[Editor’s note: Wondering what to do with all those scanned family photos? Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee shares his ideas to help spark your creativity this holiday season.]
I know what you’re saying…“It’s too early for Christmas!” or “I can’t believe the holidays are here already!” I often feel the same way around the end of October and I tend to get cranky when I see television commercials advertising the holiday gift-buying season or hear Christmas songs on the radio.
During the holiday season I also feel pressure to not only find unique gifts for family members, but to also share family photos and my genealogy research. So I’ve found a few solutions that take some of the pressure off and help me enjoy the season with my family and friends.
Holidays Are Closer Than They Appear!
Before getting busy with the “crafty” or creative part of the solutions, I have to scan those photos sitting in the boxes and albums. I can’t put it off, otherwise I won’t have the digital images I need to create great gifts. I’m also scanning at the highest possible resolution on the Flip-Pal mobile scanner—600dpi. This ensures that the images in my gifts will be clear and really stand out on the items I’ll be creating.
Over the past few nights I’ve been busy using my Flip-Pal mobile scanner to digitize my old family photos while I have watching television in my living room. I have been able to scan about 50 or so photos each night to create a library of content that I can then turn into a variety of gifts.
Don’t delay! The process of going from scanned photo to great gift will take at least a week before you can even receive the item you create—and that’s if you work at lightning speed. Most people will need more time, so scan those photos now!
A Variety of Gift Possibilities
Once you have your photos digitized, what can you create to give to family and friends for Christmas, Hanukah and other holidays (any time of the year, actually)? Here’s a list:
- 2013 Calendars: Create desktop or wall calendars with a different family photo for each month. Use your genealogy research to write a brief description about the people or places depicted in the photographs. Also, don’t forget to include those birthdates and anniversaries on each day!
- Christmas Tree Ornaments: What’s nice about photo ornaments is that they are brought out each year and bring back memories. As you can see from the photo above, I’ve scanned my family photos, mounted them on cardstock, and then, using a glue gun, I’ve decorated them with preserved cedar and dried rosebuds for a Victorian look.
- Wearables and Other Gifts: Online stores such as Café Press and Zazzle let you upload photos to create t-shirts, sweatshirts and more. Don’t forget that you can also create mouse pads, tote bags, buttons and even iPhone cases using those same photos. A nice aspect of using these online stores is that once the holidays are over, family members can go and order the items they want at any time!
- Printable Fabric: Local fabric and hobby stores carry cotton fabric that you can print with your ink jet printer, just like paper. It is colorfast and can make great wall hangings, throw pillows, or even a heritage quilt.
- Photobooks: The self-publishing concept has become so much easier by using sites like Lulu, My Canvas, Blurb and even superstore sites like Costco and Walmart. Upload your photos, select a template, a paper type and a binding format and you’re on your way to creating a memorable book.
These ideas are just the beginning of endless possibilities for gifts using your photos scanned with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.
FREE Webinar: 10 Ideas for Great Gifts Using Your Family Photos*
Need more inspiration? On Friday, November 16, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time ⁄ 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time, you can attend a live online presentation entitled 10 Ideas for Great Gifts Using Your Family Photos presented by Flip-Pal and Legacy Family Tree.
I’ll be co-hosting this 90-minute presentation along with Diane Miller, Technical Marketing and Genealogy Account Manager for Flip-Pal mobile scanner. Here is what the webinar will cover:
Once a precious family photo is scanned using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, you can do more than just send the image to friends and family or add it to your family tree. We will quickly cover how to scan an original and then print the scanned image for use in gift projects. A few of the ideas we will share using these prints include ornaments, sweat shirts, quilts, wall hangings and holiday decorations. This seminar will be packed with ideas and step-by-step instructions from these two creative individuals. We’ll also discuss how you can use various sites such as Zazzle, Café Press and even superstore sites such as Costco, Walmart and Walgreens to create calendars and photo books as gifts.
*You can see a recording of this webinar by clicking here.
You can learn more about Legacy Family Tree webinars by downloading their latest flyer here.
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner Ambassador Thomas MacEntee shares his thoughts on the various ways to help others with their genealogy research while giving yourself a gift at the same time.]
Think back to when you first became interested in researching your family history…what was the “catalyst” involved? Most likely there was a specific event or a special person in your family that triggered that moment where you realized, “I want to know who my ancestors were and I want to know who I am.”
As your genealogical journey progressed—what other events, people, places and organizations influenced your research and your discoveries? Have you ever considered where you would be with your family history without those contributors and influencers?
Why should I help others with their genealogy? What’s in it for me?
A very good question. Here’s my reason why I volunteer my time with genealogy organizations and help mentor other genealogists: if I can help someone and make it easier for them and not have them repeat some of my mistakes, then for me I’ve returned the favor that was once given me.
