Preserving Memories: Holiday Scrapbooks, Homemade Cards and Gifts for Scrapbook Lovers

By Patti Swoboda Premium

During the holidays, long-standing traditions link today’s families with their heritage. Personalize your holiday-themed scrapbook pages by using family customs to inspire your choice of embellishments, motifs and page titles. Ask relatives about favorite traditions, or research your ethnic background to uncover ideas like these:

• If you have German ancestors, consider a Christmas-tree motif. Germans began the Christmas-tree tradition in the 16th century.

• Poinsettia-printed paper could depict Mexican ancestry. The south-of-the-border bloom has become a universal Christmas symbol since appearing in the United States during the 18th century.

• In Ukraine, a family’s youngest child must spot the evening star before the holiday feast can begin. A bright star on a midnight-blue scrapbook page shows this tradition.

• The Nativity is the primary Christmas decoration in Central America, South America and southern Europe.

• Paper-piece a Yule log, a Norwegian custom, if you have Scandinavian ancestry.

• African-Americans might decorate their pages with the symbols of the seven-day holiday Kwanzaa.

• The dreidel and the menorah represent the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

• A Sinck Tuck page title and a penguin or dancing Eskimo motif are cute ways to illustrate the winter festival Sinck Tuck, celebrated by Eskimos in northern Canada.

• “Peace of Christmas,” the name of a radio show broadcast each year in Finland, would be an excellent heading for a page depicting roots in that country.

• Title your page with a holiday greeting native to your ancestral land, such as God Jul from Sweden, Mexico’s Feliz Navidad or the French Joyeux Noël.

• Let’s say a letter calls a Greek ancestor a kallikantzaros — a naughty goblin whose antics take place during the 12 days of Christmas. Use journaling and embellishments to highlight your ancestor’s mischievous character.

Card Tricks

Before the store-on-every-corner era, our ancestors recycled everything. They also started the tradition of sending and receiving Christmas cards, a practice that dates back to 1839 and the penny post in England. This year, follow your ancestors’ thrifty lesson and save your holiday cards. Cut out nostalgic illustrations such as a horse-drawn sleigh or farm blanketed in snow, and glue them to your heritage pages as embellishments. (Test the card with a pH pen and treat with deacidification spray if necessary.) This technique will make your pages beautiful — and your great-grandma proud.

Past and Presents

Wrap up some history with your holiday gifts, and you may give others a passion for preserving the past. These products will encourage your kin to save stories and memories:

• Years ago, holiday gifts were mostly home-baked and handmade. Today, many people still appreciate such a personal gift. Don’t have enough time? Hot Off the Press Girlfriend Gift kits provide a head start on creating gift journals for your friends. The $19.99 kits are themed — romantic, earthy, classic and journey — to suit individual personalities. Contents include a 9×11-inch spiral journal, plus decorative papers, fibers, paper charms and other treasures for customizing it. (503) 266-9102, <>

• Would the family historian on your gift list enjoy learning how to create a heritage album? Then give her Crafting Your Own Heritage Album by Bev Kirschner Braun (Betterway Books). This 128-page book blends genealogy and scrapbooking, with sound advice on proper preservation, album organization and creative techniques. (800) 448-0915, <>

Charming Accents

Using metallic charms on scrapbook pages, holiday cards and gift tags is a tend hot enough to melt the snow. Making Memories’ new line of metal charms features intricate pewter-finished designs, such as the stocking and star shown here, that are thin and easy to glue to your projects. Eyelet Charms come 12 to a pack in a variety of flat aluminum shapes, from snowflakes to trees. Or add a creative touch to your heritage album with Wire Alphabets. The letters are available in silver wire with red and green beads, and red wire with clear beads. Prices are $1.99 to $5.99. (801) 294-0430, <> If you like the look of metal, but prefer flat, smooth embellishments, try Paper Pizazz Embossed Paper Charms and Paper Tags. These decorations are embossed with designs, borders and words for realistic dimension. They’re available blank or with themes in bronze, silver and gold for $4.99 per pack. (503) 266-9102, <>

Scrap Speak: Journaling

Scrapbookers and genealogists share an important goal: recording and preserving family history. Journaling is essential to achieving that goal. To a genealogist, it means writing details (including names and dates) that explain photos. Scrappers take journaling to a creative, visual level. Messages can be decoratively lettered, or incorporate letter stickers, templates and rubber stamps. Words can also be computer-printed in decorative fonts.

From the December 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine.