Think outside of the box when it comes to honoring mothers with a gift that lasts for generations

Think outside of the box when it comes to honoring mothers with a gift that lasts for generations

Sacramento : CA : USA | May 04, 2012 at 1:48 PM PDT
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A family multimedia time capsule makes a great Mother's Day Present because it can be added on to with each generation or even annually. This longer-lasting Mother's Day keepsake album in both digital multimedia and printed text format is a time-capsule of family history with a family history newsletter that can be added to, and photos in digital and print form. If you don't have money to give your parents a gift, offer them a family newsletter or a time capsule full of memories and events with scanned photos.

A gift for Mother's Day that can be passed to future generations each year and be added to is one more way multimedia can be used in various formats as an add-on gift. In 100 years from now, think how many children would love to view a video, audio, and print multi-media memorabilia keep sake album of great, great grandma talking to future descendants that haven't even been born yet.

Give mom an oral or video recorded history multimedia time capsule - keepsake album - and family newsletter that can be added to and then handed to the next generation of mothers. All you need is a half hour of recorded talking by mom or any other relative speaking about the highlights of mom's life story. It can be video, audio or both.

Then you add photos or copies of photos, written favorites such as family recipes, poems, or diary quotes, and any memorabilia you want to include in the time capsule from family medical history to wedding and baby photos. Next you include the latest update of family events through a digital and print family 'annual' newsletter. It all goes into a keepsake album--multimedia--that you gift wrap and present to mom.

Thinking outside the box by designing an intergenerational time capsule for Mother's Day

Sacramento has a genealogy library section in the main branch public library downtown. You also might slip in a gift for mom to have her genealogy researched or you could research her family history yourself in the public library or at Sacramento Regional Family History Center. A Mother's Day time capsule keeps on giving.

You might even check out the Afternoon Public Classes or the Evening Public Classes for mom or for yourself to learn more about mom's genealogy for the Mother's Day time capsule project you can prepare in a few days. Start by interviewing mom or grandma on life story events, turning points, or highlights. Use video or audio and present mom with the recording followed by photos of family members that may be mentioned in the recording.

Turn the time capsule into a multimedia presentation using diaries, memories, and memorabilia or photos of the important turning points, such as wedding pictures, baby photos, or text, music, images and voice recordings in a "this is your life" family newsletter and keepsake album for mom. The clincher is to make this time capsule so that more information in the form of a family newsletter--digital and/or in print--can be added onto each year with input from various family members and/or friends.

Instead of flowers that wither unless they're pressed between the pages of a diary, give mom a genealogy map and family history scroll along with a recorded and transcribed life story highlight interview. Make a multimedia presentation that mom can look at in print and photos as well as on disc that can be played on a DVD machine and looked at on the TV screen or on a personal computer.

The goal is a time capsule than can be used each year and then given to the next generation of moms. That way no one will forget great grandma's life story highlights, turning points, and events. See how thinking outside the box or album can be so much more rewarding to mom than a dozen roses and a box of sugary chocolates that won't last more than a few days?

A time capsule is practically forever as each generation transfers the original technology to the new media. For examples, a VHS tape becomes a DVD, and a generation later the DVD becomes a flash drive and is put up on a website so the whole world of relatives and/or friends can share from most any geographic location.

Supplement the time capsule family multimedia newsletter with a Skype or other video conference family reunion for mother's day

You can wrap the gift and present it in the form of a disc such as a DVD enclosed with a keepsake album such as a photo album, notebook, and diary book of pages, either blank or started with the latest annual newsletter transcribed or printed out. And add the transcript or print/text form of the annual family newsletter just in case mom's technology is different than yours.

The keepsake time capsule will outlast any bouquet of cut flowers or box of chocolates because it lives outside the box of usual Mother's Day gifts such as flowers, chcolate, pajamas, gift cards to the local spa or massage salon, or similar gifts you see advertised. And it even outlasts the latest digital gadget such as a smart phone or large print computer keyboard. Such a family newsletter time capsule will get presented to the next generation when the youngest child becomes a parent or when a relative requests the life story highlights of your mom.

