• My experience using the traditional paper method
  • Problems I had with that method and my attempted solutions
  • My first solution:  Online scrapbooking with Shutterfly
  • My current favorite scrapbooking company – Picaboo!  
  • More online scrapbooking benefits 
  • Children learning to scrapbook 
Summer is here! And I love to capture family memories with my camera and put them into a photo book for our family to walk down memory lane with later. *smile* Is this part of your summer plans, saving your family’s memories? This might be a good time between school years to learn to do so real easily using an online program! 

I spent years using the traditional paper album method, but eventually found that I didn’t have that magnitude of time or space for such a project and I couldn’t keep up. It made me so sad to think that I wouldn’t be able to have those memories in books any longer! However thankfully I was rescued from my scrapbooking slow death by my sister who gave me a quick tutorial of online scrapbooking – and off I went! *cheer!* Here’s my journey, and my practical how-to’s to share with you…

I originally began scrapbooking because when I looked at the many albums I had put photos in to since junior high, I realized that no one except me would have any idea who was in the photos, or when or where the photos were taken.  This made me sad because I had such great memories faithfully captured on film and put into books – but organized like this they were really for me alone because they were valuable only to me, only understood by me.  And, I have the experience of having my grandfather’s scrapbook of his time in the marines – full of photographs and explanations of those events!  It’s so fun to look through!  So I took up scrapbooking to keep record of the valuable information for future generations, with a mindset to be better and more attractively organized with the photos.

How I began using the traditional paper method

When we had just two children I pursued creating what I thought were very attractive albums, yet inexpensive and not too complex as I didn’t have a lot of financial resources or time.  I always made the 12-inch by 12-inch size because I could fit the most photos per page on them, and each album contained about 80 pages which was the heaviest I could make each one and still be able to lift them comfortably; I was maximizing my resources and purchasing as few albums as necessary.  I would scrapbook once-a-month to get caught up, and spend on average $20 per time, which equaled about $1 per page (compared to $10 per page as many people would do).  I used edging scissors for the photos and paper, ribbon, stickers, and photo prints.  Here’s an example of one of my beginning albums.
Problems I had with that method and my attempted solutions

Then we had a couple more children and now it’s become impossible to get out a whole table worth of materials to do this project, not to mention the time it took to do the scrapbooking.  I tried scrapbooking in Creative Memories albums that have sleeves for the photos while I was striving for even more time efficiency.  These albums, however, took a lot of time to plan out because I had to use a certain number of vertical photos and a certain number of horizontal ones to fit the permanent lay out of the albums.  I tried to plan my photo print orders to fit these page lay outs, but sometimes I had photos that were the wrong direction for the sleeves and I had to cut them down to fit if possible.  I also could not include in the album any memorabilia such as a program from an event, or our Christmas letter.  The mental planning was taking as much if not more time than the previous ways of scrapbooking.  So – new plan again…

A couple more children still again and we began homeschooling, so I needed to cut back on time and do even simpler albums.  I stopped using the edging scissors and just stuck the photos in whole, used pieces of whole 12×12 patterned paper and less stickers or ribbon.  I tried scrapbooking by doing a simple cover page and description per event and then just sticking the rest of the photos in without writing on any of the following pages.  I ordered the photos from Costco with the torn paper edge look printed right on them so I wouldn’t have to use the edging scissors myself…but it was still too much time and energy.

We had 6 children at that point, and even this simplified scrapbooking process was now more than I could maintain.  I had made a baby album for each child, and had completed 19 family albums in chronological order.  Now, I am a result-oriented person, not a process-oriented one, so I had to keep caught up with our photos and have the ability to complete pages and albums or I would not do scrapbooking; I would not just go along for the enjoyment of doing it (although I did enjoy doing it, this was not my motivation), but rather I worked for the end product of having the album to capture memories in and reminisce over with the family.  I thought I would finally have to give it up altogether.  It took a lot of time to order the photo prints and go pick them up from Costco, then shop at 3 different stores for the album and extra pages, a few different types of adhesives (for photos, ribbon, metal, paper, clear vellum), stickers, patterned paper, hole punch tools, stencils, scissors, and pens.  I couldn’t do it.  By the time I got out all of the supplies on our kitchen table for scrapbooking and thought through my layout, I had used up my allotted time to do the project and had just enough time to clean it all up again. Uuh!