And what do I get out of it? Every contact and every collaboration continues to be a revelation for me. I may have been “doing genealogy” for over 20 years now, but each time I work with someone new I think of resources I haven’t used in a while or I fine tune my approach and skills on a certain type of research problem. It is my way of being in a state of constant learning and constant curiosity.
Ways you can make a contribution to the genealogy community
Just as we all research our ancestors differently, there are different opportunities for you to give back to the genealogy community. Here are a few:
- Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness has been a mainstay of volunteerism and genealogical assistance for years. Despite the recent death of its creator Bridgette Schneider, the spirit of giving lives on in a new site set up in a wiki format. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness Wiki takes requests for lookups, photos, record requests etc. and allows others to pitch in and provide help.
- Create a blog. Blogs are not just personal diaries or soap boxes anymore. Many genealogists have started to share their own genealogy research experiences online and in public through the use of blogs. Check out Blogger to get started and you could have a blog set up in less than five minutes. For examples of genealogy blogs, visit the GeneaBloggers site which lists over 2,800 different genealogy and family history blogs from around the world.
- Contribute to message boards and forums. Many sites including Ancestry.com and FamilySearch have forums or message boards where newcomers often ask questions. Look for topics related to your own research or your area of expertise and contribute information that will help others.
- Facebook groups. The hottest thing in collaboration and knowledge sharing right now are the various genealogy groups created on Facebook. Use the search field at the top of the Facebook screen and search for a topic and add the word “genealogy.” There are groups focused on technology and specific locations that are not only fun to contribute to, but who knows, you might also learn a thing or two?
- Volunteer. Many genealogical and historical societies need volunteers and don’t’ forget that with the ever-expanding Internet technologies and apps, you can often volunteer “virtually” instead of showing up in person. Visit the Federation of Genealogical Societies to locate genealogy societies near and far.
How to use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner to give back
Believe it or not, you can actually use the Flip Pal mobile scanner with many of the suggested methods of giving back listed above. Here are some ideas:
- Offer to scan documents as part of an indexing project. Many genealogy societies are sitting on holdings such as obituaries, photos, diaries and more that can be shared online with other researchers if only they were scanned and placed in digital form. The Flip-Pal is mobile and allows you to bring the scanner to the items so they don’t need to leave the repository.
- Share your Flip-Pal success story! Every genealogist loves to hear how another researcher was able to successfully make a break through, either with their research or in sharing their finds with family and friends. If you’ve been able to use the Flip-Pal in a creative way, why not post your story on your blog or on Facebook? You might just inspire another genealogist!
- Scan and share resources for other researchers. If you’ve found items such as old maps or books that might be of interest to other genealogists and you know they don’t exist online, scan them with your Flip-Pal mobile scanner and then share them online. (Of course, make sure that you check if the item still has copyright protection before undertaking this type of project.)
Who knows? The seeds you plant through your contributions to the genealogy community might inspire the next generation of genealogists to do the same.
How was your last family reunion spent? I’m sure you had a great spread of food, including favorite family dishes, some activities for the kids and perhaps even a family tree chart or a display highlighting the family’s history. Even if there wasn’t a book or binder with all the genealogy information for family to share, I’m sure there were plenty of conversations about parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles—all of whom have passed on.
Family Gatherings and Missed Opportunities
How many family reunions have you attended where you wished you could somehow capture all of the information that was being shared? Cousins swapping names of relatives, correcting each other as to birth dates and family stories. And what about photos being passed around and the conversations sparked by seeing family members in days gone by?
Start Planning Now!
As the “keeper of the family history,” as we genealogists are often known (and there’s always one in each family), we’re always looking for those opportunities to collect and gather more information.
I find it is easier to take a proactive approach to facilitating the sharing of family history information at family events. This means plan ahead! Also, to keep family members engaged and interested, I try to mix it up and take a different approach than the usual phone call or email telling family members to “bring stuff” to the reunion.
Here are some ideas:
- Set up a family history scan site at the reunion. Have you attended genealogy conferences where companies like Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com) offer to scan your photos and documents? Why not use a Flip-Pal mobile scanner (http://flip-pal.com) to make it easy to scan photos right at the reunion? Ask family members to bring items for scanning and explain how the process will work. Create an instruction sheet so everyone will know how items will be scanned, where they will be stored and how they can be accessed later. If Ancestry can do it, so can you!
- Capture names and dates for photos. Don’t forget that the Flip-Pal Sketch Kit makes it easy to “annotate” photos without harming the original. Use it to write names, dates and places related to the photo before scanning.
- Use family group sheets to collect information. Rather than have family members send you long written notes and narratives with the latest updates as to births, deaths, etc., why not send them blank family group sheet forms ahead of time? They can fill them out and then submit them at the reunion. In fact, set up a contest with a drawing as an incentive to ensure the forms are submitted. Also, make sure you have a set of blank forms on hand at the reunion for folks to fill out. Check out the list of free family history forms at Cyndi’s List (http://www.cyndislist.com/free-stuff/printable-charts-and-forms/).
