Christmas is a wonderful time of year for family historians to share their family tree with others so we have compiled 12 things you can do over the holidays to share the stories you have added to your family tree over the past year and perhaps get some new stories from other family members so that you can share an even bigger and better family tree next year!
1. Record oral history
The FamilySearch Memories app makes it easy to record family memories which you can then use to share your family tree. Simply create a scrapbook of documents and images on the app and then invite a relative to talk about their thoughts and reactions to what you show them, for up to five minutes per image.
2. Animate photographs
The ‘Photos’ section of MyHeritage offers a variety of tools to repair old pictures, enhance blurred faces, and colourise monochrome images, creating wonderfully vivid versions which you can then host online. The website also allows you to animate old photographs with its tool Deep Nostalgia, giving the illusion of bringing departed ancestors back to life as they smile, nod, blink and turn their heads. While this form of digital sorcery can be a little unnerving it’s a great way to stimulate conversations about long-past ancestors and is an alternative way to share your family tree.
3. Create a report
If you have family tree software that allows you to create reports, why not print one off to share with your family this Christmas. There’s no point waiting until your family tree is finished (when will that ever be?). If your tree is hosted on Ancestry you can order a professional family history book produced by MyCanvas, with charts and photos based on your family tree information. It’s a lovely way to share your family tree.
4. Give a presentation
If you have found an unusual or exciting story from your research, why not create a short PowerPoint presentation and tell it to your family over the Christmas break?
5. Start a blog
An exciting way to share your family tree and publish your research as an ongoing project is to create a family history-themed blog. The holiday period is an ideal time to experiment with free platforms such as Blogger or WordPress to get your started. You can get ideas and tips from the Geneabloggers.
6. Share your DNA test results
If you have taken a DNA test, you can use a Christmas get-together to show your family what you have discovered (f not, read our guide on which is the best DNA test to take for you). They may even be interested in taking a DNA test themselves.
7. Host a virtual family reunion
Lots of people will be meeting up online over Christmas and it can be a great opportunity to share your family tree. Share stories and photographs you have uncovered and you can include a family history quiz. If you haven’t got to grips with Zoom and all the things you can do with it, then our friends at Vivid-Pix have put together some useful tutorials.
8. Create a Christmas card or photobook
Share your favourite family photographs as e-Christmas cards or get them printed out as cards using companies like Moonpig. You can also spend the Christmas break compiling photobooks to share. Try Snapfish or Photobox.
9. Give a memory book
In a quiet moment this Christmas, why not take the opportunity to sit down with one of your older relatives and ask them to tell you a little about themselves? Memory books ask questions such as ‘Can you remember your first day of school?’ or ‘Did you belong to any youth groups?’ and give you space to record them. From You To Me sells a nice range of memory books.
10. Tell your own story
Take the opportunity this Christmas to tell the greatest story that you will ever have – your very own. Start with the basics: where were you born, what were your earliest memories, where did you go to school? Add stories as you remember them. It’s also never too late to start a diary. Think how grateful your future descendants will be.
12. Share your family tree on Facebook
Facebook includes a great bite-sized way to share your family tree research. Create a ‘Family’ category list from your contacts (see ‘About’, then ‘Family and Relationships’) so that you can post messages to relatives only. You can also create a dedicated private Facebook group this Christmas on a family history theme. Encourage family members to share anything they may have in their family archive. You can also use family history software such as TreeView to create a tree using your Facebook contacts, and to invite your relatives to view your tree online. Find out more on TheGenealogist.
13. Compile a newsletter
Finally, try the old-fashioned simple option of putting together a newsletter about your family or your research to send out to family members this Christmas. Even sharing this small part of your family tree will help preserve your family story.