By Heather Agun, Edited by Becky Pearsall
*Created under the direct legal supervision of Stephen Waltar. See Disclaimer
Photos by Heather Agun
As a child, I spent hours pulling scrapbooks and photo albums from my mom’s bookcase, settling down on the carpet, and running my fingers over the glossy pictures and raised letters. Seeing the smiling faces of the family I loved gave me a sense of belonging. Even the faces of relatives gone before my time – faces I would never know in life – became familiar to me in those books. I know my great grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, and distant cousins through these albums, their faces now as recognizable as if I had known them in person.
I recently pulled down an old scrapbook and dusted it off. As I turned the pages and saw my family suspended in time, I was overcome with emotion. My grandparents have been gone for many years; but as I saw pictures of us by the pool on our yearly vacations, I remembered it like it was yesterday. I saw a picture of my five-year-old self in a red and green dress, sitting on my grandfather’s lap, and remembered exactly how his house would smell of pine and spice and baking bread at Christmas. I was able to relive these wonderful times through the scrapbooks and albums that my family lovingly put together. I love knowing that one day I’ll show my own children these albums, and they’ll be able to know all the wonderful people that came before them.
If you’re like most families, you have boxes of photos spread throughout your house. You may have already considered taking the time to go through them and start downsizing. Digitizing photos is a great way to preserve them and reduce some of the clutter, but it doesn’t carry the same tactile satisfaction as holding memories in your hands. If you want to leave a legacy that your grandchildren and great grandchildren will remember, creating a scrapbook or heirloom album is a perfect option!
Getting Started: Picking the Photos
The first step, and the longest, is going through your photos and sorting them. Find pictures you know will be important to your family. Some pictures might not be self-explanatory, so start thinking about what captions you should include. Once you have sorted between pictures for your book and pictures you’ll save elsewhere, count how many pictures you’ve picked to include. If you have too many for one book, think about making a few books. Then sort the photos into similar groups so you can have a theme for each book and page. You can separate your books chronologically, by sides of the family, or by holidays or events. Imagine how grateful your kids would be for a special holiday album they could look through every December that held all your Christmas memories.
Next, you should consider making copies of the photos you’ve chosen. Experts caution scrapbookers to think twice before using original photos. Although professional scrapbooking supplies are often safe for original photos, caution is recommended to ensure that priceless originals are maintained. It is very easy to order stunning reprints for use in your book. By using copies, you can also make a scrapbook for each child to keep.
What should you do with the original photos? If you don’t want to go digital, the Library of Congress has some great tips on how to store your photographs for best preservation, including:
- Don’t use rubber bands, tape, or glue on photographic materials
- Don’t use paper clips or other fasteners
- Minimize exposure to light, humidity, and extreme or warm temperatures
It’s time to determine what you want to create! Do you think a fun scrapbook or an elegant photo album is best for you? Either is a great choice to preserve your memories. Choose whatever you and your children will cherish most, and whatever fits your personality. You may decide to make some of each.
Next, you can go to local craft stores or specialty scrapbooking shops to find supplies. You can also save the trip and look online. You should also raid your own craft drawers to find anything that might be useful. The essentials are:
- An assortment of colored or patterned papers
Once you’re in the scrapbooking section, you won’t have a hard time finding the right elements to create your book. If there are just too many options, you could consider purchasing a scrapbooking kit that will include all the elements you’ll need. You can also check out a scrapbooking idea book or website for inspiration.
Creating the Book
Now for the fun part! It’s time to start creating your masterpiece. I recommend you lay out your pages without adhesive to make sure everything fits just right before you start affixing things to the page.
You may also think about including pages or quotes from the Legacy Pages in the back of your Legacy Estate Planning Binder. Every estate plan we make includes legacy pages for our clients to preserve their most important memories for generations. Including some lines from your legacy pages is a wonderful way to add a truly personal touch.
Consider including pages or quotes from your Legacy Pages in the back of your Legacy Estate Planning Binder for an extra personal touch!
Creating a scrapbook, can also be a fun activity for you to enjoy with your grandchildren, so think about inviting them to help! If you have younger grandchildren, give them copies of photos and smaller scrapbooks so they can create their own special albums to take home. They will surely treasure them forever. If your grandchildren are older, they may have a great time helping you create beautiful and creative pages while learning about their family history. The greatest gift we can give is our time, and their memories of doing activities like this leave the most important legacy of all.
After you’ve created your scrapbooks and albums, you may decide to keep them at your own home to show your family when they visit. Or, you might make a few for each child. If you want to give a copy to more than one person, but only want to make one book, you can find a service that will scan the pages and create a digital copy for printing.
After you’ve created your memory books, send us some pictures! We’d love to hear from you and see what you’ve created. If it’s been over five years since you visited our office, it may also be time to swing by for a review appointment. Your family and finances can change, and estate planning laws can change; so it’s important to make sure your plan is up-to-date from time to time. While you’re creating the legacy that matters in the hearts of your family, we’ll help you protect your financial legacy with our estate planning expertise.
*This blog post was written under the supervision of an attorney, Stephen M. Waltar, and all legal opinions shared are that of the attorney.