Monday, December 2, 2013

Genealogy Gift Guide 2013: Gifts to Share Your Family History

If I get a chance, I hope to publish a guide to gifts for genealogists, but I'm going to start with a guide to gifts from genealogists. How can you share your passion for family history with your loved ones? (You know the loved ones I mean, the ones who get the glazed-over look in their eyes when you start talking about genealogy.) How can you preserve and disseminate your family history in a way that's interesting and family-friendly? Here are some of my favorite ideas!

-Family Tree
There are lots of ways to present your family with a nice "completed" version of your family history in an attractive format that even a non-genealogist would love to hang on the wall. offers printing services, and your genealogy software may print a tree nice enough to display.  Family ChartMasters offers a multitude of options. Personally, I've ordered blank charts from Etsy seller Fresh Retro Gallery and filled them out as gifts that were always well-received.

-Photo Ornaments
Photographic ornaments like these can hold current pictures of family members or memorialize Christmases past. You could even give a set each year, with updated pictures of kids or grandkids to create a future heirloom and tell your family story in real time!

-Photo Coasters
A few years ago, we got this lovely set of photo coasters from a family friend for Christmas. While ours were empty, you could pre-fill the coasters with old or new family photos (copies only, please!), pictures of the old homestead, or even artistically cut excerpts of important documents (really, copies only, please!) to create a conversation piece that will really get family members talking about memories and stories whenever they gather for a beverage.

-Framed Photographs
Any picture in a frame can be a gift, but to really make it worthwhile, pick family pictures that mean something, or arrange them in an artistic way. There are a million ways to go about this. This year, my in-laws are getting a photograph that we took on our trip to Ireland, of the farm where my mother-in-law's family has lived for up to 200 years. It's not exactly an "old family photograph," but it's definitely a picture full of family history! They're also getting side-by-side framed pictures of family photo from the early 1900s and my husband recreating the shot in 2013:

Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland. Left: Joseph Gleasure, c. 1905. Right: Ben Naylor, October, 2013.

These are best when they tell a particular story. Memorialize a piece of your family's recent or ancient history - anything from your family's Christmas memories, to a new baby's first year of life, to the life story of a particular ancestor. If you're interested in digital scrapbooking, try the MyMemories Suite. It's the tool I used to create the header for this blog, and it can make wonderful scrapbooks, as well. You can read my review here. If you plan to buy MyMemories software, you can use the exclusive coupon code STMMMS25444 to get a discount on your purchase.

-Family Stories
I know you pay attention when relatives tell stories. I hope you write them down. And now, I encourage you to share them! Using a service like, you can compile them into a nice book or booklet, illustrate with relevant family pictures, and order copies for the whole family, or make it available for purchase by relatives or the public. I did this last year with stories my grandfather had told us years earlier, and ended up with a really nice-looking book, a preview of which can be seen here. (Everyone who received a copy cried. I consider that a successful gift.)

-Oral Histories
Record an oral history with a relative. With permission, share with family members. Satisfaction guaranteed!

-Family Cookbook
Gather recipes from relatives, or compile your own most famous recipes to share. You can write them out by hand if you're only making one copy; otherwise, please spare your wrist and get them printed up! This can be another job for, or you can print up recipes and photos together in a photobook from Shutterfly or Snapfish. Make a family cookbook particularly compelling by organizing it around a theme: Grandma's famous recipes, or family Christmas favorites. Tell the stories that make your family dishes so memorable.

Edited to add:
-Home Movies
How many old home movies do you have on VHS, or even on film? There are services that can transfer these to DVD, creating a much more accessible trove of family memories. If you have access to a combination VCR/DVD player, you can even do it yourself! I bought a selection of DVDs and jewel cases, and am in the process of transferring a number of old movies to DVD for my parents. Be warned, though: regular DVDs are not an archival medium, and you should not discard your originals! If you're willing/able to pay up to buy Archival Gold DVDs, you should, but I'd still recommend keeping the originals, particularly if your originals are on film. VHS tapes aren't archival, either, and won't necessarily outlast your regular DVDs, but duplication is always smart.

I hope you can take away from this post some creative ideas about how to share your research and your family's history with your loved ones this holiday season!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase from Amazon after clicking one of these links, I will receive a small portion of your purchase price as a commission. I personally make a point of starting my Amazon shopping through the affiliate links of bloggers and friends whenever possible, so that large corporations are not the only beneficiaries of my purchases, and encourage others to do the same, regardless of whether they use my affiliate links or another blogger's. Additionally, I am a MyMemories affiliate, and can receive a small commission if you purchase their software using the above code.

No comments: