Wrapped in the Past

By Dana Schmidt Premium

Want to share your collection of ancestor photos with your family? Use an online photo service to turn them into gifts. Photo Web sites offer a wide range of items that’ll please relatives young and old — and give them a snapshot of their family history. So stuff their stockings with these five photo presents under $25.

Pad your pedigree

Wouldn’t it be nice if you always had your family tree handy when you’re researching online? Then put a new mousepad on your wish list. You can have an image of your family tree printed on the foam pad for quick and easy reference. Traditional-size mousepads allow you to use one image or a collage of images. Online photo services support only JPG files (ending in .jpg or .jpeg), so you’ll need to convert your family tree chart. To do so, Family Tree Magazine editors and genealogy software guru Rick Crume suggest three options:


  1. Scan a printed copy of a family tree chart and save it as a JPG file.
  2. In your genealogy software, save your family tree chart as a PDF, then open it in your photo-editing software and resave it as a JPG.
  3. If you use RootsMagic software, you can save a wall chart as a JPG. Family Tree Maker users can display a chart or report, and then select Edit>Copy (Chart/Tree). Next, open Microsoft Paint and save the chart or report in JPG format.

Save the date

Put all those photos of your ancestors you’ve gathered and the important dates you’ve collected to good use by creating a professional-looking calendar. Photo sites provide various backgrounds, borders and layouts for you to use, and some — including Photo Works and Shutterfly — even let you add text to the photo page and significant dates to the calendar page. Prices and available sizes vary depending upon the retailer. Sizes include 12×7, 11×8, 10×14, 11×16 and 12×24 inches, and the calendars can cover 12 to 18 months.

Piece it together

Enjoy unpuzzling your past? Now you can reassemble your family history in no time by printing an image of a family tree chart, favorite ancestor or family reunion attendees on a puzzle. Depending upon the service, you can get a 30-, 110- or 252-piece puzzle that’s about 8×10 or 10×14 inches in size. Most sites send a printed photo with the puzzle, and Shutterfly lets you order it in a keepsake tin.


Make a deal

Our ancestors have been playing cards since the 1300s, when the precursor to the present-day deck of cards was created in Europe. Immigrants brought these games with them to the America and even created their own, such as Bridge and Gin Rummy, once they got here. Research the rules to card games your great-grandmother played — perhaps Ultiif you have Hungarian ancestry (see <>), Cribbage for English or Euchre for German (Écarté in French) — then order a deck with Greatgrandma’s picture on it. Search <> for the ancestry group plus “card games” or visit <> to learn more about your ancestors’ games. The playing cards from online photo sites are a standard poker-size deck and come in a plastic case.

Turn the page

Digitally design a heritage scrapbook with Snapbooks, FlipBooks and other mini photo books. You get to choose from several pre-designed templates and personalize the album with your own captions. Mini books are about 4×4, 4×6 or 5×7inches, come with a softbound or hardbound cover and give you five to 80 pages of space to put pictures and facts about your ancestors. Photo Works even offers specific family-reunion templates and Martha Stewart-brand layouts.

As you’re choosing a site to order from, remember to account for shipping and handling in your final cost — a cheaper gift could end up more expensive once shipping fees are added. But whichever gift you choose, the recipient will treasure the personalized touch.

From the January 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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