17 Great Scrapbook Ideas to Preserve Your Family Memories

Photo: Johnny Miller

A nostalgic link to the past, scrapbooks hold everything from crinkled letters and train tickets to newspaper clippings or a candid shot of a loved one we wouldn't dare to lose. Your scrapbook can be whatever you'd like to make it. Family history is always an engaging subject, but even episodic moments of life can make for great creative fodder.

And not every scrapbook needs to be an actual book—a few ingenious ideas turn the concept on its head, from tins to folders and more. Some of our best tips and techniques for new scrapbookers have to do with the book or vessel itself, and all it takes to customize the cover is some creative thinking. As pictured here, you can instantly transform simple school binders into something special with cloth covers. After covering, we used one of our custom templates to iron on floral-shaped transfers, giving the binders a modern look. Here, we're sharing our best scrapbook ideas for all of life's little moments that need safekeeping.

01 of 16

Tools and Materials

Ribbon Photo Scrapbook
Damian Russell

Before you begin, you'll need a few items on hand to keep everything looking clean. Start by acquiring a craft knife, sharp scissors, a bone folder, and a screw punch if you don't already have them in your craft supplies. Then, choose your scrapbook with care: While you can make your own, purchasing a bound book is a good idea. Consider factors such as the binding and page count, and choose your materials and palette based on the theme, person, or event you plan on commemorating. It's a good idea to find solid and patterned paper that matches the items you are archiving.

Because you'll be working with small bits and pieces, you should look for fine-tip pens and adhesives (such as a glue stick or roller). Try to source archival or acid-free products that are designed to last longer. Office supplies such as labels and envelopes work for housing keepsakes.

02 of 16

Mini Books Within a Scrapbook

Gentl and Hyers

Create small albums for your scrapbook, each with a story to tell—the ones here are devoted to family and summer friends. Stiff covers, paper spines, and corner covers give them a fancy hardcover feel; the book on top has a closure fashioned out of a paper fastener and string.

03 of 16

Collected Memories Scrapbook

Johnny Miller

Compiling "remember when" moments in an album and presenting them to a friend makes the bonds even stronger. Use our template with the headings "How We Met," "My Favorite Memory," and "Our Biggest Laugh," or make and write your own.

Download the template. Print in multiples, trim to size, and distribute to other contributors with a deadline and self-addressed stamped envelopes, also requesting photos and friend-related memorabilia. Then, insert the responses into transparent sleeves in a book, and present the honoree with what's sure to be a much-cherished trip down memory lane.

04 of 16

Polaroid Scrapbook

polaroid scrapbook
Lucas Allen

A fantastic idea for guests attending a birthday party, this scrapbook makes use of fun Polaroid-style shots that are instantly developed on the spot. At a party or an event, use an instant camera to catch candid shots in action, set up a table with a laid-out album, tape, and a pen. The rest is up to your guests.

Shop Now: Polaroid Instant Camera, from $119, us.polaroidoriginals.com; Newport Scrapbook 11x14, $49, kolo.com; Recollections Rose Gold Washi Tape, $4.99, michaels.com.

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Family Photo Scrapbook

mixbook everyday design
Courtesy of Mixbook

Creating a beautiful, personalized scrapbook has never been easier. In collaboration with Mixbook, Martha created her own collection of scrapbooks for you and your family to fill with your most precious memories.

Shop Now: Martha Stewart x Mixbook "Floral" Family Photo Album, from $56.10, mixbook.com.

06 of 16

Folding Travel Scrapbook


Who says pop up books are just for kids? Enlarge photos from a recent adventure and create accordion fold outs, which can be achieved using a bone folder to make sharp creases. These inserts, pasted into an ordinary journal of your choice, add an element of surprise to the story of the trip and convey some of the city's grandeur.

Shop Now: Lineco Bone Folder, $7, amazon.com.

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Nature Scrapbook

Nature Scrapbook
Johnny Miller

Pressing dried leaves and flowers is a great way to create unique art for your home. But if you're traveling abroad, or simply don't wish to disturb the natural beauty of your locale, why not try photographing them instead? Take a snapshot with your smartphone, edit accordingly, and print the photos for a scrapbook. You can also include them alongside children's sketches of nature or your own.

08 of 16

Monogrammed Scrapbook

Johnny Miller

Here's a way to create a scrapbook that's as special as the photos and other keepsakes it holds. Start with a fabric-covered album, and personalize it with decorative touches. We modified this one in two ways: covering the plain pages with patterned papers and adding a metallic monogram to the cover. Instead of using self-adhesive photo corners, cut slits in the decorative papers and slide in your pictures and card stock labels. It's pretty and simple to do.

