5 Thanksgiving Activities to Add Family History to Your Thanksgiving Day Menu

Family taking about family history as a thanksgiving activity.

With Thanksgiving Day coming up, millions of us will soon dig into Thanksgiving and all of its tasty traditions. As you gather with family and friends, consider incorporating family history into your Thanksgiving activities. These 5 tips for adding family history to your holiday menu will surely bring you closer to your loved ones as you gather together this holiday season.

Please Pass the Yams—and the App

We often assume that because we adore the Family Tree mobile app, everyone we know must also be in love with its many fun features and innovations. But as you gather around the table on Thanksgiving Day, take a survey of who’s familiar with the app and who’s not. You might be surprised to discover that some tech-shy loved ones have been intimidated by the notion of doing family history from a smartphone. They might not even be aware the app exists. Gasp!

Passing potatoes at thanksgiving dinner table.

The solution is simple. As you pass the yams, or whatever your favorite side dish might be, ask if you can help your tablemates install the app and get signed in. Then sit back and smile as they enjoy making digital family connections around the family dinner table.

Download the Family Tree App for Free

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Use “Relatives Around Me” for a Delicious Discovery

Once your family and friends are all using the Family Tree app, and perhaps just before scooping another serving of mashed potatoes, introduce your guests to the “Relatives Around Me” feature. One of the most popular innovations on the app, this tool will reveal who’s in the same family tree, which husband and wife just might be eighth cousins, and which in-laws you never imagined might be relatives. This makes for a great Thanksgiving activity to connect everyone at the dinner table in ways they never knew possible.

The real fun comes if you discover that friends and neighbors gathered around—even those you’ve just met—live just a few branches away from you on your family tree.

Grandmother and granddaughter enjoy thanksgiving activities.

Make Memories as You Share Memories

Using the app, or even the desktop version if you’re brave enough to bring your laptop to the dinner table, share the memories that have been posted about your relatives on FamilySearch Memories. This feature allows you to add journal entries, photos, obituaries, and more for free to your ancestors’ profiles. For a great Thanksgiving activity, take turns going around the table sharing something special from one ancestor each.

Don’t have any memories added to any of your ancestors’ profiles yet? Add them on the spot! Using the FamilySearch Memories app, you can record yourself telling a favorite story about a dearly departed loved one and capture it in real time. In a matter of seconds, you will have shared an audio memory that your guests will enjoy immediately and that the world will discover forever on your relative’s FamilySearch profile.

No App, No Problem

If your family has a no tech at the table policy, don’t despair. A great, simple family history Thanksgiving activity is to take turns sharing stories about your ancestors. Just because you’ve heard it 22 times, don’t assume everyone else at the table has heard the one about your late great-uncle Eddie getting his Chevy truck stuck in the muck in Memphis. Did Elvis really dig him out of the mud? No one knows, but the story will add flavor to any Thanksgiving meal.

Sharing these family stories, from the hilarious to the heartbreaking, is a reminder of why we gather in the first place. And even if the stories are never added to the Memories app, they’ll always be posted in our hearts.

Mother and son make thanksgiving pie together while sharing family stories.

No Goals—No Pie

Before diving into dessert, consider making individual and group goals for your family history. Maybe some at the table have completed family fan charts that go 4 generations deep. Perhaps others think a fan chart is what you use to decide who sits where in the living room for the annual Thanksgiving Day NFL game featuring Dallas or Detroit.

Goals matter. So, wherever you are on your family history journey, set some goals for the year ahead, and share them proudly with one another. Then when you’re back around the turkey table a year from now, you’ll have even more to discuss.

And, if you’re lucky, maybe someone will share that Uncle Eddie story again.

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