More important than the food or cake at the graduation party: An album

Every child deserves at least one photo album all about him or her.

Every time I talk about the ABCs of Photo Organization (a talk I’ve given at nearly four dozen libraries in Chicagoland in the past year and half), I tell participants to prioritize the clutter and volume of their photo collection to find about 100 photos about their child and make just one album for them.

And if their parents didn’t do this for them, they have my permission to it for themselves.

I believe in the power of a scrapbook photo album to make a person feel special, important and loved. And I also believe in practicing what I preach, so I made a point to finish the scrapbook I started for my stepson a couple of years ago in time to display it at his graduation party yesterday.

Nothing like a deadline to inspire action. I devoted at least six hours this past week to getting that last 50 photos into this scrapbook.

I don’t know where I got this artificial deadline for creating a kid’s scrapbook, but it sure beats making one for a funeral, which is probably the second most common family event where pictures are shared.

My stepson felt valued, and I felt special, too, as our guests raved about the book I made. So, whether you create a scrapbook for your child for altruistic reasons or selfish ones, here are some tips for getting it done:

album prioritize


Do not feel compelled to use every photo ever taken of the recipient. The album I made has 28 pages and 186 photos, but it covers my stepson’s 19 years pretty completely: Birth, family members, cake-eating-first birthday, kindergarten graduation, DisneyWorld, wrestling, football, confirmation, first (and second) jobs, first car (and the four following that one), girlfriend, high school graduation and a bunch of events in between. A viewer can look at and read the whole album in 20 minutes or less. By limiting the number of photos you use, you automatically cap the amount of time you have to devote to the project. I promise you, it’ll be no less valuable with a few hundred (or thousand) miscellaneous photos edited out.

album memorabilia

Add memorabilia

As with photos, you don’t need to include every report card and homework assignment. But a few programs and ticket stubs add texture. I also included a family tree.

album labeling


Describe who’s in the photos. Someday, your child’s child will want to know that old lady holding Dad when he was a baby is great-great-grandma.

album straight cuts


Limit decoration

You can go to great lengths decorating scrapbook pages, but I stuck with straight cuts on the photos and a few paper triangles as accents on most pages. I “wallpapered” about one-third of the pages with whole sheets of paper, usually when I had only one or two photos to display.

album guest page

Invite contributions

Since we displayed his album at his graduation party, we invited guests to sign the last page of my stepson’s album. Now I don’t necessarily have to add photos of the party to the album to have a record of it.


3 comments on “More important than the food or cake at the graduation party: An album

  1. […] signatures on the back page (see a few pages of the album including the guest book page here), and we ran a slide show of more pictures on the big […]

  2. Great ideas!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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