Shop Now: Medium Script Cake Stencil, 1.75", $30, designerstencils.com; Craft Smart Acrylic Craft Paint, in Gold, $5.49, michaels.com.

09 of 16

Sketch Scrapbook


Think of a scrapbook as a traveling companion. When Martha Stewart Weddings editor at large Darcy Miller took a three-week trip to Africa, she brought along a blank book (light enough to carry in her bag) and a small kit—including scissors, magic markers, rubber cement, and a portable watercolor set. "I'd take my book out while the guide was talking about something, a tree or flower, and sketch it," she said in the August 1998 issue of Martha Stewart Living. "By drawing something, you have to really look at it, which forces you to 'see' it." When you return home, you can pair your sketches with photos from your experiences.

Shop Now: Strathmore Sketch Pad, $4.19, michaels.com; Elmer's Rubber Cement, $3.99, michaels.com; Artist's Loft Necessities Watercolor Pan Set, $6.99, michaels.com.

10 of 16

Pet Scrapbook

green and blue pet scrapbook
Johnny Miller

Here's a great gift for someone who's just adopted a new pet: Start a scrapbook to document their life with their new companion. Fill the pages with information about their new family member: Their family pedigree if they're a purebred, or adoption papers if they're a rescue; any photos from the breeder or shelter, or classified ads; photos of the pet's parents or littermates; ID tags; a first collar; a favorite toy; the box top from a favorite treat; and heartfelt memories from your first meeting, whether those are written or in visual form. You can continue to fill the pages with new memories as time goes on.

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School Scrapbook

Elmer's CraftBond Extra Strength Glue Stick
Gemma Comas

A scrapbook can help organize and proudly display the steady stream of photographs, artwork, awards, and other keepsakes that accrue during a young person's school years. Here, we taped two pieces of standard notebook paper together, from short end to short end; trim the width if necessary to fit the scrapbook pages. Then, fold the paper up from the bottom, and make pockets in desired depths. Stitch the sides to scrapbook pages with a sewing machine to secure, or simply glue with an archival glue stick.

Shop Now: Elmer's CraftBond Extra Strength Glue Stick, $4.99, michaels.com.

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Ribbon Photo Scrapbook

Ribbon Photo Scrapbook
Lisa Hubbard

If you're working with very fragile photos, historical documents, recipe cards, or anything that can easily tear or be tarnished, you'll want to avoid destructive tape and glue. These ribbon mounts allow you to secure items to the scrapbook page without damaging them. Start with a three-inch strip of grosgrain ribbon; fold both ends down at the midpoint to form a triangle, and then iron it out. Repeat the process until you have two or four ribbons for each item. Attach them to the photo by slipping the triangle (with the seams in the rear) over the corners, and use acid-free double-sided photo tape to affix them to album pages.

Shop Now: Gwen Studios Grosgrain Ribbon Roll, 1.5", $13.99, michaels.com; Scotch Photo Safe Double-Sided Tape, $5.14, amazon.com.

13 of 16

Map Scrapbooks

Raymond Hom

Upcycle the maps you used on a journey through foreign lands as the show-stopping features of a new travel scrapbook. The printed papers become colorful and fitting backdrops for vacation memories.

14 of 16

Newborn Baby Memories Scrapbook

Storybook with Classic Font
Seth Smoot

Martha herself shared this precious idea back in the December 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living. Our founder created four printed-and-bound photo stories of special moments in her granddaughter Jude's first months as a newborn. Then, Martha gifted the set to Jude and her own daughter Alexis for Christmas.

Shop Now: Storybook with Classic Font, from $54.99, pinholepress.com.

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Kids' Memorabilia Scrapbook

Kids' Memorabilia Scrapbook
Gentl and Hyers

Tiny treasures like stickers, buttons, or stamps are easier to enjoy and store when they're glued to folded pages. Measure and mark a long strip of paper or card stock with its short side matching the long side of a small box. Accordion-fold the strip and glue the first page to the inside of the box's lid and the last page to the inside of the box's bottom.

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Memory Flip Book

Johnny Miller

A video of a baby's first steps, a tossed wedding bouquet, or a less-than-perfect attempt at a high dive can be transformed into a keep-at-hand photo flip book forever. These small flip books, just about three-and-a-half inches by two inches, are perfect party favors and can be slipped into muslin drawstring bags for guests.

Shop Now: Custom Flip Picture Book, starting at $2 per book, flipclips.com.

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