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


  • 51.
    Ali Edwards said…

    You are always welcome to comment Stacy :) . I definitely recommend Library of Memories for anyone interested in learning more about album organization. I know I have referenced it in the past on here and will definitely do it again in the future.

  • 52.
    Connie said…

    I found it after continued searching – Costco and the Container Store. Have a great weekend!

  • 53.
    Ali Edwards said…

    My guess is that they will love and treasure anything you do for them Melissa :) .

  • 54.
    Lisa Cutler said…

    Ali, great post. I have 3 kids and do simliar to what you say – if there is only one kid in the layout, it goes in their album. If more than one kid is in it, it goes towards whomever the journaling is directed.
    As for the family album, I do this craft for me – I love the creative outlet it provides at the same time as I am memory keeping for my family and if there are fights when I am gone over who gets what, that won’t be my problem :-)
    I do not ever do repeat layouts for the kids – I may do the same basic sketch with different papers, etc,. but if we all go to the pumpkin patch, for example, I select a few photos of just each child and do a page about it for their album. None of the 3 layouts look even remotely the same, not that they would care but because I feel like my creative mojo would be diminished if I kept repeating layouts.

  • 55.
    Julie L. said…

    Michaels had a couple on their shelves. The only color available is brown. But this week the albums are 45% off.

  • 56.
    tchrtiff said…

    Thank you so much for sharing–Ali and all the commenters! I love to hear how people organize b/c it gives me so many ideas and things to think about that I had not thought about before. Thanks for all the inspiration!!
    I don’t make scrapbook layouts very often (I’m more of a card maker and paper crafter) but each of my two kids has his/her own 12×12 school scrapbook thanks to Becky Higgins’ kit. I also have an 8×8 album for each child for Halloween. Each two page spread represents one particular year. We love to look at these albums and can easily see the growth and costume changes from year to year. I’m thinking of doing this same thing (small 8×8 album) as a birthday book for each child.
    If I do start making more layouts I like the idea of all the layouts going in the family album so everyone in the family can look at them and then they decide after I’m gone which they want. You never know what “attachment” one particular child will have about a particular layout. If both kids want the same layout they can color copy it or there might be some new even better technology that will help them.

  • 57.
    Michele H. said…

    Love your system Ali. I totally remember when you went through the re-organization process.
    The yearly albums for Simon, do you place the layout in order of the year you created it or when the photo was taken? Do each of the yearly albums have an opening page?
    Thanks so much for bringing this topic up again. I’m in the process of re-organizing myself.

  • 58.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I don’t do opening pages. The pages in Simon’s album are chronological by the stories documented. Stories from 2009 go in the 2009 album. If I create a page of a story from 2007 today that layout goes in the 2007 album.
    I don’t scrapbook chronologically, just organize that way. This is one of the big reasons I like the 3-ring binder albums.

  • 59.
    Sarah O. said…

    PERFECT post for me to read TODAY! This exact thing is on my to do list…”set up memory-keeping system” thanks for the encouragement and IDEAS. Love reading your blog and practical ideas for keeping it simple and realistic. Thanks, Ali!

  • 60.
    Deirdre said…

    Thanks for sharing all this! I’m trying to balance what works for me with what I imagine my sons wanting/enjoying (because that’s a huge part of what I want to see!). Thanks for the idea of the sports album…I can already see the need for that!
    Does the quartly family album and the year end famiy book overlap? Right now those are the two ideas I’m torn between—I want one or the other to just get our photos out and seen by them now. Which one do you like better and how are they different? Thanks!

  • 61.
    Angie in Japan said…

    Thanks Ali! That was super heplful. I’m gonna start right in to get my pages organized. (fingers crossed)
    On a side note – I’ll be going to CKU-J(apan) next week. I’m hoping to catch a couple of classes and do a bit of shopping. It should be good times!

