Beginner's Guide to Scrapbooking

scrapbooking with bright colorful materials
  • 3-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-50
What You'll Need
Decorative paper
Colored tape
Photo holders

The idea of scrapbooking is always a little bit exciting. Everyone has loose photos, ticket stubs, and little pieces of memories. Scrapbooking is one of the best ways to organize all those loose items into a pretty, artistic design. The trouble is that scrapbooking seems really easy—until you try to do it. Learn a few basics of scrapbooking, and you'll appreciate the joyful celebration of your memories your whole life long.

Choose a Theme

Lots of beginning scrapbookers make the common mistake of trying to squeeze too many memories into one scrapbook. Remember, you can always make multiple books, and this often works much better than trying to create one or even two really huge collections. Pick a central theme for your scrapbook, and only include items and photos that meet this theme.

For example, make a baby book filled with memories from baby's first year, a graduation present scrapbook filled with memories from high school or college, or a scrapbook filled with memories from years of sporting events or concerts. If you're going to do a general "life" scrapbook featuring all sorts of memories, narrow it down to a specific time period. Don't try to squeeze an entire life into one book—choose just five or perhaps ten years of memories to focus on.

scrapbooking with materials and a blank pink page

Gather Your Materials

Once you have a theme for your scrapbook, assemble the tools and items you'll need. Pick all the stubs, photos, scraps, and other items from your collection that match the theme. Now, you know what needs to go into the book.

In order to create a good scrapbook, you're going to want to have the right tools. Get some pretty paper, some colorful tape, stickers, and a pair of sturdy scissors. You may also want some paper glue. Choose acid-free glue and tape to protect the scrapbook and all the items inside.

Pick a Layout

The real trick to scrapbooking is treating each page as its own work of art. Each blank page needs a layout. To do this, pick a central photo or item to display on each page. Around this, add related items. For instance, you may have a picture of yourself rocking out at a concert. Place this prominently on the page and surround it with concert ticket stubs and other items that you may have collected from your concert experiences.

Don't over-crowd. You want each and every item to be visible. Don't be afraid to have white space, because a little separation between elements creates a nice balance. When you add embellishments like colorful tape and pretty paper, be sure they're adding beauty to the page but not distracting from the meaningful pieces you're trying to display. Save these decorative items for the margins of the page and to add a little pop to blank spaces where needed.

Test your layout by placing items on the page without using glue or tape first. Move things around until you see a design that looks good before you finalize the arrangement. Remember to allow your glue to dry before you turn the page and start working on a new section of your scrapbook.

scrapbooking with baby pictures

Dos and Don'ts for Scrapbooking

Do get creative! Add little bits of fabric, ribbon, and buttons to your pages, if you want. A scrapbook about concerts may have a piece of leather on a rock concert page, or denim on a country music page, for instance. Just remember that less is more when it comes to embellishments. You don't want these to outshine the items that truly matter in the book.

Do use photo holders. Decorative corners add a classic look to your scrapbook, and they help hold those important pictures in place.

Do add words. Include funny quotes, lines from songs, inside jokes, or little sayings that evoke the particular memories you're displaying in your scrapbook. Words, when beautifully written or printed in a decorative font, add a whole new layer to your scrapbook. As long as you don't overdo it, words are a wonderful addition to scrapbooks.

Don't cut pictures! You may be tempted to cut pictures or other items down to size or play around with cutting them into different shapes. Ultimately, you won't like the way this looks. Keep all your items intact, even photos, and you'll end up with a much nicer, neater-looking scrapbook.

Don't use glitter. Scrapbooking is a fun way to exercise your creative DIY skills, and there are lots of opportunities for embellishment. But no matter what you do, avoid glitter. As any crafty DIYer knows, glitter has a way of getting all over everything. If you use even a tiny bit of glitter, eventually you will see glitter on every single page of your scrapbook.

Don't add coins. They seem like a great embellishment for travel scrapbooks and they're definitely interesting, but coins can sink any scrapbook. They're heavy, they're hard to attach, and they're going to fall off in time. Just avoid them, because they really won't work. If you want to add some foreign currency as an embellishment to a scrapbook, stick to bills.