The end of the year is certainly the time for family gatherings, be it Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s or some other day around then. But are you as a family historian, prepared?

I don’t mean prepared in the decorations, food and presents sense, but rather in the “are you ready to make the most of the opportunity of the family catchup” sense? Many family members only see each other once a year (or less) … you know the cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews etc. So you need to make the most of the time to catch up.

While keeping in mind that you don’t want to scare your family off … it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, so here’s a few suggestions of things that you should have with you on your next family gathering:

Well this is obvious. You don’t see your relatives regularly, so why not get some new family photos? Selfies with the grandkids, or grandparents? Not to mention seeing how man cousins you can fit into one photo, or just some family group shots.

Spare Camera Battery
Again, this doesn’t need much explanation. But it’s no fun going somewhere and you take your camera, only to get a couple of photos in before your camera dies as the battery is flat. So it pays to have a spare with you.

Putting it simply, you don’t know what you may need to jot down. An anecdote or two that your great aunt has just come out with, a cousin’s new address, not to mention the names and dates of the latest additions to the family. Or if you get talking family history, you can sketch it out for your relatives, showing where who fits in where.


Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner lets you scan photos and documents on the go

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
I know not everyone has one of these little beauties, but if you do, take it, because you just never know. Light-weight, and runs on batteries, this small scanner is MADE for portability. And it’s ideal for having with you when you visit relatives. Documents, letters, or even old photos all “may” make an appearance, and if you have your Flip-Pal Scanner there with you, you can scan them right then and there. And if you’re wanting to buy a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner you can purchase it from Flip-Pal in the US, and Mentis in New Zeland.

Spare AA Batteries
If you take your Flip-Pal Scanner with you, be sure to take spare batteries as well. The scanner takes 4 x AA batteries, and while it’ll take regular ones, these tend to do about 15-150 scans, lithium batteries are about And take spare AA batteries with you for this.

Voice Recorder
Most mobile phones have a recorder as a built in function these days, so you could use that if you wish rather than buying a separate device, but what do you think of asking a question to your family as a group, and getting each one to answer individually, and recording it? Or if a family member or two are up for it, do a mini oral history Q&A with them. Ask them about life in the old days, about emigrating, about family holidays, pets, past Christmas memories and so on.

Old Photos
While this isn’t an essential item to take with you to family get-together, if you have them (and get a chance to bring them out), they can be a great talking point. One that sparks memories and reminiscences, and that’s usually when stories and new information comes out.

So go off and enjoy your Christmas and family gatherings, but remember to be prepared by taking a few extra things other than just drinks and a salad with you.