One of the common myths about memory-keeping is that you must have all the things in your memory-keeping stash - all the patterned paper, all the stickers, all the washi tapes, all the trendy embellishments and all the fancy gadgets. It doesn't help that memory-keeping brands seem to come out with *new shiny things* all the time. You're probably thinking,
"It's so expensive to do memory-keeping!"
I hear you. I definitely had that mindset as well (and I definitely spent a lot more than I should have on all the *shiny* memory-keeping supplies!).
For two years, I bought into the marketing strategies and sales tactics of memory-keeping brands and spent close to $150 every month. I knew how important memory-keeping was to me but does that mean that I have to fork out $150 every month just do document my every day life and travel adventures? Just to give you context: $150 is about 30% of the average monthly salary of young adults here in the Philippines.
The sad truth is that while I was accumulating all these memory-keeping supplies, I wasn't really using most of it in my pocket-page layouts. It was either too trendy, not my style, or I probably forgot I even had these supplies. It was so wasteful and I have had enough.
One fine day, I stopped shopping for supplies, cancelled all my subscriptions and sold practically everything that I had (memory-keeping supplies, that is). I was left with around 5% of the memory-keeping supplies that I had before. Of course, I didn't recoup that what I spent on memory-keeping supplies by selling everything.
With very limited funds, I taught myself how to shop smartly for memory-keeping supplies and rebuilt my stash with items that I truly loved and items that I can actually use.
In this blogpost, I will tell you the 12 memory-keeping items that you need to stretch your stash!
The items that I will recommend to you are those that you can use over and over again and in many different ways - talk about getting the bang for your buck! I carefully curated each item based on my years of experience of buying way too much and then finally paring down to the essentials.
Just a quick note: I will NOT include items like albums, page protectors and pens in this list. Those are more of the basic supplies that you need to get started with pocket-page memory-keeping. This blogpost will be focused on helping you maximize your memory-keeping stash by being smart and purposeful about what you include in it.
If you have a limited budget to spend for memory-keeping, these will be your go-to supplies! Most of these items are re-usable or can be repurposed in a variety ways so with just these items, you can really stretch your stash and create more pocket-page layouts without having to purchase more memory-keeping supplies.
I have organized each item into a category to make it easier for you, let's get into it!
01. 4x6" Index Cards
Yes, index cards. The ones you buy for school or see in a library. Index cards are very versatile because (1) they come in lined and unlined versions and (2) the weight of the paper is pretty substantial. Instead of splurging on "grid paper," index cards are a more cost-effective option since a pack of 100 - which is a LOT - is around $9. Using something inexpensive as this will also encourage you to experiment and play around with certain techniques which helps you get closer to identifying your own memory-keeping style.
Here are some examples of how you can use index cards:
- a base for adding in your photos, ephemera, embellishments or stamping
- a card for you to write your journaling (this works well with the lined index cards!)
- cut it apart to use as labels that you can adhere on top of photos
02. Patterned Paper
Patterned paper are just pre-designed paper that comes in a variety of shapes with 12x12" being the most common. One piece of 12x12" patterned paper is usually around $0.98 so it's not that expensive, right? However, a lot of memory-keepers tend to hoard their patterned paper and over time, it turns into hundreds of dollars just sitting pretty in their shelves. It usually boils down to one of these three reasons: (1) the pattern is too trendy and it's hard to adapt to the stories that I want to tell, (2) the pattern is too big that it doesn't look good when trimmed down, or (3) it's specifically themed so I can only use it on very specific stories.
Despite these reasons, I still maintain that patterned paper is something that you should have in your stash BUT you have to be very selective of the designs so that you can make the most out of your dollar. Some patterned paper can be pretty to look at but a pain to use in your layouts while others have less of an impact visually but prove to be extremely usable.
My tips for you when you're choosing patterned paper is to:
- Make sure that you like BOTH sides of the patterned paper - this will make you more excited to use it and you'll double your options without spending more money.
- Choose a pattern whose size will work well for your pockets. For example, if the patterned paper is practically a huge 12x12" drawing, trimming it down for your pockets won't make much sense.
- Choose paper that has actual repeated patterns on it like stripes, stars, hearts or gingham. You can cut apart the paper to use as embellishments (labels, borders, layering elements, etc.) on your pocket pages which means that a 12x12" sheet will go a long way.
03. White Cardstock
Cardstock is basically the same as patterned paper except that it comes in solid colors and sometimes, different textures. So yes, there are other colors (like kraft!) of cardstock but I find the most use out of the white ones. I always keep at least two sheets on hand because it's extremely versatile!
Some of the ways you can use white cardstock is by:
- stamping different shapes and fussy cutting them out to create your own embellishments and layering elements
- cutting it out as a label for your journaling
- using different mediums such as watercolors and acrylic paint to create your own pocket cards
Quick commercial break // This has been in the works for about a year and a half already... I'm launching an e-course on analog travel memory-keeping! I am PASSIONATE about introducing a better way to relive your travel experiences (yes, I am throwin' some slight shade on social media...), a way where you can TANGIBLY flip through the stories of your past adventures.
This course - Craft Your Travel Story - isn't launching until May 2017 BUT I want to help you get started with travel memory-keeping while you wait excitedly ;) This is why I created this FREE comprehensive five-day e-mail course, The Travel-keeper Bootcamp!
