Friday, November 24, 2017

Family-Centered Gift Ideas for Grown-Ups

Gift ideas for grown-ups can be hard to come by.  Many of the adults I know (like my in-laws, for example) have pretty much everything they need.  If new tools or new cookware doesn’t seem like THE THING this year, read on for some meaningful gift ideas.  Many adults appreciate family-centered activities, games, and books.  I’ve gathered lots of possibilities for your gift-giving pleasure this year.

Experiences and Activities
Several of the experiences and activities I shared last week {for teenagers} and the week before {for kids} are really family activities, so they may be great gifts for adults as well.  Many of the ideas you saw here a few weeks ago, {gift ideas for the whole family}, are excellent for grown-ups, too.  The key to a great family-centered gift is to choose something you don’t normally do, and make sure you do it together.

I’ve already mentioned {Heather Lynne’s ideas at Raising Memories}, and several would be great for grown-ups, such as:
  • overnight getaway
  • hot air balloon ride
  • pottery class
  • road trip
When my husband’s grandmother was in her 80s, she had ALS.  We picked her name for the family gift exchange one year, and we really wanted to give her something she could do without the use of her hands.  We found a lovely little game that I now can’t remember the name of that was absolutely perfect!  The game was just about telling your story and talking about memories.  Reminiscing was something she liked to do anyway, and it was a nice way to start family conversations and find out new parts of her life story.

That game for Grandma reminds me a lot of a new game called {Roots & Branches} by The Connections Games.  It’s a board game with questions in four categories:  Your Family, Your Ancestors, About You, and Nice to Know.  As players move and answer questions, they have a chance to share experiences and learn about their family.  This is a great game for making connections between generations.

From the Heart
Gifts from the heart are pretty much a shoe-in for grown-ups.

Here are 4 more heartfelt gift ideas I love for adults:
  • I love this sweet idea from The Gifty Girl:  {kid-crafted dish towels}.  This is such a heartfelt gift from grandkids that they can DIY–older kids can write or draw and younger kids can paint or stamp.
  • I think {family cookbooks} are a heartfelt gift grown-ups can enjoy, too.  Family meals and special recipes are full of memories and comfort. 
  • Rhonda Lauritzen and Rachel Trotter at just wrote a {great little booklet of thoughtful questions} to ask someone who is writing their life story or wants to interview someone for their life story.  I think this would be a lovely gift for someone with an aging parent.
  • I’m guessing I’m not the only tired adult out there, so I will say that the simple act of telling someone what you love and appreciate about him/her is a great gift.  A {“Reasons I Love You”gift is inexpensive but literally lasts forever!
Incorporate Family Traditions
Like my husband’s grandmother, adults sometimes like to reminisce about the good old days.  A great way to preserve those warm, fuzzy memories is through recording family traditions.  What do you do at Thanksgiving?  What is your Christmas Eve tradition?  What is your favorite holiday and why?

Here are two ideas I really love for recording traditions:

Does the adult you’re searching for a gift for have a lot of Christmas tree ornaments?  If so, were they inherited, or are they part of a collection?  I love this idea for making a record of all your ornaments!  Mine each has its own story.

What about gathering a collection of photos and memories from past holidays to make a record of your favorite family traditions?  What special foods do you have every year?   

Special Ideas
What special ideas did you find on this month’s #familyhistoryfriday posts?  I hope you found great gift ideas that will be heartfelt, make memories, and/or make connections.  Be sure to Pin them to save for next year, too!

Here’s one more thought for the road:  In my family, we keep an “I’d Like” list on our fridge all year round.  When you think of something you’d like to receive as a gift, you write it on the list.  As the giver, it can come in handy when you aren’t sure what someone would like as a gift.

What was your favorite suggestion from this collection of ideas?  Tell me in the comments below!

Pin to share and save for next year, too!

This post was originally published at on November 24, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.  You'll find more #familyhistoryfriday posts at the hashtag link below next to Labels.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Interactive Gift Ideas for Teenagers

I personally think buying gifts for teenagers is pretty hard, even in the best of circumstances. But when they certainly don’t need another video game or app for their phones, and you know they would benefit from some family connection, it’s even harder.  