Create a family newsletter and time capsule in both digital and print formats that include memorabilia or photos of memorabilia, writing, family recipes, medical information, results of DNA tests for ancestry, genealogy, recorded video or audio life story interviews, and copies of photos depicting the life from childhood to parenthood of your mom. To this add the annual family newsletter in digital or multimedia form and printed out so that each year new information can be added as the children and grandchildren grow up.

Think of how many gift problems you can solve with family newsletters in print or better yet, with photos, video, and other multimedia images, poetry read aloud, and music. For ideas and instruction on how to make a time capsule family newspaper in digital form and/or in print, browse the paperback book, See, Creating Family Newsletters & Time Capsules - IUniverse.

Family newsletters in multimedia can go to all ages for Mother's Day. Genealogy and family history is the second most popular hobby in the USA. The first most popular hobby is gardening. And often family history news involves communication about growing vegetables in the backyard and family plans for annual reunions.

Seniors particularly enjoy the annual family history news. And children like to participate in creating the publications. It's an intergenerational activity that can be done at home, in schools, or at senior centers.

If you make a multimedia time capsule, it will shine as both an annual family newsletter and a gift box of memories and joy. Load it up with photos, audio recordings, video clips, images, children's art work, family medical histories called genograms to pass on to future generations, and old wedding videos or vacations video clips. Microsoft has a free template online for digital family newsletters. Check out Microsoft's simple newsletter template to get started. Also see, Make headlines! Create a family newsletter - Microsoft Home Magazine.

Without using a computer, you can make handwritten family newsletters from templates and involve children in family newsletter design for that annual publication at birthdays, events, and holidays or when announcing reunions. Make a cut-out template of an animal shape, hand, or round object such as a plate, or other shape that will fit into a 10 x 12 inch envelope for mailing.

Have children write on it or draw pictures. If you want to stay away from mailing dozens of these handwritten newsletters that you photocopy, then stick with digital newsletters or print them out from templates on your computer. It's basically the postage and envelope costs that add up. Digital newsletters can be printed out and mailed or sent to those without computers.

You might wish to send a video or audio on a CD or DVD for those who want to watch or listen instead of read. Newsletters on DVDs capable of being played on DVD players are also great annual family gifts for those who prefer that media to computers.

If you want to go for a short newsletter instead of a multimedia time capsule, leave out the medical histories for another publication sent separately, and focus only on the joyful events, memories, and reminiscing. The three cheapest gifts and the most cherished, valued, and passed to the next generation are keepsake albums, annual family newsletters, multimedia time capsules, and family genograms.

The fourth cheapest gift for parents is the scrap book of photos called the keepsake album. What you do is make your own scrap book from wood, metal, or cardboard and cover it with fabric and decorations such as paste-ons, buttons, or ribbons. Choose any fabric or crochet/knit a piece of cloth and cover cardboard or a loose leaf binder with the fabric. Laminate over the fabric to keep it from getting eaten by bugs during the next century, and fill it with copies of photos you have in your own photo album or scrap book.

To make a multimedia keepsake album, add videos with text translations printed on parchment paper. That way, if in the future there's no way to transfer those DVDs to the next technology development, at least the text translation is there to read. Include a CD with audio recording of the video so at least the voice is preserved.

This gives the next generation family the opportunity to have the DVD of the video and the CD of the audio memories of family history transferred or converted to the newest technology. It would be similar to taking those old phonograph records and transferring them to a digital recorder, then saving them as files in your computer to be saved on other technologies such as flash drives. All this would change in the future as technology changes frequently.

What stays around are text transcriptions of what's on the video or audio and pictures. Those can be preserved on parchment or acid-free paper. All these gifts can be made from materials you probably have in your home right now, at little cost to you. Parents love the gift of fond memories of various turning points and significant events in the lives of their children or in their own lifetime. Memories cost little to preserve, if you take the time for a little creativity. A time capsule, a family newsletter, or a gift box that you call a prayer box costs little.

To make a prayer box, use any type of box and cover it with fabric. Then laminate over the fabric so it can be easily cleaned and protected from worms and bugs if stored in the garage as generations go by. Another cheap gift is a book of your autobiography, hand-crafted, binded by hand, and laminated against wormholes. Just take your diary or write your parent's life story or your own. Put in all the good memories and joys of life you want your parents to remember about you or about themselves. Leave out your anger. Keep the gift joyful.