  • 62.
    Anna Wasierski said…

    My kids love their sports albums. These scrapbooks also include skiing, the yearly triathlon and our biking accomplishments, along with soccer, basketball or whatever they particpated in. This is their go to album because it has their friends in it!
    For our quarterly family album, I truly follow the seasons and do a 2 page 12 x 12 layout. It allows me to personalize what happened that quarter. Our year end album only hits the major highlights from each month. So they may overlap a little but the family album is much more detailed. If I had to choose, I would do only the family album. The year end album allows us to look at the whole year at a glance because I usually go month by month. My kids like this one because it is usually smaller. I do both because the family album is only 4 layouts a year and the year end album I can out together in about 4-5 hours. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • 63.
    Tensy Bodker said…

    I have three children (22, 20 and 17). Over the years this have been my method:
    1. A series of chronological albums for each child. Each child’s albums go into a metal mesh basket which is displayed promenantly on a low bookshelf in our basement rec room. Their friends love to browse through them!
    2. I keep one album of annual holiday cards and accompanying letters. This is a great way of quickly seeing how the family has changed over the years and to laugh over the silly letters.
    3. Special one topic albums. Specific trips (summer trips to Israel, Jr. year abroad in Italy, Sports–my daughter’s tennis team gives a scrapbook to each senior with pictures, supplied by the parents, of all their years on the team and letters from the coach, Scouting–presented at my son’s Eagle ceremony–every parent there wanted to pay me to make one for their kid , LOL)
    4. My main goal is to keep them as separate as possible, so when they set up their own homes each will have his/her albums. My sisters and I had major issues dividing our family albums. The sister who had possession was nice enough to pay to have the majority of the pictures scanned into a CD, but years later I still haven’t had time to reproduce them into albums and would have prefered the originals.

  • 64.
    jukeb0x said…

    Scanning solved the problem of who gets which photos that my Dad took of all 6 of us in the 50′s and 60′s. I gotta believe future technology will solve the problem of reproducing all the LOs I’m creating for my 4 kids. My only must-do is to take a detailed digital photo of each LO.

  • 65.
    Michele H. said…

    Oh WOW!! That totally makes sense to me!! I never thought about it based on stories!! Thank you so much for your quick response :)

  • 66.
    Maegan said…

    I do essentially the same thing but with a few more categories. Taking Stacy’s LOM class completely revolutionized the way I organize my scrapbooks. There are a few pages though that fall into multiple categories but since I am digital I can easily have duplicate layouts printed.

  • 67.
    Anthea said…

    Thanks Ali for your advice. We have had a whole thread on Scrapbooking Memories forum about this subject and we hadn’t got an answer so your advice is very much appreciated.

  • 68.
    Emilyt said…

    I do almost the same thing with my layouts. I never duplicate (or should i say, I haven’t yet) and don’t plan to. If I make a layout with one of my two daughters as the subject, it goes into their individual albums. I do have family albums and those are a mix of layouts that feature both kids, mixes of family members, events that we have all shared togther, or pets. I have a separate album for Christmas, since that seems to be the holiday that most photos are taken and it has the same themey type of papers.
    I am delving a bit into mini albums so that is an unknown for me right now and I do plan on using three ring binders in the near future.
    I also don’t currently have anything in chronological order as I scrap what inspires me from earlier photos as I go. Maybe someday my girls will help me with that task. :)

  • 69.
    Helen Tilbury said…

    Hi Ali. Was so interested to just read this (got a bit behind on my blog reading this week) I have been wondering exactly the same thing & actually wanted to e mail you myself but wasn’t sure if I was at liberty to do that. I have 4 children & scrap mostly at home but weekly with a friend with 3 kids. She repeats each layout (same photos) three times, identically with same photos & journaling 3 times but uses different paper. I have read your post & I already do things similarly to you as far as the categories go & how to choose who gets what. If I only have enough photos of one “event” for example & we are all included then the layout goes in the family album. If it is more than one of the kids together then I decide who will have it based on who I am “talking to” in the journaling or often dependant on who has the most for that time period! I often find the girls end up with tons more layouts than the boys because they are happier to be photographed so if it is 2 or 3 of them in the photos together I put it in the boys albums to try to ensure that each child has ROUGHLY the same amount of layouts per time period. I am glad to see that your system is pretty similar to mine. I could never repeat the same thing 3 or 4 times. a) doesn’t seem like good time management to me and b) I wouldn’t enjoy doing it because I would find it boring & uninspiring. If there was a way of copying them for separate albums (if I had a 12inch printer & the necessary paper) then that would be an option but here in South Africa no-one can do that – not even professional printing shops. The 12inch size is not available – that’s why I haven’t got excited about “Going Digital” because there would be no way for me to print my pages here – therefore it seems pointless. I have started enjoying a bit of hybrid though & actually printing smaller elements using my regular pc printer & adding them to my layouts. My idea has always been that each child “inherits” their albums on their 21st birthday & I plan on giving them to them in a bookshelf or kist. Now that I have 2 teenagers & see how irresponsible they are (LOL!) I am having second thoughts about that idea & may “present” them to them at a later stage & hang onto them for safekeeping ;-D