Sometimes it takes a little creativity to come up with interactive gift ideas for teenagers, but I’ve found some pretty good ones that I’ll share today.  Gifts that encourage family engagement and connection are fun now as well as meaningful in the future.

As I mentioned last week when I talked about {family-themed activities for kids}, I know some people who like giving experiences as gifts instead of things.  This can be especially great for teenagers.  They need the connections and the time invested in them, but they’re sometimes too busy or *ahem* too cool to hang out with their parents or siblings without a special occasion.   Obviously not all of the suggestions I’m listing here would work for every teenager, but see what experiences might be good for your specific one.  Make sure the activity is something special, not something you would normally do.  
  • {Record-Breaking Family Fun Kit} (think “Minute to Win It”) by The Gifty Girl
  • a water park
  • fancy dinner out
  • an amusement park
  • a vacation
  • a staycation
  • a day out with Dad or Mom
  • horseback riding
  • a musical or theatrical production
  • skiing
  • hiking
  • Heather Lynne at Raising Memories has some great suggestions for teenagers, too.  You can see {her whole list here}, but it includes:
  • zip lining
  • spa day (mani/pedi, etc.)
  • helicopter ride
  • hot air balloon ride
  • pottery class (or paint your own pottery)
I always recommend making these moments last by taking photos of the activities.  Depending on the event, a {little memory book} of the special activity is the perfect additional gift!  Preserving the experience and the memories makes it the gift that keeps on giving.

Lots of personal keepsake book ideas and free templates {here}

Games you can play as a family are a fun way to interact and engage with each other.  Similar to the idea of having dinner together as a family, games provide opportunity to just BE together.  Here are a few ideas I really like for teenagers.

While I am not a video game fan in principle, family video games like {Just Sing} or {Rock Bandmake lots of fun memories and connections.  We have the old Rock Band, and I can’t tell you how many fun hours we have had with it.  It was especially good when we had one teenager with younger “non-teenager” siblings–it was something everyone could play and enjoy.

{This neat card game} from {The Connections Games} is called “Did You Know?”  It’s an interactive get-to-know-you game with questions in five categories.  It can be played as a family but also with friends, roommates, or on group dates.

I mentioned {Mrs. Lady Wordsmith’s list of 21 family games} last week.  There are several teenage-type games there that the whole family can play.

We received {this game} as a gift, and I really like that it’s a team game!  Instead of trying to beat each other, like most games, everyone playing is a team trying to beat the timer!

Gifts from the heart are always so meaningful and cherished.  I think teenagers especially need a little extra support and love and encouragement.  My favorite one is this simple but powerful {Only You} book.  List talents and strengths your teenager has that he/she may not be able to see right now.  Write things you love about him/her.  You’ll never find a better $15 gift in the whole world.
Words are powerful.  The {gift of words} is something that lasts, something a teenager can pull out on a hard day today or a hard day in college.  

I hope you’ve found some special ideas for the teenager in your life.  Connections make great gifts!  Next week I’ll have some gift ideas for adults, too!

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This post was originally published at on November 17, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.  Find all the #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Displaying Family Photos in Your Home: a wall canvas video tutorial (#tbt)

The posters on your child's bedroom wall are usually their heroes.  What if their heroes were in their own family?

Some photos are so great they should be seen year-round.  Family ancestors' photos fall into the same category.  Displaying family photos around your home emphasizes your priorities, connections, and happy family memories.  It can also make ancestors or those who live far away from you more REAL.

Today's throw-back Thursday (#tbt) is about showcasing your photos by creating a wall canvas.  There are a few examples in the post, and it also includes a video tutorial!  You can find it right here:

And if you're thinking about Christmas gift-giving, I suggest you submit your canvas for publishing by Dec. 1.  (And, yes, you can specify the shipping address, so you can ship it directly to your recipient if you prefer.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Celebrating over 50,000 pageviews with a giveaway!

