The first family visitors we had after my daughter was born were my father and my brother Andrew. When I started to put stuff together for scrapbook pages about their visit, I realized I had a bit of a problem. Most of the items I had bought for my daughter's scrapbook were incredibly girly. So I wasn't sure how I was going to make the pages go well with her scrapbook, but still reflect my father and my brother. I decided the best alternative was to pick the least girly papers to work with and find unique embellishments that fit my father and brother's personalities.
My father has been a stamp collector for as long as I can remember. When I was young, he encouraged me to collect stamps off envelopes, and I used to have a whole notebook full that I had saved from envelopes we'd received in the mail. I used to have a "stamp remover" that would separate the stamp from the paper envelope, but ultimately it was just two sponges you soaked in water. (This doesn't work with newer stamps, only the ones you lick.)
My father is also a writer and a die-hard supporter of the U.S. Postal Service, so every week my daughter receives a poem from him in the mail, usually plastered with random stamps that my dad has purchased to decorate his envelopes with. While I save all of the poems he sends in a binder, I've also saved a number of the envelopes that were particularly stampy and pretty. So I pulled out a few of these envelopes, soaked them in wet paper towels, and voila! Instant page embellishments. I ran them through the Xyron sticker machine and then used them in the white space on the layout.
The blue squares above cover photos, the grey squares are for journaling I did about my dad and brother's visit (lower right) and a copy of a poem my dad wrote about my daughter (column on left). The white boxes are "Grampy's" return address and my daughter's name that I cut off the envelope, to include some of my dad's actual handwriting. Of all the scrapbook pages I've done so far, I felt this was definitely the most personal, because it really shows so much about my dad. As you can see, even the choices of items on the page all have a story behind them.
My brother is deaf, so when it came time to find some personalized embellishments for his pages, I immediately thought of sign language. I was able to find several sign drawings using Google Images including "uncle" (on the left next to the word "uncle"), "family" (bottom left), his name (fingerspelled across the top to finish the page title), and "I love you" (bottom right). I printed these on colored cardstock.
This is another example of a time when I purchased smaller paper (in this case 8" x 8") and used it as accents on a layout. The background paper is a light blue grid design, but on each page I used four different smaller squares of blue patterened paper to add more interest to the page. Most of them are from an 8" x 8" paper pack I found at Archiver's in their $2 section. I thought it was a great deal because it included not only a number of 8" x 8" sheets, but also chipboard letters, which I used to spell "uncle" on the left and "niece" on the lower right photo.
So as you can see, personalized embellishments can really enhance a page and can be very inexpensive too!