Are you looking for a fun, easy and downright delicious way to share some family history this Christmas? What better way to entice your family to have an interest in the family tree than wrapping that history around a luscious chocolate bar?
DIY: Stuff Their Heritage in Their Stocking
I firmly believe that family history should not sit on a shelf, but should be seen, touched, felt and even tasted!
Sometimes when a passionate genealogist shares the family history discoveries they have made, their relatives are less than enthusiastic to hear about it. (Sound familiar? I know I’ve experience this phenomenon.) This lack of interest may be more about the delivery of the information rather than the information itself. The trick is to serve up the family tree in an appealing and fun way.
That’s why a few years ago I designed these customized candy bars which I call Sweet Memories. They’re basically your favorite chocolate bar wrapped in a custom label with your own sweet family history memory on it. What could be better than that?!
Here’s the first Sweet Memories stocking stuffer candy bar I made for Christmas.
They are really simple to make. The candy bars themselves are store bought. All you need is a computer, printer and some paper and you can whip some up in an hour or so.
What I especially love about these customized delectable delights is the conversation they stimulate. I loved seeing the surprises on the faces of my family, and then the reminiscing that soon followed. They loved seeing the old photos and the clever list of “ingredients” that provided insight into the character of their ancestors.
Don’t feel like you have to do exactly what I did on mine. Instead of a list of ingredients you could include a short funny story, favorite family quotes, or little-known fun facts about the ancestors in the photo. Use your imagination and have fun!
Me having fun at Christmas in 1966. Did you have the Booby-Trap game too? (Leave a comment)
Keep reading because after the step-by-step instructions below, I’ll share some more design ideas.
How to Make “Sweet Memories” DIY Stocking Stuffer Candy Bars
Here’s how to make your own custom labels and turn plain chocolate bars into wonderful holiday gifts for your loved ones.
Start by gathering up the following supplies:
- A 3.67 oz approximately sized Chocolate Bar wrapped in foil with a paper wrapper. (Dove and Cadbury are some of my favorites. Hmmmm!)
- Bright white printer paper
- Computer and printer
- A software publishing program that you can create your label in, like Microsoft Publisher. (Or try using a word processing programming using the text box feature.)
- Double sided tape (I use Scotch Brand Double Sided Photo Safe tape available here.)
- Scanned family photos, especially old holiday photos
These instructions are for creating the labels in Microsoft Publisher, but you could also do it in PowerPoint or any other design type software or app.
1. Create a Rectangle
On the blank page, create a 7 ¾” high and 5 ¾” wide rectangle using the Shape tool. This just gives you a nice outline to work in.
2. Add a Background
An easy way to add an interesting background is to scan a piece of scrapbook paper that you like. The scrapbook paper could be textured or have a repeating design. But you could also choose a favorite digital image.
Use the INSERT IMAGE function to get the image onto your page. Next, resize it to fit just over the rectangle that you created.
Another other option for the background is to select the rectangle and use the FORMAT FILL COLOR function to color the box with the color of your choice. I used green and then chose a gradient that went from light to dark for added interest.
3. Add an Old Photo(s)
You can add any digitized photo that you like. Dig through your old family photo albums to find Christmas photos from the past, or simply feature an ancestor or family. You can use the same photo for all your stocking stuffers, or surprise each member of your family with a candy bar featuring a different ancestor.
Use INSERT IMAGE to add your photos and resize them to fit.
For the front side image, I measured down approximately two inches from the top of the label, and that is where the top of the photo was placed. I set it ¼” from the left edge. Both photos are about 2” x 2”.
My uncle, mom and aunt in 1956. I used this photo for the front side of my stocking stuffer candy bar label.
4. Adding Photos to the Back of the Label
The backside photo begins 5” from the top of the label and is set ¼” from the left edge.
You may also want to include a small text box that states the date and location of the photos and the names of the people.
Christmas Dinner at Grandma’s House (I’m in the bottom left corner, mouth wide open as usual.) I featured this photo on the backside of my label.
5. Add Descriptive Text
The last step is to insert the text boxes.
Both the “Sweet Memories” text box and the “Ingredients” text box that I included are about 3” wide and 1 1/4” high. You can format them with the borders and colors that you want.
In my example, you’ll see that I took the color cues from the colors in the photos – the crimson red and soft green. Many apps have a color picker feature that will allow you to get an exact match.
6. Add the Ingredients List
Every food item has an ingredients label on it, and this bar is no exception. I had some fun with the ingredients list and played up the family theme. I thought about my memories of my Grandmother and the values and elements she poured into each holiday. So my ingredients list reads:
- Grandma’s Cooking,
- and Time.
Feel free to reflect your own family values in the list.
7. Print Your Label
Once you’ve got everything laid out on the screen the way you want it, it’s time to print.
From the menu, click FILE then PRINT and then click the PROPERTIES button. From this window be sure to select “high resolution paper” or “high brightness” as the media type, and select HIGH for the print quality to make sure you get the best, most professional looking label.