THANK YOU, dear readers!  I'm so happy to celebrate over 50,000 pageviews on this little blog.  This blog is about things that matter, things of the heart and soul, so I can't tell you how much I appreciate you reading!

Let's celebrate with a giveaway!  The winner will choose any (one) item from {My Heritage Makers Shop}!  (You can even choose an item that's out of stock, if you prefer, and I'll make it.)  Or, if you prefer, you can choose from the {Holiday Nifty Gifty} Christmas gift-card kit ($49 value) or the {Border Maker System} (a $45 value) with two cartridges included.  You don't have to be local to win--shipping is on me!  That's what a giveaway is all about!

  1. Leave a comment below telling me one reason you read here at LifeTales Books or tell me one of your favorite blog posts here.
  2. Comments close on November 27, 2017.  A winner will be drawn at random. 
  3. I will need to contact the winner via e-mail, so after you enter, e-mail me so that I have your e-mail address and can notify you if you win.  (Your e-mail address will not be shared and will only be used if you are the winner, of course!)  E-mail me at  

In looking back over more than 300 posts as we celebrate this little milestone, I want to share again the most popular blog post to date:  {Why Your Family Needs Its Stories}.  I hope, as I do with all my blog posts, that you will be inspired after reading it.  

Thank you for being here, dear readers!  Here's to 50,000 more visits!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

12 (Days of) Christmas gift ideas - part 2

How fun are those ideas I posted last week?!  I love them!  Today we're continuing our 12 (Days of) Christmas gift ideas.  Whether you need 12 Christmas ideas or 2, there are some really unique gift ideas here that you're going to love!

Remember that instructions for order and editing everything you see here will be included at the bottom of this post.

Day 7:  Single-Serve Cake Recipes
This is another fun idea (like Day 4 from last week) for a sweet treat to be eaten later.  This playing card deck has instructions for 10 different kinds of single-serve cakes using boxed cake mix and a few simple ingredients.

Once you receive the playing card deck, you can take one of each recipe, punch a hole in the corner, and tie together with ribbon.  Give with a box of cake mix if you like!  One playing card deck makes enough for 5 of 10 recipes plus instructions.  A playing card deck is about $17.  (TEMPLATE 85477)

I have to tell you, I LOVE this gift idea, so I decided to give this as gifts to girlfriends this year.  I used this template and switched out the backgrounds and digital art for something I liked better.  (I LOVE that about Heritage Makers!  And all the digital art is included!!!)  I changed the fonts, too.  These photos of MY Quick Cakes gives you a better idea of what this gift will look like after you order then assemble them.

They come in a plastic case.

Deal out the cards!  :D  (Put one of each recipe in each pile.)
The backs of all the cards will say "Quick Cakes," but the fronts are all different.  I put the "Helpful Hints" card as the front by turning it over.  (You'll see that better in the next picture.) Punch holes in the corners and put a ring or ribbon (or both) through the holes.
(See?  Here's the little bundle opened.  So the front card shows Quick Cakes on the front and Helpful Hints on the back.)
Now I've flipped a few more "pages."  You can see all the cards say "Quick Cakes" on the back, with different recipes on the front.  
I think these are SO ADORABLE.
(By the way, if you'd like to get these already completed, I have a few for sale in My Heritage Makers Shop.  They're $6.)

Day 8:  We WHISK you a Merry KISSmas
Have you seen this cute idea before?  You fill a whisk with Hershey Kisses--just separate the wires and put the chocolates inside.  We WHISK you a Merry KISSmas!  These tags are just the thing:

These are made from a 12x12 scrap page.  (TEMPLATE 99434)  You'll cut them out after you order them, then attach to a whisk.  Scrap pages are $4.28 each.  ***BE AWARE that this template includes three total scrap pages--one scrap page with instructions and two that look like this.  If you want just one page of these tags and no instructions page, you can open the project for editing, click "manage pages" at the upper right, then delete the pages you don't want.

Day 9:  Gift Labels from Santa
Who do you know who would be excited to receive gift labels signed by Santa?

This would be a gift to parents, of course, who would have fun using them for their own gift-giving!  Labels come in a set of 54 for around $3.  (TEMPLATE 71825)

Day 10:  Candle Wraps
Wrap a Christmas-scented candle with your own message.

