How to Include Ephemera in Your Scrapbook

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I start each scrapbook by reviewing my time capsule box of ephemera and organizing it (more on that process here).  I won’t use everything but including ephemera is very important to me.

I’ve combed through my scrapbook archives and put together a bunch of tips in case you want to start including more ephemera in your scrapbooks!

Make it Part of a Cohesive Design

This is always my first choice: design the page around the ephemera and make it seamless.  I did this with one of my honeymoon pages.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I designed it so everything on the page was the size of a standard business card, including the photos and text block.

Another example: Bay to Breakers (using my race bib).

Cut it Up

Sometimes I’m not too attached to the piece as a whole but I want just some of it on the page.

My favorite example of this is how I took a stack of college assignments and tests and cut them up into squares to make a layout.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

A single assignment on its own didn’t matter much.  I was trying to create a feeling of how much work I did and cutting them up did the trick!

More examples: Wedding Dress Shopping (cut up bridesmaid dress swatch), Big Game Week 2006 (cut up parking pass), New York Trip Title Page (cut up maps and luggage claim tags).

Make an Envelope or Pouch

Sometimes a piece can’t be glued down by itself.  Maybe it’s too fragile, or maybe it needs to be held together in some way.

For my wedding favors, I created vellum envelopes and glued those to the page.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

The favors were stacks of recipe  cards.  It wouldn’t have made sense to staple the cards together and it would have taken too much room to glue each card separately.  The envelope keeps them together and safe.

Another example: Big Game 2002 (creating a pouch to hold grass).

Scan It

This works great for items that are too large to go in the scrapbook.  I do this a lot with posters.

For Big Game Week my senior year of college, I scanned the Bonfire Rally poster.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

Another example: Football Season 2003 (scanned Homecoming poster and magnet).

Turn it Into a Backdrop

Similar to when I cut pieces up, using a piece of ephemera as a backdrop works if you aren’t too attached to it as a whole but want it on the page.

I used a map of the San Diego Zoo in this layout about our day there with my sister-in-law and niece.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

Another example: Golden Gate Bridge (with map of Presidio as backdrop).

Make a Collage

I love making collages!  This works very well when there are lots of bits and pieces.  Together they can tell a great story.

I created a collage with leftover bits of ephemera from 2004 and turned it into the end page for that book.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I love how it shows little things that we were up to.

Another example: College Intro Page (collage out of course catalog pages).

Highlight It

Sometimes the piece of ephemera is the star of the show — it is the story.

I made this layout about the very first recipe we cooked together.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

More examples: Graduation Invitations, Wedding Invitations, Seeing Shows (programs + tickets).

Use Just Part of It

This works really well with magazines or newspapers.  In my college basketball layout, I included just the magazine cover.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

Another example: Football Season 2004 (magazine cover).

Photograph It

Sometimes you can’t take things home.  Sometimes things are three-dimensional.  Using a picture works well here.

I did this with my wedding favors page.  We gave away chocolate picture frames (totally not going to fit in the scrapbook), so I used a picture of them in the layout.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

This idea also works really well for foreign currency!  I like taking pictures of cash before we spend it.

If All Else Fails

It can be hard to work ephemera into a layout.  It’s a fixed size and sometimes it doesn’t play well with everything else on the page.

If that happens, ask yourself: is it important to the story?  If no, you don’t have to include it.  You don’t have to include everything.  If yes, then include it, even if the design isn’t great.  Remember my rules: the story is always more important than the design.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I like to think of my name change scrapbook layout as an example.  I still don’t love it.  The design is blehhh.  But, changing to my married name was a big deal and I wanted to tell the story.  There was no way I was leaving out my Social Security letter (the first thing ever printed with my married name) or my old ID card (even if the picture isn’t flattering.

If all else fails, just go with it!

I hope this inspires you to add more ephemera in your scrapbooks!!

Adding Fragile Items to Your Scrapbook


Sometimes there are things that can’t be glued down or you don’t want to glue down. Still, you want to include them in your scrapbook.

Remember my layouts from the Big Game? I saved grass that I pulled from the field and included it on the page.

What’s my great tool here? Sheet protectors. Yes, I mean these things that are normally used for protecting documents in a binder.

Showcasing Non-Glueable Items

I started using sheet protectors to keep things in my scrapbook that I didn’t want to glue down. Here’s a junior high school diploma that slips neatly in and out of its sleeve on the page:

Diploma neatly slides in and out of its pouch. Does my mom know that this is missing from her hope chest?

I’ve also used sheet protectors as space-savers. Does your kid have lots of certificates? You can save space by layering them on a page and still have the flexibility to use on or more of them in another project later.

Saving space by layering certificates. Plus one or more of them can be moved and used for something else later.

What about things that can’t be glued? I used a sheet protector as a pouch to keep these pressed flowers from a bouquet I received.

If I had to do it over again, I would slice the white part off the sheet protector, but I was really a beginner when I did this!

Pouch for pressed flowers. I scrapbooked this over 10 years ago.

Make Your Own Sheet Protector Pouches

For my latest scrapbook layout, I had grass pulled from the Stanford Stadium field.

Stadium grass that I’d been holding onto for 8 years.

Here is the sheet protector. It’s important to buy the 100% clear variety or else your item will have a frosty look to it.

Measure and cut the sheet protector to size. Use the bottom right corner as the base and cut around it. This will yield two finished sides.

Take a very thin piece of clear tape and seal one of the open sides.

Deposit your fragile items.

Make sure the item in the pouch is laying as flat as possible.

Tape the top closed.

Here is some detail: I take a long piece of clear tape and attach it to the very edge of one side.

Trim the piece of tape down so there is around 2-3 millimeters to fold down on the other side. Then fold it and seal it. Make sure to press the air out first!

At this point, I attached it to the page using double-stick tape. Since the tape is clear, it doesn’t show much.

Tips & Ideas

  • Use sheet protectors to showcase items that you don’t want to tape down or things that can’t be taped down.
  • Sheet protectors are also great for layering multiple items on one page such as school awards.
  • Only use 100% clear sheet protectors (as opposed to the ones that are frosty).
  • Measure and cut the section of the sheet protector from the bottom right corner.
  • Use regular clear tape and cut a thin slice of it to tape the other two sides closed.