Juli Asks — A Beginner Series

Welcome to Juli Asks, a series where Juli, one of our Awesome Ladies members, who’s just getting into scrapbooking, asks rukristin for advice. Learn from this series and ask questions of your own.

Juli: As I’m starting to build up my scrapbooking stash, I’m trying to navigate buying supplies that I will actually use and not just accumulating a bunch of product. I want to make my photos and stories the center of my projects, but of course I still want cute embellishments. Any advice so that I don’t get caught up in buying all the things?

rukristin: I’m a firm believer in buying tools that you’ll get a lot of use out of. This is one reason why I love stamps. Stamps you can use over and over again, with different types of inks, to get different looks.

There are also great ways to build up a stash of supplies that you love. Here are a couple of my favorite tips:

Budget: There are some things that are going to come first when it comes to scrapbook budgeting. You’re gonna need to budget for essentials like printing photos, adhesive, cardstock/albums before you can branch out into embellishments. So figure out how much you have in your scrapbook budget for the essentials, whether your budgeting weekly, per-paycheck, monthly, or however it works best for you. When you decide what you’ve got left over, put that towards embellishments and supplies that make you more excited.

Coupons: Big Box stores always have big coupons. 40% off and 50% off one item and 20% off entire orders are very common coupons. If you’ve got a big box store close by, or an online store that takes their coupons. You can start getting more expensive items that will build up your embellishment stash. Whether it’s big sticker books, stamp sets, ink pads, or whatever else you’re really into.

If you have an online shop that you like shopping at, make sure to sign up for their email list, those places almost always send out email coupons every so often. They’ll also let you know when they’re having sales, and you can shop the discounts as well.

Kit Clubs/Subscription Kits: If you know that you love a certain style, and you really like the products/supplies that a certain club or manufacturer sends out each month. This is a great way to stick to your budget, know that you’re going to get a great selection of products each month, and know that you won’t go overboard.

Figure out what you’re into & use your stuff: One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you, is figure out what you’re into, and use your stuff. The biggest waste of money is not using your supplies and letting them literally go to waste. I get so heartbroken when I’ve saved up stickers or something for ‘the perfect project’ and (five years later) they’re not sticky anymore. The best way to figure out what you like, and use, is to actually use your stuff.

Juli: I struggle with wanting to tell the stories of my right now life and wanting to document past memories that I don’t have in scrapbooks yet. I feel like it’s easy with memory keeping to always feel behind. What are your recommendations for combatting that feeling of not doing enough or feeling behind/missing out?

rukristin: There are always going to be stories left untold; both right now stories and stories from the past. And since we are memory-keeping, we are always going to be behind. It’s a lagging indicator of our lives. We literally cannot document our memories until we have our memories.

Even when we’re documenting our right now lives, we’re still documenting our past lives. We are always going to be ‘behind’. When we take up the hobby of scrapbooking and memory-keeping, we need to know that and remind ourselves of that often, so that we do not make ourselves feel bad about the inevitabilities of our hobby.

As for not doing enough. We are always doing enough. There are no scrapbooking deities up on high saying that people who don’t scrapbook x amount of pages per week, or month, or year aren’t doing a good enough job. Every story we tell, every page that we make, is one that wasn’t told or made before. Our goal as scrapbookers has to be to document one more story than we did before and to continue doing that as long as we enjoy this life.

If you want to make this a part of your life, you are going to need to make it a priority. This is true of absolutely anything that is important to you. You don’t want to let it become a burden though. Once it’s a burden, it’s no longer fun, and your creativity is going to get stifled. It’s a slippery slope that turns any hobby into a chore.

A few tangible pieces of advice:

  • Keep a notebook/binder of the stories you want to tell. It’s easier to see your to-do list (and cross them off) than if you keep it in your head.
  • Schedule time each week/month/however you can work on your scrapbooking. This way you’re actively ‘making time’ for it and instilling it as a part of your routine.
  • Not every photo needs to have its own story. Not every story needs to have its own page. Use mini scrapbook albums and multi-photo layouts to double up your photos and your stories and knock more off your to-do list.

Juli: This is probably a super basic question but how do you organize and store your 12×12 scrapbook paper? I feel like all my current storage is made for 8.5×11 paper.

rukristin: 12×12 paper is definitely one of those ‘specialty storage solutions’. This is one of the only things where my recommendation is actually to get something that is designed specifically for 12×12 paper. It’s also a great time to use one of those big box store coupons I mentioned above or find something on sale, because these are things that tend to be on the higher end of your budget spend.

That being said, I have a couple of different things that I use to store my 12×12 paper and scraps. These are all things that I’ve had for a number of years now and each use for a different purpose and have their own pros/cons.

Iris 12×12 Clear Plastic Containers

I have several of these containers. I love using them to store seasonal paper and embellishments in. Or to use as project boxes when I’m incorporating 12×12 paper.


  • See-through
  • Stackable
  • Good for medium and long term storage
  • Keeps water, dust, elements out
  • Can store paper and embellishments together
  • Great to organize by theme


  • Inconvenient to sort 12×12 paper horizontally
  • Bulky and overall inefficient storage units
  • Too many of these starts to be really annoying

Vertical Paper Storage Boxes

I really like these a lot. I use them to store my cardstock and almost all of my full size patterned paper. After trying out a bunch of different patterned paper storage solutions over the years, this is probably my personal favorite solution of all of them. For me, I really need to be able to have my paper out where I can flip through it. If it isn’t somewhere open and accessible,


  • Open air solution
  • Easy to see what paper you’re looking for
  • Easy to sort and organize still fill up an entire organizer


  • Made from cardboard, so not the most sturdy option
  • Box can fall over if it’s not up against something else
  • Paper can collect moisture or dust out in the air

3-Drawer Unit (fits 12×12 paper inside)

This is what I use for my 12×12 scraps, vintage 12×12 papers, and some other odds and ends. It’s also a great smaller drawer unit. I’m super obsessed with crafty storage units, and smaller ones can be really really important for smaller spaces, apartments, dorms, and shelves.


  • A single unit, with three drawers, so you can organize things into whatever makes the most sense to you
  • Completely closed, it’s not going to collect dust or moisture over time
  • You can use the top as another shelf, stacking things on top


  • More expensive than some of the other options
  • It does only have three separate containers
  • The containers don’t pull all the way out, so you can’t bring it over to your desk

I’ve also got a rolling 12×12 paper cart (kind of like this) that my mom got me for my birthday a while back. I totally love it. I use it to store papers, 12×12 bulk cardstock, and projects that I’m not flipping through all the time.

One of the best things I think you can do is figure out how you like to organize your stuff (out in the open or closed away) and then go from there. Coupons and sales are your friend.

Thanks so much for reading Juli Asks, a series where Juli, one of our Awesome Ladies members, who’s just getting into scrapbooking, asks rukristin for advice. Learn from this series and ask questions of your own.

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  1. So much great information! Things can get so overwhelming when you’re looking at all those ‘perfect’ pictures of scrapbook ‘artists’ and their creative spaces. It’s really important to focus on what YOU want to accomplish and what you need to do that.

  2. I agree @deannascraps2 And even for someone who’s been doing it awhile, I still pick up options I was not aware of or should revisit. And I would say, don’t get bogged down in the “perfect choice” for you. This craft is about playing, trying out different things, and eventually you will find supplies or design choices that you keep reaching for over and over – and those are the ones you really invest in. And even that can change over time. If Ali Edwards can switch it up, so can you! And me!