Still don't know what to buy for the person who has everything? If they are a genealogist/family historian, then the list is a long one. Read on for some inspiration covering every budget from zero cost to over the top.
$0 to $10
Funds tight? Then let's start with the zero to low cost options first. Most family genealogists would appreciate any of the following:
A list of 10 of the best Family History/Genealogy blogs – I'll post a list for you to use in the next day or so. Draft it using an elegant font and decorate with some attractive Christmas clip art or topic-relevant images. Print the document and either:
roll it up and tie with ribbon; or
place the document in a large, flat envelope then Christmas-wrap the envelope; or
fold and place the document in a box then Christmas-wrap the box – after all good things come in small packages.
Document scanning software for your genealogist's tablet or mobile phone. The ability to scan documents on the go and away from home is an important task for genealogists and too few take advantage of the scanning capability of their tablet/i-pad or mobile phone. Fossbytes list the following ten mobile scanning programs as their top ten for 2019:
I have a Flip Pal scanner myself (see below) so I haven't used any of these products. However, Fossbytes' reviews of each program can be read here. Some are free, some have in-app purchases and some you can purchase outright for less than A$10.
An I.O.U. for one or more of the following useful services – these do not require an outlay of any money but are essential activities for your genealogist. It’s also possible you have skills which your family genealogist lacks and would appreciate:
Back up your family genealogist’s files for them – genealogists are human too and all too often they don’t get around to doing regular back-ups themselves;
Organise their paper and/or digital documents either according to their preferred method or to one of your recommendation – this comes easily to some genealogists, but others struggle with organising all their research, documents, photos, certificates, etc.;
If your family genealogist does not have a structured method for storing digital family history files offer to create one for them;
An hour or two (or more) of your research time (or research assistant time);
An hour or two (or more) of your time scanning your genealogist’s old documents or photographs for them;
Create a list of all the certificates they hold (whether hard copy or digital) for various family members/ancestors. This is best practice, but again, often remains on genealogists’ To Do list;
Sync your genealogist’s multiple devices for them (i.e. desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile phone and digital camera) to ensure the family history-related contents are either the same on each device or, at the very least, are all on the genealogist’s main computer. Like other people, genealogists are prone to having information spread across each device they use and can be inclined to forget to move documents and photos from one to another;
Proof-read their latest book on the family's history - every writer needs another pair of eyes to check their manuscript before publishing or distributing.
Family Tree magazine - The latest copy can be downloaded here to your genealogist’s phone, tablet or desktop computer for under A$10.00. I would suggest you give your genealogist an IOU in a nice card and then at their convenience download the magazine on their device. If you know how, then you could also snip a picture of the magazine or even take a photo from the website, print it out and put it in with the IOU.
Luggage scales – inexpensive but very useful piece of equipment for your travelling genealogist. Whether they are restricted to carry-on luggage or use a suitcase, luggage scales are always a welcome gift. Mechanical scales cost as little as A$5 from discount variety stores or A$10 for battery-operated digital scales. The latter is smaller and neater, but there is a risk the battery will die at the worst time. (I use the mechanical version myself.) Whichever type you choose, make sure they go up to at least 32Kg. Of course, you can purchase far more expensive luggage scales, but I find either of these low-end options work perfectly.
A personalised coffee mug or mousepad – these can be purchased online, usually for A$10 or less from sites like Vistaprint.com. Upload a favourite old or new photo to go on the mug. If you don’t have one or prefer a family history/family tree/genealogy-related coffee mug then go to a website like Pixabay.com and download a royalty-free picture to add to the coffee mug/mousepad when ordering it online.
A clutch pencil or two (also known as a mechanical pencil) - Archives and Libraries forbid the use of pens and visitors/researchers may only use pencils. A clutch pencil is a useful item for your travelling genealogist's toolkit. At the time of writing, Office Works has clutch pencils and refills ranging from as little as A$3.71 up to about A$40 (for the stationery lover). You can no doubt find them cheaper again at a discount store. Buy an attractive pen box for $2 from the discount store and you have an ideal, yet thoughtful gift. Add a note saying you know they can't use pens in the Archives so the genealogist knows you've given it considerable thought.
