I make a scrapbook for just about any major event or trip in my life. I made three for my wedding alone (one for the engagement, one for the wedding, and one for the honeymoon), and every vacation my husband and I take gets documented in its own book. The problem with doing such large, themed scrapbooks is that there’s a lot of stuff that goes in them, and it usually belongs in some sort of chronological order. With piles of photos, souvenirs, and mementos, keeping everything straight while you work on the book over several months can be a daunting task, but I have worked out a sure-fire way to keep it all straight.
The first step is journaling. Every time a trip or event is over (and often during or on the way home), I immediately sit at my computer and write down everything that happened each day. I write down the stories and the inside jokes, and everything I remember from the event or trip. I know it’s going to take me months to finish this scrapbook, and I don’t care how good you think your memory is, you will NOT remember all these things a few months from now — or even a few weeks from now! Write down all those cherished memories while you’ve still got them.
Then I print out all of my journaling in a nice font in narrow columns on simple paper. I split it into sections based on days or activities, and cut each section apart. For example, when we went on an Alaskan cruise, I had sections for each day of the trip, each city we traveled to, and each activity we did there. It is far easier to print these all out at once and have them at your fingertips later as you work on the book.
Once I have all of my journaling printed, I put the pieces of paper on a large table, in chronological order. I then pull out the giant bag of souvenirs and photos I collected on the trip and start putting each item on top of the journaling section that it corresponds to. Ticket stub from the whale-watching tour? That goes with Day 4, spent in Juneau. Photos of the Historic Moore Homestead? That goes with Day 5, spent in Skagway.
By the time I’ve gone through every souvenir and photo, I’ve built up quite a few piles of goodies, all sorted by event and all in order. How many of you have ever worked on a scrapbook and been almost done when you found a photo you wish you’d included on an earlier page, but now it’s too late? Sort everything out now, and that’ll never happen again.
Now that everything is sorted so nicely, you need to keep it that way. For this task, I pull out a trusty old binder (it doesn’t have to be pretty) and I fill it with top-loading plastic page protectors. I then take each little pile of mementos and put them into a separate page protector. I make sure to include everything and keep it all in order, and by the time the binder is full, I’ve got myself a totally organized collection of everything that will go in the scrapbook, and it only took a couple of hours to do.
Neat, right? Yes, but you haven’t even heard the best part yet. You know how every time you sit down to work on your scrapbooks, you usually first have to choose what book to work on, then what page, then which pictures, then you have to find everything that goes with it. Then you might have to go to the computer for awhile to print out some journaling or photos for that page. And if you’re not at home at the time, you can’t get to your computer and your stuff. It can easily take you a half hour or more just to collect everything for your page, before you even get to work on it.
But not with my system! I sit at my desk, take out the binder, take out whatever is in the next page protector, and I start scrapbooking 30 seconds later. It is so much easier you won’t believe it. I’m also far more likely to work on pages in my free time if I know that everything is ready and waiting for me.
Give it a whirl. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
The one thing you may be wondering is how well it works to print out the journaling ahead of time, and have them fit on your pages. I find that it works great as long as I keep them pretty small and use a neutral paper. Having a consistent format for all the journaling lends a nice consistency to the album, too. Sometimes you’ll have one or two journaling sections and lots of photos on a page (See Figure 1 and 2) and sometimes you’ll have lots of journaling and few photos (See Figure 3). It always just seems to work out!
P.S. When you travel on vacation, keep an eye out for custom scrapbook albums that feature the places you’re visiting. I spotted an Alaska scrapbook album (that featured a cruise ship and a map of the state) in a little shop in Anchorage, and it was so perfect that I bought it right away. (See Figure 4) When I returned home I found that they weren’t available anywhere in my local stores or on the internet. I was so glad I had purchased that album when I did!