30/05/2014 11:54 BST | Updated 30/07/2014 06:59 BST

Time to Start Planning Your Genealogy Tricks for Those Summer Family Gatherings

Time to start planning your genealogy tricks for those summer family gatherings

Ah yes, it's summertime! A time for family gatherings of all sorts! Family reunions, picnics, and impromptu get togethers of all sorts! Each and every one of these can be a perfect time for your genealogy and family history story-gathering efforts! Stories, memories, tidbits, and more are the perfect way to enhance your family tree!

However, if your family is like mine, sometimes (?) when I start to talk about family history and genealogy it begins to look a bit like hide and seek with nearly everybody looking for a place to get away and hide.

In order to counteract this apparent aberration, I have learned to come to these gatherings genealogically forearmed. I plan my strategy and develop a plan of action so I can gather some of my beloved stories, family trivia, etc. with everyone in attendance hardly noticing at all, or at least while they have fun helping me out.

The following is one of my favorite methods I employ to glean some nice information that will really make our family trees more interesting and everyone can have fun at the same time.

Plus it is an easy, quick game that can be played by family members of all ages!

I take a sheet of paper and title it "Favorites".

Then down the left margin I list the following single sentence several times:

My favorite ____________ is: ___________________________________________

I fill in the first set of blanks the same for each person with category words such as food, song, musical group, movie, musical, TV show, book, vacation spot, sport, hobby, famous person, color, saying, invention, and so on.


Then I hand out one to each person at the gathering and ask them to fill it out.

Then I collect them all. Mix them up and a bit later on in the day I hand them back out at random. I often hand them back out between the meal and dessert informing folks that there will be no dessert until we finish this little game. It seems to be quite a nice motivator. Then, depending on how well the folks know each other, I either have each person read the paper they have aloud for the group and have the reader try and guess who filled it in; or I have them read it aloud and have the whole group try and guess whose paper it was. When the person is properly identified I ask that their name be put on the back.

The game is a whole lot of fun for everyone, no matter what their ages, and guess what the best part is?

I keep them all and attach the answers to each person's profile in our electronic family tree. So not only does everyone have a fun time with this 'game', but I get some great information to add that gives me a lot of wonderful detail about several family members' favorite things in life.

As an indication that everyone enjoyed the game, more often than not I am asked if I would compile all the answers and send them out to everyone so they can re-read and enjoy them all again at their leisure.

It is truly a win-win-win situation.

So this summer when you pack up the picnic basket, don't forget the pasty, the hardboiled eggs, and the family game of 'Favorites'.