My solution:  Online scrapbooking with Shutterfly

Then my sister-in-law, Eileen, told me that she had discovered online scrapbooking through Shutterfly!  I initially thought, Nope, I don’t have time to learn how to do that.  But one day I had the opportunity to peek over her shoulder as she worked on her online album and she showed me that it was very strait forward, and it was so beautiful!  So I gathered up my courage and went through the easy tutorial on the website.  It was very thorough, but short.  And everything I needed to work on the book was right on the main page; I didn’t have to click around on lots of links to create the “photo book” (scrapbook).  It is a well-done, strait forward scrapbooking site.  This was my first favorite company to work with.
At the time, Shutterfly was the best of all worlds for online scrapbooking, compared to other online companies I’ve looked in to.  It offered good pricing and quality, it had a very nice selection of for the photo book pages, nice font choices, outlines for the photos, themes for the photo books, and a lot of variations of lay outs for the digital photos.  I could then just drag and drop my photos once they’re uploaded on to the album pages.  I could change my photo to any size I desire for the book, from 2-inch square to a 12-inch whole page photo.  I can very easily crop the photo or zoom in if I desire.  And when I wanted to include in the album any memorabilia, such as a baby’s hospital bracelets or a musical concert program then I just take a photo of it and scrapbook that in! 
The album covers and pages are strong and very professional looking, like a professionally bound coffee table book, and they are not fragile like the other albums I used to do so the children can look at them much more freely.  They have hard cover albums, padded covers, and even leather ones.  I also do not have to hope that the adhesives I used will last for 20 years at least because there aren’t any of course in the online albums.  

When I added up all of the costs of doing the huge hand-made 12×12 albums vs. the online ones I found that the price is at least the same if not less!  The prices for the Shutterfly albums range greatly depending upon the size of the album you choose to create: 5×7, 8×10, 12×12, and also depending upon how many pages you add (they come with 20 pages but you can include up to 100, with a fee for each additional page added).  Some albums are $30 or $50, the largest ones which I order are 12×12 with 100 pages and they cost $173 – without their sales or coupons; but they offer those at every holiday pretty much monthly so I always wait for those and saved as much as $50 usually.  This is actually the most cost-efficient because I’m getting the most number of photos per page, and ordering the fewest number of actual albums.  This may seem like it would be extremely expensive, however I just set aside $20 per pay check every 2 weeks when my husband gets paid and by the time I’m ready to order the completed album I’ve easily saved enough to make the purchase.  It actually doesn’t cost us any more budgetarily than the traditional method, and that’s for 100 pages instead of 80 that I had in the original scrapbooking method, and with more photos per page if I desire because of the flexibility of having any size I would like online.  I complete an album every 6-8 months with 11 people in our family, but someone with fewer people (and likely fewer photos then) could easily go a year or more before filling up an entire album this size, like my brother and sister-in-law who have 6 people in their family.

My current favorite scrapbooking company and program!

Well after a few years, Shutterfly changed up their scrapbooking program, disappointingly. Now it has a lot of problems, I think it is really frustrating now and I have switched to another company.  With the shutterfly program it takes literally four times as long for me to make a scrapbook page as it did before because nothing is ready-made but now needs to be made from scratch – papers are not already patterned or decorative, they have to have every cute detail added to them manually, the cute fonts don’t program in so that when you choose one it stays like that until you change it, but instead every single text box requires about 8 clicks to get that specific font set up again to match the rest of the pages you’re doing, and many other things.  I suppose Shutterfly thinks that this makes their product more customizable, but I can’t stand it and I don’t have time for it.  Plus the program got really slow on top of that (taking between 6-20 seconds to initiate every – single – click).  The rest of our computer is fast, but for months this program has gotten slower and slower.  So I’m done.  *smile*  

