This Year Create A Gift To Last A Lifetime

By Kimberlie Guerrieri

For many of us home for the holidays is looking different this year. We may have to miss our traditional family gatherings but staying physically apart doesn’t mean that we have to stay disconnected. And what better year to roll up our DIY sleeves and deliver some family gifts that can connect and celebrate our family’s unique story for years to come.

Family Calendar 

Feature your family (past and present) in a 2021 calendar. Both practical and personal it will bring cheer throughout the year. Everyone can use a calendar, and this one is helpful for remembering all those special family birthdays and anniversaries.

First, list the family members, living and deceased, to be included in your calendar. For each, list their birthdate, marriage anniversary, or other fun facts. Organize your list by month in chronological order. 

Next, gather the photos you want to include in the calendar. Is there a new family addition? Did someone get married? Did you discover a photo of great-grandfather no one has seen before?

Finally, select a program to create your calendar. Mixbook and Shutterfly have great templates. Using the template, add your photos, birthdays, and anniversaries. But before you hit that order button, double-check your spelling and dates!

Family Recipe Cookbook

Have you ever lost a family recipe? Handed down generation to generation, family recipes are part of our heritage. The kitchen is where families gather, and the food we create is deeply tied to our culture and traditions. Cooking keeps memories and loved ones alive. 

A family cookbook is fun and easy to make. First, make a list of your family favorites. Contact family members and ask them to send you recipes of their favorites. 

You can record your family recipes on recipe cards, blank family recipe books, or you can create a custom book online using Shutterfly or Mixbook.

The ingredients and directions are important to get right, but also include where the recipe came from and when it was traditionally served. If it’s grandma’s famous fruitcake, include a picture and biographical information about grandma. Scan and include those tattered handwritten recipe cards. There’s something precious about seeing my Nonna’s biscotti recipe written out in her own hand. I think it’s the secret ingredient that makes them taste better. 

Food is a family tradition, and there’s no better time to share and preserve your family food memories! 

Family History Photo Books

Did you put your extra time at home to good use organizing all those boxes of old photos and albums this year? Now is the perfect time to turn them into family history photo books!

While you could make a lovely coffee book, there is no reason these have to be big or fussy! They’ll love the gift of family this season, whether it’s hardcover or softcover, complicated or simple.

First, pick a theme. What kind of family photo book do you want to make? Do you want to focus on just one side of your family? A particular family or ancestor’s story? Maybe a highlight reel of holidays and traditions? 

This year, I made a photo book of old family wedding and anniversary photos for my recently married daughter. With each photo, I’ve included a little story with details about the couple.

After you gather and scan your photos, choose an online service to create your book. Mixbook, Shutterfly, and Snapfish all have beautiful templates and will ship your book. 

As you create your book, make sure to identify the people and places in the photos. Future generations will thank you!

Kimberlie Guerrieri, M.A. is a professional genealogist, writer, and educator.  As the founder of The Ancestry Agency, she spends her days helping people discover their family history, solve some pretty cool mysteries, and share their family legacy. Her writing has appeared in local and national publications, and she’s appeared on “We’ll Meet Again” with Ann Curry on PBS. Kimberlie believes knowing your family story is key to understanding who you are and who you want to be.  

For tips on discovering your family’s story, visit her at

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  • Reply gwendy79 December 13, 2020 at 10:33 am

    Great ideas! I especially love the family recipe cookbook!

  • Reply zestandplomb December 13, 2020 at 10:46 am

    I agree! This has motivated me to get to work on 2 photo books for the holiday. They are coming out so cute. The recipe books would be great for weddings too!

  • Reply Lorraine Gabbert December 15, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Love this guest columnist and her creative ideas. The wedding book is especially sweet. I make a scrapbook calendar each year. It’s fun looking back through photos of what we did together.

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