Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

September 18, 2009

Organizing Scrapbook Albums : An Update


Two things happened yesterday that spurred today's post.

First I received a box of layouts back from Creating Keepsakes (all my layouts from the October issue – I think there were 14 total) that needed to go into albums. Second I received an email from a reader with some questions about organizing albums and pages for people with multiple children:

I was just wondering if you make double layouts for your kids' albums. For ex., the page about Simon reading to Anna…do you make one for each of their albums? If not, whose album are you putting that in?

I have three kids and not much time to scrapbook so the thought of making multiple albums is not too appealing. I'm just not sure which layout to put in whose album so your thoughts or advice would be much appreciated.

A very good & timely question.

I don't make duplicate pages. This is actually one of the benefits of creating digital pages in that you could just have more than one printed to add to each child's album. 

But as you know, I'm not all digital.

[ Albums currently in my office that I am using for inspiration for my upcoming workshop. Spinner project is an instant download class called Family Gratitude Spinner available through Big Picture Scrapbooking. ]

Since my big album organization last year I have been working within the following framework of 12×12 albums:

  1. Simon: albums by year
  2. Chris + Ali: stories about the two of us together
  3. Family: layouts about our extended families (including some childhood stories for both Chris and I)
  4. Ali: about me pages
  5. Chris: mostly political content

This has been working really well. Pages that I have made since getting all the albums organized have all found a home quickly and easily. 

Now with baby Anna in the mix my plan is the following:

  1. Layouts that are about either Anna or Simon will go in their individual albums (organized by year). I view these pages as essentially love notes to each child and want each of them to have their own collection with pages where they are the subject. The one about Simon reading to Anna (CK, October) will go into Simon's album because the journaling is talking directly to him
  2. Layouts that are about both of them/our family (and not journaled specifically to one or the other) will go into the Family category that will now be dated E:2009, E:2010, etc. Right now I'm not really worrying about who gets what down the road and how it will all be split up. I am more interested in focusing on documenting & celebrating the stories our of lives. 

There's definitely no right or wrong way to go about this. There are so many different ways it can be done depending on your family situation, space, time, etc. 

I would love to hear about other's systems if you are willing to share. 

You can read more about my Adventures in Album Organization series here


  • 1.
    KelliL said…

    I don’t have children but I do have a individual scrapbook for each of my neices and nephews, one for me and one for family and a last one for favorite pictures. I basically do the same thing and if the journaling is directed to them then I place it in their album. If there are multiple people than it goes into the family album. I do however duplicate my pages for certain pictures. I am not digital, but if I have enough of the identical supplies and the page is fairly simple I will do two identical LO’s for each of them to have.

  • 2.
    Amy said…

    Thank you, Ali. That was very helpful!

  • 3.
    Marnie said…

    I have four children and scrapbook and album for each of them and a family album (since I will want pictures when they take their albums with them when they move out. I do identical themes and similar layouts. Once I have decided what the page will look like, I duplicate it 5 times. If I don’t have enough of a particular paper or embellishment I substitute. the pictures and journalling in each album is directed to the child and the family album is a culmination of pictures and stories of everyone. This makes the scrapbooking to faster instead of doing different themes for each child. My children love to look at their books to see what has been done and read their stories.

    • ….
      Nicole said…

      Wow, that’s awesome that you do all of those layouts!! That’s the plan I’m going to shoot for, too. It just seems fair. Daunting, but fair, lol.

  • 4.
    ScrapMomOf2 said…

    Figuring this out is a huge problem for me. My original intention was to create an album for both of my girls with just milestones . . . professional portraits, school, etc. Then I got the Becky Higgins school kits, so school will be a different album (which is great — works for me). My problem is that I create SO MANY layouts, and I’m really making them for our family, because I enjoy it so much, and because I want to document so much of our lives, both big and small! Well, so many layouts feature BOTH of my girls, and I don’t create duplicate layouts. I have what I consider to be a “family album”. One day, down the road, I have no idea who will take charge of all of the “family albums”. But for now, I still just create for our family. The division of it all will have to be figured out at another time!

