Family Tree Projects & Gift Ideas

Give the Gift of Your Family Tree

If you are looking for creative and personal gift ideas for family members, then you can't go wrong with a special gift which celebrates your shared heritage. I know many of you were probably hoping to have a completed and published family genealogy ready for sharing this holiday season (wink), but don't despair. There are many other wonderful ways to share your genealogy discoveries in a special gift for family and friends.

1) Family History CD
Sharing your genealogy research with family and friends can be easy and inexpensive. A family history CD has the ability to hold large amounts of data in a small space, and include photos, sounds, scanned document images, and even video - something a printed family history just can't equal. A digital scrapbook or slideshow of the family history makes a great gift too!

2) Printable Photo Calendar
Calendars make wonderful gifts and are easy and inexpensive to create using your computer or the services of the local copy shop. You can make it a current family calendar to help far-flung family keep in touch with family photos, birthdays and anniversaries. Or you can create a calendar that commemorates your ancestors with old photos and your ancestor's birthdays, marriage dates, etc. Either way, have fun and be creative!

3) Photo Christmas Ornaments
Miniature frames filled with family photos make great Christmas gifts and can encourage conversation around the Christmas tree.

Scan, resize, and print your own photos to fill these elegant, Victorian ornament frames, or take the pictures down to your local photo shop and have them do it for you. Glass balls can also be decorated with photos of your ancestors, for a special heirloom gift.

4) Family Cookbook or Recipe Cards
One of the most overlooked heirlooms in our families is old family recipes.

Special dishes can tell a lot about the people who made them or the regions, cultures or religions they came from. Collect some of the family recipes which have been handed down through the generations and print them out on your computer or at your local copy shop. You can even expand on this by including personal information about the person who was famous for the dish, or a short paragraph on the history, country or culture behind the dish. There are many software programs and Internet sites which offer cookbook and recipe card templates, plus you can add your own photos, stories and clip art.

5) Tombstone Photographs or Rubbings
Have you visited a cemetery where your ancestors are buried, or do you have one nearby? You can create a collage print for the wall or a mini-scrapbook with the information you have gathered, including tombstone rubbings (be sure to be careful!), photographs, obituaries, a history of the cemetery, information on people buried nearby and even a map!

6) Family Records
You most likely have family members who don't really understand your passion about researching dead people. One great way to share some of the excitement with them is to give them an old record which contains their name.

My father-in-law, who has no interest in his family history what-so-ever, really enjoyed seeing his name on the 1920 census, and started reminiscing about all of the neighbors listed nearby. If your family member isn't old enough to be able to locate in the older records, then you can still keep it personal with a record for their parents, such as a marriage record.

7) Tribute to a Special Ancestor
Do you have a favorite ancestor - one you have concentrated on researching or have a lot of information about? Create a special scrapbook for this ancestor as a gift. Your gift could include a photograph of the ancestor along with copies of important records, collected stories and a biography. You can also research the events and lifestyle conditions of the time period and include information on what life may have been like for your ancestor.

If your ancestor was an immigrant you could include a copy of the passenger list, a naturalization record, a census record which shows their year of immigration or a history or photo of the ship on which they emigrated. Or, possibly, your ancestor served in the military - you could include a history of the battles in which they served, pension records, discharge papers, photographs and information about any awards for valor or service. If your ancestor was a farmer you can include copies of deeds, a listing of his assets from an agricultural schedule (US census) or probate record, maps of the area and photographs.

No matter how you choose to share your family history, please remember that the gift doesn't need to be fancy or complete to be meaningful. The time you have spent researching your family's history and preserving it for future generations is the greatest gift of all...