline R September 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

Thank you for sharing! I have really been debating photo books lately as a way to document our vacations. I have been using Project Life to document our lives for the last 5 years and that tends to take up all my scrappy time. I have tons of vacation photos that I would like to have somewhere other than the hard drive. I am just wondering if I will miss having the scrapbook with pretty papers/embellishments.


jessicaturner September 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

I know how you feel. In our family’s case, I usually put some favorite pictures in Project Life, but then create a vacation photo book so I can use even more photos. I love having both! You should try it and see if it works for you.


Mamabear September 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

Your books always look so nice Jessica! I struggle with getting photos if all the party details sometimes because I’m so busy running the party, but I learned for Julia’s fairy party last year to take photos of things as I’m prepping them so those detail shots are already done and I can focus on guests and food.

We actually hold Elsa’s party a month after her birthday so I can have her yearly book done and ready for her party. I include the smaller family gathering we do on her birthdayin the book and it gives me the motivation I need to have her book made in time for her party four weeks later.

Keep the tips coming! And if it’s ok, I’d love to reference your site when I teach a bookmaking class to my MOPS group this winter. So many people are overwhelmed with photos they don’t know where to start and giving people inspiration and focus is a huge passion of mine.


jessicaturner September 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Yes, of course! Thanks for sharing what works for you. We are better when we cheer each other on, yes? :)


Andrea L. September 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for the info on the code! When I entered it, it said it’s valid until the 10th (wouldn’t want anyone to miss using it by a day) :)


jessicaturner September 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Good to know! They must have changed it from the email they sent out yesterday.


Marie September 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I started doing birthday books this year. One thing I did was to leave a page for text with details about when and where the party was and a list of the attendees. I thought it would be fun to see the list when they are older.


Ashley McFarland September 5, 2014 at 7:35 am

Thank you for the code! :) And your tips…I love making photo books and I just recently made one and forgot to put the words on the binding. I said to my husband “Gosh dang it – they should have a warning at the end that says ‘Are you sure you didn’t want anything on the binding?”‘ because that is quite annoying when most have it (but there have been a few I’ve missed!) Hopefully no more! Thanks again – love your photo books!


jessicaturner September 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

I miss the binding at least 40% of the time! I agree. They need a warning! :)


Shene Benton September 8, 2014 at 11:15 pm

I just did my second photo book ever, for my 4 year old son’s first t-ball season. I’m so proud of it! I was MUCH faster this time, saving all my photos in one file on my computer first, and then doing a storyboard before I went in and edited. It only took me an hour and half. Please continue to share these deals…saving $30 is the way to go!


Barb R September 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Jessica, I have recently found your site and am enjoying it. Although I am at a different stage of life now (grandma), I have found some interesting and sometimes helpful ideas here. Thank you especially for the coupon code for Shutterfly books recently. I have toyed with the idea of doing that for some time, but always put it aside as more pressing things needed attention. This time with the limited time offer, I got right to it, and stumbled my way through the process of ordering my first simple book. It is in honor of having spent significant time with my far-away grandson this summer, both in his home province and in ours so he could visit with his two cousins. I am excited to have it soon, and to be able to give it to him for his birthday later this fall. Thanks for your tips on this subject also, as I know I will use them in future books.


Kara October 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm

I love these photo books! I haven’t made one in about 5 or 6 months probably, though. How did you get the font you used on the Pirate Ship Cake page? Has it always been there and I’ve just over looked it, or was it recently added?


jessicaturner October 6, 2014 at 7:14 am

I think it must have been in Shutterfly… it’s been more than a year since I made that book though, so I don’t totally remember.


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