Best High-End Gifts for Family History Lovers

A web search for “family history gifts” yields a lot of kitschy tchotchkes and nonfiction books galore, but what if you want to get something extra-special for the family genealogy buff? I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite ideas, from customized, framed family trees to personalized life story books.

Consider gifting one of these family history–themed items to a loved one for their birthday or a holiday, or add one of the more luxurious choices (like an exclusive travel packages to your ancestral home) to your family’s wish-list and let everyone chip in!


7 Great Genealogy Gifts

1 - Custom Family Tree

Okay, maybe the plastic tubs of newspaper clippings and document copies aren’t exactly HGTV-ready, but every genealogy-loving soul should have at least one family tree framed and on display—why not gift them with one that’ll knock their socks off?

Branches Art creates family trees that are traditional and elegant.

For those with a traditional bent, I opt for the ancestor trees from Branches Art, which pair nature-derived colors with illustrated trees (you know, the kind with actual leaves).

modern styled family tree chart from i chart you

And for those who gravitate more to modern styles, I recommend I Chart You, whose heritage charts are minimal and clean—and can be downloaded in high resolution for your own use or printed (check out the gold foil on white option) and framed.

One colorful family tree option from the brand My Tree and Me

Want a major pop of color? My Tree and Me offers unique modern designs, as well, with choices that would fit particularly nicely in a child’s room or a cool office space.

Now those handwritten pedigree charts that are seemingly always in-progress can stay out of sight while the family names get museum-quality treatment.

I Chart You

Branches Art

My Tree and Me


2 - External Hard Drive

While the paper-hoarding tendencies of family historians cannot be denied, more and more research is being conducted online, and digital backup of documents is a must. One can never have too many external hard drives for archiving and research on the go.

If you’re the technical one in the family, select a disk you think would be best for your loved one. If, on the other hand, your family history–loving friend is particular about things (ahem, most genealogist types, ahem, are), I would suggest getting them a gift card to the Apple Store or Amazon, where EHD options abound.


3 - Heritage Travel Tour

Ever wonder what your grandparents’ hometown in Puglia was like? Whether you want to sample the cuisine your ancestors ate, gaze out from the harbor from which they immigrated, or tour a bunch of sites that dot your genealogical map, consider booking a customized trip to explore your family origins. Ancestry ProGenealogists offers genealogy cruises as well as guided heritage tours; and Classic Journeys will customize an ancestral trip whether you have a little or a whole lot of family history info to go on—seek origins, explore the world, feel connected like never before!

Family history travel is a great way to discover your roots

4 - Professional Genealogist Services

At some point in every family historian’s journey they will hit the proverbial brick wall. There may be no more viable “hint” leaves on, conflicting information on one line of ancestors, or seemingly no place to start in researching another line. A professional genealogist can help locate documents in foreign countries, resolve discrepancies in research, or trace your roots back for generations. Discover how to choose the right genealogist for you with advice from Legacy Tree Genealogists, and search the Association of Professional Genealogists for someone near you.

Legacy Tree Genealogists

association of professional genealogists


5 - Gift Certificate for a Personal History Interview

Is there someone in the family who has stories to tell and then some (you know, your favorite family dinner guest!)? Or a loved one who you know has experienced life to the fullest but who sits quietly listening to everyone else? Let them know how much they are valued by gifting them with a few hours of personal history interviews.

Their first reaction might very well be, “What stories have I got to share?!”—but I say with confidence that everyone’s memories matter, and an experienced personal historian will help not only set the subject at ease and draw those stories forth, but help shape them and find a meaningful narrative thread.

Please don’t be among the regretful who wish they had asked questions of their loved ones only after it’s too late.

Dawn Roode is a personal biographer who conducts interviews in person to capture your stories for a life story book.

Don’t worry too much about what to do with the interview material (I craft heirloom coffee table books from my clients’ stories, but I have colleagues and friends who specialize in audio clips and video biographies, too). For now, find a personal historian who makes you feel comfortable, then get those stories flowing—and feel secure in knowing they are preserved for posterity. Did I mention this one’s as much a gift to YOU as it is to your recipient?

Modern Heirloom Books - Gift Certificates


6 - An Heirloom Book about…You

Imagine if your own parents or grandparents had given you a book that contained their fondest memories, stories and photos of their youth, remembrance of their life’s challenges and twists and turns, maybe even some of the wisdom (and laughs!) that came along the way? There could be no more cherished gift, in my opinion.

Dawn Roode is a former lifestyle magazine editor who now owns Modern Heirloom Books.

It’s up to you to start sharing, then, so you may leave such a meaningful legacy for your family. Whether you are an avid journaler, aspiring memoirist, or a shy storyteller who prefers to speak her memories, there are myriad ways to work with a personal historian to capture your life stories. Consider creating a One-Hour Heirloom about a specific time in your life (your college years, your childhood home, your military service, learning to cook from your grandmother—the choices are endless, and yes, we can help you choose!). If you’d like, you can create multiple copies with personalized dedications for each of your loved ones.

The One-Hour Heirloom


7 - Photo Organizer Services

Too often we don’t think about what will become of the boxes and devices full of family photos until someone dies, and then the emotions and overwhelming volume of stuff to deal with can cloud our judgment. Buy your parents a package with a photo organizer, who will help sort, purge, digitize, and memorialize the photos that mean so much to your family. It’s worthwhile to contract a professional for this time-consuming and important endeavor.

Find a professional photo organizer near you in this national directory.

The Photo Organizers


A few more (lower-priced) gift ideas for the family history lover in your life:

What’s your favorite? Do you have any other unique gift ideas for the family history lover in your family?