I used to have big scrapbooks and a lot of supplies (see why I stopped scrapbooking).
Now I have small scrapbooks, basic supplies (see photo above), and I am happily scrapbooking again.
I call it The Scrapbook Diet – a five-step process that helped me downsize to small albums, eliminate the majority of my scrapbook supplies, and rediscover my enjoyment of simple scrapbooking.
Here’s what I did:
I was packing to move into a new home, and it was time to face the scrapbooking supplies. I hadn’t made a scrapbook page in nearly three years, so most of my supplies had been slowly transferred to closets. As I faced the dusty boxes of doom, I was certain of one thing: there was no way all that scrapbooking stuff was coming with me.
I gathered everything and spread it out on the floor. There was a lot of stuff. I felt sadness (this was a hobby I once enjoyed), panic (how am I going to go through all of this stuff?), and irritation (why am I even letting this stuff bother me?).
I also felt detached from the supplies, and I was willing to let everything go.
In addition to the supplies, I had albums, unfinished layouts, and finished layouts that never made it into an album. I kept the loose layouts – finished and unfinished – in a box for another time; my first priority was clearing out the mountain of supplies and deciding whether or not I ever wanted to scrapbook again.
Meanwhile, my children started looking through the albums and asking me questions. Apparently I had a lot of fluffy layouts with insufficient journaling. So I began telling them stories about what they were like as toddlers.
And then it hit me.
That is what I want my scrapbooks to be like: storybooks. Stories written just like I would tell my children in person. Stories they can read over and over. Stories that tell what they were like, what they did, funny things they said and more.
I realized that for me, scrapbooking is storytelling – with photos and embellishments used to enhance the story. And I knew I wanted to start scrapbooking again, but in different way.
I wanted these storybooks to be small.
Small layouts mean less intimidating space to fill; I can concentrate on the story because there isn’t much room left for embellishments. Small albums also take up less space on my shelves.
Before I started discarding supplies and planning small pages, I wanted to make sure I could find small 3-ring binders (this was a couple of years ago, when small album choices were limited).
I found Avery half-size (5.5×8.5) 3-ring binders and page protectors at an office supply store. Update: The tan albums in the photo are We R Memory Keepers Memory Dock system. I got them at TJ Maxx years ago but I’m glad to discover that they are still available online. They are fabric covered 3-ring binders, and Avery page protectors fit in them.
Now there are more small album choices. Update: See my Small Scrapbook Album Review.
Next, it was time to face my supplies.
The thought of going through each item one by one, trying to decide what to keep, was overwhelming.
So I did the opposite: instead of starting with everything and taking out what I don’t need, I imagined starting with nothing (I had already detached myself from the supplies anyway) and thought about what I would actually need.
If I shopped my stash, what would I buy?
First, I needed 5.5×8.5 solid color cardstock, so I cut all of my cardstock to that size using a paper trimmer. No turning back now! Trimming was easy with letter size cardstock – I just cut it in half. It was more time consuming with 12×12 paper and there were a lot of leftover strips.
Then I needed adhesive. I’m an old-fashioned glue stick and sticky tabs kind of girl, so I kept all of those.
Next, I selected only what I thought I would actually use with my new small & simple storybook approach. This is what I currently have:
The bookcase (shown in the first photo of the post) is a Closetmaid 8-cube organizer with lined baskets from Target.
1. A 3-tiered wire stand (found in the kitchen department at Target) holds thread, paint, punches and stamps. I kept the punches I used most: large and small circles, a large square and a corner rounder. I also kept the stamps I used most: a date stamp, a round stamp, an alphabet set, and a couple of ink pads. I included thread because I sew on pages a lot. The paint was included not because I paint on layouts, but because I paint on canvas and this wire basket seemed like a good place to keep it.
2. Small albums fit nicely in the 11″ cube openings, including 5.5×8.5 binders, Simple Stories 6×8 binder and Smash books.
3. A desk carousel (found at TJ Maxx) holds paint brushes, pencils, pens and scissors.
4 & 5. A basket of embellishments includes some adhesive, journaling cards, ribbon, stickers, etc. A small plastic container holds brads, buttons and other tiny embellishments. Larger sheets of letter stickers are tucked next to the basket. While selecting which embellishments to include in the basket, I had to remind myself that my layouts would mostly be stories printed on cardstock – I would not need many embellishments, and certainly not large ones.
6 & 7. A basket with extra page protectors, patterned paper, envelopes, etc. – anything that could be useful as a page in an album was trimmed to 5.5×8.5 or smaller. I punched holes in some items as well. I only kept a few of my favorite patterned papers because although I like looking at them, I realistically would not be using much patterned paper on my small layouts.
8 & 9. Two baskets of solid cardstock, cut to 5.5×8.5. One basket is mostly neutrals.
I left behind a lot of supplies.
My children thought it was the best arts and crafts day ever. They made paper chains from the strips leftover from my earlier Edward Scissorhands attack on the 12×12 cardstock, and made numerous other creations using paper, stickers and embellishments.
Buttons: I made a button wreath, and kept the remaining buttons in a pretty jar on my desk for future button crafts or sewing projects.
Ribbon: I made fabric jellyfish for the kids with many dangling ribbons (update: photos and tutorial posted here).
Some Baby, School, Halloween and Christmas themed items were put into separate containers for future use; I planned to create baby storybooks, a Halloween album and a Christmas album (see the completed Christmas album here) and a school album (update: see the completed school album here).
From the remaining supplies, I let my children select some of their favorite things (mostly stickers and anything that might be useful for a school project) and put them in a storage bin.
I separated everything else into categories – stamps, punches, stickers, journaling cards, etc. – and placed them in large Ziploc bags. Then I asked the elementary school art teacher if she could use any of my leftover scrapbooking paper and supplies. She was very appreciative, and I was glad the supplies would be useful.
More donation ideas can be found in this Creating Keepsakes article.
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It’s been about two years since I went on The Scrapbook Diet. I haven’t missed 12×12 scrapbooking or any of my old supplies at all.
I still occasionally buy new and trendy items, but when my embellishment basket starts getting too full, I know it’s time to purge.
Scrapbooking is more leisurely and enjoyable now, and I feel like it has a purpose.
Also see: The Scrapbook Diet: Frequently Asked Questions, Scrapbook Page Makeovers, and Organizing Memorabilia.