A framed genealogy saying or cartoon - search Google for something that takes your fancy or that you think your genealogist will appreciate. If it's a saying, type it up using a fancy font. If it's a cartoon, reproduce it on a colour printer. Purchase an inexpensive frame and you have another thoughtful, attractive and relevant gift.
A packet of 2 or more magnetic photo holders – a simple but useful gift. If you have an old family photo to include so much the better. They cost under A$10 from good stationers like Office Works or even photographic shops such as Teds Cameras.
For even less outlay, create a jpeg file (if you know how) and add it to your genealogist's computer as their desktop picture. Just Google "genealogy sayings" or "genealogy cartoons" or "genealogy humour". You will be spoilt for choice, for example:
$10 to $50
If you have a budget, but no idea what to get for someone whose passion is family history/genealogy then consider the following:
Cable and gadget organiser – We all travel with multiple cables, adaptors, usb drives, SD cards and the like these days. A zipped cable and gadget organiser is an essential piece of kit for the genealogist – regardless of whether they travel to the local library or the other side of the world. They can be purchased for $10-$25 depending on size. If the budget extends that far, make it a more substantial gift by including one of everything your genealogist uses for their technology so they don’t have to remember to pack everything each time they travel.
A 30-day international data card – does your family genealogist travel overseas to research their own or other families? At the time of writing Sim Corner (affiliate) has a great deal which provides 12 GB of data for 30 days in 71 different countries for A$36 (and no roaming charges). I use one whenever I travel overseas and would be delighted if someone gave me one for my next trip.
Who Do You Think You Are magazine – either purchase a hard copy magazine from a large news agency (usually less than A$20) or purchase the latest issue via download (A$10.99 at the time of writing). The digital version is available from iTunes (Apple), Google Play (Android) or Amazon (Kindle).
A month’s subscription to (or pre-paid credits for) one of the major commercial genealogical databases - If your genealogist already subscribes to one, then they would probably appreciate a short-term subscription to another. Examples that I use myself include FindMyPast (affiliate), The Genealogist and Scotland's People. The first two sell one-month subscriptions and the latter sells credits. (I also use Ancestry.com but they don’t allow one month subscriptions.)
128 GB SD card (or larger/smaller) to provide additional storage for the family genealogist’s mobile phone or tablet. Genealogists often use the camera on their mobile phone or tablet even more than the average person and additional storage will take the pressure off constantly running out of space on their device. At the time of writing, Kogan has a 128 GB house brand for A$35. Check to ensure your family genealogist doesn’t use an i-phone as I’m told they do not allow for additional storage. (I’m an android user myself.)
$50 to $100
If your budget is less constrained, then the following list may provide you with a few ideas:
A key reference book for the serious genealogist who writes up their research, e.g. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace: 3rd edition revised - available from Amazon.com in either Kindle or print versions.
An external/portable hard drive – a key piece of equipment for the genealogist for whom losing all their research because their computer died would be a disaster. A 2 TB hard drive can usually be purchased for less than A$100. Combine it with an I.O.U. to do the first back-up for them (see above). If your genealogist is not very tech-savvy, include an I.O.U. to show them how easy it is to connect the hard drive and do the back-up.
Family History software – many people don’t like storing all their family history research with the online commercial databases. If they are relatively new to family history research, your genealogist might not yet have any specific software to store/record their research. There are multiple options including but not limited to:
A pre-paid DNA test kit - Even if your genealogist has already had their DNA tested, many of them (including me) would like to test with another company as well. If your genealogist is a male, they might like to have their Y DNA tested if they had their mtDNA (the most common test for both sexes) done previously. All the major DNA testing companies have pre-Christmas sales on at the moment including:
FindMyPast in conjunction with Living DNA ($129 plus 14 days free research time for those new to FindMyPast (affiliate);
Ancestry ($89 plus shipping up till Christmas);
23andMe (US$79 for the standard report; US$129 for the standard report and health reports; and US$429 for the VIP and Ancestry service);
MyHeritage ($79 plus shipping).
A new tablet or mobile phone cover/case – these can get very shabby quite quickly and are a practical gift for your genealogist who uses their phone and tablet regularly for genealogical purposes.
