Yearbook distribution day is both exciting and worrisome for a yearbook adviser. There are so many things that can go wrong, but they don’t have to! I don’t have it all figured out, but over the years I have developed some methods and strategies to help make the day a success. I’m sharing those Yearbook Distribution Day Tips and Best Practices here!
It just takes a little bit of work up front to make things go smoothly on yearbook distribution day.
- Halt sales – We sell online and at school, and what’s sold at school we enter into our publisher’s website to make keeping track easier. A few days before distribution I stop online sales and in school sales, so I can get my lists finalized and don’t oversell. *It’s also important to note that if you continue in-school sales even weeks prior to the event, that you need to only collect cash in case checks are written without sufficient funds.
- Checking sales reports – The first thing I do is match my collection logs and receipts with what’s been entered online. I make sure everything has been entered, and that nothing has been entered twice.
- Notifying students – Once I have a master list of books sold with student names, I typically post those in the hallway for students to check. It really helps reduce anxiety on distribution day for students who think they bought a book but didn’t. It is also another way of double checking myself for mistakes. During the school closure event of 2020, I collected all the emails of students and sent emails to buyers and non buyers. That worked really well, and I will send emails going forward as well.
- Checking books – Once the books arrive, I take a couple of days and have staffers go through every box and every page. We wear gloves and start flipping. In the past, we’ve had “oops” books or damaged books, so it’s worth taking the time to prevent issuing damaged books before students sign them, etc.
- Printing checklists – Every student who picks up a book must sign, so I print their names in a large font with a place for them to sign on charts. Alphabetically by last name usually works best.
- Signage – We have personalized and non-personalized books, so we make large signs for each section (we reused them every year). We also divide those areas up into even smaller groups by last name, so print signs on colored paper for the letter groups.
Set Up (On the Day of)
On yearbook distribution day, you’ll need a large enough area to set up hundreds of books for hundreds of students to pick up! Plus, you’ll want the area to look neat and organized.
- Separate personalized and non-personalized books.
- Tape your checklists down to your tables and provide pens. Be sure to take those up at the end to keep as a record.
- We set up outside our gym in the lobby, so there is plenty of room to move around.
- I station staffers behind each checklist, and then we have runners and box managers.
- Leave the books in the boxes. It makes it harder for people passing by to grab one.
Handing Out Books
You’ll want all hands on deck for handing out the books! We are typically handing out books at the end of the day, and students get an hour or so to sign at school. Therefore, we have to move quickly, but accurately.
- We call students in waves – seniors first, then on down the line.
- Students form a line according to their last name, and staffer serve one student at a time.
- Students must sign for their book, and staffers must make sure they identify the student before handing them a book.
- We never let the students reach into the boxes to get their book.
- Never give a book to anyone other than the student whose name is on the list.
- Never give a book out early- even just an hour early. There’s always tomorrow to pick up the book.
- When you are finished handing out books, take just a minute and label with sticky notes any uncollected books. This helps me identify how many books I have left to sell, and it makes grabbing books for students the following day a lot faster.
- Be sure to collect your sign out sheets. You’ll need them for pick ups in the following days.
- Always wait to sell extra books after distribution has ended. Remember to add those purchases to your checklists and have students sign.
- Any issues or questions are directed to me. I don’t want my staffers dealing with problems; this is their day to shine. If ANYTHING comes up (name not on the list, can’t find my name, can I get someone else’s book, I don’t like this pictures, my name is spelled wrong, etc.), I tell them to send the student to me.
Event Special Touches
Since we host a huge yearbook distribution day party during school hours, I get to do a few fun extras.
- Speech – I always ask a senior staffer to write a short speech that explains the book’s theme. I also remind students during this time to thank the staff and put their names in their books first thing!
- Awards – If the staff earned any awards during the year, or for the past year’s book, I love to have our yearbook company rep come and present that.
- Honor the seniors – Distribution is a fun, little way to kick off “senior season” for our students. Usually, yearbook distribution immediately follows state testing, so it’s perfect timing to being honoring the seniors. We hold distribution in the gym, and when students come in, they all sit in the middle section. After we’ve done announcements, we do a senior walk. Seniors line up on one side of the gym, we start the graduation song, and they march around making a loop and out the opposite side’s door (which goes to the lobby where my staffers are waiting). The teachers usually line up at the exit door to form a sort of tunnel for high fives. (Yes, my seniors get to do the senior walk. The underclassmen staffers run to the stations after announcements. Then the senior staffers join to distribute.) During the school closure of 2020, we honored our seniors on porch pick up day by lining the lawn with signs including their pictures and names. I also collected senior signatures and made a “faux” end sheet for them since they didn’t get to sign each other’s books.
- Other – Play music. Give away pens for signing. Sell smoothies or have a shaved ice truck come. Invite ALL students!
Thank Your Staff
It doesn’t have to be much, but remember these folks did a ton of work to get to this point, and they give up a bit of their signing time to distribute and clean up (I do try to bring in a few teachers to help with clean up, so I can let the staffers go as soon as possible to the party). I usually have small gift for them before book pick up, and we have a little party with food/snacks. Take some fun group pictures of them, too, as a keepsake.
You and your staff have worked very hard to create a beautiful time capsule for your student body. So, however you decide to make your distribution day special, remember to have fun!
Check out my yearbook curriculum for ready-to-go distribution tools. Also be sure to click the link to join my Yearbook Advisers Facebook Group for a live webinar with lots of great discussion on this topic as well.
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Written by: Julie Faulkner