  • 5.
    Sarah said…

    You know, as I’m reading this…I’m thinking…
    If you are a person that is a paper scrapper and wants to have multiples for albums(but doesn’t have the time to make multiples), I say take that paper page and scan it and print 3 copies. Keep the original for your album and put dupes in kids albums. Or, I’ve placed things on the scanner at Sam’s Club and printed out in their photo department before. (They might not scan 12×12, but they can print it).

  • 6.

    I have two daughters – 2 and 6. They each have their very own first year album, but after that, it’s a free for all. Each page I do goes into a green AC album. I figure, when I pass, they can go through each album and pick the pages they want to keep for themselves. But for right now, each page that I do belongs to the family, and cannot be divided until I am no longer around. :) It’s just simpler that way – and I am all about simplicity!

  • 7.
    Beth J. said…

    I’ve made individual school albums for all four of my children. There’s another album of “just me” layouts; A photo journal of sorts. Everything else – and I do mean everything else – goes into albums as the layouts are finished. You see, I scrap for ME. Selfishly – it’s all about me. I don’t mind that there’s no rhyme or reason to my collection of layouts. I love the random selection that can be found in each album. If my children want to separate these layouts long after I’m gone, I will smile in heaven knowing that they’ll be looking at EVERY SINGLE PAGE…. of each other, of Chrismas, of my friends, of long lost relatives, of our pets, our homes, trips to the fair, birthdays… they’ll love it. I know they will.

  • 8.
    Gwen said…

    I have one chronological album that is for the whole family. Each child has an album for their school year and specific activities, but not the pages about them and their development, ‘the daily life pages’, those are for the family album. I figure with technology by the time they want their own copy of the family albums it will be easy enough to get them copied. Or that they will be secure knowing they exist at my house for when they want to look at them. There is also a set of Christmas albums done chronologically. Its fun to have only that holiday in a set of albums and get them out only during the holidays. It makes it easier to see yearly changes. I always wanted to do Birthday albums that way to see the big changes in the kids, but so far it hasn’t happened. Plus, mini albums and fun projects along the way. It works for me!

  • 9.
    Lindsay said…

    Thanks Ali! I’m pregnant with my 2nd (due in Jan) and this is something that I have been struggeling with. As of now I have albums for my son and most of my journaling has been written directly to him. So I’ve not only been wondering how I will organize, but also how my journaling voice will change, especially for photos with both kiddos in them.

  • 10.
    Hillary said…

    Ali – your big re-org last year inspired me. . .I too bought the 12×12 AC albums – 4 of them to start, although I am in dire need of 2 more right now. I organized mine as follows:
    All About Us (with a section for each of the kids, the kids together, Family and my husband and me)-this is why I need 2 more – the kids each need one of their own as I get more productive :)
    Places We Go – for pages about various places we go – the beach to Target
    People we love – pages about family and friends
    Everyday life – general pages about our life
    This is the Stacy Jullian method of organization, and it’s working for me. Your BIG tip to stick with 12×12 and put any size LOs in there. . .was a wonderful help!

  • 11.

    I have three kids, all adopted at the same time. I have an album for each of them + a family album. I see the kids’ albums as a way to highlight their invidual stories, things that make each of them special in their own way. They can take their own albums with them when they move out, and the albums are very important to them.
    I have tried duplicating but it is so not my thing!

  • 12.
    Jenny Alfonso said…

    I do the exact same thing Ali! I have 2 children as well (9 and 6 years old). Here is how I divide my albums. I only have a few:
    1) Vince – all pages for my son & like you – if the picture has both the children or is pictured with cousins but the CONTENT is about Vince then it goes in this album
    2) Olivia – same thing for my daughter
    3) Family – here is the mod podge of where everything else goes: me, my husband, us together, my childhood, family, friends, layouts of both the children, holidays, travel, life. etc.
    I make several mini albums with specific themes like the December Daily and mini albums for certain trips. I think after reading your post, I may make a separate one for me and my husband – that’s a great idea!

