Scrapbooking events: the “anatomy” of an event

by Debbie Hodge

Are you like me when it comes to scrapbooking events? Do you take a large number of photos of celebrations, holidays, parties, and other big events? I think a reason for this is because one event can have so many aspects. Understanding those aspects–or what I call the event’s anatomy–will enable you to:

1) take photos,

2) gather memorabilia, and

3) record stories

SO THAT your pages present the event in a way that captures it in its entirety

What is the next big event going on in your life? A wedding? Family Reunion? Annual Summer Bash? Birthday party? Vacation? Consider these event pieces (or limbs, or maybe organs) and challenge yourself to incorporate many or even all of them into your album or series of pages.

the anatomy of an event

1) event preparations

When you scrapbook event preparations, you honor the efforts that go into entertaining others and you leave a great record for yourself and for future generations—and often the event preparations are as important as the event itself.

Be sure and take photos of preparations that have to do with food, favors, invitations, costumes, table —whatever it is you’re busy with before the event. Include memorabilia like grocery receipts, shopping lists, the guest list, and invitations.

imageMaking the matzo balls before our Passover Seder is a many things: a lot of work, a challenge, a tradition. These photos capture the process, the ingredients, and even Isaac grimacing over his messy hands (and knowing Isaac as my family does, we understand that his willingness to get messy means this is really important).

imageWhen the boys were younger, we spent several weeks preparing and crafting for their birthday parties. I’m so glad I took photos back then, because, as they’ve gotten older and I’ve gotten other interests—we no longer make this kind of effort. For Joshua’s 7th birthday, we made foam swords, armor, a castle, and decorated goblets.   While we’ve all lost interest in this kind of sustained effort, back then we LOVED it and I’m so glad to have this record.

image This page might fall into preparations OR the moments/stories category below. It’s a page for me—that captures those minutes right before guests arrive and when they first arrive. When the stresses of getting ready are falling away and we are getting reacquainted with friends.

2) event decorations

Including decorations on your events page can serve many purposes, including: signaling the event subject; adding interesting context; conveying the era of the event; recording the personal style of the event-giver; and just showing “how we do it at our house”

image My mom goes all out at Christmas, putting up SEVERAL trees. This page shows all of her trees during the Christmas of “ought-four.”image Sometimes just a bit of the decorations will suffice. On “Kid’s Table,” I included shots of the centerpiece and favors on the plates. It reminds all of us of how it was and the little efforts we put into our entertaining.


Putting on a Seder is a big thing for me (I think partly because I’m not Jewish and am never sure if I’m doing things right). What those who’ve never prepared for a Seder might not know is that the setting of the table takes a good bit of preparation and care. I don’t get a photo of the Seder table every year, but I’m happy to have one every few years. It reminds me of the dishes I used, the flowers the boys arranged, and the Haggadahs from Neil’s uncle that we still use.

3) the people at the event

When looking at photos from an event several years in the past, seeing the people and and how they looked is often one of the first things we marvel over. “Look at my hair!” “I remember that shirt.” “Boy, he’s really grown up since then!” Take some time to make sure you include all –or as many as possible—of the participants in your photos and on your page.

imageThe only Easter we’ve ever been with family was this one—when my brother and his family came to New Hampshire and shared their own brand of over-the-top Easter celebrating with us. It was definitely a special weekend. These photos show each of the kids alone and then a group shot of all of them.

imageThis “Life Celebration” was the party our friend Joe chose years before his death in lieu of a funeral. I made every effort to take photos of all the people in attendance. This design let me pack in lots of portraits—most of them candid.

4) event activities

For many events, activities are what it’s all about. Selecting and grouping activities photos logically goes a long way toward really telling the story of your event on the page. Each grouping may get its own page (as on the next three layouts below) or it may get its own section on the page as on “Durham Day.”

image Cooking is a major activity at many holidays, and this page captures the cooks in action AND the food on a recent Thanksgiving.

image Ah, the table! Actually, what I should say is: Ah, the table that my mother sets! :) So much good eating and good times happen around this table. Here I’ve collected several photos over several years from celebrations with my family.

imageWhile some activities happen every time a holiday rolls around, it’s still fun to capture them. As my boys get older, their approach to playing driedel (and their enthusiasm for it) changes. Here’s a year when the stakes were very high: chocolate coins!

image “Durham Day” collects photos from thoughout the day at an annual community celebration. I’ve photographed peole getting their food, firemen and town councilors cooking, the entertainment, friends, landscapes, and candids. The result is an overview of the activities on one two-page spread.

5) event moments & stories

Within events, there are important moments that deserve to be highlighted. For example, I always scrap the Lee Fair, but on the year that my son won a trophy in the tractor pull, I did an additional page that told about this win and his reaction. Other stories to capture may have to do with actual “on-stage” conversations and occurrences OR with what you’re thinking in your mind as the event progresses.

image This page tells the story of a tradition—a tradition my kids have of hiding their gifts to Neil and me in the piano bench. This is also a tradition of us making sure we never lift the lid on that bench until AFTER the holiday.

image Here’s the extra page from our Lee Fair celebration of 2006 – it documents Isaac’s reaction to having (finally) won a trophy in the pedal tractor pull.

imageThis page tells the story of my musings about entertaining and includes a conversation I had in the midst of hosting a party–a conversation that helped me put my anxieties to rest.

6) when the event is over

I find it REALLY hard to get this kind of after-the-event shot, since it’s usually late and we’re tired and there’s cleaning to do. Try, though, to capture the sense of what goes on after an event.

imageOh, Dishes! I treasure this layout of me and our messy kitchen after a Passover. Why? Hmmmmm. Maybe because it’s evidence of how much effort I expend on this holiday and, thus, of my love for my family.

So . . . what event are you scrapbooking next? And can you see yourself including several of these parts of an event’s anatomy?

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10 Responses to Scrapbooking events: the “anatomy” of an event

  1. Di@Legacy4Life July 21, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    GREAT post. Thanks for all the advice.

  2. Christine Rickert July 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    THANKS,debbie. My niece’s wedding is 7/24-this Sat. This article couldn’t have been timelier. Am making guest book, table cards and a few other odds and ends. This will help.Love your LO’s-always so focused and artistic. Chris

  3. Irene at Gone Scrapbooking July 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Thanks for the great tips and inspiration! I linked to your article from today’s national scrapbooking news at

  4. Laurie July 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    Thanks for a great lesson today. I can’t remember when I enjoyed a scrapbooking lesson so much. So many great ideas.

  5. Jean Schmuker July 22, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Debbie–I love your posts so much. I like the way you explain your points and then illustrate with a layout. Have you ever thought of publishing an idea book? I have your Building Pages class but these posts add so much and I find them difficult to print that I would love to see them in PDF’s (which I would pay for)or in a book.
    Tnanks for sharing all this info on a public forum.

    • Debbie Hodge July 24, 2010 at 9:26 am #

      Hi, Jean, Thanks so much! I do have an idea book Get It Scrapped from F+W Publishing is available at Amazon . I appreciate your suggestion about collecting the blog posts in an easier to print format — and I’m putting it on my idea list. I’m actually working on a big bundle of lessons and sketches and videos for scrapbooking Events — so I think I’ll take a look through my blog posts and see if I should add some of them or restructure the class.


  1. Article: Scrapbooking Events · Scrapbooking @ CraftGossip - July 22, 2010

    […] Hodge takes you through the Anatomy of an Event, and how to prepare for scrapping them. Click here to go to article. You may also […]

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