What’s the purpose of a junk journal? It’s probably a question you’ve wondered, especially if you’ve never seen one before. I know it was my reaction when I first saw one. I was intrigued and thought they were beautiful, but I had no clue how you could use one.
So don’t feel guilty for wondering. Given how elaborate and intricate they often are, it’s not hard to wonder how they could be used functionally. And honestly, sometimes they can’t be – but that’s okay! Junk journals can be gorgeous pieces of art.
In reality junk journals can have any purpose you want them to. Particularly if you’re creating one from scratch – you can make it serve almost any purpose imaginable. Write a novel in it. Use it as a family budget book. Make it into a dream diary – it’s up to you!
(Still learning how to create them? Check out this ultimate guide on how to make a junk journal with step by step instructions and videos!)
How to Use a Junk Journal
All that said, there are some popular ways to use junk journals that range from incredibly practical to less than practical (but still entirely awesome).
Use a junk journal as a memory and photo keeper – junk journals tend to borrow a lot of ideas and techniques from the scrapbooking world, so it’s natural that junk journals often become books for keeping memories, photos, cards, tags, and other bits of ephemera that remind you of friends, family and trips you might have taken.
Use a junk journal as a travel journal – speaking of trips, a junk journal can also serve as a travel journal. Junk journals frequently incorporate ephemera into their pages and travel often leaves you with tons of it. Use the rack cards and maps you collect as flip outs and slip them into pockets, use the tags and tickets you collect to create a collage page that will remind you of all the places you visited, and frame your travel photos and slip them into envelopes so you can look back on how much fun you had. (Travel junk journals might be my personal favorite if I’m honest!)
Use a junk journal as a coffee table book – With all of its intricate details and designs, tuck spots, pockets and envelopes to explore a junk journal can make a perfect coffee table book. It gives an inquisitive visitor plenty of things to look at and explore while you go grab something to drink or snacks to serve.
Use a junk journal as wedding guest book – Another popular use for junk journals are to use them as wedding guest books. These versions tend to be toned down with fewer frills and pockets and lots more blank and tea dyed pages. For people who are having a historic or rustic theme to their wedding, this style of guest book can make for the perfect extra touch.
Use a junk journal as a gratitude or spiritual journal – I’ve seen lots of people using their junk journals as places to reflect – on things their grateful for, on their religion, on how they want their future to go. The mixed media nature of a junk journal lets you include pieces from a page of a book or inspirational cards and photos, so it works great for this type of journal, too.
Use a junk journal as a piece of art – This is another one of my favorite ways to use a junk journal. Ultimately, a junk journal is a piece of mixed media art and you can treat it the exact same way you do any other kind of art – hang it up, display it, or even sell it. If you have bare shelves in a living room or entry way, filling them with beautifully decorated books can make them extra gorgeous – and like with a coffee table book, it can be a conversation starter!
What to Put in a Junk Journal
So if you haven’t figured it out yet – you can put almost anything in a junk journal depending on how you plan to use it. It almost always starts with paper or cardstock, but after that you can include so much more.
The best way to get started is often to create a spot on a shelf or if you’re more organized, in a basket, to start collecting the bits and bobs you want to include.
For example, when I created a travel junk journal for a family member last year I started by collecting items for awhile before. I started printing photos and putting them in the bin. I found pictures of the places we’d visited, the hotels we’d stayed and some of the writing we’d done on the trip and put those in the bin as well.
Then I collected lots of details from the trip like tags and tickets. I even rounded up our receipts from our airfare and hotels! I put all of those things together in a bin. Then I laid it all out and tried to decide what else I might need and what color theme I might want to use.
I grabbed a few more things from the craft store – stickers, die cuts, some paper doilies, and some travel themed washi tape. That way when I finally sat down to start planning, cutting and creating my junk journal – I had plenty of materials to work with. (Still looking for junk journal supplies? We’ve got a guide to the best junk journal supplies for beginners.)
What to Write in a Junk Journal
As with everything else junk journaling – you can write anything you want in it. You can journal about your day, reflect on the past, write down family recipes, or just put fun quotes inside to inspire. All you really have to do is use your imagination.
All right. I want to hear from you – what do you use your junk journal for? What’s your favorite use for them? What do you love to include in them?