  • 13.
    Suzitee said…

    By the sounds of things, I am doing pretty much what you have planned Ali. I have 3 kids. Each have their own albums which are about only them, or that are written for them. I do Christmas chronologically, and seperately (and this is my only up-to-date subject LOL)
    Any pages that contain the kids together, or my hubby and I with the kids, go in the “Family” album. I have “Family and Friends” which contains extended family and other important people in our lives. Then I have “Book of US” which contains stories about my husband and myself, both older childhood LOs and current ones. I also have a “Travel” section :) which consists of 12×12 individual LOs, and smaller books of various sizes for our bigger family holidays.
    I’ve been using this system for several years now, and it’s working really well for me. I store them all in the 3 ring binders by American Crafts, and label them by year. Have fun with it xxx

  • 14.
    Molly Irwin said…

    I really love when you show your albums, Ali. I think of displaying albums as a decor item in my living room. I envision someday setting out a basket of December dailies as I decorate each holiday season, so my then grown children (returning home from college) can flip through them and remember.

  • 15.
    Andrea said…

    To keep it manageable, I maintain the following albums:
    Baby’s First Year (one for each kid)
    Ayla Through the Years (one 2-page layout per year)
    Paxton Through the Years (one 2-page layout per year)
    Family (one album per year)
    Consists of monthly collage pages as well as anything I *feel* like scrapbooking!
    Ben & Andrea (one two-page layout per year)
    and then occasional mini albums, vacation albums, etc.
    I also keep a blog with all the extra stories that might not make it into the other albums! So far, so good!

  • 16.
    Deirdre said…

    This is one of those areas where I can overthink it, and freeze completely.
    I have three young sons. All I know for sure is that each with have their own baby album and their own personal album (a mix of Stacy’s School of Life idea, with Becky H’s school kit). Problem is, I don’t want them to have more than one personal album…which is maybe unrealistic but I also don’t see my sons wanting to move with a lot of albums either…
    Otherwise we have a family album, a Places We Go album, a holiday albums.
    I spent way too much time the other day reading (after folliwng a link from here to Jessice Turner’s blog to this one) how this scrapping/designer does it:
    I’m not a fast scrapbooker, and her idea has a lot of appeal to me…so I’m debating and otherwise letting myself obsess on this before I go forward. Hope to come back and read more of the comments later.

  • 17.
    Mary Jo said…

    This is essentially what I have been doing as well since my daughter was born in 2007. And it’s really working out great! I also figure someday down the road I’ll let them worry about who wants what if at all. But I think they will :0)
    I also have a travel category for albums. We’ve taken some fun trips the past two or three years and I love seeing them all in one album.

  • 18.
    Kim said…

    I have twin daughters & originally started out “just doing their 1st year”. They are now 2 1/2 & I’m still at it. I originally thought I’d often use the same pictures/story but create different layouts but I am discovering that with considerations of time I often just recreate a duplicate layout, depending on the story told Recently I’ve been struggling with if this is the “right” thing for me to do – would I be happier just moving along to the next story/layout without duplilcating….I STILL don’t know, but it helps me work thru my thoughts to see others’ suggestions! Thanks!

  • 19.

    I started out, in 2003, keeping a book for my daughter, family album, and a ‘me’ album.
    2 divorces and 2 more children have made that a bit more complicated.
    Now … I tend to file them in available albums AS I FINISH THEM. I’m not a chronological scrapper, so my filing is easier to just pop in, & let the kids browse, which they love.
    However, I do add this: this past weekend we had baby #3′s first birthday party. I pulled all her layouts I’d done about her, & popped them into one album for guests to look at.
    HER album is now in order … just have to do for the other 2! LOL

  • 20.
    HeatherC said…

    I think album organization is a common struggle. I like Stacy J’s way described in Photo Freedom, and would go this way if starting over today, but instead have come up with this system — Family album (general family things, events, holidays), each daughter (I have 2) has their own album with pages specific to them, but sometimes siblings appear, each daughter has a school album with school only info. That is it for now, and as Ali said, for the family album, I am not too concerned of how things are divided up down the road — my job is documenting now.

  • 21.
    just B said…

    Ali thanks for sharing. In my own personal style (with another baby girl on the way) I have come up with the following: My youngest daughter has her very own album that celebrates her first year, then after the first year everything that I document about her goes into our family album (this family album also contains some layouts of her from her first year but not nearly as many as ‘her’ album) now with the addition coming I am planning on doing the same thing, I will have a seperate album for baby’s first year with some layouts in the ‘family’ album too, but after the first year all of her layouts will go into the family one. I figure once they are old enough to decide if they want other layouts, then @ that point I can just have them printed somewhere, no it’s not quite the same but it’ll give them the stories. I also have 3-4 seperate albums: one for travels, one for just my husband & I, and then two more envolving the rest of our family & friends. Now that’s not to say this won’t change in the years to come, but for now it works well for me & it’s not totally overwhelming. Hope this helps some of your other readers.

