I love maps and I think they would make a great gift for young and old alike. By hanging a map of the country or area where an ancestor lived it gives you the opportunity to talk about that person and to learn a little more about what life was like for them. The map could be very graphical and simple like these:
Or something with lots and lots of details. The map could be a world map with pins or stickers to make important locations to your family or it could be the map of just a city and show the different addresses where your family has lived. The map could be modern or it could be a copy of an old antique map. By googling maps I found this store with all kinds of cool maps.
When I saw this memory game on Pin Hole Press I thought it would make a wonderful gift for getting to know family members. Besides doing current family members photos you could pick photos from ancestors too. And you don’t need to order these from Pin Hole Press, you can make your own memory cards. If you make a nice big set it could be fun for all ages of your family.
Another twist on the game would be to make cards with names and cards with photos and you have to match the name to the photo. Or if you family is even more familiar with their ancestors you could find a simple image that represented a story or milestone in that person’s life and use that as the match.
Playing memory with ancestor cards would create lots of opportunities to tell stories or share memories about your loved ones. Depending on the situation, the game could be played so that the person who makes the match tells something they know about the person they found the match for. This could be a game that add to over the years as you and your family learn more about their family members.
This idea is inspired by the tradition of having a special birthday plate that is only used on birthdays by the person whose birthday it is. In my version wrap a special plate, either one you already have or one that you make or buy just for this purpose. Then you have a family dinner and set an extra place at the table with this plate. During the meal you talk about the ancestor or family member that is the special guest for dinner. Someone could be ready with stories about you special guest or family members could share memories about that person, depending on the situation. You could even invite someone to come in costume as the ancestor and play the role for the night.
These special dinners could be held monthly or on or near the birthday of the ancestor or whatever works for your family. You could place card by the special plate with the guest of honors name and a photo would be a nice touch. If you know a favorite food of the guest, it would be fun to serve that as part of the meal. This is just a starting point. The same idea would work for living members of your family and use it as a way to honor the talents and accomplishments of the guest of honor.
If you Google custom plates there are tons of options of plates you can buy with a family name or other images. There are many ways to decorate a glass or ceramic plate yourself. Below are a few links to give you some ideas and get you started on this project.