Scrapbook Essentials – My Tips for Beginners

Creating a scrapbook is something I have always loved and appreciated. I consider myself a beginner to it as I have not quite mastered the habit of doing it regularly – or even remotely quickly. I would love to do it more but I find myself, sometimes, just unsure where to start or what I need. So, I’ve put together a list of a few tips and essentials. These help me to get into the right frame of mind and actually scrapbook. They reduce the distractions, which helps.

Here are some of my top tips –

1. Don’t overthink it. 

This one is definitely easier said than done for me. I really struggle to even pick what background to use or what photos to start with. There’s a sense of “oh but what if I stick it down and then I change my mind later”. Similar to when you buy a new notebook and it’s just too pretty to write in, I find myself sometimes worried about “ruining it”. It is really hard to get out of that mindset. However, I have learned that I really rather have a completed layout that is not “perfect” than not have anything at all. Just having lots of papers and supplies with nothing to show for it is expensive and not great. And this way, I have an excuse to buy more scrapbook supplies later. If you “ruin” it, you can just buy more!

2. Sometimes letting it sit in your mind is okay.

Contradicting the first one a little, it is okay to let it “sit” in your mind for a while – sometimes. If you are letting it sit for so long that you never do anything, then you’re doing it wrong. However, occasionally, I’ll put together a rough layout but something does not feel quite “right” about it. So I let it sit for a day or two and go do something else till then. If you have to pack it away at this time, you can photograph or sketch it out so you don’t forget. When I return to the project, I sometimes find that actually I like it more than I thought I did and it is right. Other times, I realise what was missing.

3. You don’t need the best photos – or even any photos.

always forget to take photos when I am “supposed” to. I get dressed up, go to an event and then return and remember that I didn’t take a single photo for it! During covid and being stuck at home, sometimes it is even harder to take photos as there isn’t really anything to capture what you want to scrapbook about. At this time, I kept a record of my thoughts and feelings on occasion in regards to planning my wedding during a pandemic. As a result, I now have a bunch of thoughts that I can use in my scrapbook layouts. For those moments when I don’t have photos to accompany them, I plan to use stock images, and drawings or just use patterned papers.

Essentially, just use what you have, rather than worrying about the photos and how they are slightly blurry or not quite right for some reason.

Image of a few pages from my wedding journey, which contains mostly text or some art

4. Keep the essential items to scrapbook with you!

This is the one that I learned the hard way during the past few years. I spent a lot of time away from my main scrapbook supplies and it made it very hard to actually scrapbook when the muse hit me. I might have the photos and be ready to go but then have no glue to stick it down with.

The main items you need, of course, are paper, pens and potentially any photos. On top of those, you may wish to add patterned papers and embellishments or even memorabilia that you have kept, such as a ticket. However, there are some items that do not immediately come to mind when I think of scrapbooks and I have learned since that they too are “essential” to the process. Trying to root around for them or worse, not having something important, can be kind of frustrating.

Here’s a list of some essentials that you likely will forget that you need:

The Glue –

This is one that I always forget until I am ready to stick something down. And then it’s a panic of “Wait, do I have any glue here?”. I have tons of different adhesives back in my parents’ place, where most of my stationery and scrapbook supplies are. However, I have since moved very far away from them and since I could not bring more than a small bag to the new place, I definitely forgot the glue. You can use any type of adhesive you like here – tape would work too if you prefer.

Scrapbook Layout using a Glue Stick and benefits

I have discovered that I really just like using glue sticks. The adhesive on them is usually powerful enough to keep the items stuck down and I really like that it doesn’t “show through” the paper after a while. I used double-sided tape to stick down the strips of paper on this layout for instance and now, I can see where the tape is as it has made the paper a little transparent there. Whilst the bits with glue – such as the camera outline and words – are completely fine. Glue sticks also allow me to stick these sorts of things down easily, without trying to cut the tape into tiny bits.

If you are indecisive, like I am, glue sticks also provide that few extra moments of time to change your mind. You can remove it without tearing the page. As the glue takes a few seconds to dry, it also lets you move things into the perfect position so you can straighten it or anything you need to, rather than panicking that you stuck it down wonky.

Snopake Glue and Super Sticky Glue

For my layout, I used the normal GlueStick. However, since I have gotten these Super Sticky Glue sticks and I’m so excited to use this in my future layouts. It is far stickier! It’s great for sticking down photos or other bits, such as felt embellishments.

A Paper Trimmer –

Yes, you can use scissors if you don’t have one of these but I love using a paper trimmer. I find it just so much easier and more efficient. The edges are straighter and you can easily cut large pieces down to the perfect size without trying to mark them out with a ruler, as the trimmer comes with one. For photos, patterned papers or just any straight lines, I always pull out the paper trimmer. These are also versatile enough to be used in other crafts – such as cardmaking –  so it is definitely a worthwhile investment if you do not already have one.