These are made from a 12x12 scrap page.  I have used these candle wraps before with the optional UV coating to give them a slick, finished look, and it makes them a little sturdier, too.  Great as a guest thank-you, but change the message to give Christmas wishes.  Cut out from the scrap page and tie around a candle with ribbon.  This size scrap page is around $4 and includes 2 wraps.  (TEMPLATE 69181)

Day 11:  "Be Merry" Gingerbread Table Runner
This adorable table runner is made from a playing card deck!  Just order the deck, then punch holes with a mini hole punch and tie with ribbon.  The "Be Merry" message will stand up accordion-style.

And it stores flat, too!  A playing card deck is about $17-$18, and one deck makes 5 sets of "Be Merry" table toppers.  (TEMPLATE 46003)

(By the way, if you'd like to get these already completed, I have one for sale in My Heritage Makers Shop for $8.  I also have two of these in the shop that I've punched and tied as banners instead of table decor, also for $8.  You can see a photo at the link.)

Day 12:  Christmas Subway Print
Made from a simple 11x14 print, this subway art poster highlights all the joys of Christmas and can be displayed year after year.  Personalize with the recipient's name or leave blank.  (TEMPLATE 135452)
Or choose this one from Luke 2  (TEMPLATE 90895)

11x14 prints are $5.85, and you could include a frame with your gift if you like. 

Did you find something you loved?  Whether or not you are looking for 12 gifts or 1, I hope you found something unique and fun.  That's one of my favorite things about Heritage Makers gift-giving!

Some of these items can be ordered as-is (like the gingerbread "Be Merry" table runner), and some you'll need to alter so you can take off the name personalization and make it your own (like the subway print).    

UPDATE 2022:  All these items shown were made with Heritage Makers.  However, Heritage Makers is currently being updated to a new software platform that doesn't require Adobe Flash to run (which Adobe has discontinued).  For the time being, it's easier for you to order these items from me--meaning I make them for you--than it will be for you to make them in your own Heritage Makers account.  Just contact me with questions and/or to order these fun gifts!

Happy gift-giving!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Family-Themed Gift Ideas for Kids

A common dilemma these days is figuring out what to give that will be useful and meaningful after the Christmas tree is put away.  Most kids today need connections more than things, but thinking of a gift idea to foster family connections can be challenging.  I’d like to share with you some great gift ideas that will do just that.  Let’s start with the kids!

I know many families like to give experiences and activities as gifts–like movie theater tickets or museum passes.  One year we gave our kids their own swimming suits wrapped in gift boxes!  Underneath the swimming suits were notes telling them we were going to spend the next day at Great Wolf Lodge.  (I have to say–  the looks on their faces when opening their own swimming suits was priceless!)

Experiences and activities can certainly vary in price, so picking something both interesting and affordable is a must.  Just be sure whatever you choose is something special (as opposed to something you already normally do) and something you can do together.  Here are a few experiences and activities you can give as gifts to your kids or grandkids:
I suggest you make these experiences extra special by taking photos and then printing them out in an album or {book} with your memories included.  When kids can look back on memories and connections, it strengthens their sense of belonging.  Giving them a tangible keepsake or “souvenir” of the event can be meaningful for years.

I love this idea by Camille at Chicken Scratch n Sniff to choose 12 activities and make them into a Family Fun Packet you can give for Christmas.  See what I mean at her {link here}.

To focus outward instead of inward at Christmastime, this {12-Day Nativity book} includes activities, crafts, service projects, and recipes as your family talks about the symbolism behind each figure in a nativity set.

Games designed for kids and their families to play together are another fantastic gift.  Here are a few I think look fun:
  • {gofindit} (outdoor scavenger hunt)
  • Mrs. Lady Wordsmith has a great list of family games here at this link.  Most of what she has listed are for ages 6 and up.