Memoirs are cheap to put on a disk as an e-book and print out on paper. You can make up a professional book out of your parent's life story and have it printed as a book with a professional-looking paperback cover at no cost to you at Then you can buy a copy for each of your parents of the book at a price you set, such as six dollars or ten dollars. The book could have your parent's photo on the cover or your own art work, or a photo of a creative project your parent's made.

As long as the book is at least 42-48 pages, it makes a pretty inviting soft-covered book. You don't pay anything to turn the memoirs into a book, and set your own price to buy it. The book looks professional, same as you'd see in a bookstore. There are several sites online where you can produce a book for personal use at no cost to you and then just buy one or two copies of the book at a price you set. Check out those sites such as or's

At those sites, among others, you can publish not only a book of your parent's life story, diary, turning points, significant events, or memoirs, but you also can create DVDs, CDs, and various multimedia that you or anyone else in the world can buy. The result is professional-looking. It's a great gift that doesn't cost anything to create online. Another cheap gift for parents is the annual family newsletter either in print or multimedia, put on a DVD that they can play in their DVD player, and watch on their TV screen, even if they don't use a computer.

Multimedia Family History Newsletters Online and On Disk or Flash Drive

Tired of only paper print annual family newsletters? Try multimedia--video with text, music, voice, and pictures. Put warmth, kindness, and inspiration into photos, video, and text to cheer up viewers and readers. The annual family video and print newsletter, handwritten newsletter template using circles for messages and squares for photos, or a photo and text calendar delivers energy through celebration of life.

Use a new, dramatic viewpoint, what’s called a fresh news angle. It’s something so new that viewers learn information that can be used in a different way. Make multimedia newsletters. It’s like discovering hidden markets or exploring new patterns and spaces. What are the unique qualities of your information? Contrast and balance the dynamic imagery.

What actions can you use?

Emphasize How Visionary Events Changed the Future in Brief Life Story Experiences

Emphasize what the family (or corporate) tradition represents. How do visionary events, change, the future, and reality contrast or compare with solidarity, energy, roots, genealogy, and tradition? How does it all work together as energy and character that provide the foundation of the family or corporation? These tips can be used both for video or print family newsletters and corporate case history success story newsletters.

  1. Children: Have each child write about what they have done or are doing on an annual basis. If the child is too young, summarize in a short paragraph any updates.
  2. Parents: Keep a separate business newsletter for updates on your business. Decide whether you want to talk about acts of kindness, promote yourself or your achievements, or ask about others. What’s left to discuss? Repairing the house? Choose a topic you want to emphasize that is universal, simple, and about values and commitment or teach a new subject to your readers with universal appeal with which they all can identify.
  3. Information: How efficient and effective is your news information? Be informative rather than directive. Present information instead of giving them directions as commands. What are you expert at?What are you beginning to study that eventually you will have acquired expertise? What do you have time to do and write about that is not overwhelming you with overwork?
  4. Shorten Text: Use large page margins on your newsletter text. Keep videos to 7 minutes before you break for another topic so viewers can pause. On videos, don’t read from a script. Talk into the camera.
  5. Charisma: Be passionate, enthusiastic, and charismatic in your writing. Use humor and jokes in good taste. Use the element of surprise for humor, not disdain. Instead of flat writing, emphasize acts of kindness you and your children have done.
  6. Kindness: What behavior helps your writing to be more animated rather than flat in tone and mood or texture? Each act of kindness measures a range of change in your growth. Emphasize the range of change as forward movement. Let your newsletter “pay it forward” as it has been said in support groups, by encouraging readers to keep passing forward the acts of kindness to others as a choice for growth, change, and vision.
  7. Balance: Each topic should be equal in length or at least balanced. Don’t write the entire newsletter about one topic and then squeeze in a paragraph on another issue.
  8. Relationships: Explain and define who each person is. Put a date on each event or photo along with the name and the relationship. Example: This is a photo of ABCD, my paternal niece taken on July 4, 2006, at the World’s Fair in EFGH, California.
  9. Scrapbooks on DVDs: Decide whether you want your newsletter in text and on a CD or DVD or in print/paper/text form with different information from an interview or life story highlights placed on DVDs or CDs that you enclose with the paper newsletter. Or would you send the newsletter as a PDF file by email? A document file? Mailed in an envelope as a paper? Or saved on DVD as text along with video, with the print edition mailed together? Provide formats such that anyone can read the dated information with or without a machine to play the disc.
  10. Time Capsules of Humor: Use uplifting, tasteful jokes, poems, art, video, writing, life story highlights,and volunteer work experiences to connect your extended family to community service which extends your family of humankind’s accomplishments even further. Create an annual time capsule from your conception of an annual family newsletter or video newsletter. The time capsule then becomes an heirloom that can be conserved and preserved for future generations catalogued by year.

