Do You Make Gift Scrapbooks?

This entry is part 41 of 86 in the series Scrapworthy Lives Results

Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.

Most respondents in my study made a scrapbook as a gift at some point. Some made several while others no longer make gift scrapbooks. I heard horror stories about what gift receivers have been rumored to do with these gifts. For example, one respondent had a friend who made a scrapbook as a gift and the receiver stored the album in a garage in Florida! Now, the scrapbooker was not expecting the gift to be stored on the coffee table necessarily (as some scrapbookers report their gift-recipients had done), but they do expect some care to be taken in the storage of the scrapbook. A garage in Florida is simply too humid and will destroy the book.

Making a scrapbook as a gift often requires more time, thought, emotion, and money, than is typically put into selecting a gift. For these reasons, scrapbookers are disappointed if the gift recipient does not display what they consider to be appropriate appreciation. My findings support previous scholar’s (Kelley and Brown 2005) findings on gift scrapbooks. That is, scrapbookers selectively make scrapbooks as gifts because they quickly learn that not everyone appreciates the time, thought, emotion, and financial resources that go into creating them. These findings are similar to the findings regarding other crafters. Potts (2006:36) finds that among knitters, “time and effort mean, and make tangible, love and care” and they also are disappointed by the lack of appreciation of their hand-knitted gifts.

Like quilters who give quilts as gifts to friends and family, these gifts strengthen these ties in gendered ways (Doyle 1998; Stalp 2006). Gift scrapbooks are made for family, boyfriends and girlfriends, friends, co-workers, and children’s teachers. Co-workers are given scrapbooks as going away gifts when they retire or quit. Most often the reaction to the gift is that the recipient loves it.

Sometimes gift scrapbooks take the place of a thank you card. For example, in one respondent’s scrapbook for the respondent’s mother she included photographs of her children on the bicycles their grandma bought them with the caption, “thanks, grandma.” Most gift scrapbooks are done out of love and the scrapbooker intends the recipient to get the message that they love them through the gift scrapbook. Gift scrapbooks, like photographs, are exchanged to reaffirm family bonds (Musello 1979).

Sometimes gift scrapbookers are intentionally incomplete. For example, a scrapbooker might make an album with spots reserved for photos as a gift for a friend who is having a baby with the intent that the friend will put photos in those spots later.

Do you make scrapbooks as gifts? What has your experience with gift scrapbooks been like? Join the conversation below or on facebook.


Doyle, Amanda. 1998. “The Fabric of Their Lives: Quilters Negotiating Time and Space.” Women’s Studies Journal 14(1):107-29.

Kelley, Ryan E. and Charles M. Brown. 2005. “Cutting Up with the Girls: A Sociological Study of a Women’s Scrapbooking Club.” in The Eastern Sociological Society. Washington, D.C.

Musello, Christopher. 1979. “Family Photography.” Pp. 101-18 in Images of Information: Still Photography in the Social Sciences, edited by J. Wagner. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

Potts, Brady C. 2006. “Knitting Together: Sociable Charity in a U.S. Voluntary Association.” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Montréal, Québec.

Stalp, Marybeth C. 2006. “Hiding the (Fabric) Stash: Collecing, Hoarding, and Hiding Strategies of Contemporary US Quilters.” Textile 4(1):104-25.

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  • Mandy

    I have made two has gifts. One was made up of photos from the 80th birthday celebration of a relative. He really seemed to enjoy the gift by showing it to whoever came to visit after he received it, and he wrote me a very sweet email thanking me (he’s a very sentimental man). The second was for my mom after her beloved poodle died. This was kind of tricky because it involved my dad and sister finding the majority of pictures. She really liked it, and even found some more pictures to add to it.

  • Chelle

    I’ve made several gift photo albums.  The first was for my Grandmother.  I got each grandchild (all 29 of them) to send some photos and at least one favorite memory of my grandparents.  Grandma just cried and cried and cried.
    One year for Christmas I gave each of my kids a “Tell Me About When I was Little” mini album.  Each one had just 8 photos & 8 stories.  It was super quiet for that 30 minutes on Christmas morning while they each read their books.
    I’ve also done a few as “thank-you” cards. 
    The other one I did was a “show & tell” mini album for my nephews to show their “other grandma” and their classmates about their 2 week vacation to visit us.
    I’ve found that everyone enjoys them…but they never appreciate the effort that goes into making them.  The comparison to knitted or quilted items is dead on.

  • Thanks for commenting. Why do you think that people don’t appreciate the effort?

  • Thanks for sharing. Do you plan to make more gift scrapbooks? 

  • mandy

    I don’t have any specific plans at the moment, but probably :o)

  • Dorothy_chao

    I make gift albums only for people who I think will appreciate them.  Recently I made mini-albums for ten of my son’s football teammates.  Because I used the same format, I was able to streamline the process; the tenth book came together much more quickly than the first.  The boys enjoy the photos of themselves, but have no clue about the effot that went into the scrapbooking.  However, their moms really like the albums.  Best of all, my son appreciates the fact that I care about his friends.

  • I’ve made quite a few gift scrapbooks for loved ones who I know appreciate them. I think scrapbooking still has that boring stigma-like reaction for the general public. Most people don’t realize the time and effort it takes to create albums and may think it’s a waste of time…but we scrapbookers know the truth and that’s why I believe the online scrapbooking community is so strong. If only the world could see it through our eyes.

  • Interesting observation. Even if the intended recipient doesn’t quite get the hard work, others related to the recipient might (and perhaps the recipient will get it too, someday). Kudos to you for making all those mini-albums. I think I would just done it digitally and printed out duplicate copies. I don’t think I have the patience to do that many in paper. 🙂

  • Thanks for commenting. I think you’re right about the lack of understanding from others “in real life” helps strengthen the online community.

  • Most of my gift scrapbooks have been for my immediate family members since I know that they will keep them safe and enjoy them.  My most recent gift scrapbook was for a co-worker after we hosted her main baby shower at work.  Another co-worker helped with the project.  Now I am more likely to give photo books as gifts since they are so easy to make online.  

    I commonly give handmade cards since stamping is my other papercrafting hobby.  For cards, I do not expect the recipient to keep the card.  I mainly do it for my own enjoyment.  Of course, I am flattered when someone keeps and displays a card that I made.  

  • I completely forgot that I made a gift scrabpook for a co-worker for a baby shower. I know she appreciated it. She was also a scrapbooker, though. 

    I think that is why I have a hard time with cards. I just don’t want it immediately thrown away. I don’t care if it is kept forever, but I would be hurt if it weren’t displayed for at least a few days. 

    Thanks for commenting!