Scrapbooking Essentials

I will admit that before I started scrapbooking, it looked like a expensive hobby to me. All those scissors, papers, idea books, templates and such could add up! But I really wanted to give it a try, and even though I was on a budget, I was determined to find a way to make this something I could afford.

The first piece of advice I would give to beginners is to keep it simple. Many times the most impressive scrapbook pages are those which are simplistic – they are uncluttered and in my opinion these are much more appealing. Also, realize that removing your photos from those boxes and acid-containing photos albums is the most important step in scrapbooking. What you do after this step is secondary. Your main goal with scrapbooking should be to preserve memories.

If you do have to watch your spending, I also advise you to start your new scrapbooking hobby with a friend, if possible. When you have someone to work on your pages with, you have twice as many tools to use and you can also give each other ideas and support. My sister and I would go to the craft stores together and we make sure that we don’t buy duplicates of any templates, scissors, punches and other such tools. It has worked out great for us.With all that said, when you first start scrapbooking there are a few things you can’t do without. Here is a breakdown of those items and some suggestions:


For your first album, you will need to decide which album best suits your needs. You will find that there is a wide variety available. Some may be post-bound, spiral-bound or three-ring binders. Some have pages intact for your scrapping work or are the kind that you must add your own pages. You must give thought to what will work best for you, what your budget allows, and what type of album it will be.

One of the best resources I have found on the Net to assist you with your decision is the NewBee’s Guide To Choosing an album at They list the pros and cons of several different options. You will also need to make a decision on the size of your album and pages. Most scrapbooking albums and papers are either 12″ x 12″ or 8 1/2″ x 11″.


It is important to keep in mind with all paper that you use for scrapbooking, that it is acid-free. Many crafts stores that sell scrapbooking supplies will have an assortment of paper that is ideal for archival use.

I advise the beginning scrapbooker to purchase a package of acid-free solid colored paper, preferably one that has several different colors in it. Having an assortment like this will allow you to start out without spending a lot of money on paper you may never use. Hold off on purchasing lots of specially themed paper until you are ready for it.


Having a pair of good, sharp scissors is a definite must. You may even want to consider buying a new pair just for your scrapbooking. I don’t include decorative scissors in this section because they really aren’t a necessity. It is nice to use them occasionally, but your plain sharp scissors will be what you need the most.

While some may not consider a paper trimmer a necessity, I do. Of all my tools, my paper trimmer is the one tool I use each and everytime I sit down to scrapbook. Fiskars sells a very popular trimmer in two different sizes. Even if you scrapbook in the smaller 8.5″ x 11″ size, I strongly recommend you invest in the larger trimmer that allows you to cut up to 12″ at a time.


Once you have all of the above, you need to have something to make your photos stick to the paper. Once again, there is a wide variety and you will have to determine what works best for you. Some of the options include photo corners, double sided tape, glue pens, glue sticks and paper cement. Be sure that the adhesive you use is acid-free.

I have used glue pens for most of my scrapbooking, until recently I fell in love with the Hermafix Tab Glider. In addition to using my Hermafix, I still use glue pens that dispense a small amount of glue that dries clear.


An acid-free, archival quality pen for journaling is a necessity. To start off, just buy a basic black pen, and if you want, you can add to your collection later.


I feel that sheet or page protectors are a necessity. As you would expect, they must be acid-free and I recommend those that are top-loading. Don’t skip the page protectors as this is excellent “insurance” against fingerprints, dust, and other materials.

That concludes my list of scrapbooking essentials. Make sure you have the above items and you can get started on preserving memories!

About the Author

Brandie Valenzuela is a busy wife and homeschooling mom to three children in Victorville, CA. She is a scrapbook product designer for, as well as a scrapbook teacher at Starlite Expressions, a scrapbook store in her hometown. Brandie is also honored to be member of the Pages of the Heart Design Team at