How to Turn a Composition Notebook into a Personalized Journal

School supply sales are starting and among the items usually on discount are the composition notebooks. These normally sell for around $.99 but you should be able to find them for $.50 or less during school sales season. With a few simple items, you can take a plain covered composition notebook and turn them into a personalized gift for someone–or just a special notebook for the kids for school. You can see one of them that I made in the picture above. I was so excited to be able to use this type of paper as it was a perfect match for one of my coffee mugs so I now have a journal to jot down ideas while relaxing with a cup of tea! You can always use the notebooks with other items, such as a mug, to make a super cute gift basket set.

Composition Notebook
Scrapbook Paper
Glue Stick

As I mentioned, the composition notebooks cost around $.99 at regular price at stores such as Target. You’ll find them in the office supplies aisle and they look like the picture above. What’s nice about them is that they tend to have a nice thick cover.

When it comes to the scrapbook paper, you can find them in sets, sheets or even a giant book with several patterns.

Now, if you aren’t much of a scrapbooker and/or only plan to make a few notebooks, I recommend that you check out your local craft store for single sheets. At the time when we made ours, I found a bunch of single sheets on sale for $.25 and others for around $.69. Don’t forget to check for any Craft Store Coupons before you shop!

As far as ribbon goes, you’ll only need as much as the length of the cover if you want to give the notebook a split image look using two different sheets of scrapbook paper. (Will talk more about this in a minute…) You should be able to find ribbon on clearance/discount–don’t forget to check the scraps bins at craft stores.

To personalize the book even more, I recommend finding some stickers. You can find sheets like this one at Target for around $.99 a sheet. Dollar stores typically sell varieties of stickers, too.


1) The first thing you’ll need to do is pick out a design/theme that you want to make. You’ll need to pick up corresponding sheets of scrapbook paper, stickers and ribbon.

2) You’ll then need to cut your scrapbook sheets to fit the notebook. For a lot of mine, I put the sheet on the back cover and wrapped it around. Some fit perfectly halfway down the front, others I had to cut to fit halfway. Having it only wrap halfway around the front will allow you to use another sheet to split the front cover image.  (You can also use a separate sheet for the front and back and then glue a ribbon around the top to help secure them more. Either way, you’ll need to trim off some of the paper as it will probably be taller than the notebook.)

3) Next cut your second sheet to cover the other half of the front cover. You’ll add ribbon to cover where the sheets meet.

4) Once you have everything cut, you’ll use the glue stick to glue on the sheets, starting with the back cover and wrapping around the front. After that is on, add your second sheet and then glue the ribbon down the middle to cover where the sheets meet.

5) All that’s left is for you to personalize it for the person you are making the gift–or to let the kids go to work making their own creation.

Here are several pictures of some that we’ve made. The steps above should make more sense once you see them:

This is one my son made. He loves trucks so he was excited when we found a truck-patterned paper and some truck stickers. I added some letter stickers to personalize with his name. You can see what I mean by the split-image cover on this one. We used a truck scrapbook sheet and a red/white striped one. My son picked that one out because it reminded him of popcorn. :)

This is one my daughter made. We did this one differently by cutting a different sheet to fit the front and back. Instead of wrapping the ribbon down the middle, I put it across the top to help the sheets hold together better on the notebook.

This is the backside to my daughter’s notebook. She had a blast adding all the stickers!

This is one I made for one of my friends that lives by the beach….

..and this is the back cover to it. As you can see the backside is all one sheet that wrapped halfway around the front. (see above)

This is one I made for myself. I did another split paper image in the front with a ribbon divider. And….

…this is what the back looks like.

This was the notebook that they made in the class I attended where I learned about these.

And this is another one from the class. Instead of plain ribbon, they used ones with a circle pattern. As you can see from this one, the paper is divided halfway down the middle horizontally.  Yet another way you can make them.

These are fairly easy to make and you can turn it into a fun activity to do with the kids. It’s a great way to get them excited about back-to-school by creating a notebook that’s just for them. I’ve been making a lot of these as I plan on giving one to each member of my family as a holiday gift. If you watch for sales and use coupons, these really can be a nice inexpensive gift–something unique for people such as a bride, mother-to-be, etc.

Hope you and your family have fun making these, too!