Preparing for a Scrapbook Retreat


I've been to a few scrapbooking events - some go all weekend, some are 12 hours on a Saturday. Usually I get a lot done at these events because there are no other distractions around. I don't feel guilty that I'm enjoying my crafts while I should be doing things like homework or housework as I would if I tried working at my dining room table. But in order to accomplish a lot, you have to be organized, and below is a packing list to get you started.

I truely believe that everyone has their own organization style. The way I organize or prepare for this kind of event may not work well for you. Please keep that in mind. However, I have created this post explaining what works for me at the request of a few friends.

Before I go to an event, I set a goal as to how much I want to get done. Most of my scrapbooks are done chronologically, so I'll print out a year's worth of photos at Walmart. I bring them home and start figuring out my layouts. Documenting some events may take a single page, some a two-page layout, sometimes more. I also take this opportunity to crop all of my photos. Generally you can figure out how you are going to crop your photos before your layouts are even started. By looking at a photo you can decide on your focal point and crop the photo with straight edges, circles, ovals, etc. Plus, remember that your photos (and journaling) are to be the stars of the page, not the fancy paper or embellishments.

After my photos are cropped and I have decided the sequence of my book, I start going through all of my collected scrapbook papers, embellishments, punches, etc. and seriously think about layouts. This also helps me to use all of the things that I've bought over the years! The other important thing, in my opinion, is the fact that if you have single page layouts of different events facing each other, it is important to coordinate them. Then I make a list of other things that I may need to look for like stickers for a specific theme that I don't already have. I file everything in an accordian file, and then over the weekend, I just pull supplies for each layout one at a time.

Below is a usual list of what I would pack for a retreat. This list does change somewhat depending on what I have planned for my pages, but it should help you get an idea on what to bring if you are going to a retreat for the first time. You will notice that I have a lot of Creative Memories products. I didn't realize how much I had until I started itemizing it all for this list. I'm an advocate of using coupons to save on buying supplies at large craft chains like Joanns, Michaels, or AC Moore. But, I will put in a plug for Creative Memories- they have the best tools that I've used. I have a Fiskars 12" trimmer, but Creative Memories' is better. I've tried several corner rounders, but Creative Memories' tool is better. I strongly encourage you to invest in their tools- they are the best and they last! Have a party and earn some for free!

Obvious Basics

  • Photos
  • Paper
  • Stickers/Embellishments
  • Pages
  • Page Protectors
  • Scissors
  • Adhesives - Be sure to have all the specific adhesives you need for your layout plans, i.e. vellum adhesive or metal glue.
  • Scrapbook Pens

Things I can't live without

  • Personal Trimmer
  • 12" Trimmer
  • Corner Rounder
  • Titletopia from Creative Memories- I Love these templates because I can stick my die cut letters or letter stickers on them to create perfect titles every time.
  • Multipurpose Tool from Creative Memories- Another wonderful invention! You will see me with this tool in my hand almost the whole weekend! You can use it to place stickers (especially the elusive small letter stickers), lift mistakes, and score lines for journalling. I don't think that I've used the clips for anything yet.
  • Adhesive Eraser - I use it more as a pencil eraser. It takes care of pencil lines much better than other erasers and doesn't leave streaks or a mess.
  • Correction Stickers - I'm always making mistakes when I'm journaling, especially when it comes around to 2:00am, so these are a life saver. Please don't use White Out! Use these little stickers instead in the color of your page.
  • Red Eye Pen- This photo touch up is a must. There is also one for pet red eye. I always have them on hand.
  • Notes about trips/brochures/ticket stubs/etc. - If you are like me, you have a terrible memory. I need my notes, journal, and collection of tickets/brochures to jog my memory for journaling.
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Travel-size Dictionary - The later it gets, the less you can spell. I'm always second guessing myself on the simplest of words.


  • Journal Stencils - I don't have patience to sit with a ruler. There are so many out there in different shapes. I just keep a few in my bag.
  • Hobby Knife - Sometimes the trimmer doesn't cut all the way through. I have more problems like that when cutting alphabets with my Sissix Sidekick. So I keep a knife on hand.
  • Shelf/Picnic Caddy - You usually get a space of 30" x 3'. You've got to keep your most used tools organized in such a small workspace! I love the picnic caddy idea. I picked one up at CVS for 2 dollars last year and everything like adhesives, pens, scissors, etc. is right at my fingertips.
  • Shape Makers from Creative Memories - Use to enhance borders, corners, etc.
  • Custom Cutting System from Creative Memories - These are used to crop photos, photo mats, or just shapes for design.
  • Photo Labeling Pencil- Another very important and photo safe tool; I've used this pencil to identify people in the photo on the back as well as draw cut lines on the front of a photo to crop a shape.
  • Extra Notepad - A layout idea may hit you late in the night... You may need to make a note to buy a certain embellishment next time you are at the scrapbook store... Maybe you met someone new at the retreat and you want to write down her e-mail... a notepad just comes in handy!
  • Band Aids - I always cut myself once along the weekend. Maybe I'm just clumbsy.
  • Candy/Snacks/Drinks - It's easier to make it through the day/weekend with a little help. I've known ladies to bring wine complete with glasses to these events. I make sure I have a couple Mountain Dews and some form of chocolate. I'm busy preserving memories... I deserve to be happy.
  • Chair Cushion - I'm a short person so the chairs are aways too low for me to work comfortably at the table. But when I do work sitting, my well-padded behind still gets sore. So I bring an extra cushion to help.
  • Watch/Clock - It's easy to lose track of time, and you don't want to miss dinner! Also, if there's perks like a massage therapist on site, you don't want to miss your slot.
  • Book of Quotes - This has been handy in filling up blank spaces. The one that I have is organized by theme so it's quick and easy to look up a poem or quote to finish a page.
  • Anti-static Cloth or Make-Up Rounds - These are good for buffing fingerprints off photos right before putting your page protector on.
  • Music - Whether you bring a small radio/CD player or an Ipod, music becomes a necessity at 1:00am. I usually hear upbeat, 80s music and everyone sings and dances the later it gets.
  • Post-It Notes - I like to stick post-it notes on my pages (covered with page protectors of course) if they are not finished. I write a note on it partly describing to any observer why the page is not done and also as a note to myself if there is something I need to do at home.

Other Items that I might use for my layouts

I hope that this helps. If you have any additions to this list, please feel free to leave a comment below!

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Great ideas and thanks for sharing

thank you for the great tips on how to prepare. I am going to my first crop night and wanted to be prepared. i may be overprepared but that is okay. :-)

I am looking for a scrapbooking weekend for this coming spring, a weekend away from Fri until Sun....Do you know of any coming up? Thanks for your help.


This is a great list! I host scrapbooking retreats and I think you have everything on here! The only thing I would add is a camera, you want to be able to take pictures of all of your new friends. You will also want to take pictures of any ideas that are around. I always think I will remember them but of course I don't!!! If you are ever in Iowa, look me up!


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