Actually, I don’t like the intrusion of Christmas into November any more than the next person. However, planning ahead for Christmas purchases is a great financial tip. As Christmas is approaching, consider how you, as a family historian, could use this gifts you share this year could motivate your family to help capture and preserve memories.
1. Photo storage boxes
I rediscovered this blog post about the importance of proper preservation. The overall point is that organization is key. If your family photo collection looks like this photo, your family could use some better storage solutions. Also, consider giving these boxes to family members with the old magnetic albums that are doing more harm to the family photo collection.
You can find Kleer-Vu Archive Storage boxes online in a variety of colors. The price is around $7/box.
Give these purposeful and often attractive boxes as gifts and tell your family members to gather their loose photos into a box. Then tell them they organized the photos they’re beyond amazing.
Challenge them to gather and/or organize the photos on Valentine’s Day. This becomes a gift that could keep on giving, for now, and well into the future. You can reward your productive family members with delicious heart-themed sugary goodies in February if they accomplish the goal!!!
2. Artifact & Collection storage supplies
From acid-free labeling pens, to coin preservation sleeves, proper media storage boxes, and more… anything that can protect against further deterioration of family treasures would make a great family history themed gift. Gaylord Bros has is a trusted name in archival supplies with a such a wide variety of products you’re certain to find something for the item on your list.
Most scanners on the market today do a wonderful job of digitizing your photos. If no one in your family has digitized any of your photos, next year could be the year to focus on photos. Do a simple Google Search for scanners. A flat bed scanner is very versatile but not portable. Wand scanners and FlipPals are popular because of their portability. There are also document scanners that can process a lot of pages quickly, however they are not good for photos or for fragile papers. Look at what you hope to scan and then do some research to find the right scanner.
4. Digital Photo Albums with space for writing
I personally do not like digital photo albums that have little to no text inside them. However, many relatives live far away from each other. Many older relatives are not computer savvy. Why not create a digital photo album with various photos that you want to learn more about? Then, send the printed album and an archival safe pen to the family member who knows the story behind these photos.
Inspire the gift receiver to write all over the books any memories, anecdotes about the people in the photos. The relative will not only be giving you the information you need and desire, but they’ll be creating a new family heirloom… without harming the original photos!
One of my favorite digital photo book making companies is Mixbook.com. Give them a try. Opt for layout color schemes that allow plenty of contrast between the pen’s ink. Also, use photo arrangements and leave room for writing.
5. A memory recording app
I’ll be honest, my digital sound recording has involved using my laptop and a microphone to record someone talking. I do not have any memory recording app recommendations, but you tech whizs out there should consider scouting for a voice recording app for your family members and buy them in the iTunes or Google Play stores for your relatives. If your intended relative is tech-adverse, opt for something very simple that can export WAV files. If your intended user is more technically astute, then look for a story capture app that perhaps guides the user through family history oriented questions.
If you find an app that is a great simple go-to app, let me know. If you find a reliable app that is more robust, let me know that as well. If you want to buy me a really cool smart phone, send me an email. Okay, I’m just kidding. Just seeing if you’re still with me!
7. A journal or a journal jar
Journals are great personal history gifts. Today’s memories are tomorrow’s family history. Give a journaling kit as a gift. The kit would include a journal with a cover tailored to your relative’s interest. A set of archival quality pens. A set of family history inspired journal prompts. The prompts could be put in a journal jar, as found in this blog post, or your could create a list of must answer questions to include with the book.
Be sure the prompts are targeted to your individual to make it more interesting. Include prompts such,
- “Why do we always say something lost is with the Social Security Cards?”
- “Tell me the story of grandma’s fiance who died before they married.”
- “Why did Grandma Helen’s hands always shake?”
- “Why is Aunt Mary Jane’s real name actually Aunt Annie?”
- “Why did Grandpa Joe always whistle while he worked?”
- “Why do we always have pot roast on Sunday?”
And so on and so forth. Certainly, include some ‘normal’ prompts in the jar or on the list, but make it even more thoughtful by including story prompts for things you’ve been curious about.
I fully believe in two things related to family history. First, that it can no longer be the effort of one individual who is ‘into it’. The history is about a family and each family members should do something to help capture and preserve their collective memories.
Secondly, turn people’s hearts and you won’t have to prod them to help. When I’ve focused on stories and memories, I have found more willing participants who will get out their photos and artifacts to share with me. Those items help me to that much more work and enrich the stories I uncover.
May your holiday season be filled with great new memories with your loved ones and perhaps be an opportunity to find a few more volunteers to help advance your family history related goals.