  • 70.
    Helen Tilbury said…

    Oh & btw I also scrap non-chronologically then organise the layouts later so wish that I could get the 3 ring albums here. I have to use the post ones which I hate because they are such a hassle to keep undoing & reorganizing(hence I do it twice yearly & add the tonne of layouts I have created in that time). To keep them in good condition during the six months I still use post albums-just add 10 refills so there are 20 per album & add the pages in as I do them(the 3 ring Memory Keepers ones I plan on changing to ultimately are not available here so it would mean importing dozens of them myself – plan on doing that one day in the future when the kids have left home & when there will hopefully be less money going in their direction LOL). I don’t bother with “opening pages” in the kids albums as they simply flow from one to the next & each child has plenty already. Hope my chiming in helps someone ;-D

  • 71.
    Helen Tilbury said…

    Oh dear forgot to say that I DO ORGANISE them chronologically in the albums – just that I don’t scrap them chronologically. Okay definitely my last comment!!!

  • 72.
    Rebecca Brigham said…

    I too have albums for each of my two children and a family album. Same kind of approach. I can’t even imagine making two of the same page for each of my two kids… so much to scrap, so little time.

  • 73.
    msp1329 said…

    Ali of course your idea is great. It would be so much easier if I had babies at home. Unfortunately, my son and daughter are well consumed in their lives and I catch a piece here and there.I have attended 14 years of classes and try and insert pictures, but the process isn’t me. I’m working on developing my own style without freaking out.I am enjoying scrapbooking my granddaughters, I wish they were closer. I do nothing chronologically.I really get tons of info about me and someone else. Getting over feeling selfish and becoming full of self! I thank Ali, Staci, and Cathy. They will be separate b/c I have different things to say to each of them.Thank you all. Marilyn

  • 74.
    Diane Herman said…

    Thanks Ali for sharing this. I to organise my albums this way but kept feeling I shold do multiple layouts for each of my 3 children. So it good to know I am thinking like you and many others.
    As far as who gets what down the track…I was thinking that I may just scan same pages from the family album if more than 1 of my girls whats that story in their albums. Or even scan some of the most relevant layouts and print them in an 8 x 8 Digital album.
    My girls are ages 18, 6 & 4 so my eldest has already benn deem…Keeper Of The Family Albums! And has agreed to share them with her little sisters any time…I can imagine her even scanning pages for her sisters one day.
    Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us!!!

  • 75.
    Deirdre said…

    I wondered what were the chances you’d even see that question when I came back today—and here’s a detailed answer! Jackpot!
    Thanks so much. I think I’m going to do the year end album via shutterfly, only because I know I’d feel behind with the monthly layouts. Then I’ll scrap all that listed under #1 and whatever stories I’m inspired to tell.
    Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • 76.
    Deirdre said…

    I’d love to hear the specific categories you came up with—love hearing how people adapt LOM!

  • 77.
    Jade Conran said…

    It has been great reading how everyone sorts their scrapbooks so differently. Ultimately you have to do what works for your family. For us this is what we do (with one child)
    Ongoing Albums-
    Son’s album- Chronologically I do as many of these as I need I run at about 1 per quater at the moment.
    Family Album- I generally end up with 2 albums per year. I try to include one layout per month of our son and then I duplicate birthday and Christmas layouts.
    Project 365 Album
    Christmas Album- I do between 4-6 layout per Christmas and I include our Christmas card and letter.
    My husband and I both have a childhood album, but I have enough photos to do another one each.
    People we love album- Random photos from the last few years that missed being scrapbooked but that I wanted included somewhere.
    These are all 12×12 WR Memory Kepper ring binders.
    I also do extra 8×8 or 6×6 albums for different things through the year.
    Duplicating definitely helps me a lot- I get to include and scrap all the important photos I want to but I also get them into the different albums I have. It also depends on your scrap style as I am a very simple and quick scrapper and mainly like to focus on the photos and journaling.

