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Blog: The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member
Yearbooks--What the heck do you do with them?

Last Thursday was my son's last day of school.  He brought home a bag full of artwork (where and how to store THAT is another post) and… a yearbook.  Seeing his yearbook brought back a slew of memories.  Getting my yearbook on the last day of school was always a thrill for me.  As an adult I actually taught high school journalism for five years and was in charge of the yearbook and newspaper for the kids.  That's how much I loved it.

As a journalist, historian, and voyeur, I love yearbooks.  As an organizer, I loathe them.  My son is just a youngin' so while it was cute to look through his yearbook, it occurred to me that I'm going to have to find room for 12 more of the these books over the next decade (not to mention 12 more for his sister when she gets there).  Yearbooks, obviously, are big and heavy space suckers.  

I usually tell my clients to get rid of fiction books when they're done reading them (you already know how it ends, you're not going to read it again!), but to keep reference books for as long as you refer to them.  Yearbooks are reference books, granted, but how long/how often do you really look at them?  How long should you keep them?  Indefinitely (as some of my clients believe)?

I recently (in the last 3 years or so) JUST got rid of my elementary, middle and high school yearbooks (I never bought my college yearbooks).  Yep, you heard me right.  I know to some, this may seem like a sacrilege, but I breathe the mantra "you only have the space you have" and well, I just didn't have the space for them.  So instead of renting a storage unit and paying to store something I never use, I went through them, page by page and looked one last time.  I tore out the pages that had pictures of my class, my sports teams, myself and my friends or favorite teachers.  I tore out the pages that had friends' end-of-year messages written on them.  I scoured the names and faces to be sure someone at my school hadn't become famous and I might have a funky high school photo of them to sell to People Magazine (no one was).

In the end, I had a short stack of paper that fit neatly into one 9x12 manila envelope—rather than 58 lbs. of hardbound books immortalizing people I don't remember or care about.

So what will I do with my kids' yearbooks? I don't offer a cute or stylish way to store them.  There is none that I can think of—they're just a part of Americana and we, as Americans, must deal with them. I will keep my kids' yearbooks for as long as they have residence in my home, but as soon as they move out, I will pack them up and send them the boxes.  At that point they will need to decide how important those memories are to them and whether or not they are worth the space they take up.

If you are one of those people who still have their dusty yearbooks taking up precious space in bookcases or boxes in your garage, consider taking a summer evening to go through them with a glass of wine, get some laughs, and maybe even purge them.  Make it fun!  Have an End-of-Years party and invite some friends to bring over their old yearbooks and look through them and laugh at the clothes and hairstyles—and then throw them out (or recycle them).  Celebrate who you are today, not who you were back then.

posted on: 6/2/2008 10:30:00 AM by Heather Lambie
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by Cameron on 6/19/2009 9:33:02 PM:

Throwing away years of memories? So sad! I understand where you are coming from - why clutter yourself and weigh yourself down (literally) with photos of people that you don't remember. All too often yearbooks fail to equally represent its students. I recently discovered TreeRing, a new yearbook company that sets aside 10% of every yearbook for individuals to personalize. The online program is so easy to use and you can share photos across the web seamlessly. Check out the website treering.com and talk to your school today about switching over to this great company. Who can beat personalization AND stellar prices?

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The Pile High Club--how NOT to become a member

by Heather Lambie

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About Heather:

My Husband - "Honey, how thin can you spread yourself before you're no longer there?" Me - "I don't know. But I'm in it to win it, so we may have to find out."

Heather's Website:


Favorite Websites

  • The Sartorialist
    This site appeases my hunger for all things New York, reminds me of my time there, and gives me great ideas for unconventional looks.
  • Toffee To Go
    They are located in Tampa, very near me, but they deliver/ship nationally. They have THE BEST toffee EVER. It's buttery, salty, sweet--all my favorite things in one bite.
  • The Container Store
    I know this is a no-brainer for an organizer...but this place really turns me on!
  • The Poetry Foundation
  • Because I Said So (blog)
    As a mom myself, this mom of 6 (!!!) has me in stitches.
  • Michael Buble
    If I wasn't happily married, I might be stalking him. Bar none, the best voice and best sense of humor!

Quotes That Move Me

  • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
    "The truth of the matter is, you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."
  • Ivern Ball
    "Most of us ask for advice when we know the answer but we want a different one."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "The secret of education is respecting the pupil."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
  • Abigail Van Buren
    "The best index to a person's character is how he treats another person who can't do him good, and how he treats people who can't fight back."
  • Dorothy Galyean
    "Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
  • Aristotle
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
  • Mark Twain
    "To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth. As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn't rich."
  • Jackie Kennedy
    "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

Places I'm Dying to Visit

  • Hawaii
    Any how, any way, any time.
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • China
  • Japan
  • Alaska (via cruise ship)
  • Marbella, Spain

Places I've Already Been

  • Australia (Sydney)
  • New Zealand
  • Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora
  • London
  • Paris
    Spent only one day here (took the Chunnel from London when I was there) but it was one amazing, beautiful day where I walked the flea markets, visited the Louvre, people-watched and used all 6 senses to experience it.
  • Trinidad & Tobago
    My husband is from here, so we go several times a year to visit family.
  • Italy (Milan, Vicenza)
  • Jamaica

Things I'd Like To Do Before I Die

  • Run a leg with the Olympic torch before the games begin
  • See the monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico
  • Ride a horse on the beach (in the water)
  • See a prize fight (boxing) in Las Vegas
  • Run the NYC Marathon
    I ran the Disney Marathon in 2000 (pre-kids). Would love to run another post-kids, to prove I can.
  • Have washboard abs.
  • Eliminate self doubt.
  • Own an apartment in Manhattan.
  • Watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve.
  • Take an RV trip down the coast of California.

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