In this bootcamp, I will be sharing very practical + actionable tips, intentional systems and methods to help you document the details your travel experiences, take photos that accurately tell your stories, and gather ephemera as your "hard evidence." This bootcamp will prepare you a lot when it comes to finally creating your analog travel album.
You can join this bootcamp - did I mention that it's completely free? - by clicking here and signing up on that page or just leaving your name + e-mail below:
Stamps + Stamping Supplies
04. Alpha Stamp Set
Alpha Stamps are just clear stamps containing all the letters of the alphabet and sometimes, numbers and some punctuation marks. They come in a variety of fonts and styles - serif, sans-serif, decorative, etc. - and sizes. If you can only get one kind of stamp set, I highly recommend getting a basic alpha stamp. If you can, get a large one (~6x8") and a small one (~3x4") for even greater variety OR choose one serif font and one sans-serif font.
Just some of the things that you can do with alpha stamps are:
- stamping out the names of locations, people, pets and other things
- stamping out the initials on white cardstock and fussy cutting it out to create an embellishment
- creating a stamped pattern by playing around with the different letters
05. Numbers Stamp Set
In case your alpha stamp doesn't include numbers, then you can also get an additional stamp set for that. Similar to alpha stamp sets, these may come in a variety of fonts and sizes. A good serif font makes for a really beautiful numbers stamp set so you can start with that!
Some use cases for a numbers stamp set are:
- creating a numbered list of things such as top ten songs you played on Spotify or your favorite dishes
- stamping out the dates or creating a countdown such as the 12 days before Christmas
- stamping out the time or date in a more impactful way
06. Roller Date Stamp
Another inexpensive but essential item to add in your stash is a Roller Date Stamp. You can get this in practically any office supply store - the one that is used for businesses works just as fine as the ones offered by memory-keeping brands. Honestly, they're practically the same! You can use these roller date stamps for years so getting one is really practical.
Just some cool things you can use this for:
- marking the date for your photos and stories
- creating a journaling card by stamping out the dates of the week and writing out what you did for each day
- creating a pattern by stamping the dates repeatedly on an index card (play around with how much ink you're using as well!)
07. Black Pigment Ink Pad
If you can only get one ink pad, I highly suggest getting one is jet black. The reason being that black just goes with any color and is visible on top of most colors. It's a super versatile color that I use all the time. (I'm not even kidding, you can watch the process videos that I upload on Youtube channel and see me use it every single one of them!)
08. A set of 2-3 Ink Pads (in your favorite colors)
To supplement the black ink pad that you have, you can add around two to three more ink pads in the colors that you love. This is not an invitation for you to buy every single ink pad in every single color available! Three additional colors is more than enough for you to create interesting stamp impressions that can really uplift your pocket-page layouts.
09. Washi Strips / Tapes
Washi tape is a decorative tape made with washi paper - a kind of Japanese paper. It comes in a variety of sizes, patterns, and colors. Aside from the different designs, an interesting characteristic of washi tapes is that it is repositionable. The adhesive, while it sticks well, can be removed and repositioned without leaving an ugly mess.
A few ideas to get you started with washi tapes:
- tape off one edge of your pocket card or index card to add a pop of color or pattern
- combine multiple washi tapes of different designs on an index card to create a background pattern for your photo
- tear of a strip of washi tape and use it to adhere your photos (function and "fashion" at the same time!)
Labels are pre-cut strips of paper that you can use to add captions and journaling on top of your photos, cards, and layouts. They usually come in different shapes - rectangles being the most common one - and they usually have some kind of border. You can make your own labels and print them in bulk so you can have them on-hand and ready to go when your working on your pocket pages. Some memory-keeping stores will have them for sale as well.
Some uses for labels are:
- adding the date or caption on top of a photo
- layer it on top of patterned paper and add stamped alphabet on top to create a title card
- use the labels repeatedly on top of patterned paper to create a "list"
11. Digital Assets (printables, brushes, and templates)
Digital assets include printable pocket cards, tags & labels, digital brushes, and photo templates. Using digital assets is a great way to really stretch your stash because (1) it's an unlimited resource, (2) you can switch up the colors if you have a photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop and (3) you can repurpose the digital assets into a lot of things.
You can do a lot with digital assets! Like:
- resize the pocket cards to fit the size that you want (change rectangle cards to square cards)
- combine multiple digital stamps to create a pocket card
- print the pocket cards on specialty paper to get an extra oomph! in your layouts
12. Foam Adhesive
Foam adhesive are little dots / squares of thick double-sided adhesive. You can use these under your paper embellishments to "raise" them from the background paper. It's an inexpensive way to add dimension and depth to your layouts.
Here are a couple of quick ideas for you to try:
- cut circles (or other shapes) from your patterned paper and use foam adhesive for the three-dimensional effect
- slightly overlap two photos together but use foam adhesive to the photo on top
- use foam adhesive on your titles to add emphasis and draw the eye towards it
Wow, this was one long blogpost! I'm proud of you for making it this far ;)
I just want to remind you that memory-keeping doesn't have to be expensive. The purpose of memory-keeping is to preserve your memories, not burn a hole in your wallet. Sure, there are so many things that you can purchase to spruce up your layouts - which are all awesome if you have the funds for it! - but there's a LOT that you can accomplish just with the 15 items that I listed right here, especially if your on a budget, busy or just starting out.
Do you have questions about any item in this list? Want to share an item that you love and used a lot in your layouts? Leave a comment below and share your own tips!