The generations on either side of me link me to my past and my future. My view of family history involves revealing the roots and the branches.

Throughout this blog you will find perspectives related to the doctrines of temple and family history work from revealed revelation given to living prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Incorporating Family History Into Christmas

This post is full of family history ideas you may want to incorporate into Christmas. It is not meant to overwhelm you. I hope that this post awakens within you the mindfulness of what family history you already do within your own family holiday traditions.

As I gathered ideas to share, I grouped them into 5 categories: Decorations, Activities, Music, Gifts, and Food.


Christmas Stockings
- My father (Papa) crocheted Christmas stockings for us as children. As each child married he also made a sock for the spouse and as each grandchild was born they received their own. My mother also helped with some of the crocheting. The main photo above was from his funeral and the first time all the stockings were in the same place together. Three generations of my family have this special gift. Do you have special family Christmas stockings?

Christmas Village - My mother made village pieces that looked like our homes. The green house is the home I lived in until I was 5. We moved next door to the red house and I lived there until I was an adult. My family still owns and lives in these homes.

Ancestor Ornaments - to make a real "family tree". Include photos of current and past family members. You can also give these as gifts to your family. You can use all different kinds of materials for ornaments. Check out this Pinterest board for more Family Ornaments ideas.

Photo printed on velum - Pat Richley-Erickson

Ancestors Tree - Pat Richley-Erickson

Please read Gini's post about why and how she created this Ancestor Memory Tree:
Ancestor Memory Tree - Gini Webb
Photo tags - Gini Webb

Other beautiful family history Christmas decorations.
Family Photos on Lights - Pat Richley-Erickson
Glass Block with photo printed on velum w//lights
Pat Richley-Erickson
                Great Grandparents - Pat Richley-Erickson               

What other family history related decorations do you have during Christmas? Share in the comments.

Family History Advent Calendar - Check out this link for a free fillable PDF.
Track or plan all your family history related activities on an advent calendar; makes a beautiful decoration while it serves as a reminder of your plans.
Memories in Time - New Zealand

Relatives Around Me, FamilySearch Family Tree Mobile App
  • Use at a community, church, or neighborhood function to identify your cousins "around you".

  • Everyone in my family (mother, siblings, spouses) has played this 10 question game and reported our scores to each other!

Home Movies

  • Record new and watch old home movies of Christmas celebrations.
  • Create a short video using Adobe Spark (free and easy to use). You can incorporate old family photos and do a voice over to make it very personal. You could make a few of them to play on a loop at a family get-together or make them into DVDs to give as gifts.
Personal Interviews / Spontaneous Family Storytelling / Personal History

  • Use recording apps or digital recorder.
  • Record your memories of Christmases past, or interview a living relative about their memories.
  • A Memories App by FamilySearch - Capture photos, stories, audio and load direct to FamilySearch.
  • JoyFLIPs app - Scan old photos and have relatives tell their stories of the photos by recording them right along with the photos in the app.
  • StoryCorps App
  •  #52Stories - One story each week for a year. Or use the prompts to ask family members questions.
  • Check out Emily's list of questions for a Childhood Christmas Memories Interview.
  • Mariah has a great idea regarding Story Jars and how to utilize them.


  • Collect all the vintage holiday photos from past years and create either a paper scrapbook or digital book and have each family member share their memories.

A Christmas notebook full of ancestor photos
Pat Richley-Erickson
Family Christmas Letters / Photos

  • We have nearly 50 years of family Christmas / New Year letters. Each year my parents send a letter listing a few of our personal and family happenings during the year. This year will be the 18th year my own little family has created our own family letter. Keeping these together in a binder provides a great family history of our family.

  • Family Photo cards from close and distant family also provide a great family record over the generations; keep a copy of the one you send out too!
  • Write letters to living grandparents (instead of Santa, or as well as Santa if you must).
  • Reach out to distant living cousins. Send a Christmas card with photos of your family and introduce yourself.


  • What were your ancestors' religious beliefs and practices and how they might have celebrated this time of year? 
  • What traditions are unique to your specific family cultures or historic countries?
  • What were your traditions as a child and as an adult?
  • What traditions have been passed down for multiple generations?
  • How was Santa (or similar figure) celebrated in your family's historic countries?
  • Do you do have specific things you do on Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning, Christmas Day?
    • We have a special coloring book that we color in each Christmas Eve. My parents started it when they were married. As adults, my brother gifted us each our own copy of the Christmas coloring book so that we could continue the tradition with our own children.

1st page I colored all by myself - 1976

  • #LightTheWorld - 25 ways to share the Savior's light with those around you.
  • Visit lonely people and let them share their memories with you. Record them.
  • Do service in honor of a loved who has passed away. Particularly one for whom you may be grieving.
    • Make their favorite treat and give it away. 
    • Donate time or money to a charity they preferred. 
    • Sing their favorite songs at a shelter or nursing home.
    • Visit a cemetery and leave flowers. 
    • Index records from where the person lived.
  • Make every Christmas a White Christmas by starting a tradition of performing at least one LDS temple ordinance for an ancestor during the holidays
  • Give a busy mother or father the gift of time to research their own genealogy by offering to watch their children.