  • 22.
    Elaine R said…

    I think this was really good advice! I don’t have kids or anything, but I think that was a really good question and I’m glad she asked it! I think my mom kind of struggled with that a little when I was young but now I’m grown and lucky for her, I make my own albums! haha!

  • 23.
    tracey m. said…

    I have an album per year, and it all goes in there for now. With two children, and I’m hoping that when it comes time to “divide it up” we’ll have a 12X12 scanner to help us out!

  • 24.
    con-tain-it said…

    Great ideas Ali…thanks for sharing. Think it would be great if you did an album “The ABC’s of Anna & Simon” so that Simon could read it to Anna to help her recognize her ABC’s and Simon w’his reading. My kids were too darn old to read to each other by the time I started scrapbooking. Now I’m waiting on my grandbabies…will probably do an ABC album of my kids for the grandkids…someday soon I hope. Have a great weekend, fondly, Roberta

  • 25.
    Silvia said…

    Thanks, I really like the idea of kids albums and a family album. Aside from first year albums,I have one album that I dump all printed pages into (I’m exclusively a digital scrapper) but it just wasn’t working well. I just had a set of twins three months ago, bringing us to five kids and I was trying to decide what I was going to do. This is a great idea! Just one question, where do you purchase the brown albums?

  • 26.
    4JJM said…

    I loved your series on album organization so much that I replaced all my 12×12 post bound albums with 12×12 D-ring albums from American Crafts. I have 4 children, so I had about 30 albums that I needed to replace. With the expense of replacing all of my old albums, I had to make a decision to keep the cost down. Instead of buying 30 new albums I bought about 12 and labeled all of them by year. So all of the pages from the old albums (sperated by person, event, etc.) ended up in 12 d-rings. The d-rings are so much bigger that I was able to fit them all in. I did keep some of the old post bound for each kid to have their own album where I put school related items.

  • 27.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Those are American Crafts D-Ring albums. I buy mine from either ( or Two Peas (×12-3-ring-chestnut/?filters=albums%2Famerican-crafts).

  • 28.
    Angie in Japan said…

    Thanks, Ali, for the album ideas!
    Right now, this is my biggest problem. I usually only work on one project at a time. I group my pictures together, for example, my Mom’s visit last year or a trip to the zoo. I can’t figure out a way to start and then I can’t figure out a way to put it all into one album that flows together. Instead I have a bunch of separate albums, 12×12 and 8×8, that are just in random boxes. I also went through a phase last year working work chipboard albums and they don’t fit into anything.
    I’m not digital at all so I’m not hip on how to create all my pages on my Mac, which I know would be easy if I just sat down and tried to figure it out.
    I think I have to get over my hang up of having everything perfect before I start. My next three month goal is to get organized and get creative no matter if the results turn out the way I pictured it in my head or not.
    As always, THANK YOU the inspiration!

  • 29.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I am looking forward to putting out my last couple December Dailies this year :) .

  • 30.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Great link to Danelle’s albums – I love that idea too. I love it especially because it focuses so much on the photos.

  • 31.
    April G said…

    I scrapbook for personal well-being, so all of my layouts go into albums in the order I scrapbook them. I do make a small 8×8 album featuring some of my sons big events by year. When he moves out he can take those with him. However I hope to leave a few truck loads of albums for my family to figure out what to do with when I die.
    When my grandma died we went through all of her photo albums and remembered her life. We each took the photos we wanted, I hope to leave a lasting memory like that.

  • 32.
    kim Strother said…

    I don’t stress about this. I make the pages and I’m just happy I made it. I have not put a single layout into an album this year. They are all in on big pile and at the end of the year I will go into the kids albums and add them. I have loosely made them an album for each year, but I do not scrap in order and therefore I cannot just add a layout as I finish it. I also do not worry about a layout that has both my kids in it. I kind of have in mind who’s album it will go in and I figure they are brother and sister. They should look at each others albums. So it’s all good with me. Hopefully one of them will be into recording the family history and they will be the keeper of the albums about me and my husband. My real worry is I need more pages in our albums so my kids have our story. These are the hardest pages for me to make.

