I am a planner gal through and through. Or at least, I thought I was until I met Jessica Edoho, my sweet friend and decorative planning Instagrammer. My knowledge of the planner world was the few sold at Target and my years long love affair with ban.do planners. But Jessica currently uses four different planners. She opened my eyes to the decorative planning world and is sharing her 5 decorative planning ideas.
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What is decorative planning?
Decorative planning looks different from person to person, but for myself and many others, it’s modern day scrapbooking. Instead of buying a traditional scrapbook and buying all types of papers and printing out pictures, you buy a planner. Then, instead of writing out your plans for a given day, you write down things that actually took place. The decorative aspect comes in when you buy stickers or stamps, or even do your own doodling- anything that reflects the things you’re marking.
How did you get into decorative planning?
During my freshman year of college, I went to Michael’s with my roommate. While there, I saw the planner aisle and noticed a brand called The Happy Planner. They had tons of adorable sticker books, and I really love stickers. Always have, always will. The planners themselves were also really cool because they’re designed in such a way that you can take the pages out and put new pages in without ruining the paper.
I already had a planner, so I didn’t buy anything that day. But months later, around New Years, I went back to Michael’s to buy a Happy Planner and some stickers. I had two Instagram accounts at the time: a personal, standard Instagram, and a “fangirl” Instagram where I followed celebrities, companies, my favorite YouTubers, etc. Then I followed the official Happy Planner page and learned they had a creative team known as the Happy Planner Squad.
I followed all the members of the Squad. Then it became a cycle of following the people that they were following, the people that they were sharing, and so on. I became so fascinated by everything I was seeing, and it got to the point that I felt I needed yet another Instagram account to really get into the planner community as a whole.
Here are Jessica’s 5 tips for planner decoration whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned pro.
1. Find the right tools
The planner: If you’re going to get into decorative planning, the first thing you need is a good planner. There are more planner formats than you may expect, so it’s worth it to do some browsing before committing to anything. The vertical layout is the most popular for this hobby because the columns are typically blank. This means you aren’t confined to any lines and you have tons of space for writing, and of course, stickers.
X-ACTO knives or Slice tools: I’m personally an X-Acto knife girl, but that’s mainly because slice tools aren’t sold anywhere near me. X-Acto knives are undoubtedly sharp, but this makes them a little more dangerous since they’re true knives. Slice tools, on the other hand, are made with ceramic blades. In either case, these items are often used to cut washi with straight lines or to cut down stickers that might be too big for your needs.
Tombow Correction Tape: When you get as deep into this hobby as I have, you start caring a little more about things that may not have mattered before. The color of my white-out is one of those things. There are plenty of great white-out products, but as far as I can say, Tombow’s Correction Tape matches the paper color for a lot of popular planners.
Un-Du Adhesive Remover: This magical product is used for removing and replacing stickers. It allows you to remove stickers without ruining the sticker or the paper. You can reposition the sticker with ease. You can pull in a different sticker. Or you can completely nix the stickers since the paper isn’t ruined. This is a great tool to have for this hobby because it gives you some wiggle room if you make a mistake.
Pens: You can use whichever kind of pen you want! That being said, there are definitely some trends within the community. I’m among the majority of planners who love gel pens. I’ve used several pen sizes since discovering this hobby, but my favorites are definitely the Pilot G2 0.38mm gel pens.
2. Look to other Instagrammers for inspo
Once you have all your tools and you’ve chosen a planner, it’s a good idea to find and follow other people using that same planner style. Instagram hashtags are a great way to do this. Planner people tag everything. You can browse #horizontalplanner, #memoryplanning, #happyplannerspread, etc. and find spreads you enjoy. Follow the creators and browse through who they follow and who follows them to find people with similar styles. Here are my personal planner faves.
@jkruuu_plans: Jessica from @jkruuu_plans was the first person I followed beyond the Happy Planner world. I loved — and still love — the Happy Planner Squad’s content, but I didn’t necessarily want to make spreads like theirs. Not only does Jessica have the world’s coolest name, but her spreads were more relatable to me. She was doing what I wanted to do with this hobby.
I immediately followed her and subscribed to her YouTube channel. She tags all the shops that she uses in her spreads, so I followed all those shops and their associates. This brought me into a whole new world of planning.
@gatheredplans: Rachel from @Gatheredplans is a major force in the community. She gives so many shops a chance, and this is reflected in her spreads. Rachel pulls several artists’ styles together, and she does a lot of unique layering which allows for maximum sticker usage. She has a great page to browse when you’re hunting for shops to check out.
@khaylaplansitall: Khayla is really creative and a total sweetheart! She has really lovely handwriting, and she’s a talented doodler. She uses a bunch of really unique items. She’s introduced me to tons of different pens, new washi shops and most notably, blackout bullet journals. Her journaling and planning styles demonstrate the unique ways you can use your stationery items in today’s times. P.S. If you’re into K-pop, she keeps an amazing K-pop journal!
@productively.jessica: Then there’s me! I’m still not quite sure where I fit in in this community. I blend a lot of styles most people wouldn’t, but that’s because I love so many different things. And I use a pretty even mix of Happy Planner stickers and stickers from independent shops in my spreads, so something is bound to catch your eye.