What to Include: Extended Families’ News:

Your family video or print newsletter can be a gift for your own parents or if you don't have relatives, a business that you do for other clients. Decide whether you’d like to do corporate case histories and success stories or family history and genealogy as newsletters either in print and text paper or on DVDs and CDs or all of these for all types of clients-family, corporate, or professional, educational/institutional.

The family newsletter, usually an annual publication, can also become a professional newsletter you could do for a business or for someone else's gift to their own parents, to earn some money. You could write an annual corporate success story with case histories for a business and focus on a medical or legal practice, for example, or other professional.

A business newsletter can emphasize the work of a corporation, its history, or an individual business. One example would be the work of a contractor or developer, architect, or independent teacher, dentist, engineer, computer programmer, artist, musician, author, consultant, or life, job, and image coach.

Family newsletters could reach out to extended families or include alumni reunions, genealogy and DNA-driven family history and ancestry surname groups. You choose your emphasis. Include more types of newsletters, whether DVD or text.

What to put into your video newsletter

  1. Significant events
  2. Life stories
  3. Travel photos
  4. Photos of events such as weddings, graduations, or grand openings
  5. News of births or childbirth video clips (leave out the gore)
  6. Summaries
  7. Jokes
  8. Memorabilia and trivia with useful facts, such as statistics
  9. Joy of life and fun events
  10. Wise sayings and original proverbs or quotes with source of origin
  11. Mourning and/or celebration of life events
  12. Hobbies, crafts, art, writings, poems
  13. Sports enjoyed
  14. Reading group: Start a family or corporate book club and discuss reading
  15. Old time radio clubs, public domain video, or exchanging gifts of purchased videos from stores
  16. Make your own family videos and exchange them—such as graduations and birthdays
  17. Celebrations marking rites of passage, anniversaries, cruises, or other events marking dates
  18. Scrap booking or quilting tips for those interested
  19. Poems and skits
  20. Monologues
  21. Genealogy and DNA-driven genealogy reports
  22. Food preferences or allergies
  23. Reunions and suggesting video conference reunions for those not able to travel
  24. Free courses to family members in what you are expert at doing
  25. Instruction in putting video on DVDs and CDs for family newsletters or desktop publishing tips for those who want to make their own newsletters
  26. Military experiences or war stories
  27. Survival stories
  28. Computer skill tips
  29. Making natural, non-toxic cleaning or bug repellents from household kitchen baking ingredients such as cinnamon, baking soda, vinegar, or cream of tartar
  30. Finding hidden markets for bargains of quality at better prices and activities

How Much Time to Spend on Each Newsletter

If you want to email a newsletter, use a template and follow the template’s guide. It will take you about two hours per issue for a two-page newsletter. Allow yourself an hour per page if you’ve already written the news and just need to cut and paste it from your computer file onto a newsletter template that you can email. Other choices include writing a newsletter as a personal letter.

If you use a newsletter template and print out each copy on your laser printer, it takes about six hours just to write the features for a standard newsletter of multiple pages. If your pages increase to the business type of eight-page newsletter, allow yourself at least one full day’s work.