Print the label, then carefully cut it out.
8. Fold the Label to Fit
Follow the folding guidelines shown above, but keep in mind that your candy bar is going to dictate your actual fold lines.
The first fold line for my standard size Cadbury chocolate bar (which you can buy in bulk here) was 1 ½” from the top of the label and the second fold line is 4 ¼” from the top of the label.
(Disclosure: Genealogy Gems is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Thank you for supporting articles like these by using our links.)
9. Tape the Label Closed
Remove the original wrapper of the chocolate bar, being sure to keep the foil wrapper in place and undisturbed. Use a small piece of double sided tape to stick the label to itself on the backside snugly.
And there you have it, your own custom family history themed chocolate bar! It’s ready to tuck into a Christmas stocking, use at your next family reunion, or at any other time you want to tickle someone’s sweet tooth and share memories.
More DIY Stocking Stuffer Design ideas
I promised you more examples of these Sweet Memories candy bars. Here are some from my Genealogy Gems Podcast listeners.
I love the vignette styling Judy gave her family history photos.
Genealogy Gems Podcast listener Judy shared her version of the Sweet Memories stocking stuffer candy bar.
And this listener took this DIY idea and used it to create candy bar treats for her family reunion. What makes these SO unique is that she used a family heirloom crocheted blanket for her background image. (How clever is that?!) She spread the blanket over the bed of a scanner to make a digital image of that she could use on the label.
Click here for more family reunion ideas.
Get more DIY project here at Genealogy Gems. You’ll also find great heritage crafting ideas–including photo displays and heritage quilts–on my Pinterest boards. If you enjoyed this idea I’ll hope you’ll share via Pinterest or Facebook. Did you like this idea and do you have other suggestions for a new spin on it or a favorite DIY family history project? I’d love to hear it so please leave a comment below.
A new tool at Ancestry DNA is blowing my genealogy mysteries wide open!
I have been up since 5:30 with plenty of goals and ambitions for today. But I got distracted. Distracted by a new tool at AncestryDNA that is blowing my genealogy mysteries wide open.
The new tool AncestryDNA Common Matches tool is hiding between the “Pedigrees and Surnames” filter and the “Map and Locations” filter on your matches’ main match page. The Common Matches tool pulls out the shared 4th cousin or higher matches between two people.
Let’s take a look at how this might work for you.
Let’s say you have a second cousin, Denise, that you have already identified in the Ancestry database and you know your common ancestral couple is Joseph and Louise Mitchell. You want to gather others who share DNA with both you and Denise. Those individuals then have a high likelihood of being related to Joseph and Louise in some way.
So we click on the “Shared Matches” button on Denise’s page and find that Mike, Spencer, and Wendy all have DNA in common with you and Denise. After reviewing pedigree charts, you are able to determine that Mike is related through Louise’s sister and Wendy is related through Joseph’s brother. Note that Wendy’s actual relationship to you is not 4th cousin, as it is shown, but she is actually your 3rd cousin once removed. Remember that the relationship given is not always the exact relationship of two people who have been tested.
But what about Spencer? Spencer, unfortunately has not yet linked his family tree to his Ancestry account or answered any of your queries about his family tree. I am sure he has just been busy. Or he doesn’t know his family tree. Or his computer was captured by aliens or smashed by his two-year-old grandson just as he was about to click “send” and reveal how the two of you were connected. Whatever the case may be, up until this point you haven’t heard a peep from Spencer and therefore had absolutely no way to figure out how Spencer was related to you.
But now you know that he is somehow associated with the Joseph and Louise Mitchell family because he came up as In Common With (ICW) you and Denise.
We can take this one step further and ask Ancestry to show us who has DNA ICW you and Spencer. You can see here that while Mike still remains, Wendy has dropped off the list. Now there are two possible explanations for this: The first is that Spencer is related through Louise’s parents, John and Sarah, and that is why he is not sharing DNA with Wendy.
The other, less likely, possibility is that Spencer is related through Joseph’s parents Louis and Mary, but doesn’t share enough DNA with Wendy to be detected on this test.
While this information is helpful, it still hasn’t completely solved the case. The first thing you should do with your new-found knowledge is start sending more pointed questions to your matches. Here is an example message you might send to Spencer:
I was just playing around with the new AncestryDNA Common Matches tool and I see that you are related to a few of my other matches that connect through Joseph and Louise Mitchell. Louise’s parents, John and Sarah Marsh, were both born in Mississippi in the 1840’s and Joseph’s parents Joseph and Mary Mitchell, were born in Tennessee in 1856 and 1863 respectively.
Do any of these names or places sound familiar to you?
I am looking forward to working with you on this connection.
