Holidays & Celebrations · Websites

Clever Gifts for Genealogists – 2018 Holiday Edition

Throughout the year, I like to keep a running list of all the cool gift ideas I’ve seen or researched just to give my blog readers a little help with their gift giving endeavors.  While I do not advocate gift-giving as the only way to show affection to friends and loved ones during the holiday season, sometimes its hard to think about what you or another genealogist may need in the pursuit of success in the upcoming year.

So, before we get started: I am not an affiliate seller or sales partner for any of the described products.  This is a list of ideas and recommendations based on some of the reference questions and new products I’ve discovered throughout the year.  NO MONEY IS BEING MADE OFF THIS POST, so settle down and let the folks who need some help receive a little assistance from a friendly not-for-profit librarian.

Idea #1: Portable Power – Great for conferences, meetings, and on-the-go research

This was a big conference year for me, as I attended five different conferences across the country.  Most of these I attended as a speaker, an author, or as a non-profit society vendor spreading the word about webinars, events, and other resources my library provides.  Regardless of what capacity you’re choosing to attend a conference, you’re going to run into the same issue – lack of charging opportunities for laptops and portable devices.  Yes, there are some larger conferences which offer charging centers, the vast majority of the conference locations may not have an abundance of power for attendees to use.  Here are two of the products I bought this year which changed this dynamic.

Jackery Thunder Fast Portable Charger – This is a great light weight option when you need portable power for a tablet, smart phone, or fitness device.  I used the dual USB ports to power up two items at the same time, and even shared power charging with a friend who was running on empty.  I was able to charge my phone three and a half times operating from 20%, which was a real lifesaver.

jackery charger 1

Jackery Portable Laptop Charger – Laptops require a lot of power.  I know, I was hitting up every available outlet at each of my conferences and really had to ration my computer use.  This changed when my brother gave me a portable laptop charger this year for my birthday.  I LOVE IT!  I can usually get two charges out of the Jackery model, and I’ve been able to recharge the battery quickly and innocuously by plugging it into a back wall in some of the lecture rooms.

jackery laptop charger

Idea #2: Genealogy Subscription Services

There are a ton of subscription databases and services on the market which would benefit the genealogist in your life.  I do not advocate any subscription over another, here are a few suggestions based on popular reference referrals:


Idea #3: Roku Streaming Stick

For genealogists with low vision issues or for those who just want to take a break from roku streaming stickwatching webinars on your computer, a Roku streaming stick may be great gift.  A Roku is a little stick you pop in the USB port of your TV to stream shows, movies, and music.  One of the best aspects of a Roku for genealogists is access to YouTube for free.  With a bigger screen and a comfortable couch, you’ll have the best seat in the house to watch all the free webinars on the site.

Don’t forget to check with your local library for streaming services you can use like Kanopy and Hoopla.  Kanopy currently has two seasons of Finding your Roots and a ton of PBS and Great Courses available.  Both these channels are free with your library card. 

kanopy 2 finding your roots

Plus, you can use your Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video subscription channels on the device as well.

NOTE: Roku requires WiFi and a relatively newer TV with a USB port.  The setup is simple and relatively straight forward, but you may want to call a friend or relative for a little moral support.  If you need help finding the right Roku device, check out this article which breaks down each option.


Idea #4: Keeping Yourself Organized

To keep your house from looking like graveyard of portable devices, you may want to pick up a VisionTek Five Device Charging Station.  It’s not five devicefor charging on the go, which is why it wound up in it’s own category.  No, you don’t have to own three iPads and two phones, but any combination of tablets, smart watches, and phones makes this charging station something to consider.  Great for a bedside table, living room table, or a family space close to a power outlet.


Idea #5: Good Footwear

I had lunch with a few of the sweetest ladies at NGS in Grand Rapids this year, and two of them positively gushed about their All Birds shoes.  I’m more of a Sketchers memory foam person, as I wear them all the time at work.  But when my Mom asked for a pair of All Birds for Mother’s Day, my sister and I pooled our resources and got her what she wanted.  She LOVES them.  I think $95 is a bit steep for a pair of shoes, but if you’re intent on protecting your feet during a multi-day conference, you might want to check these out.  All Birds has footwear for both men and women, and while they may not go on sale online, they do have a no guilt return guarantee.

all birds

Idea #6: Gift cards for splurging on Etsy, eBay, and Cardcow

I’ve lectured previously about how to keeping tabs on buying and bidding for family treasures online through websites like Etsy, eBay, and  What you might not have thought about is how a gift card to these sites is a huge boon to genealogists and family historians.  These gift cards come in handy when the ‘Pay it Forward’ genealogists send an e-mail or message stating they’ve found an item for sale online which may belong to your family.

I’m one of those genealogists, and I always get a kick out of identifying items and contacting descendants via Ancestry’s Family Tree Connect.  Even if you’re not looking to buy a family item online, these gift cards are still good for purchasing replacement dishes for older china sets, browsing for historical artifacts, and acquiring new pieces for a personal or historical society collection.

card cow thanksgiving


On Etsy, you won’t want to miss out on acquiring one of these fabulous custom family photograph trees.  There are a lot of amazing graphic designers and content creators on Etsy, and with a little browsing you can find a ton of personalized family tree art and related items on the site.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Behold!  This will probably be a labor of love to find all the photos needed for this tree, but I loved it the first time I saw it!  Now I need to network with my relatives to see if I can have one of these collection of family tree photo projects made for both sides of the family!

personalized family tree

Wishing you all a happy holiday season,

#ThriftyThursday #HolidayGuide #GeneaBloggersTRIBE

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