How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

by | Projects & Processes | 12 comments

For the past five years I’ve been using an approach to scrapbooking that combines layouts and pocket pages in one album. This unconventional take on organizing album content was a huge creative lightbulb moment for me. Ultimately, it is a semi-chronological strategy that leans on organization within the album to give more context to each story.

In that time I’ve used several 12×12 albums, as well as tried other dimensions on for size. In this post I want to share what I’ve learned, as well as my plans for the upcoming year. While I’m always still adding to older albums, I love starting fresh with clarity on how the new stories will be scrapbooked.

How I Plan to Scrapbook 2017

What I’ve Learned from Divided Albums

By using Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories categories as sub-divisions within my albums, I’ve found a freedom to follow my creative intuition. Some stories are so tiny they are captured with a cookie’s fortune stapled to a filler card. Other stories are so grand they deserve multiple pages of attention. But by creating these jewel-box collections of stories within a single album, each woven together by a theme, I’m able to listen to my muse without fear that it won’t “go”.

My albums since 2014 have featured monthly Project Life spreads (under “Things We Do”) along with layouts in the other categories, each using a different size of album. I found 8.5×11 to be so awkward that I switched back to 12×12 mid-year (2015). I’ve enjoyed the pocket pages of 9×12 (in 2016), but not odd-sized layouts. For me 12×12 is best, but your mileage may vary. I deeply believe that this approach (no matter what size or format you choose) can facilitate the creative shift you’ve been craving.

I love how my albums have come together with ease, but I need to admit that I feel restless and ready for a change.

My Album Approach for the 2017 Year

As I’ve considered what to change and what to keep the same for next year, here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • I want to limit my purchases and make a huge dent in my stash. I feel like we’re in a trend plateau at the moment, where color palettes are being refreshed but the overall style aesthetic is not shifting rapidly.
  • At the same time, I’m also feeling pulled to more minimalist designs with even fewer supplies. I’m thinking about photo books, the Project Life app, white borders, and typewritten journaling.
  • Layouts continue to come easier for me than pocket pages, though that doesn’t seem to diminish the deep satisfaction I have from the pocket pages I have completed. I still feel compelled to do both.

Ease is perennially a top priority for me. As much as I love creating, I can all-too-easily get in my own way with mental roadblocks and procrastination. Thus, I’m all about finding the most simple solution that will offer a satisfying experience. I’m always trying to find that intersection between what fills me up and fits my life.

With that in mind, in 2017 I will return to a 12×12 album. I love both 12×12 layouts and lots of 4×6 photos, making this album size (and Project Life Design A) more natural for my creative preferences. I’m also planning to adjust my content strategy, revisiting an approach I tried in 2013: including pocket pages within each category, focusing on the small stories.

My emphasis on small stories within just one category left my album feeling unbalanced in depth. In tandem, dividing my attention between telling stories of a single month and across time left me unfocused. I am eager to capture a broader suite of little details about life right now, while more actively pursuing deeper stories.

To do this, I need to fully shift my pre-album photo organization (collections in Lightroom) and my album planning to consider the four categories. Here’s what this looks like in theory:

  • Each week I will sort photos into Lightroom collections for Things We Do, People We Love, Places We Go, and All About Us. The original image files will remain organized by year and month folders.
  • Every two weeks I will rotate which category is my focus. I will create pocket pages and layouts for the current year, while also leveraging this thematic focus to create something for a previous year’s album.

Honestly, it’s taken writing this post to flesh out the approach in my own mind. I know it’s time to do something different, yet I feel pulled between what I know and some of the stylistic directions I admire. All that said, I feel a sense of contentment about this foundational structure, making it that much easier to trust my creative path will unfold before me.

Questions to Craft Your Own Plan

If you’re not 100% happy with your current process, here are some questions to help you customize your own approach for 2017:

  1. What products/styles are you most excited to scrapbook with?
  2. What size/format has been most successful for you in the past?
  3. What is the simplest approach that would feel satisfying?

Plus, if you would like to learn more about my divided album approach, make sure to follow the link below to download a free PDF guide that explains all the details.

Did you find this post helpful?

We believe simple is not how your page looks, but how your scrapbooking hobby works. We have a free workshop called SPARKED and it is the best way to learn more about Simple Scrapper and start creating consistently.


  1. Scrappy Barb

    Great read. I am energized to sit down and plan my scrappy approach to 2017. Thanks!

  2. Francine Seal

    For Scrapbooking, my favorite product is digital supplies.
    I prefer the 12×12 size layout – done digitally. BUT for the heritage albums (which really aren’t started) I will work with glue and paper. I have LOTS of heritage pictures from both sides of my family (birth and marriage families.)
    Digital is easiest.

