Christmas is a great time for gathering the family all in one place, and an obvious opportunity for any family historian to glean some information, but it can also be an opportunity to give back and bring the past to life so whether you are planning ahead for Christmas with a careful eye to your budget or are looking for that special personal present for the relative or friend who has everything and needs nothing then why not check out a few of the following ideas.
You don’t need to be a DIY guru or a craft specialist to take a “off the shelf” Dime Store item and turn it into something really special. Take the simple Shadow Box as an example, you can make it from scratch, or buy one at Amazon
Then the fun can start. Items like first clothes and shoes, or family photographs of a trip to the seaside with the shells collected that day.
Do you have an old set of Scrabble, if you don’t try the charity shops in your area, they may have collections of Scrabble or Boggle letters and incomplete games for very little. Make a simple crossword using family names and or places. If you can’t find scrabble letters try cutting letters from magazines or use a stencil to make your own from card stock. Add a photo of family or home or a personal memento. If you are great at art or wood cutting make a wooden tree, or use a photograph or free graphic and attach photos or mini labels of ancestors.
Repurpose or buy a small wooden box with a hinged lid and measure the inside.
Check out this YouTube video on how to transfer a Photo to Wood (tip: mirror image your photos on the computer before you print them out as transferring them to a wooden base will reverse the image). Use simple wooden pre-cut blocks or log cuttings, try making a set of ancestor coasters the options for your creativity are endless. Use similar techniques to transfer images to material or china and make throw pillow covers and mugs featuring your ancestors.
Here is another YouTube Video that will show you how to make photo ornaments.
If you like the thought of sharing your research to date, but are not quite ready to show the entire tree, or write up your full family history why not concentrate on one ancestor, or one chapter in the life of one ancestor or branch of your family.
Gather together what information you have along with pictures, maps, and documents and create a mini book. Go on-line create an e-book, and share via the internet or on a memory stick.
Make a Mini Scrap Book, or a simple brag book, use recycled cereal boxes to create the covers for a scrapbook or journal for a fellow researcher. Here are some more You Tube Videos that will show you how.
Simple Brag Book (tip use acid free pockets for ancestor photos)
If you don’t feel confident working with physical scraps, try going digital, that way there is no mess, no glue, and an undo button (I find this rather useful – no more tears when something sticks in the wrong place or wrinkles).
Use your own photos, and search the internet for photos under a creative commons licence. Purchase a digi-scrap pack for a few dollars. Two of my favourite digi scrap suppliers are:
If you have never made a digi-scrap page before try some of the Quick Pages readily available on either site. The page is already made – all you need to do is insert your photos and save. This one is Ditzbitz Anniversary Set available for $2.89 (price correct at time of writing)
Consider gathering family recipes, take pictures and make a new family recipe book for all the family.
Once completed, your digi-scrap pages can be combined to make an e-book, printed either at home or by a commercial printer, and either framed individually or combined with any of the ideas above to make a physical scrap book or even a calendar.
You can do as much as you feel comfortable or combine thrift shop and inexpensive store items with a personal touch that will give an individual gift that is perfect for anyone.
There is no need for a hand-made Christmas gift to only consist of the hand knitted presents of socks, scarves, and the awful Christmas sweaters of decades past. However many families do love the fun of what is not really a tradition but more of a modern phenomenon of competing at this time of year to see who can give or wear the most outrageous Christmas jumper.