  • 78.
    Linda said…

    You know ultimately I think our scrapbooks are OURS not our kids. I know alot of us scrapbook FOR our kids but the reality is they may not even want the albums we are doing.
    So I say do one of everything for yourself and like others have said, just let your kids work out who gets what when and IF they want it.

  • 79.
    Susanne said…

    Love your statement. I was thinking about this for the last weeks as well, because we our 2nd child arrived 4 weeks ago. I think you are right – they can take what they want some day, but for now its about documenting and creating.

  • 80.
    rebecca keals said…

    I also have an album system like yours, but I don’t do duplicate pages. If there is a pic I really love that I want to have in both albums, I scrap the picture twice using 2 different layouts. I have a boy and two girls so I generally do a more boyish layout for one and a more girly one for the other, I also have an album for Christmas.

  • 81.
    TracyBzz said…

    I use Stacy Julian’s LOM (Library of Memories) system. I use 12×12 albums and put in all sizes of protectors.
    As far as which kid will get which album. I’m not worried. I figured in many many years when I’m gone my girls can take which pages/albums they want. In this modern age (in years from now even more advances will be made) they can scan them, copy them or do whatever with them. So they can each have any or all the pages I’ve done.

  • 82.
    Crazy Daisy said…

    This is very timely. Though I have no children, I am trying to figure out all our organization of albums. Thanks!

  • 83.
    Christine said…

    It is so interesting to see how people set their album system up! I do not have children, so I find my system is simpler than most. I have scrapbooks for ‘Celebrations’ (which is just that, and of any occasion or event), ‘Loved Ones’ (which includes Family, Friends and Pets), and ‘Mine’ (which is about me and showcases things I like to scrap about (my garden, photography, etc.). (‘Mine’ is not as self-indulgent as it sounds!). I also have a ‘graduation’ scrapbook for my niece and nephew (all in one book). I find this system works for me, but am sure it will grow and change as time passes. Thank you for all the ideas! Christine, Vancouver, BC

  • 84.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    I use the WR Memory Keepers Albums and have various *volumes* on the go.
    1. Christmas
    2. Halloween
    3. Anna and Eric
    4. Luke Birthday
    5. Ella Birthday
    6. Davies Family
    7. Aspnes Family
    8. Anna AAM
    9. Eric (mostly Military)
    10. Anna Work
    11. Ella School
    and then I have yearly albums to catch all the rest :)

  • 85.
    Anika said…

    I know this is late but I am struggling for suggestions.. I want to giv emy son his own album ( he is 19 mos) I was gonna do my daughters book from age 3 on as a family album since he was born a month after she turned 3 my question how do I give him his own and do a family album at same time… I have alot of pics of him and her and her alone but his alone pics form that year will be in his book? Do u see my delima I dont wanna repeat pages pics etc.. so how do I do this .. does the family book become her and him together and pics of her alone i like since his are in his own book.. (baby album) or….. Ideas please.

  • 86.
    Online Pharmacy said…

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  • 87.
    Sheri said…

    I came to your website today to see your organization method of your albums again.. I’m starting on a school album for my son. It’s his first year of pre-k. I thought I would have school stuff separate from the regular album but now I’m questioning if that should be the way to go…ugh! What to do….what to do. what to do. Do you put your son’s school information in all of one album (school, home, etc.) I purchased that Becki Higgins kit also….hmmmm. I just want to get it right. I don’t want to have to tear it apart later and then put it all back together again. Thanks for blogging your organization methods….even though now I’m still undecided…

  • 88.
    sue said…

    Ali – Thanks for sharing your family with us. They are beautiful. Also, thanks for sharing your scrapbooking tips. I also organize by child but have one album just for travel as I do not scrapbook chronologically. I have one from CKU – Chicago 2006 & 2008 and since my two youngest daughters got married this summer, I have started a wedding album. I use binder albums as it is easier to rearrange.

  • 89.
    Maggie said…

    This part stays the “hard part” if you ask me! Knowing where to divide things up and not have it all together, but it being “too much” to focus on or put all together meaningfully.

  • 90.
    Alaine said…

    I have 4 children and a grandchild and I organise my albums exactly the same way that you do. I find it easy and never have trouble deciding where a page needs to go.

  • 91.
    Diane said…

    Hi Ali, where did you get your binders/photo albums. I really like them.

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