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Fun Family History Activities for the Holidays

Create lasting memories this holiday season. Take time to celebrate the lives of those who came before us and create strong ties to your ancestral heritage with family, friends, and the next generation. As we build our family tree we build strong family ties now and for future generations.

Here are a few ideas you may wish to include in your upcoming holiday activities.

Family Tree Building

Bring the family together and build a unique family tree. Depending on the age of each participant you will come up with more ideas to fit the uniqueness of your family. Think about the upcoming holidays for family activities.

  • Decorate Pumpkins for each member of the family and include extras for Grandma and Grandpa.
  • Use a stick figure of a tree with all the leaves missing. Have each person in the family dip their finger into finger paint and push their finger print onto the tree.
  • The same type of finger paint tree, only larger, can be made with hand prints.
  • Draw a family tree with sidewalk chalk and add a branch for each child and grandchild in your family, then take a picture with everyone standing on or near the tree (photo contributed by Benjamin Thompson).
  • Give a small framed family chart to each member of your family showing how they are connected.
  • Take a photograph of each member of your family and print off a copy of each photo. Then make a family tree with each member of the family in their place on the branches of the tree.

Sharing Stories

Make time to collect and share the stories associated with your ancestors and extended family. With holidays coming up it is a great time to capture and share traditions and stories.

  • Write a one page history of an ancestor and include a picture (use an appropriate holiday frame).
  • Make or buy a large wall map and put pictures of your ancestors on the places they lived or came from.
  • On your pedigree chart add stickers or flags to show the state or country your ancestors come from.
  • Ask the children in your family (nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc.) what they are discussing at school during history or social studies, then share an ancestral story of someone who lived during that time period.
  • Share stories and memories of what a specific holiday was like for an ancestor, how has it changed from the 1800’s, 1900s, to today.

Heritage Games and Toys

Children and youth alike enjoy learning about how it used to be in a fun and entertaining setting. Learn about games and toys your ancestors may have played. Find details of ancient games online, at museums, and at heritage festivals. Create and play old-fashioned games, give them as gifts with an ancestor story attached.

  • Hoop rolling
  • Clay marbles
  • Birdie in my cup
  • Cornhusk dolls
  • Wooden slingshot
  • Ball in the Cup
  • Cat’s Cradle
  • Musical instruments

If you don’t know how to make any of these games or toys, do some research online or look for heritage websites.  Do some research to see what kinds of games or toys your own ancestors may have used.

Heirloom Art & Gifts

Give a gift of lasting beauty.

  • Make a memory book to give to parents or grandparents with a short note or story from each family member. This can be done every year and so the combined books become a priceless treasure showing how the family members grew and developed over the years
  • Get together and make a quilt as a family with a quilt square designed by each family member. Use colorfast and washable paint to decorate the squares or sew designs.
  • Mount and frame family heirlooms in shadow boxes or other suitable frames for preservation
  • Make baby blankets for all the new babies that were born during the year
  • Find old photographs of ancestors and publish a book of the photos
  • Give an ornament or statue to each family member for their holiday celebration
  • Compile photos from the family during the past year and print a calendar for each family for the upcoming year

Traditional Holiday Foods

Teach the younger generation how to make one of the favorite traditional dishes this season. There are thousands of recipes online, but you may also ask family members to contribute their favorite recipes and compile them into a book for a gift to the family members.

If you think about the significance of the upcoming holidays to your particular family and your cultural heritage, you can think of a lot of additional items that will tie your family together as they enjoy the holiday season.

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