Your DNA Cousin, Diahan”
Assuming this garners a response, you can then work together to find your connection. If his budget is not allowing for a new computer at this time and you never hear from Spencer, the key to figuring out how he is related to you may be in the new match, Beth, who is ICW you and Spencer. If you can figure out how Beth is related to you, you will know Spencer is related in a similar way.
If you’ve decided you would like to get in the DNA game, start with Ancestry DNA: Genetic Testing – DNA Test, and then head over to AncestryDNA and start growing your genetic family tree!
For a little more guidance, I suggest you purchase my laminated quick guides, “Understanding AncestryDNA and “Understanding Family Tree DNA.” These are also available as a part of a complete bundle of DNA guides specifically designed to help you navigate your results at the leading genetic genealogy testing companies. Click here to see all our DNA quick guides.
Every Friday, we blog about new genealogy records online. Do any collections below relate to your family history? Please share with your genealogy buddies or with societies that might be interested!
ALABAMA MARRIAGES. Over 700,000 indexed records and accompanying images were added to FamilySearch’s free collection of Alabama county marriage records, 1809-1950. Click here for coverage and a description of the records.
DENMARK PROPERTY RECORDS. Nearly 1.4 million digitized images of deeds and mortgages for South Jutland, Denmark (1572-1928) are newly browsable for free at FamilySearch. Property owner and resident, land transfer dates, and other details of land transactions may be noted. The records are in Danish; the collection description links to tips on reading them.
ENGLAND (STAFFORDSHIRE) PARISH RECORDS. Over 1.2 million records were added to Findmypast’s collection of Staffordshire, England parish registers, an ongoing project to put 6 million records online. Among these records are baptisms, marriages, marriage banns (announcements of intentions to marry) and burials.
OKLAHOMA MAPS AND NEWSPAPERS. The Oklahoma Historical Society has scanned and placed online nearly 2000 maps from among its collection of more than 15,000 maps dating since 1820. Search their full catalog of maps (including Sanborn and other genealogically-helpful maps) here. Additionally, the Gateway to Oklahoma History provides free browsable access to a growing number of digitized newspaper pages from the 1840s to the 1920s.
Keep up on new genealogy records available online by subscribing to our free weekly e-newsletter! You’ll receive a free e-book on Google search strategies for genealogy when you subscribe. Just enter your email address in the box on the upper right hand corner of this page. Thank you for sharing this page with anyone who will want to know about these records!
Recently I heard from Carol in St. Louis, Missouri, who was frustrated that she couldn’t read my entire email newsletter. “Would love to know what you are saying,” she says. But my newsletter email doesn’t fit in her email window. “I don’t want to toggle to the right to see the end of each line and then have to toggle back.”
The good news I shared with Carol is that she could fix this problem–and so can anyone else who has trouble with emails not fitting in their viewers.
Email sizing is related to your computer’s screen resolution setting, and a variety of other variables. It’s different for everyone. 98% of our readers see the email perfectly fitted to their screen.
As you can see in the screen shot here, the email Carol forwarded me appears neatly and completely in my email window in my browser. (I’m on a PC using Firefox.) In cases where it doesn’t come through to your email account that way, we provide a link at the top of the email that you can simply click to view the email on a new web browser tab fitted to the page.
Want to receive our free email newsletter? Just sign up in the box in the upper right-hand corner of this webpage or on the Genealogy Gems home page. It’s free, we don’t share your email address with anyone else, and you get a free e-book of Google tips for genealogy just for signing up.
This just in! Google Scholar and ProQuest are teaming up to provide a publicly-accessible index to all of ProQuest’s scholarly journal content. Google Scholar already delivers search results on your favorite genealogy keywords (names, places and records) from scholarly publications like dissertations, academic articles and more. (Click here to read my blog post about Google Scholar for genealogy.)
Now the search experience will become more powerful and inclusive. According to a press release, “ProQuest will enable the full text of its scholarly journal content to be indexed in Google Scholar, improving research outcomes. Work is underway and the company anticipates that by the third-quarter of 2015, users starting their research in Google Scholar will be able to access scholarly content via ProQuest.”
“ProQuest has rich, vast content that advances the work of researchers, scholars and students,” blogged the CEO of ProQuest. “Respecting the different ways researchers and librarians choose to conduct their research is essential to ensuring that content is simple to discover and use. We know Google Scholar is a popular starting point for researchers of all kinds. Our teamwork with Google will enable these patrons to be automatically recognized as authenticated ProQuest users and seamlessly link to their ProQuest collections, where they can connect with full-text scholarly content.”
It appears that there will still be a charge to access copyright-protected material (“authenticated ProQuest users” in the quote above are those that have access via a ProQuest subscription). According to the press release, “Users who are not recognized will be sent to a landing page with the abstract or an image of the first page, protecting all rights holders. To read full text, the users will authenticate themselves. There is nothing for libraries to set up – the linking will be seamless and automatic.”
Learn more about using Google Scholar and other advance Google search techniques to discover your family history online in The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition. The newly-updated and fully-revised book is available now!