However, have no fear! *laugh* My new favorite program is through Picaboo!  It’s amazing, and I have been using it for several years now!  Gorgeous papers, stickers, fonts, layouts, themes – they are all absolutely amazing.  And I easily figured out how to use the program.  Picaboo has vast quantities of supplies to use, and yet it is still easy to find what you need and to implement it.  Quick click-and-drag abilities for your photos, re-sizing photos easily or editing them, customizing anything you like and yet your pages can come already darling without customization, too, if desired. I can’t recommend Picaboo highly enough.  *wink*  I’m very excited about working with a program that is not only high quality, but fun and a fast, and an efficient use of my time.
There are other companies that offer online scrapbooking, but when I explored them and worked on creating a test album I haven’t personally felt they were even close to being as good.  Not even close. Online albums can be made through Costco’s website, but they do not have nearly as much selection and flexibility (almost nothing to work with actually).  Another company called Snapfish has good quality albums I’m told, however they have little to offer in the way of backgrounds, stickers, and fonts; and what they do offer looks like preschool to me.
More online scrapbooking benefits

There are other great benefits to online scrapbooking as well.  For one, the albums are only ½-inch thick instead of 3-inches, which makes a HUGE difference in storing them on book shelves, and in the ease of looking through them!  For our large family in a small house, space is crucial.  Notice in the photo below the three Shutterfly ½-inch thick albums on the middle-right side on the bottom shelf.  These albums are also much easier for children to handle, and less likely to be damaged by kids due to the weight of the album (the large albums weigh 10 lbs!).
Also, with online scrapbooking I do not have tons of supplies to get out, I don’t make any trips to several stores to acquire all of my necessary materials, I never discover that I ordered the wrong prints or not enough paper and have to stop until I can go back to the store, and I never run out of adhesive.  *cheer!!!*  I don’t even have to tote around a scrapbooking bag.  I sit down to the computer when I have a little time, work for a while, and then get up and walk away.  

I have the children look at the albums only while sitting at the kitchen table or on the couch to help ensure that they don’t get ripped by someone not turning pages carefully or worse, stepping on the book and ripping pages out.  I’ve made 14 digital online albums now and we’ve been nothing but thrilled.  Here’s a link to look through one of our family album if you would like to actually flip through a Picaboo album and see how I do ours. *smile* (It takes a minute to load as there are a lot of photos.)
Children learning to scrapbook

Over the years when I have desired to scrapbook for a while but the children needed a productive occupation while I was doing this, I developed a method of including them that they absolutely love!  (Also see Productively Occupying Young Children for more information about this type of activity.) They do paper albums, not online scrapbooking at this point (although our older girls are chomping at the bit to be allowed to do albums online some time).  

Our oldest two girls, ages 12 and 11 at the time these photos were taken, used darling 12×12 cardboard and paper albums from the dollar store (or Michael’s, or Target) for several years.  They used my left over printed photos from years past, but could also order current photos from Costco for $.13 each.  The older girls used all of my old scrapbooking supplies like edging scissors, punches, and stencils, they liked to buy paper from the store and some inexpensive stickers, use glue sticks, and make darling books.  For the 3-8-year-olds I took 11×13 size paper, fold it in half and staple it to make a book.  They I give them some photo prints of our family, some washable crayons or pens, scissors, glue sticks, and some stickers and they work away on their own.  A couple of times we’ve had a “scrapbooking class” at home (see photo below) where I actually taught them some skills of doing scrapbooking, and then on other days when they’d work on their books they would have an idea about what they could do.
For me online scrapbooking has really been an answer to prayer.  It has enabled me to continue keeping record of our family’s life through a method conducive to the time I have, the space I have to work in, the quality I desire, and the amount of money I can afford to put in to it.  And when the children start saying, How come we never go there…or, We never get to do anything, *wink* I say, “Pardon me? You must need a reminder of all the amazingly fun family activities we do. I think you should go choose an album to look through for a while.”  And soon they’re laughing as they reminisce, and showing each other and me all the memories they come across. It’s such a blessing.

I would love to hear about other ideas you may have for capturing family memories, other sites you may use, or what you have learned about scrapbooking beautifully and efficiently!  I wish we could get together and look through each other’s albums and share ideas – wouldn’t that be *fun*?  *smile* 
Happy scrapbooking!

Other related posts of mine you might be interested in:
Computer Learning For Kids – How We Utilize It
Productively Occupying Young Children