17 Great Scrapbook Ideas and Albums to Preserve Your Family Memories
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a scrapbook, with its photographs and mementos, is worth many more. Scrapbooks serve as a nostalgic link to the past and some of our best memories; they can hold everything from crinkled letters to a punched train ticket, a faded newspaper clipping to a well-worn recipe card, 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 in your life can make for great creative fodder. Last year's trip to Europe, or a year in elementary school, can provide more than just photos to preserve in your scrapbook's pages. These ideas are perfect for multiple mediums: They can support the weight of small objects like identification badges or recipe cards, and some are designed to preserve untarnished photographs without resorting to glue or tape, like our ribbon-enhanced book tip.
But some of our best tips and techniques for new scrapbookers have to do with the actual book itself. Customizing your book's cover is easy with a bit of creative thinking, and you can inject new, gift-worthy energy into an otherwise old tradition by focusing on the book's cover. 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 that give the binders a modern, screen-printed look.
Not every scrapbook needs to be an actual book, however; a few ingenious ideas turn the concept on its head, from tins to folders and more. Here, we're sharing our best scrapbook ideas for all of life's little moments that need to be paid homage in print.
Creating a beautiful personalized scrapbook has never been easier. In collaboration with Mixbook, Martha created her own collection of beautiful scrapbooks for you and your family to fill with your most precious memories.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart x Mixbook "Floral" Family Photo Album, from $47.50, mixbook.com.
Tools and Materials
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 bounded 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, because these will preserve your pages. Office supplies such as labels and envelopes work for housing keepsakes.
Mini Books Within a Scrapbook
Create small albums for your scrapbook, each with a story to tell—the ones here are devoted to family and summer friends. Using stiff paper covers along with paper spines and corner give them a fancy hardcover feel; the book on top has a closure fashioned out of a paper fastener and string.
Collected Memories Scrapbook
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.
A fantastic idea for guests attending a birthday party, this scrapbook makes use of fun Polaroid-style shots that can be 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.
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.
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 them accordingly, and print them in a scrapbook. You can also include them alongside children's sketches of nature or your own.
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.
You can also try thinking 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.
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.
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, $3.49, michaels.com.
Ribbon Photo Scrapbook
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 these 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.
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.
Newborn Baby Memories Scrapbook
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 $59, pinholepress.com.
Kids' Memorabilia Scrapbook
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.
Shop Now: Office by Martha Stewart Stack + Fit File Box in Blue, $16, staples.com.
Memory Flip Book
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 for enjoyment 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, flipclips.com.