This doesn’t include the time it takes to write the articles. That’s why putting life stories and memoirs on DVDs or CDs and including them in a little paper or plastic envelope in the newsletter, mailed in a protected, rigid mailer could allow you to summarize the events in the paper newsletter. You’d be brief, and let the speaker on the video tell the story in a half hour or even up to an hour. Remember that talking heads are difficult to pay attention to for more than seven minutes without a break or pause between files to click on.

How Many Copies? Is your annual video and text print newsletter, booklet, or time capsule destined for a small family, extended family, students and teachers, and the archives of a personal history/oral history university library or museum? If you’re sending your newsletter to dozens of people, upload it to the Web and let them download it.

Also offer it on a DVD or CD as well as in print as a document that can be emailed as a document file or as a PDF file to be read in Adobe Acrobat software. Readers can download the Adobe Acrobat reader free on the Web. The software reads PDF files.

The good point about PDF files is that you can typeset them like a book or newsletter using your template or saving any document as a PDF file. Otherwise, save your newsletter as a document file.

If you only have a few people to mail to, you can also use a Web site or you can make photo newsletters using an ink jet printer or color copier and mail them as paper newsletters. Include a DVD or CD anyway with talks, life story highlights, or other events that are recorded using video or even audio. People like to look at other people.

For relatives who have disabilities, use the appropriate format—video, audio, or print. For blind relatives, use the services of a Braille transcriber or save the document in a format that can be read on a computer using accessibility technology your relative already has.

Ask the person what format he or she prefers in which to receive a document. If you have too many relatives or clients for the expense of using a color copier for photos, print them out as black and white documents, or print black and white photos on flesh-colored paper. There are such conveniences as pre-printed paper, post card photos, and photos on tee shirts or mugs as gifts.

For short one-page newsletters, you can have newsletters with photos printed on tee shirts and offer them as gifts. Same can be said for framed plaques and other art objects. Poems may be framed. Short skits and monologues may be put on newsletters ranging from one to eight pages in length. It’s all about your budget.

Budget for the Annual Family History Newsletter

Email won’t cost you if you’re sending to many people, unless your email service provider charges for bulk email. Send the email one at a time to relatives or clients if you’re using the relatively ‘free’ email you normally use to send memos.

Send the email from home, not from work, unless you work for yourself at home. Post cards would only cost about $20 or less to design, but you’d have to print them out from a computer or send photos to a film developing or digital photography processing company to put on the postcards.

It costs about $35 to write a black and white newsletter and print it out to send to a few relatives. Count on about $75 for pre-printed stationary with color print. Talk to printers who do discount or print-on-demand publishing of newsletters. Take a course in desktop publishing at a local adult education center.

Four-page newsletters, the standard in business for corporate case history success stories cost $100 to $200 to prepare. You also need to fold them for mailing with pre-printed stamps or places for stamps to be pasted, and envelopes.

If you’re doing an eight-page newsletter, it will cost you more than double because first class postage is limited to one ounce. Be sure to check with your post office for current newsletter mailing rates. It might be less expensive to put audio or video clips on a CD or DVD. Save the audio as MP3 files to get more talk on one disc.

Photos, video, and text can go on any one DVD. Or, with less information, photos, video, and text can be placed on a CD. With DVDs costing only a dollar or so per disc, you might make frequent use of your camcorder by producing an annual newsletter on a DVD or CD in multimedia.

Defined, multimedia means photos, video, audio, text, and sounds such as music or talking all can be saved and played on one DVD or CD. You can play the disc on any computer or save it to the type of file that may be played on usual DVD players that play video.

CDs with audio and photos also can be sent as a newsletter along with text saved on the CD or mailed as print or both. If the person doesn’t have a computer at the other end, use paper, but if they have a DVD player, video brings people to life along with text. And video can be played generations after the relatives are gone. That’s why multimedia is a great time capsule. You can capture video, art, photos, text, music, voices, textures, tones, and moods.

Family Newsletters As Visual Anthropology: From Digital Scrap Book (Keepsake Album) Photos to Video Newsletters

When you crop, size, or edit photos, you trim them on your computer to fit your print or video newsletter template. Don’t waste space in your newsletter with tiny photos that can’t be seen when printed.