- Get the children involved! Create an activity using copies of family photos and small cards with names, dates and locations where the kids have to match the photo with the correct information card. Here’s another idea: create a blank family tree and have them place the photos on the tree in the correct arrangement.
- Use memory prompts to get great stories. Don’t rely on open-ended questions to gather family history information; instead, create printed “prompts” that will inspire family members to reach the depths of their memory for those family stories and facts about ancestors. Cover all the bases including school days, first date, first car, first job, weather, clothes, shopping and more. It would be fun to have a Memory Jar where someone has to reach in and pick a prompt and then give his or her answer!
- Remember those old photo booths? Why not set up a fun photo booth or even a video interview booth to capture images and stories from family members at the reunion. Create a sign-up sheet so families can reserve a time for their close up!
- Create an email newsletter and notify family members. Do you remember receiving holiday newsletters from family members at the end of the year? Why not create a similar newsletter either online or using e-mail. There are plenty of options including free programs like MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com), or just use your current email program. Stick to a monthly schedule and help maintain the excitement about the reunion!
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Can Help
There is a lot to do and lots of fun right? It is never too early to get started on being the “family history fun facilitator” for your next event. The holiday season will be here sooner than you think and of course don’t forget next summer’s family reunion! Get started now by scanning your previous family photos, important family history documents and even military medals and other 3-dimensional mementos.
Judy H., shared her experience as a recent Flip-Pal customer:
"I am going to a family reunion next month and doing a presentation of family pictures dating back to the mid 1800's. I have hundreds of pictures that I would have had to scan with my printer and then save and I was dreading doing it because of the countless hours it would've taken me. I received an email about the Flip-Pal and then went online, checked it out and bought it. A few nights ago, as I was watching TV, I scanned over 200 pictures in a couple of hours...this product is amazing!!! I have another couple hundred to scan and am actually looking forward to doing it now. Thanks for such an awesome product!"
Make sure you have a Flip-Pal mobile scanner ready to capture all those photos and documents right on-site at the reunion. Believe me—folks may promise you they’ll scan the items themselves and post them online or email them, but once they get home it is so easy to get wrapped up in other projects and guess what? A year goes by, the next family reunion arrives and the process starts all over.
Genealogy blogger Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy has come up with a great way to use the Flip-Pal mobile scanner to create fantastic photo borders and mats incorporating scans of fabric and other textures.
Does your family have a favorite chair or sofa with a unique fabric, one that brings back memories? What about a quilt or a tapestry that has special meaning to you and your family history? Now, with Lorine’s technique, you can create a unique “mash up” of family photos and those pieces of fabric.
Check out Lorine’s recent blog post entitled “Creating Photo Borders & Mats Using Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner” over at the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Lorine shows you how you can scan both photos and fabrics in one step and create a unique way of preserving both photo and fabric in digital form.
A creative way to capture and share your family history which for many of us is the “fabric of our lives.” What creative uses have you come up with for your Flip-Pal® mobile scanner? Let us know in the comments!
How do I know which Software Suite to buy for my Flip-Pal mobile scanner?
It all comes down to a) the complexity of your creative projects and b) what type of computer you use – a PC or a Mac.
Creative Suite Craft Edition is for PC users who want to make a simple digital genealogy/scrapbook project, enhance photos and create a slide show.
- PagePlus Essentials has all the templates, word processing, graphic design and layout tools you need for stunning calendars, invites, cards, newsletters and more.
- PhotoPlus Essentials is your fast and easy photo editor. Make everyday photo fixes, repair damaged pictures, apply creative effects, organize, print and share.
- WebPlus Essentials makes building a fun or sophisticated website within everyone’s reach. Use templates, then customize with your own photos, text and more.
- Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 lets you create beautiful scrapbooks, cards, invitations, then share your designs with a couple of clicks.
- SlideShow Expressions helps you organize and print photos, easily create slide show movies, and entertain your friends & family.
- Family Tree Heritage Platinum 8 genealogy software allows you to build your family tree, Web pages, and preserve and share your family heritage. You can even access Ancestry.com directly from Family Tree Heritage.
Digital Creativity Suite is for both PC and Mac users. It has great software to make professional-looking projects at home and then share your creativity with your friends and family.
- Photoshop Elements 10.0 helps you turn your precious photos into sensational photos. Use automated options to crop, straighten, fine tune, repair and retouch your photos, tag and share photos with your social network. It also contains tools to quickly organize, find, view and manage all your photos and video clips.
- Logo Design Studio Pro lets you create professional logos for business or personal use. Easy to use templates, fully editable vector graphics, and drawing tools allow you to create special effects logos expandable to any size with import and export capabilities for all the popular formats.
- Corel Paint It! can turn your favorite photos into beautiful paintings. Simply choose a painting style and watch the automated painting process create the perfect hand-painted photo art. Add brushstrokes and fun effects to personalize your scrapbook, family album, greeting card or any other masterpiece.