I tried all kinds of scrapbooking sizes, styles and techniques over the past decade before finally simplifying my entire process. Here are some simple scrapbooking ideas and tips I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Stop trying to scrapbook everything.
Scrapbooking shouldn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed or constantly behind. It’s okay not to make a layout for every photo or every moment (or every new product). Perhaps the key to simple scrapbooking is not just with the layouts themselves but the entire scrapbooking approach.
2. Keep a journal.
Many years ago, I began writing notes in a Word document I simply named “journaling.” When the kids said something funny or something happened that I wanted to remember, I would open the Word document and type a quick note along with the date. Even when I took a break from scrapbooking, I still continued to type an occasional note in this document.
The notes are quite handy when I’m ready to create a layout, but I don’t feel like I must make a scrapbook page for each one. Facebook and blog posts are another good way to keep track of notes and dates until you’re ready to create a layout.
3. Consolidate stories and photos.
Are some of your stories overlapping or repeating information? Do you have some layouts with only photos and no journaling? The next time you start a layout, try thinking more broadly. Maybe there are some stories you could consolidate.
This is an example of how I consolidated two similar stories into one, and only used one photo. More examples can be found in the scrapbook page makeovers post.
4. Think Small.
A smaller size means less intimidating space to fill.
For layouts: If you only make 12×12 pages, try creating an 8×8 page and then mounting it on 12×12 cardstock for a framed effect. Likewise, if your pages are always 8.5×11, try mounting a smaller layout in the center (or off-center).
For albums: (updated) See this post for a list of small scrapbook albums.
5. Try a Smash Book.
A Smash Book is like old-fashioned scrapbooking with a modern makeover. “Smash” (glue) your photos and mementos in a themed scrapbook. The Smash brand is available at many stores including Target and Michaels. Or make your own using a journal or sketch book.
I like the albums because you can take one along with you on a trip and scrap as you go, and because it’s useful for finishing albums quickly.
I finally completed an album for a trip I took 20 years ago using a travel-themed Smash book. I had photos, postcards, ticket stubs and brochures. Unfortunately, I had no journaling other than identifying where photos were taken, but I’m okay with that. I added a title page, removed a few pages that I didn’t need, and glued the photos and mementos in chronological order based on the travel itinerary. It only took me one day!
6. Use sectioned page protectors instead of glue.
Use the Project Life method of inserting photos, journaling and mementos into sectioned page protectors or simple photo albums. I used sectioned 6×8 page protectors in a Christmas album (see the album here).
7. Use journaling cards.
Handwrite your journaling on tags or cards. Place them in sectioned page protectors or adhere them to your scrapbook layout. Try some free journaling cards to start or make your own.
8. Add text to photos.
Add text to photos before printing instead of using a separate journaling box on your scrapbook page.
9. Use apps.
Edit photos and upload them for printing using your phone or iPad. It’s convenient when you’re away from your computer but have time to edit photos.
I used these free iPad apps to create the photo shown:
- Aviary for editing and cropping images to 4×6 (instead of the original 4×5.3 digital size),
- Phonto for adding text, and
- Walgreens for uploading photos to have printed locally.
Update: See 12 Scrapbooking Useful Apps for more.
10. Bind it yourself.
Forget the album; just gather your 4×6 photos and memorabilia, punch holes in them and attach a spiral wire using a Zutter Bind-It-All. Or use a simple hole punch and bind the pages with rings from an office supply store.
11. Pick one font.
If you spend a lot of time selecting fonts for each page, try sticking with one classic font for a while. My go-to font is Apple Garamond Light. What’s yours?
12. Use neutral background colors.
Stock up on black, white, cream and/or kraft cardstock. Use only one background color for an entire album.
13. Limit embellishments.
Too many pretty embellishments to choose from? Limit your selection. Choose only one embellishment for each layout, or one type of embellishment, or only products by one manufacturer (everything will coordinate).
Put the other embellishments out of sight to avoid distraction.
14. Write a story.
Making an entire album? Try writing it like a storybook – begin with “once upon a time” and just keep going. For a single layout, try your hand at storytelling.
15. Create a grid.
Trim or punch all photos to the same square size and line them up in a grid style. Leave some square spaces for journaling and embellishments. See layouts using 16+ photos for examples such as this one:
16. Choose only one photo.
When you’ve got lots of photos and you can’t figure out which ones to use or how to arrange them, try choosing only one photo. In this example (another before and after), I realized that one photo was better than six.
17. Rely on journaling.
If you have a story to tell, don’t worry about looking for a photo to go with it or trying to find the perfect embellishment. Just tell the story. In these two layouts, I only used cardstock, computer journaling and letter stickers:
18. Make a list.
If you’re still stuck on journaling, try making a list.
19. Use sketches.
Are design and photo arrangement slowing you down? Pick a favorite sketch or two and use them frequently. You’d be surprised how differently layouts can look with the same sketch. Try Page Maps for a wide variety of sketches.
20. Start over.
When you’ve arranged and rearranged and you still aren’t satisfied with the layout, maybe it’s time to completely disassemble it, put back the supplies and start fresh.
I hope these simple scrapbooking ideas and tips will be helpful. What are your simple scrapbooking tips?