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Creating a Heritage Album As a Gift

Mary Tolan

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Truly a gift from the heart. . . .

Three years ago, on Christmas Day, my 80-year-old parents opened several gifts I bought them. Mind you, these are a set of parents who I find intolerable to buy for. I can spend hours in a store contemplating isle after isle, only to discover that I have pretty much bought them every gift-worthy item on the shelves over the last 30-some years.

This particular Christmas my gift selection was a set of cordless phones, to which they declared “but we don't need new phones". ~sigh~ Another gift was a robe for my mother, and of course, I forgot I had given her one just a few Holidays back. For my Father, it was a pair of P. J. 's that were identical to those I purchased him for his birthday the previous year. ~Sigh again~

They have everything. There simply is nothing they need, and if they do want or need something, they just go buy it. The following day I started trying to think of something really, really special to give them the following Christmas. I'm not certain exactly what sparked the idea, however I thought of making them a Heritage Album. I had never attempted scrapbooking before, but it looked like a fun hobby. And I literally ran with that idea and was at their house the very next day, knowing they were on vacation, scouring shelves, drawers, photo albums and closets for anything and everything I could get my hands on that was heritage album worthy.

When you first begin the thought process of creating a heritage album, it can be a little overwhelming. Especially when you look at this pile of photos, documents, memorabilia, etc. and think “where on Earth do I start"!!?? I have outlined a few simple steps below that I found to be very successful on the road to creating my album as a gift for my parents, and I want to share them with you.

Step 1: Gather

Do like I did, get your hands on any old photos, documents, stories, memorabilia and family treasures that you can find. Look everywhere! I even found items in my Grandmother's old recipe book and in my Mother's bible. Then, ask others in your family if they have anything they would like to contribute. Be sure to talk to older family members, they are a wealth of information may have bits and pieces of information that will help you, such as the name of a person in a photo whom you do not know or a great story to share.

Step 2: Sort

This is probably one of the most important steps. I found that sorting all the items I gathered by person was the best way to go. That way, when you are ready to work on a page for that particular person you have everything all together. Simply use large manila envelopes with a name on each and place everything pertaining to that person inside. You can also sort chronologically or by family, whatever is best for you and the project you are working on.

Step 3: Research

After you have gathered and sorted, you will want to create a “family tree" so you will know what data you have, and what you still need. A family tree is organized by working from the youngest generation backwards in time as far as you are able to go. The fathers side of the family is shown on the left and the mothers on the right. There are many, many places to research your family history including, but not limited to, libraries, courthouse records, cemeteries, church records, other family members and the numerous online databases that are available to us today. Somewhere all the missing pieces of your family's history are waiting to be found!

Step 4: Choose Your Album

Choosing an album is a personal choice. There are so many beautiful heritage quality albums available. Simply look at all the different album types and select the one that most appeals to you and the project you are going to create. When choosing an album be sure to select one that will allow you to move the pages around easily without affecting other pages. An expandable album is a wonderful choice for a heritage album since you can add new pages as you discover more photos, documents, etc. that should be included. It should be sturdy; as it will be an heirloom passed on from generation to generation, and handled a lot. Albums come in different sizes as well, which is another consideration to make when determining which album to purchase. I personally like a post-bound album for durability and ability to expand.

Step 5: Purchase Supplies

So many supplies, so many choices!! You will want to choose a theme of some sort for your album to decide what paper you will need. Good color choices for a heritage album are dark greens, dark blue, brown, purple, deep reds, off whites and mauves. Again, it depends on personal choice. There are also many heritage print choices available. You will need adhesives, journaling pens, embellishments, cutting devices, punches and whatever else suits your project requires.

Step 6: Create!

You will need to decide to whom the album will be given. That will help you determine which family members should be included. Use the family tree that you created in step 3, and then organize your envelopes from step 2 in that order. This will break your job up into manageable pieces, and give you a starting point. As you work on each page, it is my suggestion to copy your original photographs and documents instead of using the originals in your album. Now that you have everything you need, you can sit back, relax and let your creative juices flow!

My experience in creating a heritage album as a gift was more then rewarding in the thankfulness and praise I received from my parents. They absolutely loved it, and I loved creating it for them.

For more tips, advice, sample heritage page layouts, resources and a complete line of heritage scrapbooking supplies, please visit me on the web at:

Happy Scrapping!



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