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Photo album scrapbook for grandma and grandpa

Updated on November 16, 2011

The best Christmas gift idea ...a photo album scrapbook

The best Christmas gift idea I came up in the last decade is a photo album scrapbook for my mom and dad that live half a glob away from me.

Last five years I struggled to find new gifts for my parents. I sent them everything I was allowed to put in a package and even more: clothes, books, Christmas ornaments and decoration, candies, cards and other winter items along with some spring and even summer. I also picked spices and kitchen stuff, being careful not to overload the maximum admitted size and weight.

This Christmas I run out of ideas. Luckily, there was one more left: a photo album.

Why a photo album scrapbook

I thought I won’t send them just any kind of photo album, but a special one.

Why a photo album?
Every two years our family make a trip to my country to see my parents and my sister. In between these trips, there are lots of things that happens in my family: holidays and events, vacations, or just beautiful moments recorded on my camera.
Also, kids are growing. Their life and appearance is constantly changing. They trade ballet for gymnastics or soccer for karate.
My parents and me keep in touch by phone but that’s not enough. They need to see us, they need to fill the blank spaces.
Here is where all those photos, taken on my multiple photo cameras, are coming handy. Lets put the best of them in a photo album, as a Christmas gift: our family story for the last two years.

And why a scrapbook photo album?
Well, I thought that just stuffing pictures in an album was not enough. I could have done the same thing stuffing them in an envelope or just wrapping them in a Christmas wrap. The album need it to have a story, starting with the last trip until now. I wanted to tell them about each picture in words and images. I can do it just writing the date and place on the back of the picture but that was not enough. It need it a personal touch. Here is where the scrapbook idea came to save the day.

Adding few well chosen stickers to the words would make it more personal. Customizing each photo, or group of photos, would tell them more about that time, the way we spent it and how we felt about it.

Planning your photo album scrapbook project

Time - setting a deadline
First you have to know your deadline so you can make a To Do list and plan your time.
For my album I had to take in consideration the travel time of a parcel between US and Bucharest, Romania. After few researches, I found out that it takes seven to ten business days. Add few days to pick it up from the office, then add few days for me to actually get to the postal office and that makes it almost three weeks. So I determined that I have to be ready by the end of November.

Gathering, downloading and printing the photos
If you are like me, you probably have used multiple cameras to take pictures and videos, plus your mobile phone. So, the first thing I did was to download these precious memories to my computer, on a special folder. It took me half a day to do it, including finding the cords and remembering the process for each of my cameras.
Then I went through all the photos and choose the best. Again, the chosen ones were sent to a new folder in My Pictures. Later on I sent all the pictures in that folder to a DVD. You can also use any other media support, depending where you’ll print them.

My first prints didn’t turned out so good. They were instant prints that I did them myself at the store’s photo terminal. After speaking with the employees I found out that I can let my DVD there and they will work it in few days and make the best of my photos. The cost was a bit higher but the overall quality offset the price.

Involving your kids

Kids can be very helpful with this project. They can decorate the album, write memo notes, choose and arrange the pictures in the album. Kids have a kin eye and, sometimes, better memory then us, adults. They are also more likely to pay attention to some details that we may overlook.

Organizing and decorating the album can be a fun project for kids, especially for the ones that love doing some art work. The album would be much more precious for grandparents if they see their grandchild’s work.

Buying the right photo album

When the pictures are all printed, it is time to choose the album. This is not an easy thing. You’ll need to have an album that can hold all of your prints, let you write notes, have some extra room where you can put scrapbook stickers, and the overall appearance matches the pictures.

For this project, it is important to keep in mind few things:

The size of the photo prints - Most albums are made to hold 4x6 size photos. There are also some albums where you can put all kind of sizes but most of them do not have a memo space. Choose one that has blank spaces on the inside of the page, also called memo space.

The amount of photos you want to send - There are big and small albums. If you have over 100 pictures, like I have, you’ll need a very generous one. A big album has the advantage of having some extra space where grandparents can insert their own pictures.

The total weight of the album - Weight add up fast, when you put over 100 picture in an album. Also, weight is taken in consideration when you ship it overseas. So, I choose a light one, made out of fabric.

The cover of the album - Looking through my pictures I determined that the most of them were taken while in vacation in Florida. So, my album cover shows a palm tree on a sand colored fabric.

Organizing the photos

There are several ways to organize pictures: by events, by people, and in chronological order. I took pictures of every Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and other holidays, plus first days of school and graduations. So, it could have been easy to organize my memories by event. I also noticed that I can just do it in chronological order, telling the story of those two years as they passed by

Buying scrapbooking stickers

This is a tricky job because the scrapbooking stickers have to compliment the pictures. The best way to find out what stickers to buy is by going through your photos and determine the kind of decoration you need.

If you do and like scrapbooking then you should know already what you need, but if you are new to this craft, like I am, then there are few things to remember:

Stickers are expensive, so buy only what you need (if you don’t plan to use them for other projects);

Stickers come in all kind of shapes and sizes , get the ones that fit nicely in the memo space. of the album;

There are stickers for everything you want, spend some extra time looking through them to find a real gem;

Don’t forget the clearance section, you will find that the ones with the beach slippers are already marked down.

Organizing the album

Inserting the prints is like telling a story in images. Organizing and decorating the album is the most important part of this project. It is also fun, and nostalgic, and creative.
To make the most out of this photo album scrapbook, you’ll need to do this:

Customize your first page. Each album has a blank first page. That space can be used to write something there, like a letter to grandma and grandpa, or use it for scrapbooking and creating a very dynamic page with a special meaning like this:

this is made by my sister and you can find more on her blog.
this is made by my sister and you can find more on her blog. | Source

for this type page you can find a free scrapbook image online, then add your own photo on photoshop, print it and glue it on the album’s blank page. 

Write notes on the side of the album, in the memo space. You can add there the year or the season the picture was taken, what was the event, the name of the people in the pictures...basically everything you want to say about that particular photo.
Since I grouped mine by years and by events within the year I only had to write the time and place at the beginning of each group. The rest of the blank space I will use it for any kind of memories I want to add.

Put the stickers where needed. Also, if you end up with enough memo space you can use it for scrapbooking. You can place your stickers on the prints as well to make it more fun. Your kids can help to make each picture a memorable moment.

Sending the Christmas gift overseas

This part is the most expensive of them all, and the cost is going up every year.
After few researches done in the past I found out that USPS is the most affordable carrier and it is also reliable and secure.
By now, I already know that they only ship by air in my country but for other parts of the world they may have some other options. They have a big website with tons of information that can give you an idea of the shipment, payment, and other rules you’ll need to fallow.
As I use USPS I also like to get their own boxes for my parcel. That way I’m sure it fits the accepted dimensions.
There are other carriers that can send my parcel in Bucharest like the big UPS or FedEx and few other smaller companies but thy are more expensive.

The trip to the post office is the last thing. From there my photo album scrapbook will travel to grandma and grandpa and I already know they will enjoy this Christmas gift.



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    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Just history, thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed this project and one good point is that my daughter and me worked together and as we browse through the pictures we remembered lots of good times!

    • Just History profile image

      Just History 

      7 years ago from England

      It is hard work but such an interesting and thoughtful present to make- well done


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