1. Create fact sheets for family members.
Create fact sheets for family members to fill out or you can ask your questions and record the answers. You can include anything you want to know. Here are some to start:
- Physical stats
- Important dates
- Favorites (movies, television shows, music, etc.)
- Sketches of themselves
- Things they have achieved
- Activities (job, career, volunteer, hobbies, etc.)
- Unrealized dreams
2. Share your favorite family stories via written or recorded media.
When you’re collecting stories, it’s often better to record them so you don’t miss anything. Different people have different points of view, so you might want to get the same story from multiple family members. Type the stories up and share them with other family members via print or electronic distribution.
StoryCorps is an oral history of the United States. Started in 2003, it has over 35,000 interviews on file at the Library of Congress. Find out more about StoryCorps and see if it’s something you might be interested in doing to help preserve your family’s stories.
4. Create a scrapbook.
You can scrapbook a specific event, a family member growing up, one person’s military career, family changes with time or any other theme that fits with your family dynamic. Explore ways to create copies to share — physical and digital. Share your scrapbook with others in your family.
5. Create a photo slideshow.
Select photos and music to fit a theme. Perhaps select a favorite photo and start with that image. If any of your family is a musician, ask them to provide music. Find ways to share your slideshow with your family.
6. Journal a week in your life.
Everyone remembers the big stories and most embarrassing moments. The everyday items get lost to time. Preserve these memories with words, sketches or small paper items you can put into a journal. You can even recreate the times in an art journal to give it more of a feel for a certain time. If you find you enjoy journaling, keep doing it.
7. Create a family recipe book.
Ask everyone to share their favorite recipes and cooking-related stories. Research the cost of print-on-demand and determine whether you will make physical copies available to family members. If the cost is too much, what other ways might you share these items?
8. Create a family traditions book.
What does your family do for birthdays? Which holidays do you celebrate? How do you celebrate the holidays? How have your celebrations changed over the years? Look for photos to illustrate these items instead of writing it all out. The amount of information you put into your “family traditions” may be only a few pages to a full volume.
9. Make a “who’s who” game with family photos and/or facts.
Gather baby photos and see if everyone can identify each other. If you can’t find baby pictures, make a question sheet listing pets, favorite colors, favorite sayings or other items that your family shares now. Ask each family member to identify each other through your quiz.
10. Plan a photo event.
Have you seen the disposable cameras at weddings? This is a low-cost way to help document the event. Add in camera phones and digital cameras and you’ll find most family members already have a way to take photos without you providing one.
Ask family members to take pictures. To keep track of who took the photos, ask them to have someone take a picture of them first (or take a selfie) and then a picture of a sheet of paper with their name written on it. Those two pictures will be your identification markers.
To help them, you may want to give your family a theme or a question to answer with the photos they take. For example, asking everyone to take pictures to share where they spend most of their time may get you photos of flower gardens, craft rooms or even a favorite fishing hole.
Develop and share the photos. You can also use a site such as Flickr or Picasa and have family members upload the files they take. Perhaps you can have them all send CDs to one person to create slideshows for an upcoming family event.
11. Plan a family night.
Everyone’s busy. Make some time just for your family. Plan on a movie, game, etc. to have fun and make memories together.
If your family is spread over the country, or even the world, research the possibility of having a family reunion. This can be as large or small as you wish. You can have everyone meet somewhere such as Walt Disney World or have a party in your own backyard.
Sites to Explore