  • 33.

    I have 2 children, 6 years apart so my first child has lots of books with just her but when I had my son, every picture I took had both of them in it. I started to drive myself crazy with trying to figure it out. One day I was complaining to my mom about how I didn’t know what to do and she said ” Darlin’ (we are from the south you know) you just go on and do what I plan…let ya’ll duke it out after my funeral” I laugh everytime I think about that and that is my plan…let them duke it out after I am long gone. Have a good day!

  • 34.
    Betsy said…

    This is a timely subject for me as well, as we just introduced baby #3 into our family this week (in fact, I am typing this while still in the hospital!). I basically do the same as Ali’s system. I don’t have time/energy to duplicate pages for each child. I have three sets of 3-ring American Crafts binders in different colors for each child, red, pink, and green. Then I have black 3-ring albums for our family pages and also for my “week in the life” and “month in review” layouts. More black albums for layouts of me and my husband’s childhood and of layouts about us now. If the layout is about more than just one child, I decide which child is the main subject and put it in their album. If it is about them all equally, it goes in our family albums. Works for me! And I am a huge advocate of 3-ring binder albums just so you can slip layouts in where ever they go, rather than having to create layouts chronologically.

  • 35.
    Chere' said…

    I have 3 daughters. I’m a fairly slow scrapper and it’s also important to me to keep pretty current – before the stories & memories fade away. So I have one ongoing family album. There are pages of everything in there – family, pets, individual kids, kids together – whatever. I have started making mini or 8×8 albums of special events or vacations. I figure they can fight out who gets what later, or make copies! Thanks for the ideas – I always find inspiration here! May even attempt the December Daily this year!

  • 36.
    Angie in Japan (again) said…

    Sorry! I posted earlier but as I was reading the other comments, I thought of something else…
    when you use the 3-ring binder with a two page layout, how do you get it to fit together? With a post bound album, I think the layout are easier to look at, especially if I am splitting a picture or the title.
    It seems with a 3-ring the page will have a big gap in it. Or is that something you don’t worry so much about. Most two page layouts I have seen pictures of are taken out of the sleeve so it is very easy to see how they fit together. But when they get put into a binder, it’s not as seamless.
    I’m sorry that my question is a little off topic but I would love to use the 3-rings rather than post bound. The 3-rings are much easier to find in Japan and cheaper!

  • 37.
    Staci Lynch said…

    Hi Ali!
    I first wanted to say that you are truly so inspiring! I have recently gotten two of your books and can’t put them down! Besides such great scrapbooking inspiration they are helping me realize life is to short and to enjoy each moment with my wonderful husband and three little boys! (Today we are going park hopping and picnic lunch!) I was excited to that you lived “close”! I live just north of Seattle. I have family that live in Creswell and that is were my grandparents grew up and got married! I have been wanting to write and tell you that I LOVE your style and really thank you for hopefully helping me find my own! As for the question..all of my layouts are sitting in a pile on top of my shelf. They are getting ruined and I totally appreciate the push to get them in albums! Again, love all of you work and I think your photography is wonderful. I appreciate that you have pictures taken of you and the kids. I look at my photos and I have very few of the “moments” I wish I had on film. Have a wonderful weekend!!

  • 38.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Hi Angie -it’s something I totally don’t worry about :) . You can see the full inside of one of my albums here: /2008/03/anatomy-of-an-a.html

  • 39.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Congrats Betsy!