Concentration Game
Pat Richley-Erickson

Ideas From Others
Christmas Traditions: 12 Writing Prompts, Laura Wilkinson Hedgecock
Adding Family History to the Hectic Holiday Season, Amie Bowser Tennant
Holidays, Lisa Louise Cooke

What other family history related activities do you do during Christmas? Share in the comments.


  • How does Christmas music make you feel?
  • Are there songs that have been shared through generations of your family?
  • Do you go Christmas caroling? Do others carol to you? 
    • When I was younger the Robinson family of Enoch, Utah were regular carolers to our home. 
    • In my community today the Carter family of Clearfield, Utah are regular carolers to our home. (Just after I added this comment about the Carters to this post, they showed up and sang. Serendipity!)
  • We have a special Christmas Family Home Evening each year in our home.
    • Opportunity to share our musical talents. 
      • I remember one year when my Grandpa Darrel Peterson and my sister Jenny played a saxophone duet. Do you have musical talents passed through the generations?
      • The men in our family all sing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Some years they even conference called in to sing together.
  • Nicole learned about a Christmas song that her grandpa's family sang. Check out the neat story here: I Wonder Who Is Santa Claus – A Christmas Song Tradition

What other family history related music do you enjoy during Christmas? Share in the comments.

  • Anything family history related can be given as a gift.
  • Histories
  • Family tree designs / charts
  • Photo Books
  • Framed photos or collages
  • Calendars
  • DNA kits
  • Ornaments 
  • Gloria Larson shared:
  • "For Christmas last year, my sisters and I put together a family newspaper made up of articles about our ancestors. We even put in some old newspaper ads. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about our family history. There was one short article about one of my great grandfathers who was having a party that a drunk guy crashed. There may or may not have been some punches thrown. We found the articles in the newspaper archives and screenshot them.  Then we pasted them in a word document with some of our own headlines and stuff.  It was a lot of fun."
    • Not only was this a great activity - this would make a great gift for any family.
  • The year my father passed away I made stuffed bears, from his shirts, as a Christmas gift for all 27 family members: Papa Bears

  • One year, I also made small wrap quilts from my grandma's shirts for her 9 grandchildren: Grandma's Hug

    • I have the Quad-City Memories, The Early Years - covers from the mid 1880s until 1939 - the time my direct family lived in the Quad Cities.
  • Help others with family history
    • Temple and Family History Consultants - give a coupon to your neighbors to redeem in the new year for 2 hours of help.

What other family history related gifts have your given for Christmas? Share in the comments.

Meals / Food
  • What are your family food traditions at Christmas?
  • Christmas Dinners
  • Christmas Breakfasts
    • As a child we had to eat breakfast before we could open any presents. 
    • As teenagers we would get up really early and make breakfast for our family.
    • In my young family today, we make a special breakfast casserole each year and this year my daughter has also requested cinnamon rolls.
  • Use blank family trees or family photos as placemats.
  • Try food dishes from your ancestor's countries.
  • Make and share family recipes with others.
  • Share family recipes on FamilySearch as a story and / or via the FamilySearch Recipes campaign.

What other family history related traditions do you have regarding food at Christmas? Share in the comments.

I have cookie recipes from 3 of my 4 great grandmothers. When I make the cookies I tell my children things I remember or know about each great grandmother. We also have taken time to look at their photos on FamilySearch while the cookies are baking. Here is one of my favorite great grandma recipes:

Alice Alvey Pierce
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
By: Alice Alvey Pierce
My Great Grandmother

Mix in order:
1 cup shortening
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups flour
1 TBS hot water
1 tsp vanilla
6-9 oz chocolate chips
3 cups oatmeal

Bake at 350* F. for 9-10 minutes.

This post was created for a presentation for the Logan FamilySearch Library Training on 13 December 2017.

Special THANKS to my genealogy friends and family for sharing their ideas: Pat Richley-Erickson, Sarah Poe, Julie Judd, Gini Webb, Sumer Andreason, Amie Bowser Tennant, Nicole Dyer, Rhonda Anderson Lauritzen, Emily Schroeder, Melynda Valgardsson, Dave Dowell, Amy Johnson Crow, Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, Paula Quesenberry Iniguez, Helen Smith, Tami Osmer Mize, Mariah Bishop Hudson, Lisa Louise Cooke, Katherine Duquette, Christine Fisher, Gloria Larson, Maggie Daugherty, Linda Stufflebean, Laura Wilkinson Hedgecock, Devon Noel Lee, and Carol Barnett.



  1. Wonderful, thank you. I hope it's okay if I share these ideas.

  2. Amy, thank you for including my Ancestor Memory Tree in your "Incorporating Family History into Christmas" training class. There are so many wonderful ideas here. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  3. What a wealth of inspiration. Thanks, Amy!

  4. So many ideas! Great work compiling this many traditions, Amy!