Genealogists are pretty easy people to buy gifts for. There are so many aspects to the hobby that make for great gifts at all price ranges. Even if they already have the thing you picked out…genealogists love to have backup copies of everything! Just promise me you won’t buy anyone a faux-parchment certificate with their “family crest” on it. Here are my suggestions of gifts family historians will love that won’t break the bank.
- Genealogy software: My favorite genealogy software, RootsMagic, is offering a holiday gift bundle that includes two downloadable software programs and two digital user guides. These products would normally retail around $90, so this is a great deal. If your recipient is already using the free version of RootsMagic they will have no problem plugging in the license key to unlock the premium features.
- Archival supplies: Gaylord Archival is my favorite vendor of preservation supplies. There are lots of options here, photo and document sleeves, folders, boxes of all shapes and sizes, tissue paper, and more. My quick recommendations is to go with the Family Archives Kit, which includes one document box, folders and labels.
- Methodology books: There were lots of great “how-to” books released in 2018. You can’t go wrong with a copy of the brand-new Family Tree Factbook by Diane Haddad but if you want to choose something more tailored to your recipient, check out the Family Tree Scottish Genealogy Guide by Amanda Epperson, Tracing Your Roman Catholic Ancestors by Stuart A. Raymond, or Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide by Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer.
- Personal books: If you can get a little intel about where you’re genealogist’s ancestors are from (it’s easy, just ask, but be sure you have some time on your hands) you can find books that will be more personal to them. Scour websites of historical societies, genealogical societies, and museums for books containing photos, local histories, and genealogical records. You can also check sites like Heritage Books for reprints of historical books, such as county histories, or Arcadia Publishing for books about particular places. Or look on ebay and AbeBooks for the secondhand copies.
- A piece of history: Ebay, Etsy, Craigslist, secondhand stores, garage sales, the world is full of places you can find great old stuff that will bring a little bit of history back to your genealogist. This could take many forms: a company relatives worked for, a town where they lived, a war they fought in, a club they participated in. Look for all kinds of trinkets, postcards, books, ephemera, photographs, etc. Genealogists are nostalgic so any connection you can give them to their ancestors would demonstrate thoughtfulness and caring.
- Donations: For the genealogist who has it all, or one who is hard to buy for, show them how much you support them by donating to historical organizations in their honor. Libraries, genealogical societies, historical societies, historic preservation organizations, and cemetery maintenance funds are all great places send your financial gifts. Another suggestion is a favorite group of mine, Reclaim the Records, an organization using Freedom of Information Laws to give genealogical records back to the public.
- Pedigree T-shirt: The website Fun Stuff for Genealogists really lives up to its name with this clever pedigree T-shirt. It’s fun and quirky, but secretly your genealogist will be counting the days until T-shirt weather, when it will get maximum visibility! There is plenty more fun stuff to be found on the website if you want more ideas.
- Photo gifts: If you can sneak a high-quality scan of some of your genealogist’s old family photos you can create a lot of great personalized gifts on sites like Shutterfly. I suggest a classic coffee mug, but there are hundreds of products to choose from and I’m sure they’d be thrilled to show off anything that displays those gorgeous old family photos.
- Membership dues: Most town or county genealogical society memberships are $30 or less. For the price, they usually provide access to some in-person events, a regular publication, and often reduced fees for remote research. Start with society local to where the recipient lives so they can attend local events. If they’re already a member locally, try a society in the region where their ancestors have lived. If all else fails, offer to purchase for a membership to the Virtual Genealogical Association, which offers members-only webinars by nationally known speakers for only $20 per year.
- Family tree wall chart: Professionally printed copies of your family tree can be pretty pricey. These blank charts from Family Tree Chartmasters are beautiful and affordable, allowing the recipient to add to the tree as their research progresses. Choose your favorite style, but I believe my fellow genealogists would prefer I steer you toward the 7 or 8 generation options. I recommend going with the “professional” level paper, which is a sturdy cardstock but still easy to write on with a pencil.
Of course, if you are a family member of the recipient, the best gift you can offer them is their family history. Scan your photos for them, write down or record a memory, share a family recipe and its story. Those gifts are priceless!
What other inexpensive gift ideas do you have for genealogists? Add your suggestions in the comments below!