    Now in addition to scrapbooking, I make greeting cards. My favorite “shop” (I should say ‘addiction’) is PaperWishes. I haven’t made digital cards. This year I want to get my finished cards organized and start to sell some collections (which means I need to get on the stick and CLEAN THE SCRAP ROOM! and GET BUSY making cards on a regular basis.)

  3. Cindy Davenport

    Thanks for sharing your plan Jennifer. Love the questions. I’m most excited about trying out an assortment of styles of pocket pages. Hoping this will at least get a box or two of photos documented and in albums. In the past I was most successful with 8.5×11 because due to size limitations it made me be a little more selective with which photos I used, products I purchased, etc. However(!), due to indecisiveness, I did more layouts which resulted in more bulkiness & more albums overall. Twelve by twelve was more fun creatively but I never found my peace & flow with it. Long term, I may turn to trying a few photo books which I see as possibly the simplest approach to get some of my digital photos “on paper” & stories documented.

  4. Roxanne Anderson

    I have Scrapbooker since 1988 and have over 130 12×12 albums completed. I have switched to smaller 6×8 albums because I find that no one looks at the 12×12 albums. They do pick up the smaller ones though and enjoy flipping through them. The small size force me to be more creative to tell the story in a compact way and be more selective of the better pictures that tell the story. I also keep up to date quite easily as I use a combination of pocket and full pages. I still do 12×12 albums for special occasions or gifts.

  5. Honore´

    I am mulling over your plan plus revisiting what has worked best for me and more importantly, what *will* work best. Everyday I grow older, I of course, add more stories to the “gathering” of the untold…however, this is THE YEAR to tell all! TBC…

  6. HelenH

    I maintain a 12×12 family album, but am making a dramatic change for ’17.

    I started a subscription kit with a monthly DaisyDori personal planner, size 3.5×6.5. I used it for December, creating collages of 2-4 photos on a 4×6 print. I ended up with 4-5 additional 12×12 layouts.

    I don’t take many day-to-day photos any more, so the intent is to document 2017 as an illustrated diary rather than a photo album. My scrapbooking will focus on other projects – school of life notebooks for my sons and several heritage albums.

  7. Angie

    My plan for 2017 includes breaking up with my attempt at Project Life over the last two years. I realized that what I really want is a chronological photo album of our photos as a “family” album, and then the very best of those get scrapbooked into each kids’ 12×12 album. I never really took the time to “put together” the pocket pages I was using and it was most complicated for me than just a simple, tradition photo album so I’m going to return to that.

  8. Kay

    Jennifer, your blog entries have brought me to the point of questioning how I really want to proceed – which is, I’m sure, the purpose of your comments. When I started scrapbooking 20 some years ago, I was using 12×12 albums. I rapidly found them to be terribly cumbersome because of the size and weight. They were especially hard for my mom and in-laws to handle. So I decided to move to the 8 1/2×11 size albums. In the meantime I have become a somewhat “hybrid” scrapbooker in that some pages have been done digitally and some in the traditional way. But your description of combining pocket pages with traditional layouts sounds like it might work for me. It also made me question whether 12×12 pocket pages would be a better choice. Decisions, Decisions!!

  9. Gab

    Great post – thanks Jennifer. You write so well and with such clarity

  10. Carrie Kelleher

    Love this post! You are so motivating me to analyze my plan for this year. I’m doing a mix of physical and digital. I’m doing my Project Life 365 for 2017 using the Project Life app only that I’ll print into 12×12 and then I’ll add different pages for special collections within that. Excited!

  11. Terri

    Hi, everyone. I had so much stuff for traditional scrapbooking and have been downsizing for 6 months trying to get it manageable so that I want to do it. My husband calls me a virtual scrapbooker. LOL. I also digital scrapbook. I love the idea of combining styles to suit your fancy. I’m wanting to get to a place where it is less stressful for me so that I can really enjoy scrapping the 30 years of kids and life I have to scrap. I am scrapping 12×12, but love the idea of going smaller, especially after hearing from another person here that no one looked at the 12×12. I am ready to get started. I look forward to interacting with all of you and Jennifer.T Thanks Jennifer for this.

    • Teaching Assistant - Kim Edsen

      Terri – It sounds like you are on your way! In regards to page size, I think it’s important to do what YOU enjoy. You may find you like smaller sizes, or you may find 12×12 is just right!



  1. Episode 24 – Documenting 2017 Roundtable - […] Jennifer’s Approach to Project Life […]

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