Scrapbooking 101 for moms

What do you do with your family pictures? Saving them in an original scrapbook is one way to preserve memories and express yourself creatively. Here’s how to get started making a photo scrapbook album!

Scrapbooking Group

Collect & organize

Family pictures mean a lot to me, but I will admit that envelopes full of photo prints sit around my house for a month or six until my husband takes the kids to the matinee or a birthday party and I have the house to myself. This is my cue to brew a cup of herbal tea, turn off my phone, and escape to my photos. I put this time to good use.

For my daughter’s 10th birthday, I made her a present that told a story nobody else can tell. It was a scrapbook that started with an engagement picture of her father and me. The next photo was from our wedding, then a picture of me the day I found out that we were expecting a baby: her.

Each month, my husband took a picture of my growing abdomen, and I included these pictures in her scrapbook. The following pages starred my daughter, minutes — then hours — after birth. Next were 10 years of milestones — first laugh, crawling, the first tooth, walking, holidays, the first day of school, her Girl Scout initiation, and some pictures that were taken simply because she is so cute!

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I put these pictures together in a sturdy album that will outlast the days when Amber shows it to her grandchildren. When Amber opened this gift on her birthday, she let the toys sit while she looked through the book over and over again, asking questions with each page.

I continue to provide her with snapshots to add to the scrapbook (thank goodness for double prints and photo software!). My hope is that Amber will cherish this book as much as I enjoyed giving it to her, and that history will repeat itself when she becomes a mother.

Now let the fun begin!

With newborn brother

Okay, so you now want to scrapbook but are a little overwhelmed by big stacks of photos and all the cool scrapbooking trinkets and knick-knacks. Never fear. A little organization and forward thinking is all you need to begin.

The first step is to organize your photos. You can use paper envelopes to store them, or, if you want to be really sure that they won’t turn yellow or crinkle with age, consider purchasing archival-quality photo storage boxes. (Archival means the container’s materials have a low alkaline or neutral pH level and the contents will be protected for a very long time.)

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Organize the photos by subject, year, person, or category of choice, such as Christmas or Birthdays. Write down anything you can remember about each picture on the back with a photo-suitable marker (i.e., one with ink that won’t show on the photo side, nor will it leave indentations from the pen.)

Now that you have selected a picture or two — or six — to start with, choose a category, then start with a simple idea such as “Last Year’s Vacation” or “10 Things I Love about Amber.”

Other ideas are Sleeping Bag Beauty for camping photos, Pony Express when a child has his first pony ride, and Beach Blanket Babes for a trip to the shore. Or, you may take a different approach that does not include a theme. Regardless, the pictures do not have to be in chronological order.

Do, however, be selective. “Don’t feel obligated to put every picture into a scrapbook,” says Lori Renn, a scrapbooking instructor at Cut N Paste in Boise, Idaho. “If you love a picture and it speaks to you, put it in your scrapbook. It’s all about getting your feelings down on paper,” says Lori.


For most scrapbookers, the first step in putting a page together is to trim around the focal point of each picture and discard the scraps. Usually, only a fraction of a typical photo envelope’s contents will make its way to your scrapbook.

Beware of cutting older, family photos that have no duplicates or negatives. Have a copy print made, and cut the copy instead of the original. (Note: Cutting original Polaroid photos may not be a good idea since the chemicals used to develop the photos may be released and ruin the picture.)

Plan your layout

Next, you are ready to work on your page layout. Prepare a dry run (without adhesive) of your photos and artwork simply by placing the photos and other decorative items on a page. For inspiration, take a look at Creative Sketching for Scrapbooking, Volume Two by Becky Higgins (Creative Keepsakes, 2005).

Renn adds that beginners can benefit by “visiting a local scrapbooking supply store and looking at the samples put together by the design team. Decide what supplies you want to use and which types of layouts you like. In time, your own style will form.”

Words of wisdom

Store your scrapbook albums away from the dampness and excessive heat found in basements and attics, and also avoid direct sunlight. This shouldn’t be a problem, because you will probably want the books close at hand to show off when family or friends visit!

If you’re making a scrapbook for someone else, want to share your layouts with distant relatives or just want to preserve a backup copy, take photos or scan your scrapbook pages. 

Keep your own copy, send some out and post them online. After all — your memories are meant to be shared, and to last for generations!


More memory making at SheKnows


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