Scrapbooking is a fun and easy (really!) way to create a lasting memory of your family vacation and, best of all, everyone can participate.

Here’s a terrific way to save and share your memories of a family reunion or group vacation. You don’t particularly need scrapbooking “skills,” and with this method, everybody on the trip gets a copy of the finished product, rather than just one family  member. And it’s just as fun making the book as it is looking at it later on – even the littlest family members can join in.

You’ll act as the point person. All you have to do is bring a few basic supplies: 8.5×11 white cardstock (allow one sheet for each family member, plus a few extra), markers, scissors, glue and photo-mount tape (the double-sided, acid-free variety is quick and easy). You might also throw in a few embellishments, such as some sticker sets with a vacation theme or other motif that fits in with your destination or occasion. A couple pairs of fancy-edged scissors can be fun too, and supplies for matting photos (colored cardstock squares or simple construction paper you trim to fit) are a very nice touch.


The most important item to have on hand is cameras. A bunch of them. If each family has a digital camera, so much the better. If not, hit a local drugstore and pick up several inexpensive disposable cameras – these are also great fun for the kids to have (you know how they love taking their own pictures). During the first few days of your trip, tell everyone to take pictures like crazy. Not just of landmarks and such, but especially of each other, whether you’re swimming, eating, napping, or just hanging out. Shots of small groups – say, Uncle Kevin tickling baby Phoebe while cousin Alex watches and cracks up – are great. Midway through your trip, bring all the film (or your digital memory card, or the disposable cameras) to a drugstore or other quick photo developing place. Get prints of everything. You can save money by just getting single prints.

During those first few days, you might also keep an eye out while sightseeing for small, flat items like postcards, stickers and parts of maps that show the places you’ve visited. You can cut them up and use them to decorate your scrapbook page.

Now the fun part. Set aside a table at your vacation headquarters for the scrapbook project, and lay out all the supplies. Instruct everyone to make a page for himself or herself. It’s important to make sure each page is oriented the same way; the easiest to work with seems to be a landscape orientation (8.5 inches high, 11 inches wide). Each page’s contents are totally up to the creator, but suggest each include some photos of  favorite moments (thus far) on the trip. Try not to overcrowd each page. A great trick: Use scissors freely right on the photos. Trim them into interesting shapes and sizes. Try cutting all the background away from one photo on your page, so the building or person is in relief. It’s a great way to make something stand out, and it lets you fit many more images on a page. It’s nice if each creator includes his or her name on the page somewhere. Mom or Dad can make a page for the youngest children, if they like.

A word about the end product: Don’t worry about the pages being perfect, or slick, or terribly sophisticated. The point is to have fun making them, and to include stuff that will make you remember great moments on this trip. Nobody should hesitate to make a page because they think it won’t look good. Even the kids (especially the kids!): They can choose some photos they like, glue or tape them to a page, and draw around the pictures with markers. Or they might skip the photos entirely and make a drawing of something they love about the vacation. Or write a short essay! My 4-year-old nephew made two pages of his own, even trimming his photos to just the “good parts.” The cutting is ragged and some people’s faces are sliced in half, but his pages are terrifically charming because you can tell he did it himself. What a great way to memorialize your kids’ artistic inclinations at a particular age!

A nice finishing touch, if you can swing it, is to get someone (even a passer-by) to take a group picture of everyone on the trip. It doesn’t have to be fancy; in fact, the more “real” the better. Our family picked up coordinating Old Navy flag T-shirts just before the trip and wore them for this photo. You can print this shot larger if you like (say, 5×7 or so) after you get home, and turn it into a cover page for the vacation scrapbook.

Once you’re home with your stack of personal pages, put them in an order you like and take them to a copy shop. Ask for double-sided color copies with a spiral binding (the shop may have a few different types to choose from), with a clear protector sheet at the front. Get one book for each family or group. Color copies, as you may know, have improved tremendously in the past few years, and photos reproduce beautifully and inexpensively this way. My family’s book, which had about 10 double-sided pages (20 personal pages total), cost only about $20 per book.

Your last task is to mail the books to each family … then simply wait for the delighted phone calls. It’s a wonderful memento of a family reunion or vacation, and as much fun to make as it is to flip through those sandy beach photos in the dead of winter.