I love this hobby, but I think it’s important to make sure it remains a hobby. I don’t want to make it a chore and end up resenting it. In addition to decorative planning, I really love the “studygram” side of Instagram. I post my notes every now and then, which I hope can serve as motivation for fellow pre-med students out there. If I had to describe my feed in one word, I would call it whimsical. I’m just having fun!
3. Find the right stickers
Happy Planner Stickers: I’m always going to love the Happy Planner stickers. They’re perfect for beginners because they’re sold at all the major craft stores, which means there’s always a coupon. My favorite Happy Planner sticker books are the Colorful Boxes book and the Tiny Sticker book.
The Colorful Boxes book is great for adding color to a plain white page, and writing on stickers is great in case you need to move anything around. The Tiny Sticker Book is also super useful. I don’t actually have that one, but I’m recommending it because I know it would be great for beginners. It features tiny TV stickers, food doodles, emoticons and many other stickers you’d want to have for decorative memory planning.
Lilac Luna Plans Co: This is a small business, and it’s great for foiled items. Everything is hand-lettered/hand-drawn by Trina, the shop owner, so everything she offers is unique and exclusive. In particular, I love her custom scripts. They’re great because the price for custom items and standard items are the same price. I ordered stickers from her to mark my MCAT studying and to mark the days I volunteer at my church. I’m on Trina’s PR team for the spring, so if this piques your interest, my code is JESSICA20 for 20% off and a foiled freebie.
P.S. Lilac Luna Plans Co is going to be 40% off during the Planner Girls United Collab Sale from May 15th-May 17th. My 20% discount won’t be applicable since the shop will already be discounted, but you can still mention my name for my freebie.
The Giving Girl: Jennifer has the highest standards of any shop I’ve ever seen in the planner community. She’s well-known for her “oops” bags (read more to learn what an oops bag is!), so her shop is especially great if you’re looking to build your sticker collection. Jennifer’s prices are really affordable for the quality, and her style is unlike any other shop’s. Get 15% off with this link and mention that I sent you!
Avalon and Ninth: This shop is great for kits. Kits are coordinated pages of almost everything you need if you want to follow current trends in decorative planning. I only have one kit from her right now, but I have two new ones on the way. And I have a very long wish list.
If I bought everything on my wish list from her, I’d have enough kits to last the year. Avalon and Ninth’s kits are bright and rich in color. Amanda, the shop owner, uses a lot of unique art, and I love her playful style.
Sweet Ava’s Paper: This is my go-to shop for character stickers. Sweet Ava’s Paper was the first shop I discovered organically. Most other shops, I discovered because I saw other people following.
But Sweet Ava’s Paper was the first shop I followed entirely on my own. Nobody I followed at the time had ever posted this shop, but I was hunting for a specific sticker sheet (one to mark eating chicken wings, if you’re curious). And the one I saw from her shop caught my mind. The shop owner, AmyLynn draws all the characters herself, so they’re totally exclusive to her shop and she takes requests regularly. Get 15% off.
Simply Gilded: Simply Gilded is at the forefront of high-end washi tape. I subscribed to the Simply Gilded subscription box last May, and there is seriously no better value for a subscription box. Since I subscribed, the boxes have become immensely more generous.
Irene, the shop owner, eventually had to raise the price slightly because she was giving us that much without even charging us. Those of us who were already subscribed to the box were grandfathered in, meaning we’re still paying the original price. That said, I wouldn’t even mind paying the higher price because I still think the box is worth every penny. I cannot speak highly enough about it. Get $5 off a $15 purchase.
4. Use these decorative planning pro tips to save and score
Coupons: The chain stores like JOANN, Hobby Lobby, and Michael’s all have coupons and sales all the time. These stores are all over the country, and they usually take competitors’ coupons. Personally, there’s no Michael’s in my hometown, but I can take their coupons to my local JOANN or Hobby Lobby.
Oops bags: Items that fall short of a shop’s standards get bundled together and discounted. Many shops call them “oops” bags, but “misfit” bags are also a common name. As mentioned earlier, oops bags are a great way to build your sticker collection. Many of these sticker shops are small businesses, so shop owners work really hard to minimize waste and loss.
I’ve purchased many oops bags over the last year, yet I have very few stickers that I feel unable to use. These shops have really high standards, so many “oops” items are honestly in great condition. A lot of shops do intentionally put perfectly fine items in oops bags sometimes. This can include items that were discontinued, items with old logos created prior to a shop’s rebranding or items that they simply don’t feel like creating brand new listings for. So in addition to the discount, oops bags can help you get your hands on older items you may have missed out on.
5. Do your own thing
I can make my suggestions, but I think it’s important first to think about what you want out of this. It depends on if you want this to be. If you’re planning to become a big PR girl and make a YouTube out of this and end up getting invited to Erin Condren’s beach house party or whatever, then you’re definitely going to want to follow these rules. If you’re just doing this for fun in the comfort of your own home, do whatever you want, go crazy.
Why do you love decorative planning so much?
The stickers are cute. The washi tape is gorgeous. It just makes my heart smile. I always loved stickers; I love small businesses and supporting them. And I do really like keeping track of my memories. I take lots of pictures of things, save a lot of Snapchat stories and tweet about a lot of things so that I can look at them later. And then having these decorative planners is a way to take all of that information and condense it into the things that are most important to me from each day.