  • 40.
    Melanie J said…

    I began making individual albums for each child and having duplicate (but personalized) pages for events that involved them all. However, now that I have five children (ages 10, 7, 6, 4 and almost 1) I can’t keep up with that. So, I just make the pages I want to (kind of like how you mentioned the “love notes” to your kids) for each child and put them in their albums. If there are pages with our family or more than one child, and the journaling isn’t directed to one particular child, the page goes in our family album.
    I also have an album that is pages about me or special thoughts and memories that I have. Family history-type pages go into our family album right now. However, in the future (as I’m making more of these lately) I will designate a special album for those pages.
    Thanks for all of your inspiration. I don’t know how you keep up with all that you do. But I’m glad you do because it motivates me :)

  • 41.
    Liz Ness said…

    I totally agree: Organizing is so personal (we remember, recall, and reconstruct so differently from person to person).
    Here’s the scheme I’m using — for the moment. I always feel the need to revisit the categories and adjust every couple of years…
    1. Duncan – his stories (Chronological)
    2. Duncan’s School Experiences (Chronological)
    3. Family (Chronological)
    4. Family Art(Chronological)
    5. Me (illustrated stories + art journal)
    6. Erik (my hubby) – his stories.
    7. Travel/Favorite Landscapes
    8. Artifacts + stories (don’t even know what to call this)
    Side note: I create digital, hybrid, and traditional stories. And, on a rare occasion, I’ll create a duplicate page. However, most of the time, I don’t. I think this might just be because my categories have pretty distinct boundaries for the way I think about my/our stories. However, I’m always reusing photos for my stories/art — this is a result of the duplicitous nature/function of the photo, I think.

  • 42.
    Anna Wasierski said…

    Thanks for explaining your system! I have 8 year old twins and over the year I have really simplified what I do. So…
    1) Each has their own personal album, the BH school kit and a Sports album. In their personal album, I try to scrap something quarterly, if nothing has been going on. Each year I summarize their birthday, Christmas and any other events, tonsil removal, etc. In their Sports album, I try to hit every season because they love to go back and talk about their accomplishments. The school album is a once a year 4 page layout.
    2) We have a quarterly Family Album, where once a quarter I scrapbook the season and hit allof the highlights
    3) We have a Vacation Album, where I will scrapbook what vacations we have done. It may be one per year or 3 or 4.
    4) Lastly, I complete a year end family book, usually 8 x 8. This year it is the 365 album. This usually summarizes the whole year and hits the major highlights.
    I have found that this system allows me to stay organized and not overwhelmed with the pressure to scrapbook. I can scrap as much or as little as I want.
    My kids are at the age where they love to go back and see what they were like as babies and those early years. So worth all my efforts to here them talk about what they see!
    Have a great weekend!

  • 43.
    tara pakosta said…

    I make 12×12 scrapbooks for each daughter (I have 2 girls) and I don’t really have them put away in albums yet, but when I do, I will try to do it by year as much as I can remember or if pages are dated . I have pages about michael and I, our dog, pages about me all in one. I then have a SISTERS album of pages of my girls or our family all together. I haven’t really done anything outside of those!

  • 44.
    Gayle said…

    I have two kids and am just going to let them have a big fight after I die over who gets the family scrapbooks. Each has a baby book and a school book of his own while the yearly books are about our entire family. Not doing multiple album-who has time?

  • 45.
    Heather Jordan said…

    I only have two children, daughters, so I have put everything into family albums. They can fight over them later! Just kidding…I assume they will share them, one taking them for a while and then the other keeping them. Never considered making two albums or duplicate pages.

  • 46.
    stacyj said…

    Hillary –
    I’m so tickled to hear that the family library system is working for you and that you need MORE albums. Keep up the great work!

  • 47.
    stacyj said…

    Ali — what great comments. I’ve really enjoyed reading how your blog readers are approaching album organization. This can be such an overwhelming thing. I love teaching Library of Memories at BPS each year — I’d love you to mention my class at some point. It’s such a flexible system and can be adapted to many situations. I replied to Hillary you mentioned it here — hope that’s OK!

  • 48.
    Melissa said…

    I’m so glad to read all the comments on this! I have 2 1/2 yr old twin girls, and I haven’t started scrapping a single thing due to deciding this (well, and general procrastination.) I’m concerned that if I don’t do exactly the same layout for both of them I’ll have to listen to whining later, about whose is better, etc. I love the idea of a first year album for each, but then just family albums from then on – and if they have to fight over them later, so be it!

  • 49.
    Connie said…

    I enjoyed reading your comments on how you are organizing your pages. Can you tell me what it is you are using to protect and cover up your scrapbooks? I tried searching your site to find it in an older post but couldn’t find anything.

  • 50.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Sure Connie – that is from the Container Store. Here’s a link:
    The shelf unit is from Costco.

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