Here’s an easy, fun, and creative project to occupy the entire family during the holidays.
The holiday season is a time for recalling past memories, and for making new ones. It is also a time when parents are searching for meaningful activities to occupy their children while out of school. Creating a scrapbook of holiday memories with your children is a fun, easy, and engaging activity that allows kids to express themselves in a meaningful way.
A scrapbook is very much like a photo album, but is more decorative, and can include cropped or matted photos, memorabilia, and stickers or other embellishments. Each page should also use words (referred to as journaling) to tell what the photos are about.
Children can be involved throughout the entire process of creating a scrapbook, from taking pictures throughout the holidays, collecting memorabilia and planning the album, to selecting papers and decorative embellishments at the store, and creating and assembling the album
Planning the Album
Every family has their own holiday traditions. Sit down with your child, pen and paper in hand, and talk about the traditions you keep within your family. Brainstorm together about what photos to take, and what memorabilia to collect, to include in the scrapbook. Memorabilia can be anything flat that you would like to have as a keepsake, such as a Christmas card, a letter to or from Santa, gift tags, ribbons or scraps of wrapping paper. If your memorabilia is three dimensional, plan to take a photo of it instead of including the real item in your book, to avoid damaging the surrounding pages and photos.
Once you have a list of events and memorabilia that you and your child want to include, you can sit down and plan out the album page by page. An easy way to do this is to write down the event and the memorabilia to include for each page on separate sticky notes, and then arrange them on a blank piece of paper in the order you choose.
The first, single page of your album can be the title page, outlining what the album includes. Your child will love the sense of “authorship” if her name is included as the creator of the album on this page or on the last page.
When it comes to buying scrapbook materials, you really do get what you pay for, so it is important to consider the purpose of making the album. If you are simply looking for a way to pass the time alongside your child, then quality is not important, and you can be frugal when purchasing your supplies. However, if you want the scrapbook to last a generation or two, then it is advisable to invest in quality products that will withstand the test of time.
Depending on the quality of materials you want, scrapbooking supplies can be purchased at dollar stores, bookstores, department stores, arts and crafts stores, scrapbooking stores, onlines stores, and through local distributors.
What you need
A scrapbook – The most popular size is 12” x 12”, but 8” x 8” and 8 1⁄2” x 11” are also very common. The larger the album, the more room you will have for photos and memorabilia, but it will also take longer to complete. If you want the album to last a long time, then avoid glue or staple-bound albums which can fall apart easily, and look for one with a strap-hinge binding.
Page protectors – Most albums either come with page protectors or have page protectors designed to work with the album. They protect the contents of your album from fingerprints, dust, and spills. Side loading page protectors are best, since the opening tucks securely into the spine of the album.
Adhesives – White or liquid glue and rubber cement are a no-no when scrapbooking. They are messy, and can distort and discolour paper and photographs. Glue sticks are handy, but don’t adhere for long. Instead, look for tape runners or double-sided tape squares. They are no mess, no fuss, and are made specifically for scrapbooking.
Stickers and embellishments – There is such a wide variety of embellishments on the market that sometimes it is difficult to choose! Embellishments should be flat so they don’t damage the photographs and pages over time. However, if your goal is simply entertainment, then go ahead and use ribbon, wire, metal, or three-dimensional embellishments to your heart’s content. They are fun to experiment with, and can make your pages look stunning.
Tools – You can get by with a pair of scissors for cropping photos and cutting paper, and an acid-free, photo-safe pen for journaling. A trimmer is the best way to get a good, clean, straight cut, but it is not a necessity. If you are using a trimmer, make sure that your children are well supervised, or cut for them.
Punches are a great way to create embellishments. Children can be very creative and make all sorts of things using basic shapes. For example, a child can use different circle punches to create a snowman, and a square punch to create his hat.
It is important for your children to record holiday events as they see them, so allow them to take their own pictures. They should take pictures of anything memorable to them, such as photos of Mom cooking a traditional holiday meal, visiting family members, decorating the house for the holidays, wrapping presents, opening presents, going on family outings, the plate of cookies and milk left for Santa, and the crumbs left behind on Christmas morning.
Your child may want to use their own digital device (iPod, iPad) to take photos, but if you are using a digital camera, take the time to teach your child how to use and care for it, and set it to “auto”. The number of photo opportunities is unlimited. You can also preview the pictures and give your child tips on how to improve his photography skills, then print as many or as few of the pictures as you wish.
Getting your workspace ready
Start with a clear table. Once you have gathered all of the photos, memorabilia, and scrapbooking supplies, make sure that the tools, papers, writing instruments and embellishments are within everyone’s reach. It is a good idea to have a couple of baskets or bowls on the table as well – one for garbage, and one for scrap paper. Encourage kids to search for suitable paper in the scraps before cutting a new piece of paper. Save all of the leftover scraps and use to cut out shapes using punches, or make embellishments for other craft projects, such as greeting or thank you cards.
Assembling the pages
Children should be able to express themselves freely in creating their scrapbook pages. There is no right or wrong way to make a page. Children should choose the pictures they want to use, and crop them as they see fit in order to focus on the subject in the photo that they feel is important. They can choose to mat some, all, or none of the pictures using coloured paper.
They can also use punches to cut shapes out of photos or paper for embellishments, make borders to decorate the page, and decide on the placement of photos, embellishments, and memorabilia. Before adhering anything to the page, the final placement should be decided upon, and space should be left for journaling.
Journaling is one of the most important features of a scrapbook, because it tells the story behind the photos. Younger children could write a simple sentence, while older children should be able to write a full detailed paragraph or short story to accompany their photos. However, journaling can be as simple as just including the date and location of the event, or the names of the people in the photograph.
Journaling can be done in the child’s own handwriting for authenticity and sentimentality, or it can be typed on the computer for a more polished and professional look. Kids can mat the journaling area to create a box, and write out the description before adhering it to the page to avoid errors. Or they can use a letter sticker for the first letter, or write around the outside of a shape to embellish a page. A quote or poem can also be used for journaling a page.
Once all of the pages have been completed, it’s time to add them into the scrapbook. Your child can either arrange the pages according to the plan you set out before you began, or choose the order of the pages according to event or colours of pages. Take a moment to go through the finished book with your child, and talk about the memories you have saved together.
Creating a holiday scrapbook with your child allows you to spend quality time together, fosters creativity, reinforces the importance of family traditions and memories created as a family, and gives your child a sense of accomplishment with the completion of each page.
The finished project will be a keepsake of childhood memories that your child can share with others and look back on fondly for years to come. The time spent creating the album with you will be a lasting memory as well.