I think my all-time favorite gift for a kiddo is a personalized book.  I made this "Guess Who Loves Me" book for my nephew.  Each of the pages on the right side of the book had descriptions of the people who love him, and then he could guess who it was.  When he turned over the page, he could see a picture of the person who loves him.  It was especially meaningful because he doesn’t have grandparents or cousins or aunts/uncles who live nearby.

You could create "I’m a VIP" books, "You Are Loved" books, "10 reasons I love you" books, or anything you feel would make the child in your life feel important and loved.

Create meaningful, heirloom-quality books following these directions.

I hope you’ve found a special idea that will be just right for the kid(s) in your life.  Finding something wonderful takes the stress out of gift-giving.  Kids have an innate desire to connect with those who love them, and showering them with meaningful gifts that give them happy memories as they grow their relationships is a perfect way to do it.

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This post was originally published at on November 10, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.  More #familyhistoryfriday posts can be found by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

silhouette nativity blocks: a tutorial (#tbt)

Today's #tbt is a tutorial showing you how to make these darling Silhouette Nativity Blocks.

Like last week's blocks, this DIY project makes a unique gift, too.
This set costs about $8 (not including shipping for the scrapbook page/s). 

The step-by-step tutorial to make this sweet nativity set can be found right here:

UPDATE 2022:  The Heritage Makers website and software is currently being reworked so it will no longer run on Adobe Flash (which Adobe has discontinued).  At the moment, it's easier for me to just order these scrap pages for you on your behalf and have them shipped to you than it would be for you to open your own Heritage Makers account and find the template.  Contact me with questions or to order.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

12 (Days of) Christmas gift ideas - part 1

I have always wanted to do a really cool Twelve Days of Christmas for someone, but I usually think about it on December 15.  So today I have 12 gift ideas for you that you can use as Twelve Days of Christmas gifts, or just choose your favorites as December 25th Christmas gifts.

All these impressive gift ideas I'm about to show you come from Heritage Makers digital personal publishing.  They're high-quality, gorgeous, and you can personalize anything--from adding your photo and name to changing the overall style if you prefer.  I'll give some How To Order directions at the end of the post.  Keep in mind that because these need to be published at Heritage Makers and then shipped, you should allow 7-14 days for delivery.

UPDATE 2022:  All items shown below were made with Heritage Makers.  However, Heritage Makers is currently being updated to a new software platform that doesn't require Adobe Flash to run (which Adobe has discontinued).  For the time being, it's easier for you to order these items from me--meaning I make them for you--than it will be for you to make them in your own Heritage Makers account.  Just contact me with questions and/or to order these fun gifts!

DAY 1:  Countdown to Christmas
These darling metal prints have a finish that allows you to use a dry erase marker on them!  Some clever person came up with this cute idea to countdown to Christmas.

Choose a Santa style (TEMPLATE 128938)

or a Nativity style (TEMPLATE 128940)

Metal prints are $65, but if you'd like to lower the cost, you can convert either of them to an 11x14 print and frame it before giving.  Writing on the glass of a frame with a dry erase marker works, too!  The 11x14 prints are only $5.85!  

I actually did this recently--I copied over these metal prints to 11x14 prints.  Then I just added a frame since the glass is writable with a dry erase marker.

(I actually have these framed 11x14 versions for sale at My Heritage Makers Shop if you'd prefer to get them that way.  They're $15)

Day 2:  Let Us Take Care of the Dishes
This is a simple business card (it's 2-sided, so you'll need to click the link to see the greeting and personalization)!  I think this would make a fantastic gift at busy Christmastime.  You just attach this card to a package of paper plates!
If you're giving this to a lot of recipients, the business cards (TEMPLATE 142438) are the way to go because they come in a pack of 50 for about $10.  

UPDATE 2022:  Business cards are no longer available through Heritage Makers, but I can make them through another high-quality company called Forever. 

Day 3:  Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
This card can be personalized with your name (and even the name of the recipient, if you like), then cut out and placed around the neck of a bottle of juice, sparkling beverage, soda, etc.

These are about $1 each!  (TEMPLATE 142430)  There's a {discount} if you order 25 or more.

