Don’t let the idea of scrapbooking scare you. It’s not just for grannies, I promise. It’s a really fun hobby and a great way to document deployments, moves, promotions, homecomings, balls and all the special events of military life!
Lots of retail craft stores have military themed scrapbooks and entire scrapbook sections with themed paper and stickers for events like homecoming or graduation, all of the service branches and all sorts of patriotic embellishments. Don’t forget to do a quick web search or grab the Sunday paper for coupons to the craft stores so you get the best deals.
Side note: I cannot lie to you. I think I bought out the entire patriotic/all-American/military scrapbooking line at our local craft store. I’m a little obsessed, yes. Fortunately, my husband knew this when he married me!
So where to begin? Choose what size album you want to make. If you’re new to scrapbooking, I like the 8 x 8 albums because they’re smaller and easier to work with. The 8.5 x 11 and 12 x 12 albums are great because you can fit more photos on a page, but sometimes they can be daunting if you don’t know what you want to include in your layout. Either way, pick a size before you do anything!
Next up, I like to start with a favorite photo. One 4 x 6 photo is plenty for an 8 x 8 scrapbook, or you can add some smaller ones to go with it. For 12 x 12 scrapbooks, I use anywhere from three to five photos per page. I print my photos at home, but sometimes it also helps to print out a bunch at a drugstore or other photo print shop.
Looking at my photo, I grab any mementos I’ve saved that fit with the photo. Movie tickets stubs, a torn off piece of wrapping paper, a business card, a copy of an award, etc. Sometimes I have too much; sometimes I have none at all. It really doesn’t matter, but it’s nice to preserve those little tidbits if you can.
Then I like to choose which paper and/or embellishments to use. It’s best not to go too overboard with either. If you have a graphic paper for the background, you may just need to mount your photo on a solid piece of paper and not use any stickers or embellishments at all. Or, if you have stickers that are perfect for that memory, go with a solid colored background paper.
Add a title to your page, like “My Hero,” or “Our First Date After Afghanistan.” Hey, whatever works! Straight and to the point can be just as good as a clever title. You can either write on the paper or do it with alpha stickers. It’s really just whatever floats your boat! I also like to add a little bit of journaling to each layout to remember certain things, like the date or the emotions associated with it.
Generally, I arrange everything on the paper before gluing it down. Then, I either use archival gluesticks or photo squares to set everything in place, and voila! The scrapbook page is complete.
Scrapbooks make wonderful gifts for family, friends and even your service member. Next time my husband deploys, I fully intend on making him a mini scrapbook of our favorite photos to take with him. Then when he gets back, I’ll scrapbook the deployment, too. How cool will it be having all those photos and moments to share with our future babies and grandbabies?
Whether your service member is in the military for a few years or up until retirement, recording the milestones of his or her military career and your family life during that time is an important part of preserving your photos, memories and heritage.