Let's face it-we all need a calendar, why not have one that includes pictures of ancestors or modern-day family members, or a little of both. With scanned photos you can create a calendar through your genealogical database program or through a publishing/photo program such as Microsoft Publisher. If you feel like you just can't do that, take your pictures or your thumb drive/CD and go down to your local copy store (office supply places, neighborhood packing/shipping stores, even copy/photo machines at drug stores will also do) and have a sales associate help you design a calendar that includes your pictures. Before stores were touting the ability to create personalized calendars, I made one for my relatives where I simply printed out calendar pages for the next year using Microsoft Publisher and then copied my photographs so they would be seen with each calendar page.
Ancestor Page Summaries
This is an idea that could work with a calendar or on a magnet or in a photo album. Found on the Gifts for Genealogists web site, this idea is simply a scanned picture of an ancestor with a brief, single paragraph write up about their life. This is a great idea for getting non-genealogists interested in their ancestors, as well as a great way to introduce children to their ancestry.
If you have been scanning family photos, documents or memorabilia you may want to burn a CD or DVD and share them with other family members. This is not only a great gift but it also ensures that your genealogy will survive should something happen to you or your home. You can use programs like Picasa, which is available for free to organize your photos and share them on CD's or even online photo albums.
Whether the recipes are old and may seem dated or you include newer family favorites, a family cookbook is a personalized gift that can easily be done using your word processing program or simply writing out recipe cards and enclosing them in plastic page protectors or in a decorated box. Don't have recipes from the older generations? Then consider looking through cookbooks from the era to insert classics that may have been cooked by your ancestor. The web site Vintage Recipes provides recipes in categories and includes the date and cookbook where it can be found.
Pedigree Wall Charts
A nice professionally done pedigree wall chart can provide a cherished heirloom for those who receive it. Yes, many people will say they don't like genealogy-but they are happy to know more about their ancestors if you will do the research, right? Well, this is an opportunity to provide them with information about their ancestors. Several businesses provide this service. One such company is Generation Maps. The company also provides another product that is a beautiful way to showcase family photos. Their canvas fine art photo reproductions can take your family photo and scan, enlarge it and makes it look like a fine piece of art, with the texture and feel of an oil painting. Check out their web site for more information.
A fun way to preserve memories and introduce family members to their ancestors is by making place mats for your gift recipients' dinner table. You can use copies of photos, copies of letters and other documents; you could even use printouts of your ancestor on a census or ship manifest if you wanted. Now for this project, I have a warning, please make copies of photos and documents and never laminate anything that is an original. Lamination is not a way to preserve original photos and documents.
For these place mats, all you need is to sandwich your memorabilia in between two pieces of clear shelf liner paper. I wrote about this on my blog and used the example of taking your old Christmas cards and cutting them into three-inch circles. You can then show the pictures and the notes and signatures of relatives. What a great way to introduce and help children remember all those far away relatives. It's also a handy way to remember all your family, past and present during the holidays. You can read more about this idea on my blog, written on 30 December 2007.
Many copy shops are now offering to personalize almost anything, including mouse pads. You can have a photo scanned and printed on a mouse pad or you can buy a mouse pad that has a clear photo pocket where you can insert a picture of an ancestor. You could even provide multiple pictures that could be inserted throughout the year. One place to find these photo mouse pads is at the online store Fun Stuff for Genealogists.
And that's just the beginning….