Day 4:  A Little Extra Dough
One of my favorite Christmas neighbor gifts is frozen cookie dough.  As the recipient, it's nice to not be getting so many treats at once and be able to have some in January instead if I want!   This sticker can go on the outside of a ziploc bag or plastic container with frozen dough inside--cookies, bread, rolls, etc.

This, too, can be personalized with your name (and even photo) if you want, or printed as-is.  These stickers are large address labels (3.75"x3") that come in a package of 12 for about $4. (TEMPLATE 115551)

Day 5:  We WASH You a Merry Christmas
Personalize the tags, and this double-sided scrap page is ready to go--just cut out the circles, punch a hole, and tie to a yummy-smelling hand soap.

This size scrap page is $6 for the 9 tags shown, or you can save a little money by ordering it on lite paper if you prefer.  (TEMPLATE 115375)

Day 6:  Holiday Time Potpourri
I love the smells of Christmas!  Potpourri is such a fun gift--easy to give, and lovely to receive.  Simply combine dried orange slices (or several drops of orange essential oil), two cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and whole nutmeg in a 2-inch wide resealable plastic bag.

Then cut apart these tags made from a double-sided scrap page.  (Simmering directions on the back.)  This size scrap page is $6 for the 6 fold-over tags shown here.  (TEMPLATE 113965)

I know we're only halfway through our 12 ideas.  Did you find something you loved?  Whether or not you are looking for 12 gifts or 1, I hope you found something unique and fun.  That's one of my favorite things about Heritage Makers gift-giving!

Some of these items can be ordered as-is (like the Christmas Countdowns), and some you'll need to alter so you can take off the name personalization and make it your own (like the potpourri gift tags). 
See the 2022 update above--it's currently easier for me to make these items for you than it is to open a new Heritage Makers account.  

Next week I'll show six more clever gift ideas for Christmas gift-giving.  See you then!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Have you started thinking about gift-giving?  Whether you’re like me and started thinking about Christmas gift-giving on Halloween or you’re still weeks away from giving it a thought, I can help.  I love sharing gift ideas in November because I’m convinced it makes for a happier December.  

And, of course, these make great gifts any time of the year!

As you might guess, since this is #familyhistoryfriday, all the gift ideas here are family-related.  Today I’ll share gift ideas for the whole family, and in coming weeks I’ll share ideas for kids, teenagers, and adults.  Since they’re all family-related, though, ideas you’ll see in all of November’s #familyhistoryfriday posts can easily be gifts for the whole family, too.


Whether you are new at learning your family history or an experienced genealogist, here are some great ideas for the whole family to get to know their ancestors and see how they’re all connected.
Read about my experience making this special canvas {right here}.

Thanks to Aleah Ingram of LDS Bookstore for many of these ideas.


For family members spending holidays away from home, heart-warming gifts are especially appreciated.  Think about turning your family traditions into something you can mail.  Last year, my son stayed at college for Thanksgiving (because his break was so short, and he was coming home for a month the following week anyway).  We made him a box of “Thanksgiving dinner.”  We sent instant mashed potatoes, sticks of turkey jerky, apple pie cookies, a package of biscuit mix, etc.  I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that it wasn’t a real Thanksgiving dinner, but he loved the box because he knew we were thinking about and loving him from far away.

Here are a few other ideas for great gifts to send family members who are away from home:

Did you have a special event in your family this year?  Do you live far away from cousins or grandparents?  Home decor is a simple way to showcase special photos or keep faraway family members close.  From gallery-wrapped canvases to metal prints and posters, creating your own home decor with family photos is a beautiful, meaningful gift.

Other gift ideas for the whole family that they can see or use every day include:

I’ve done a lot of looking and asking around to find some great family-oriented gift ideas to share with you this month on #familyhistoryfriday.  (Here’s one for history buffs:  {a book and CD of the Nativity story experienced by those in the ancient Americas})  I’m looking forward to sharing many family-oriented gifts, things (and experiences) that create connections and family interaction.  Next week’s post will have ideas for kids.  See you then.

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This post was originally published at on November 3, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.  More #familyhistoryfriday posts can be found below by clicking the hashtag next to Labels.