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The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a mad dash whirlwind of events that can be overwhelming. With a little organization, knowledge of your staff’s personality and a few dozen cookies, you and your staff can navigate the maelstrom to confidently go on holiday, prepped and ready to hit the ground running when you return.

It’s all about the organization.
We can’t say it enough — organize, organize, organize. This may mean something completely different to your staff than your adviser friend, the other school in the district or the staffs you follow on social media — you have to find what works for your staff. But you can never be too organized. Old-school visuals on the wall are extremely effective — post a giant ladder, use colored post-it notes to track the status of deadline pages, create an accessible master calendar listing all events. Ideally, you started this in August, but it’s never too late to implement a system that will help keep you ahead of the game.

Get ahead
Timing is everything. We all know it’s impossible to get great interviews and good coverage to complete a spread about the back-to-school dance in November. Since you’re completing pages as the events conclude (hint, hint), why hold them out? If it’s complete, get it in. Pete Tittl from Liberty High School states this practice “makes what is typically the most stressful deadline after the holiday hangover (not literally) less stressful. Students and advisers take a while after the two weeks off to get back in the swing of things, so cutting the page count necessary [after we return] is a big stress reducer.”

Plan
Knowing is half the battle. Walking blindly into January after two (or three, if you’re lucky) weeks off can put you behind as soon as you hit campus. Kendall Marshall at Shafter High School notes that they “make sure the ‘shoot board’ is updated so everyone knows what [sports events] they have upon returning. This is important because we have so few home games it is imperative the staff not miss the earlier season ones.” Anna Lovan at Bakersfield High School added that they “make sure that all January pages are assigned and all of our ‘Senior Best’ photos are taken before break. This is important so that the kids can hit the ground running when we return.”

Celebrate
We all know this truth to be self-evident: food is king. I have never met a yearbook staff that didn’t respond to food. Show up with a box of donuts and they’re yours forever (or until the next assignment). Whether it’s a full Thanksgiving (or Brycegiving, as Templeton High School affectionally nicknamed theirs after a former editor) to a potluck and movie, or even just one of those giant sheet cakes from Costco, food makes it a party. Celebrating achievements such as met deadlines and goals reached with your staff along the journey is imperative; all work and no play makes for a rough yearbook experience. Combine the food with additional celebrations: hand out “Editors’ Choice” awards, have an ugly sweater party, or, as many of my staffs love to do, clear the floor, throw on Dance Dance Revolution and show off your moves!

About the author

Melissa Hodge

Jostens Yearbook Representative [CA]

Melissa is a true yearbook nerd at heart. As high school English teacher and yearbook adviser, she fell in love with yearbook, deciding to pursue it full time as a career – and never looked back. Working with staffs to create their yearbooks is truly a deep-rooted passion. Her goal is to assist in creating a book that they are proud of and excited about, to help their experience be as stress-free as possible, and to make their program as successful as possible in every way.