Every year it seems to start earlier. I havenâ€™t even taken down Halloween decorations and the stores are already filled with Christmas displays. As the stressful thought of beginning holiday shopping creeps in, my mind is screaming, â€œItâ€™s too soon, Iâ€™m not ready!â€
Being honest with myself though, I realize that the sooner I start shopping, the less stressful the holidays will be. Now Iâ€™m not going to kid myself into thinking that I can be done by December, but wouldnâ€™t it be nice to have at least that week before Christmas to enjoy the season instead of racing around trying to find last minute gifts?
Iâ€™m planning on creating some family history gifts this year, and since some of these will take time to create, I need to get on it now. For items that Iâ€™ll need to order, like any AncestryPress projects, I want to allow myself extra time to make sure I can get them in time. Currently, projects are typically shipped in two to three weeks, but with the holiday rush, I want to allow a little extra time.
In todayâ€™s column, I thought weâ€™d take a look at some family history projects that could make good holiday gifts, including some do-it-yourself projects and some that you can create with a little help from Ancestry.
~ Family History Book. A few weeks ago, I shared some of my experiences using the newly launched AncestryPress along with some sample pages from a book Iâ€™m working on. Since we just covered these books, I wonâ€™t go into detail again, but if you missed it you can read the article on the 24/7 Family History Circle blog.Â An added benefit to this project is that it has really inspired my research lately. Before I commit to a print volume, Iâ€™m tidying up my tree, adding records and photographs, and the review has given me some ideas to follow up on.
~ Recipe Book. Another project Iâ€™ve started is for my husbandâ€™s family. We inherited my mother-in-lawâ€™s and her motherâ€™s cookbooks. My husband is helping me choose some family favorites and weâ€™re loading them into AncestryPress. They have several recipe layouts to choose from and weâ€™re adding stories and photographs to the recipes to make it part family history, part recipe book.
To create a recipe book, go to the Publish tab, and click Getting Started. Choose Make a Family History Book from Scratch and AncestryPress will generate a blank book with one blank page. From the Background menu at the top of the page, choose Recipe Cover and follow the prompts to customize it. Then click on New Page and select Other pages. From there you can choose the recipe layout you like (with or without photographs) and customize the page however youâ€™d like. Just as with the family history pages I discussed in the previously mentioned article,Â you can move text boxes around, add text, photos, and embellishments to create beautiful pages to include in your book. (Click on the image to enlarge it and see a sample page from my recipe book.)
~ Family History Prints. Following the same steps as the recipe book, you can create an individual page with a significant record found on Ancestry, print it on your home printer, and have it framed as a gift for a family members. If youâ€™re in a crunch time-wise, this is a quicker option and in addition to the various textured backgrounds, there are military and immigration options available. Pop it in a frame and you have a nice gift for someone in your family.
~ Pedigree Charts. A new option has been added to the publishing options in AncestryPress–the ability to create and order a large pedigree chart. Using information from your Ancestry Tree, you can create a 24â€ x 18â€ pedigree chart in minutes. Follow the same steps we took in creating a Family History Book or Recipe Book to get started, but instead choose the third option, “Make a family tree print from templates.â€ Photographs that are attached to individuals are added to the tree, and you can add text, more photographs, and embellishments to create a beautiful family heirloom. I created one this week and was finished with it and had ordered it in about fifteen minutes.
~ Other Family History Items. Ancestry has also partnered with Qoop to allow Ancestry users to use photographs and images loaded to your Ancestry Tree to create unique gifts. Products offered include prints, posters, calendars, photo books, stickers, mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, magnets, backup disks, greeting cards, and more. I was thinking it would be neat to dig out an old Christmas picture to put on a Christmas card to send to family members. To start your project,
go to the MyAncestry page and click where it says “Order high-quality prints, posters and more
from your trees’ photos” just below the list of trees. Then just
choose a product and follow the instructions.
There are a variety of options at Ancestry and the Family History Projects page gives you step-by-step instructions for each project.
As the keeper of the family history, there may be photographs in your possession that other family members donâ€™t have. Make copies of ancestral or childhood photographs and share them with other family members. You can either frame them or if you have enough photographs, put them in an album. Another option would be to burn it on CD. Some programs will even help you set a slideshow to music. My family uses Roxio to create photo CD montages for birthdays.
Photographs arenâ€™t the only item that family members might treasure though. Do you have any old correspondence? Letters from family members telling of the joy they felt at the birth of a child, family circumstances at a particular point in time, or anything else that captures the spirit of the author also make for gifts that will be treasured.
Frame a Memory or a Sentiment
A couple years ago, my sister gave me a little frame with a typed message in it. It read, â€œI smile because youâ€™re my sister. I laugh because thereâ€™s nothing you can do about it.â€ That signed sentiment hangs on my office wall and makes me smile and think of her every time I see it.
There are a lot of ways you can create similar gifts for your family members. Take a photograph from a family event and then type up a memory of the event or even a silly caption. Check out your local department store (or even the dollar store) and youâ€™ll find a wide variety of frames. A double frame could include that photo of you and your siblings bundled up in your snowsuits, while the opposite pane tells the story of the snowstorm made you bundle up.
Family History Ornaments
Check the holiday section of just about any store, and youâ€™ll probably run across those little frame ornaments. Trim your Christmas tree with photos from your family tree. If you donâ€™t want to do frames, thereâ€™s a neat article on About.com by Kimberly Powell about making clear glass ornaments into heirloom ornaments.
If youâ€™d rather have someone else do the work, there are also companies that will create ornaments for you. A catalog I got from Snapfish included several photo ornament options. A search for heirloom ornaments also turned up several companies that created a variety of personalized ornaments.
What Are You Doing This Year?
Iâ€™m interested in hearing your family history gift ideas too. Please share your ideas with all of us here on the blog in the comments section below.
Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry newsletters for more than nine years and is author of “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book.” She has written for “Ancestry” Magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e-mail at Juliana@Ancestry.com, but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.