This post is the fifth in a series devoted to Scrapbooking Shortcuts. To read the first four, follow these links:
- Introduction: Making Scrapbooks for Multiple Children
- First Things First: 4 Steps to Getting Started
- Sorting: How to Get Organized without Getting Overwhelmed
- Scrapbooking Supplies: The Bare Essentials
Then check back next Saturday, as we continue this series weekly.
Several years ago, my kids and I participated in a homeschool co-op that met every Monday morning from 8:00 until noon. In order to participate, I was required to volunteer three of the four class periods (I taught science, logic, and charcoal drawing), but the fourth I got to spend visiting with the other moms who were free that same period.
More often than not, we’d work on scrapbooks while we talked.
Some of these friends were professionals. They made money to support their scrapbooking habit by selling supplies to other scrapbooking friends.
And I will be the first to admit, they came up with some very cute and creative layouts.
But while they would often spend the full fifty minutes working on a single page — embellishing, journaling, using stickers to spell out names and titles — I would routinely knock out twelve to fifteen pages in the same amount of time, week after week after week.
Not only did I spend a fraction of the time on my pages, but I also spent a fraction of the money — yet the pages still look great and are packed with details, in my own handwriting, even.
Want to know my secret?
I think the best way to explain is to provide a few real-life examples. These pages are from my youngest daughter’s album, but they illustrate many of my favorite time and money saving techniques:
Focus on the Photos:
I’ve noticed when my children are looking through their scrapbooks, they spend a lot more time studying the photographs than admiring embellishments. In fact, they’ll barely even pause on a page that has only one or two photographs, no matter how cute the layout looks or how much time I invested putting it all together.
That’s why I try to pack as many pictures per page as I possibly can without making them look crowded or cluttered. In my opinion, the pictures are the main attraction in memory books and should therefore take center stage. The stamps and stickers and stuff are just filler and should be used sparingly.
One very simple way I make pages pop is by keeping the colors consistent across a two-page spread. If I have a lot of photos and/or memorabilia from one month (as when a new baby has been born or our family has gone on vacation), I sort them according to color, then coordinate scrapbooking papers and hand lettering ink to match.
Add Memorabilia with Meaning:
This particular scrapbook contains more stickers and diecuts than I’d normally use. That’s because the book and matching embellishments were packaged as a kit, which I bought secondhand (but new and unopened) at a consignment sale for just a couple of bucks shortly before my daughter was born.
Even so, you can tell in these pictures that most of the things I’ve included along with the photos hold special meaning for our family, much more so than would some cutesy sticker I purchased at a craft store: the baby’s hospital wristband, a copy of her birth certificate, greeting cards friends sent to congratulate us, a printout of the huge breakfast I ate after the delivery, a ribbon from a baby gift, a lid from one of the dozens of cups of juice they served me while I was in the hospital.
I prefer to use those kinds of meaningful “embellishments” in all my memory books — ticket stubs, brochures from places we visit, my children’s artwork, ribbons they win, etc.
Crop Creatively and Consistently:
Part of what keeps my pages looking neat is that I am careful to line up the edges of photos so that the margins between them and around the edge of the page are consistently spaced. If I want to include more photos on a page than will fit full size, I trim the edges to shrink them down a bit (being careful not to crop out any important background stuff).
I try to keep roughly 1/8″- 1/4″ buffer space between all my photos and other keepsakes. If two photos will be stacked one above the other, I make sure their widths either match exactly or are obviously different (by a third or more) — not nearly-the-same-size-but-just-a-little-off.
A small, handheld trimmer makes it fast and easy to measure and cut straight, perfect edges accordingly.
Use Scrapbook Papers Sparingly
It’s easy to add pizzazz to your pages with patterned paper, but it has never made much sense (or cents) to me to spend a lot of money on something that will be mostly covered up by photos. So to make my papers last longer, I use try to make more efficient use of them.
By cutting one 12″ x 12″ sheet of scrapbook paper into 1″ strips and using them only on the outside edges of the page, I can make a dozen pages for the price of one. That’s six, two-page spreads out of a single sheet of paper!
If you alternate borders on consecutive pages with complementary colors and designs, you can finish a 36-48 page book with less than $1 worth of patterned paper, and still enjoy variety while maintaining a consistent theme throughout.
Copy your Calendars
I like to include some journaling in each of my children’s books, but if I had to write detailed descriptions on every page of a dozen different scrapbooks, I’d never be done. So to save time, I record important daily details on a master family calendar — complete with cute little illustrations of the big stuff — then make enough copies for each child to have the whole set incorporated into their memory books.
This habit also makes it easy to put photos in chronological order, whenever I get behind in my scrapbooking.
If you’d like to give this journaling tip a try, but are not artistically inclined, you can print copies of my hand-drawn calendars to use in your books, too. You’ll find them near the top of our free printables page, under “Scrapbooking Calendars.”
Learn to Letter by Hand
Rather than spending money on alphabet stamps, stickers, or diecuts, and using those to painstakingly spell out each and every heading, I suggest you invest in a good set of double-tipped, archival-quality scrapbook markers.
Using the broad tip, practice lettering in a couple different styles until you can do it quickly and consistently, then do your own headings by hand. This saves SO MUCH TIME in the long run. Plus, you can adjust the height and width of anything you are writing to fit into whatever white space you have available on a particular page.
And that’s the nitty-gritty of how I save time and money in making my memory books. What tips would you add to this list?