Gift voucher for a photo book – Genealogists love to share their knowledge of the family’s history and old ancestral photos. But it can be expensive sharing the information in a professional format. A voucher or IOU for a photo book will enable your genealogist to produce a professional product, possibly even a coffee table book for use in their own home to show off when family members visit. There are a myriad of online companies who do these books for individuals. A few include:
A subscription to a blog aggregation service – this is a time saver wherein your busy genealogist identifies which websites they are interested in and receive a daily (or weekly) notification with links to those blogs which have newly published material. An example is Feedspot.com which costs about US$3.75 per month.
Annual membership to the local genealogy society – if they are already members of the local society, then they would probably appreciate the gift of membership to a remote society where some of their ancestors came from. For example, some of my family came from Plymouth in the UK and I found a year’s subscription to the West Devon Family History Society was very worthwhile.
Portable power bank/charger – a phone and/or tablet running out of charge is a disaster for genealogists when they are in the middle of photographing or scanning material away from home. I never travel without mine. They come in an almost endless range of styles, sizes, strengths and prices. Don’t forget to add a short charging cable which they can carry all the time in their bag (i.e. 15 cm/6in or less in length). For the environmentally conscious, consider a solar powered charger.
$100 to $500
If you have a generous budget to spend but are clueless about what your genealogist might use/like, then keep reading:
12-month subscription to a family history magazine – either in print or digital version. The digital version is often 30% (or more) cheaper but don’t forget to ensure the automatic renewal is de-activated. When buying an annual subscription you will often get 13 months. My favourites are the (British) Family Tree and Who Do You Think You Are?
12-month subscription to one of the commercial genealogy databases listed above. Genealogy is not a cheap hobby and a subscription to one of the major commercial databases will almost always be a prized gift.
A Flip Pal Mobile Scanner – Perfect for visiting relatives who allow you to scan family photos. It comes with quick and simple-to-use photo stitching software when multiple scans are needed to capture an image of a large photo or document.
Photo editing software – most genealogists treasure old family photos yet many of them are damaged to varying degrees. Photo editing software enables the genealogist to remove scratches, stains and other damage from the photo. If the budget allows, include a gift certificate for classes in how to use the software. Conversely, if the genealogist already has photo editing software but finds it difficult to use, then a gift certificate on its own will be welcome.
A briefcase on wheels – all the equipment a genealogist is inclined to carry around can get very heavy. A briefcase on wheels with a special place for the laptop, is a great piece of luggage for your genealogist. I speak from experience when I say whether they are going to the local library, travelling interstate or overseas for their research, this will come in handy and make life easier.
A block of hours from a professional genealogist to help break down one of your family historian's brick walls or provide advice on how to go about a specific aspect of family history research. Naturally, I'm here to help in this respect and if you mention this Blog post, you will receive a 10% discount.
Over the top
If money is not an issue, then you might consider:
A quality DSLR camera is a wonderful piece of equipment for the genealogist and you don’t need to go far to find most brands on sale this time of the year. Add a zoom lens that will allow the genealogist to fill the picture with a document’s image. The quality of a DSLR camera also produces excellent reproductions of old photographs when visiting custodians of family treasures. Most DSLR cameras also come with a video function which genealogists can use for creating oral history interviews with family members.
A new desktop computer with large screen – the better the specs, the longer it will last before needing replacement. If lack of space prohibits a desktop, then a top quality laptop is the next best option.
A new state of the art mobile phone or tablet with genealogy-related apps loaded. Who doesn’t like an up-to-the-minute phone/tablet?
A holiday on a specialist genealogy-themed cruise where they can indulge in their passion to their heart's content with like-minded people. Just google genealogy cruises for various options throughout the year.
How did you go?
I hope you found some inspiration above. If so, do let me know in the Comment Section below. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them as would your fellow readers.
If you think your spouse or other family members might find the list useful, don’t hesitate to send them a link to this blog post.
Another option of course is to just print out the list, highlight the items you’d like and leave it on the kitchen bench so they can’t miss seeing it (LOL). My own husband loves getting my wish list.
I have mentioned a number of commercial providers for many of the gift ideas above. Please note that I do not endorse or guarantee any of them other than the two specified with whom I have an affiliate relationship.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and New Year with plenty of time for family history research.
Your Family Genealogist
Pictures : Pixabay and my own collection