New to family history? Why Christmas is the best time to get started!


19 December 2019
Why Christmas is perfect for family history
If you’ve been thinking about getting into family history and tracing your ancestors, don’t wait until the New Year – we show you why the festive season is the best time to get started.

Christmas tends to be a time when families and friends gather together and because of the nature of the festive season, thoughts often turn to years gone by and the people who are sadly no longer with us. This is perfect for you in gathering information about your ancestors! With a little preparation you can turn any family party into a family history feast and have fun along the way.

How to ask family members about your ancestors

If you’re new to family history we have plenty of ideas on how to get started here. And the best way to begin your family tree is to start with what you already know, and this is where family members can help.

This printable chart has space for you to find out about one or more ancestors and to write down any information that family can give you. Why not contact everyone before the party and ask them to bring along any old photos, certificates etc they might have at home? Then everyone can have fun reminiscing when you get together – and hopefully you’ll get lots of valuable information.

Recording information about your ancestors

Remember the golden rule that no matter how fascinating the story you’re given, do check your facts before adding anything to your tree. People can be way off the mark with dates of birth and death, family stories and even names (some people may have gone through their whole life using a nickname rather than their given name.

If anyone at the gathering shows an interest in your research, make a note to keep them updated on progress and you may well have enlisted yourself a research buddy!

Keep it fun! People are more likely to be forthcoming with memories and stories if you give a festive slant to the proceedings. For example, you could start a conversation about Christmas in the family in years gone by, asking about what presents were given, where the family lived during a particular time period, etc. Then once the stories begin, you can dig deeper to get more information on names, occupations etc. Family history is about so much more than names and dates and so stories and nostalgia really add flesh to the bones and make your ancestor’s lives seem more real.

Plan a New Year treat!

If you’d really like to immerse yourself in the world of family history, why not book a ticket to Family Tree Live? Our annual genealogy show at Alexandra Palace, London on 17 and 18 April is the perfect place to discover your ancestors with:

  • Newbie workshops
  • Lectures on getting started
  • DNA help and advice
  • Stands with family history societies and genealogy suppliers