Swordfish Paper Trimmer

Personally, I like using an A4 sized paper trimmer, such as this one from Swordfish. It has measurements on it that make it very easy to cut things down to size. You can also get a bigger trimmer, such as an A3 one. However, personally, I like this size. It is easier to store and I do not require anything bigger. This trimmer is perfectly capable of cutting through cardstock and patterned paper, which I enjoy adding to my scrapbooking layouts.

Clear Folders and Wallets

As someone relatively new when it comes to scrapbooking, I do sometimes take a long time to try and put together layouts. I find it very difficult to commit to something and create a full page in a single sitting. Usually, I gather some photos, spend some time going through all of the papers I have and then through all of the embellishments to figure out what might work. I temporarily layer different things together to see what colour combinations might work or what patterned paper to use. Even deciding on the photos sometimes takes a while for me. Unfortunately, I also use the same workspace for everything else – including working from home or chilling on the computer.  So I can’t just leave the undecided works of progress on the desk.

That’s where the Snopake Polyfile Craft come in. These square files measure 13 x 13 inches, which allows you to store all of your scrapbooking supplies up to 12 x 12 in them very easily! I personally am excited to use the Polyfile to store the work in progress. One file for each WIP scrapbook layout, essentially. I put all of the photos, patterned papers and embellishments related to that layout in the same file. If, like me, you have any sketches or notes related to the layout – such as ideas of what you want to write or specific quotes to include – then you can add those into the file too. I like to do these with sticky notes.

Plastic Folder Breaking

I previously have used these resealable wallets (pictured above) but they are very easy to tear and do not last very long. I’ve made holes in them with the corner of the cardstock getting caught or broken the closing mechanism after a little while. As you can see, the pictured one above ended up tearing at the bottom – enough that things can fall out of it easily. 

The Snopake Polyfile folders, however, come with a five-year guarantee and a very easy to use closing mechanism. As it is very durable, it won’t tear when you are using them. Really, these are also great for storing completed scrapbook pages if you prefer to do that. You could even use the different folders for different categories of pages, such as one for a specific holiday and all of the scrapbook layouts related to that as they take up less space than albums would.

Polyfile Craft Folder

In one of the folders (pictured above), I stored a few different Christmas themed pages, stickers and embellishments together. With this, I had an idea for a layout – which has been sketched out on the yellow sticky note and added to the file, so I do not forget it. However, I am not a huge fan of the photo and wanted to make the page about this year’s Christmas instead. So, I simply stored everything together for December. I won’t stick anything down until then. 

Sticky Notes 

Okay, these are probably not essential for everyone but I find them really handy. Sticky notes are a great way to keep your sketches nearby or to use as placeholders for where the photos might go if you have not decided to stick them down yet. For instance, in a previous post, I showed that  I used sticky notes (that I cut down to the correct size of the photo I wanted to add) as placeholders for the photos.

Moleskine Bullet Journal Scrapbook Templates

The full post is available here but essentially, I explain that these are now templates that are ready to use. All I have to do is get those photographs printed down to size and then add them to the templates to create the desired layouts.

Sticky Notes

I personally like to have a variety of different coloured and sized sticky notes ready for anything. Using them to jot down little notes or sketches for Future Me like this is just one way. Sticky Notes have many uses in my eyes. They can be used for work or education purposes if needed. I have also used them to make cards or just leave little love notes for people in my household. They are so versatile and having sticky notes in different sizes is always useful. 

For the sketches themselves, I think it’s important for me to note that you do not have to stick to them. They are a guide for yourself, rather than a hard set of rules. The picture below shows the sketch that I had related to the “Smile” layout pictured earlier in this post. As you can see, they are different in some ways. When I was creating it, I found cute little “button” styled die cuts that I could use instead. Since my gran – pictured in the layout – stitches and fixes my clothes for me a lot, it seemed appropriate to use that instead of flowers as I associate them with her personally. I also decided I did not want a huge block of text. So instead, I focused on the fact that we took this photo and she actually smiled in it – she does not smile in photos often!

Sticky Note Use

The Essentials Kit:

If you are interested in purchasing your own kit or if you’re missing anything from this list, National Stationery Week is a great time to grab some supplies. These are the ones that I have used/featured in this post:

I absolutely love all of these items. If you are interested in purchasing any of them, check out the links above. 

And there you have it! Some of my top tips and some essentials that I think people (or at least I) often forget about when they start scrapbooking. I absolutely hate sitting down and then realising that I just don’t have one of these to hand and need it. The other things – such as the photos, papers and such – are things I usually do not forget about. So I hope this helps!


Disclaimer: I got most of these Snopake items gifted to me for free to play around with them (though I already had some, since I do like the brand!) for this blog post. Opinions are still my own though. 

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