I have no idea how many journals I own-maybe 20, or maybe even 30 or 40! Every time I have an idea, I have to buy a whole new journal for it because, well, I really like planning and organizing! I have one notebook for decorating plans, one notebook for restaurants I like, one notebook for items I would like to buy, and so on. The things is, I don’t make enough money on a regular basis to keep buying fancy, $20+ notebooks, so, instead I go to places like Target and Walmart and Dollar Tree. Okay, mostly Dollar Tree.

As you can see from this link, the options aren’t the best (but I guess I can’t complain for the $1 price!). Every now and then I find a cute notebook, but I’ve found that the best thing to do is look for the notebook least likely to fall apart any time soon, even if its ugly. Then, when I get home, I beautify it. My embellishments might not look professional, but they certainly add a personal touch and, dare I say, a certain je ne sais quoi. So, here are my five favorite ways to decorate a notebook cover and yep, I have these ideas written down in another notebook right next to me.

1: Stickers

Alright, here’s the most obvious idea! Sometimes the right stickers can really make all the difference, though! Since the notebook is already cheap, I prefer to use fairly nice stickers. Typically, I look for puffy, glittery, 3-Dimensional, or just really, really cute stickers from either the clearance section of Walmart, or the Dollar Tree (yes, I go to this store a lot!). The Dollar Tree gets craft store-quality stickers every now and then, so every time I see some I grab it to use later. You can also find cute stickers for cheap at SHEIN, but I’ve never tried them so I can’t attest that the quality is great. Anyway, here is a notebook I got on clearance for 50 cents at the Dollar Tree-it was originally solid pink, and I decorated it with some cute, puffy lama stickers I had bought a few weeks before. Also, here are some examples of craft store-quality stickers I have found at the Dollar Tree.

2: Glitter

This idea is, by far, the messiest. For the notebook shown below, I used liquid glue and loose glitter, but glitter glue would work too, and I would think it would be easier. I like to use this Elmer’s glitter glue; it doesn’t get clogged up as easily as some do, and it looks great!

3: Cardstock/ “Fancy” Paper

By “fancy” paper, I am referring to those single sheets of patterned or textured paper in craft stores that cost around $.60-$1.50 a piece. Every now and then I buy single sheets, but most of the time I purchase an entire pad of 50+ sheets. I’ve been collecting these pads since I was little, so I have hundreds of patterned cardstock and paper sheets! I simply cut shapes out of them (mostly flowers) and then hot glue them onto the journal. Below is an example:

4: Maps

As someone who loves traveling, I also love maps, and I often find myself walking around Google Earth in my spare time. When I go somewhere, I usually pick up multiple pamphlets that include a free map of the city. These maps are perfect for doing crafts with! If you don’t have any of these on hand, you can probably find one at a local touristy-area/visitor’s center. You know that shelf of brochures that’s always in hotels and restaurants and shopping areas? One of them usually has a map in it somewhere. The journal below is actually one I got for free at a college info fair. Later, I hot glued a map from my personal favorite place, Busch Gardens, onto the cover. The only downside to using a map is that it requires a bit of measuring.

5: Pins

I’ve saved the best for last: if you collect pins, this is a great way to put them to use. Whether you buy Hot Topic pins or Disney trading pins or both, I recommend sticking them into a notebook cover (as long as the cover isn’t too flimsy). I mostly collect Busch Gardens pins now, so that’s what I used on the notebook below (I put it on the same notebook with the map), but I have a small collection of pins from all over the place that would also work. I’ve never tried attaching button pins, but I do think the enamel/metal pins with the rubber backs would be easier to attach. If you don’t collect pins, or just would like some more, here are the best places to get them:

  • For cheap pins: Shein (scroll down to “customers also viewed”)
  • For trendy pins: Hot Topic
  • For a large variety of pins: Etsy

Some Other Ideas

If you don’t care for any of the ideas above, or don’t have any of the items on hand, here are two more ideas (these I haven’t tried):

  • Duck Tape/ Washi Tape
  • Permanent Marker (if the cover is the right surface)

I hope these ideas were helpful? I would love to hear any suggestions!

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