Scrapbooking to Save Summer Memories
By Lise Gagnon

We all have a place where we keep that stash of photographs, playbills, graduation notices, blue ribbons – pieces of our family’s lives that we’ve saved because they’re special to us. Yet despite their importance, we box and stack our photographs and mementos in ways that are not only unfit for display, but are also actually destructive to them.

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Are yours in boxes in the attic or the garage? Possibly in bags under the bed or in your closet? The bottom drawer of your dresser? As an amateur photographer, my stash is in a fairly impressive collection of boxes in my closet. Even with the best of intentions, the idea of organizing all of those photographs into respectable albums can be overwhelming.

Last year, however, my kids and I began to actually enjoy tackling those boxes together.  What changed? I went to a scrapbooking party, and it was just the inspiration I needed to get started.

Now, the organized side of me enjoys putting the photos and mementos all neatly together, but I also love going through each piece and thinking of family time. We laugh and smile and talk about each activity as we record it into our albums, and end up enjoying the time together as much as the finished product – a scrapbook that we can go back to again and again. 

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Scrapbooking is easy to do, and getting started only requires a few basics that can be found in most craft stores, including:

• scissors,
• pens and/or markers,
• paper accents and decorative items,

• adhesives, and

• a scrapbook or photo album.

It’s important that all of the supplies you use are photo safe (acid-free and lignin-free) so that the scrapbook doesn’t yellow or crack with age. Other than that, you and the kids can choose the other needed items based on your personal preferences.

Step 1: Last Things First – Choose Recent Photos

That teetering stack of boxes in your closet can provide most of what you’ll need to fill your scrapbook. Before you start wading through the decades of your life, however, there’s an easier way to approach it: begin with the most recent items, like this summer’s photographs. The kids are out of school now, and you’ll have photos of everything from backyard barbecues to summer birthday parties and the family vacation.

You can sort the older stack of mementos and pictures later, and manage the accumulation by doing just a few pages each time you sit down to scrapbook.

Step 2: Select Your Shapes, Colors and Themes

Once you have your supplies and some photos, you can get started on the first page of your summer album. Begin by cutting out your pictures. Instead of adding each photograph directly, cut these into interesting shapes to help direct the focus to the subject of the picture or to cut out extra background.

Arrange the photos on your page with colorful paper accents that bring out the colors in your photographs. Add pieces of memorabilia, such as tickets, cards or invitations. Once you’re satisfied with the layout, use the adhesives to attach all the pieces to the album page.

Step 3: Write It All Down

The final step is very important: documenting. While all the faces and circumstances in the album are familiar to you, future generations might need a little more information. This can be as simple as adding the date, names next to the pictures or a single line describing the activity.

The most important instruction I ever received on this was that, even if you think your handwriting isn’t very nice, write anyway! Your handwriting is part of who you are, and your children will someday be glad that another piece of your personality was included in the family album. 

Saving Summer Memories: An Activity for the Kids

In addition to influencing the family album, you can extend the priceless record of your child’s voice by working up to a special end-of-summer project just for them – starting their own scrapbook. Choose a small album (7” x 7” is a manageable size for most children), and some basic kid-safe supplies and decorations in their favorite colors and themes. Safety scissors with different cutting patterns on the blades are a great addition for adding new borders to photos while keeping kids’ fingers safe from jabs and cuts. With their own supplies and your guidance, they’ll be able to put together an album illustrating their personal impressions of the family events.

I have found that each time we put together a few more pages in our family albums, we smile and relive the good times we had at each of the year’s events. We now also have an opportunity to share that happiness with friends, family and future generations, reflecting our lives as the years pass. It’s an activity we didn’t get to enjoy when everything was stuffed in the closet.


Great places to help you get started on your scrapbooks:

A Little Crafty, Rustic Woods Drive at W. Lake Houston Pkwy., Kingwood, 281-360-5530.

Maridawn’s Scrapbook Store; 870 S. Mason Road, Suite 130, Katy, 281-392-3033;

Scrapbook Superstore of Texas, 17817 FM 529, Suite 112, 281-550-2000;

The Lone Star Scrapbook Co., 27842 I-45 North, The Woodlands, 281-296-2296;

the Scrapbook Place,  14070 Memorial Drive, 281-558-4160; in Bellaire, 4061 H. Bellaire Blvd., 713-838-2767;

The Scrapbook Village, 3424 FM 1092 Suite 270, Missouri City, 281-208-5251.

Helpful Web Sites and Publications

Creating Keepsakes, a national monthly subscription magazine and Web site with lots of great scrapbooking ideas and resources. $24.97 for 12 issues. 888-247-5282;

Creative Memories, an online source for scrapbook supplies and local consulting, classes, shows and workshops. 800-341-5275; Contact local Unit Leader Tabatha Carey at 281-392-5614.

Scrapbook.Meetup.Com, an online forum for scrapbooking enthusiasts, with workshop, supply and resource listings.

Simple Scrapbooks, a national bimonthly subscription magazine and Web site featuring simplified patterns and plans for themed scrapbooks. $19.99 for six issues. 866-334-8149;