Monday, 2 May 2016

Decorative Planning...

'I think I've embraced Barbie'...overdoing the decorative sticker kit from Oh Hello
(MAMBI Happy Planner vertical style)

Not so long ago I still used diaries to record things to do, events to attend and didn't even touch goals to achieve. About a year ago after stumbling onto a 'Plan With Me' video on YT I was intrigued. Paper planners didn't have to be small and didn't have to be functional. And there was a whole world of stickers to dive into.

I set down my lovely Paperblank diary and began to research planners. There were tons to choose from but I finally settled on a Personal Planner which I could personalise with my art. And then I went on Etsy with my debit card almost melting it with the amount of stickers, washi and fancy pens I bought. I didn't begin small, I went into decorative overload. I got caught up in the frenzy of Darice sticker books, paying over the odds for international postage. I went a tad can happen.

Day of the Dead Darice sticker inspired layout Nov 2015
(Personal Planner horizontal style)

I saw from the YT videos how fellow planners hid very functional parts of their planner pages with washi strips and patterned rectangular stickers. I noticed themed kits were supplied from sticker makers, allowing us to co-ordinate each page. Subscription kits, composed of a selection of sticker styles from a variety of makers, made sure we didn't even have to think about what stickers to purchase, instead putting energy into decoration and having the opportunity to try out stickers from shops we hadn't heard of. And some folk preferred to use mini stamps with ink pads to decorate their planner pages.

Finding that the Personal Planner wasn't what I wanted I invested in a larger planner. More space to decorate. I found a MAMBI Happy Planner and fell in love with its arty design and inserts. Over the months of using it I've honed my layout style to suit me. 

trying out asymmetrical layouts in both Personal Planner & Happy Planner
(Sept 2015)

current layout style - Happy Planner
(Mini Weekly Kit - English Garden from Oh Hello Stationery Co)

current layout style - Happy Planner
(Strawberry Fields Full Set from Boulderbon)

Each HP double page is divided into vertical days. Within each day are three sections for morning, day and night although I don't use this timescale. The top sections are covered either with washi or with rectangular 'full box' stickers. On top I use icon stickers to denote recurring tasks such as recycling, grocery shopping or laundry. I don't write beside the icon stickers as I'm happy with the visual prompts. 

In each centre section I use either full or strip checklist stickers for phone calls, tasks, reminders. Checklist stickers are technically functional but stickers makers design them with hearts, circles or icons on glossy or matte paper, sometimes flat colour, sometimes ombre. I have even used checklists with tiny rows of 'stitching' around the edges.

The lower section can be a mishmash of whatever stickers I have left over. I've used half boxes to tie in with a set, hydrate stickers with tiny water drops to keep a tally on my water intake or event stickers that come with an icon at the side.

Once my basic layout is set I then add larger decorative stickers across the pages. It's advisable to use flat stickers rather than puffy or three dimensional as your planner can become 'fluffy' (plannerspeak), bulging within its covers.

I've bought stickers from the US, Holland and China as well as the UK but in the end I advise buying what you need while spending as little as possible. By all means try out an interesting far-flung sticker maker and enjoy their products but for everyday stickers keep your expenditure in check. And it's true - be selective about what you want to try and set aside a budget for trying new designs. The washi I purchased last year will probably see me through until the end of this year! What I find I need are checklist stickers and half boxes - that's what I use most. And I'm considering designing some stickers myself though I'm not going to make them - they'll be available to download. I had deliberated for a long time about getting a Silhouette sticker machine but I didn't - I'm more into design than production. 

Whatever way you decide to decorate your planner have fun, join a planner group, a forum, swap ideas and try out new layouts. The world's your oyster sticker.

Mochiheart Designs creates drawings of TV series
(a one-off purchase, doesn't sell online)

Boulderbon  US sticker maker
(functional & decorative stickers on repositionable matte paper)

Darice books from US
(can be bought on Amazon or Ebay)

Djoisch stickers Dutch sticker maker
(soft watercolour effect stickers on matte paper)


Tomorrow's blog: 'Art Review, Jacqueline Wylie'

Copyright © 2016 by Roisin O'Hagan/bloowabbit
All rights reserved. The artworks/illustrations or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the artist except for specific permission granted with a free downloadable.


  1. I had to laugh when you mention your debit card melting from its overuse with getting planner supplies. I when crazy, too, when I first started planning! It's so much fun!

  2. Do you find that your decor gets in the of function ever? I love how cute my Darice collection is but some weeks I feel like I don't wanna write around them for the sake of keeping them pretty. I'm definitely still a decorative planner, but I have sort of shifted to mainly functional decor. Also, what was it about the personal that you didn't like?

    1. I think I've got a balance that suits me, a lot of colourful functional stickers and some decorative stickers although it could all change in a few months - that's the joy of decorative planning. The personal Planner's cover is (or was) the same size as the pages inside. And with the elasticated cord the edges of the pages began to fray because the cover didn't protect that part of them. Also, the metal ends of the cord started to rub away the surface of the inner back cover - I'll be doing a 'My Planners' post in a couple of week's time so I'll post images of the problems then.

  3. Do you find that your decor gets in the of function ever? I love how cute my Darice collection is but some weeks I feel like I don't wanna write around them for the sake of keeping them pretty. I'm definitely still a decorative planner, but I have sort of shifted to mainly functional decor. Also, what was it about the personal that you didn't like?

  4. Stickers are certainly a healthy addiction in my opinion ;)

  5. It's fun to see your evolution of planning. Going from a diary to a person planner to an HP! I went from a personal color crush to a PPP to an hourly EC and I love my hourly EC! Functional stickers are my favorite- half boxes, appointment stickers, fitness trackers, stuff like that! But I will decorate when it is the week of a holiday!

    1. Yes, we all evolve, don't we! I love getting a set of stickers from a new designer I've found on etsy...I have already decorated all the way up to July - I find decorating my planner is very calming so sometimes I just pick a day and get sticking :)