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How to Scrapbook Faster

Updated on August 29, 2016

Christmas Book


Scrapping Faster and Easier

If you’re a scrapbooker, you probably know that feeling that there are too many pictures and not enough time. Sometimes, the feeling is so overwhelming that it can take all the fun out of my favorite hobby. I know one friend who almost wanted to stop taking pictures so that she could catch up with the ones she already had! I was in a scrapbooking funk when I visited a friend who showed me her Christmas book. She had done a two-page spread of Christmas for every year they’d been married.

I loved looking at this one book and seeing how her family had grown and changed over the years. Suddenly, I realized that theme books like this were an answer to my feeling of being overwhelmed by trying to do a chronological story of our life. Moreover, since we usually write a Christmas letter every year, I realized that if I included the letter in a pocket on the spread, I would have a way to document all of the major family events for the year in just two pages. I've since made many theme scrapbooks for seasons and things like birthdays and vacations. Here are some of my tips:

Birthday Album


1. Use the Same Template for Each Year

Making each year’s page using the same template is one idea which will help speed up your book. Of course, many scrapbookers like to use lots of different page templates and that is part of the fun and creativity of the craft, but if you want to speed up completing this book, a common template will help you out.

Additionally, because part of the fun of a Christmas or another themed book is comparing the pictures year by year, a template makes that easier to do. One easy template would be to have the journaling (perhaps a pocket for a Christmas letter), date and a single picture of the family on the first page. The second page could be nine squares which could be filled with a combination of pictures, journaling, or embellishments. Sometimes, two pages aren’t enough to tell the whole Christmas story, so you might want to add another double page spread to tell the rest of that year’s story.

Church Events


Coordinate Colors and Embellishments

Whether you choose to do a template or not, you can bring unity to your book by choosing a common color scheme or embellishment theme throughout. Choosing a set of papers and embellishments ahead of time also speeds up your scrapping. Of course, you can choose traditional colors like red and green for Christmas, or orange and black for Halloween, but you can choose to follow your own favorite color scheme. Do you have a blue and silver Christmas tree and decorations? Try that for your book. Does your family have a favorite team you root for during Fall football? Try using that team's colors in your "tailgating" book.

One easy way to do this is to choose a pad of coordinated prints that are in the colors you like along with a matching pad of cardstock. Grab some embellishments, letters, ribbon and brads too. I keep everything together in one place to make working on the book easier. Once you’ve decided on the color and theme for your book, don’t forget to look in your stash to see what you already have that you can use. If you have stamping supplies (especially alphas) you might want to pull those out along with inks that will match your scheme.

Reunion Album


Stash Supplies Together

One of the most time-consuming parts of scrapping is pulling things out and putting them back. You cut down on a lot of time by keeping everything together that you will need for your pages. I bought 12 x 12 folders for stashing my papers, embellishments and pictures for my Christmas book. After I had finished my book, I kept those supplies together so that I would be ready to do next year’s page. If you scrap with friends, you won’t have to haul all your stuff with you if you have everything for your book stashed together. Just grab a tote with your all-purpose supplies like adhesives, alpha stamps, ink and cutters and you are ready to go!

Sports Album


Organize Photos

What about the photos? Of course, you will need to gather the photos for your book. Having a template in mind helps you to choose. Generally, you will need one or two great photos for the title page and up to nine smaller photos for the 9-photo template page. If you have a tradition of taking a picture of everyone in front of the Christmas tree every year, that picture would be an obvious choice for your title page. Or you might want to focus on a different family member each year, someone who had a special accomplishment or overcame a difficult trial.

One of the reasons I like using a 9-photo template on this book is that most of us tend to take lots of Christmas photos. Unfortunately, because a lot of these are taken indoors in the midst of a lot of commotion, they are not always the best quality pictures of the year. However, they may be the only pictures we have of some relatives we only see at Christmas. A 9-photo template allows us to use smaller pictures, which de-emphasizes the problems of quality as well as allowing you to have at least one picture of everyone.

What if I’m a Digital Scrapper?

I made my first Christmas book as a paper scrapper, but I’m mostly a digi-scrapbook gal myself now. Digital scrappers can use these tips even more easily since they can so quickly grab photos and papers and pop them into templates. Of course, digital scrappers have all their supplies on their desktop, but I find that grabbing and choosing digital supplies can be time-consuming too. Choosing papers and embellishments is a lot of fun, but it slows down the actual scrapping. So, just like the paper scrapper, it helps a digital scrapper to put together a folder of papers, embellishments, alphas and templates for the album. Since digital scrapbooking papers and elements can be recolored and reused in lots of contexts, you may not want to move these out of your regular file system. Instead, you can create a new file for “Christmas," "Fall," "Birthdays" or "Easter" and copy them in there.

Actually, this can be a way to speed up any digital scrapbooking project if you want to choose your papers and elements first and put them in a folder you can import all at once. Afterwards, you can just delete this duplicate file to free up hard disk space. If you have some embellishment or paper templates you plan to use for your theme book, you may want to color them ahead of time and add them to your stash to save more time on each page.

Pet Book


What About Leftover Pictures?

Unless you are one of those rare scrapbookers who only take the pictures they need for a single two-page spread, you will have a lot of pictures left over. If you have some you really want to include in this album, consider making another two-page spread, especially for a year where Christmas involved a special celebration, a vacation, or a family reunion.

Another way to make those pictures available is to put them on a DVD, either as a slide show with videos or just JPEGS. You can do this with Windows Moviemaker or use a Smilebox slideshow or scrapbook. Make a pocket to slip the DVD into the album so you can easily find it to show the family. Digital scrapbookers might want to make their whole album into a slideshow, with their scrapped pages first, followed by a series of pictures and videos.

Dad album
Dad album | Source

Viewing Tradition

Probably the best part of making a theme scrapbook is that it becomes another meaningful family tradition to view it every year. I actually put mine away during the rest of the year and pull them out for viewing just when the holiday come along.

Everyone in the family likes to look at it over the season, comparing the way each person has grown over the years and talking about the different triumphs and trials we’ve enjoyed and endured together. At least once during the holiday, we like to view the album as a family. What started as a way to get myself out of a scrapbooking funk has become a valuable way of drawing my family together each year, to remember the past and prepare for the future, which is what scrapbooking is all about, isn’t it?


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    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      Lots of info. Thanks

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