Do You Have to Have Kids in Order to Scrapbook?

Recently, I overheard a woman in the craft store say to her companion, “I’m interested in scrapbooking, but I don’t have any kids—it seems like the only reason people make scrapbooks is to hand them down to their children. I guess it’s not for me.”

I wanted to tell this woman about a friend of mine, an avid scrapbooker who doesn’t have children. Instead, she makes albums of her own life, her hobbies, job and family. And yes, she sometimes scrapbooks photos of kids—but they’re her nieces and nephews. I wanted to encourage the woman in the store to give scrapbooking a try, and to reassure her that this craft is creative, rewarding and has meaning—whether or not you’ve got children.

scrapbook project

College students or those just starting out on their own experience a lot of firsts, like first car, apartment and job. Those are great topics to include in an album about you. Page reprinted from Scrapbook Recipes for Journaling.

Most people start scrapbooking because of an event or life change. For some, that’s a baby. For some, a wedding. And for others, it’s a great vacation where they took a lot of photos. But those aren’t the only things you can scrapbook. Make an album of your pet. (If that sounds silly, you’d be surprised how many people do it! After all, pets are like family.) Scrapbook your job, your hobbies, your friends, your family.

Think of it this way: Lots of people keep a journal. Do they intend to hand it down to future generations? Some do, some don’t. Most keep it for themselves. My scrapbook is a bit like a journal, in that I‘m capturing my life with writing and photographs. Whether you’re passing it on or not really doesn’t matter. Do it for you.

scrapbook project

LeNae uses an 8”x8” heritage album for those old family photos. Notice that she didn’t use military papers, but evoked the theme by choosing red, white and blue papers and adding number cut-outs and journaling. Page uses papers and cut-outs from 8”x8” Heritage Papers.

Weddings, vacations, jobs and hobbies are great for theme albums, and an 8"x8" size is perfect—it’s just big enough to capture the memories and hold the photos without being a giant project. There’s a definite beginning and end, so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

The one thing I would advise all new scrappers is this: Don’t be literal when looking for themed supplies. If you’re scrapbooking your trip to Hawaii, don’t feel like you can only use Hawaiian-themed papers or embellishments. You’ll go crazy looking all over for these items, which you might buy simply because of the theme, instead of picking supplies that match your photos. Here’s what I do: Based on the photos, I pick three Colors—two main colors and one accent. For a heritage page, that might be black and cream with a few accents of red to brighten it up. For a Hawaiian-themed layout, I might pick blue and white with a little green. Look at your photos and see what colors stand out, then choose papers in those colors.

One last thing—don’t feel as though every page in your album has to use the same papers! It’s a lot more fun (and less stress) to choose papers that suit the photos rather than trying to make the whole album color-coordianate.

scrapbook project

How to Speak Scrapper, page 53 of 2336 with caption: Hobbies play an important part of our lives. What are the hobbies you’re passionate about? With LeNae, it’s scrapbooking, but you could adapt this layout to just about anything: hiking, reading, traveling and so on. Page reprinted from Scrapbook Recipes for Journaling.

Chronological Albums
Chronological albums are those that follow a specific timeline, and the theme is usually more general than a specific vacation or event. Think of family albums, for example. They usually contain birthday, Christmas, and holidays all in one book. A 12"x12" album is great for this. You might try a Year in the Life album (or Decade in the Life) and document your own personal journey.

Advice to Newbies
Whatever album size or style you choose, remember that this doesn’t have to be an art form. Start simply. Don’t cut any of your photos, just dress them up with a simple mat. Do this by gluing your photo to a piece of plain paper and trimming all around to leave a border around all four sides of the photo. This mat can be wide (1/2") or very thin (1/16"). Place it on your background paper. Add journaling, which is the story behind the photo. Write this on a piece of paper and glue it next to the photo, or computer journal it and print it out, then add it to the page. (Don’t forget to use acid-free paper!)

About Journaling
Journaling, telling the story behind the photo, is just as important as the photo itself. More than photos, it’s the story that usually gets lost or forgotten over the years. It’s ultimately the most telling part of a scrapbook, the part that you’ll want to read over when you look at your albums again in a year, two years, or ten years. Don’t worry about your writing skills—that’s not as important as writing clearly and honestly. Remember, you don’t have to show anyone your scrapbooks if you don’t want to.

In the end, creating a scrapbook has less to do with who you plan to hand it down to, and more to do with capturing the stories from today. Your life is worth recording right here, right now—whether or not you’ve got kids to scrapbook. Tell your story! In the years to come, you’ll be glad you did.

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