Print fewer, but larger photos, and don’t make them so large that you can see the grains. It’s best to use your photo digital imaging software to correct red eye or cut off an object above a head.

A photo also can be cut with a scissors and pasted on a sheet of paper, then scanned to get rid of plants growing out of a person’s head or other intrusive objects. Use two photos to tell a story. Edit out of a picture too much sky and crop the photo about a quarter inch over everyone’s head and below their feet. It saves space in your newsletter.

Choose your location before gathering the whole family reunion. Have the lighting in place before the people congregate. Don’t keep children waiting while you’re setting up.

You can put a short newsletter on reunion tee shirts and photograph the entire group in the same uniform or dress color or historic costume. For effect, if your ancestors arrived in prehistoric times, 1632, or today, you might photograph an entire reunion group of current descendants in costumes of those eras you choose to emphasize if each can afford to make historical wear—or plan unique food and modern dress.

Staging and photographing family or corporate reunions is a hobby or home-based business that may be done for a variety of clients. Photo scrapbooks may be turned into video, slide, and multimedia productions using templates you can buy from a store that sells software and craft or hobby items related to scrap booking or desktop publishing and digital video production.

Whatever you do for family newsletters, the same may be done for owners of pets who want to share in clubs or animal care. An example would be a club for a certain breed of dogs or cat fancier societies.

What’s important with print newsletters, is selecting the weight and feel of the paper. Talk to your local printer about types of paper used in newsletters. You want to communicate also using a type of paper—color, weight, and texture. Choose bright colors or delicate lace watermarks to convey the emotional tone of the newsletter.

Keep the paper light enough to have contrasting letters easy to see. Don’t let the color of the paper distract the reader from the photos and text. Postcards should be heavy enough to pass through the postal machines without tearing.

To send photos with a few paragraphs of news, use a fold over postcard sealed with a tape sticker. Never staple the card. It rips in the postal machinery. Keep the background paper light enough in color to show off the photos and text.

Collect templates. Some templates allow you to handwrite news and photocopy the handwritten messages in templates such as squares or circles placed decoratively on graphic art. Some look like cartoon bubbles for writing dialogue captions. Some circles let you write one sentence by hand in each circle. You can write six sentences on a page. Or you can reduce the font size and type a sentence in the template then cut and paste the text within the confines of a square or circle. The templates for handwritten news usually look like a greeting card with art in the center and circles or squares for you to write one sentence inside the dialogue boxes.

It resembles a greeting card or coloring book. Stationary supply, scrap booking stores, and craft shops sell these types of templates for handwritten news. For mailing newsletters, they also can be folded into origami shapes and mailed in round or unusual shaped mailers that conform to postal regulations for mailing. One example would be tube mailers for calendars and posters or round DVD and CD mailers for video newsletters.

Teachers and Students: Children and the Family Newsletter in the Schools

Illustrate your newsletters and DVDs with art made by children. If you don’t have children, you can ask to obtain written permission of a school or summer camp to let the class draw pictures of artwork on the theme of family and choose those to illustrate your newsletters or DVDs, including the covers for your DVD inserts.

You might want to visit classrooms or camps and talk to school assemblies on how to put together a family newsletter made by children ranging in grades from elementary through high school on the subject of intergenerational writing and illustration or family reunions and newsletter or DVD video design.

Children can make use of desktop publishing software, camcorders, or handwritten templates for family newsletters and greetings. Talk to local parent and teachers associations or the coordinator of authors in the schools projects in case you want to visit a school to give a talk. Have the children interview one another to create a family newsletter section for children.

Ask for the use of children’s art for illustrating and producing annual family newsletters. The outcome of this as a fresh news angle is that it promotes children’s participation in their own family or extended family traditions by helping them create a family newsletter. Children's art can be scanned as saved in computers or on disks then uploaded to newsletters. For further information, check out, Creating Family Newsletters & Time Capsules.

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Photo by Anne Hart - book: Creating Family Newsletters & Time Capsules.
Thinking outside the box for Mother's Day gifts can be a time capsule that can be added to and given to each future generation along with a family history newsletter printed out and a video or audio recorded life story highlights that future descendants would enjoy viewing/listening to as technology evolves--and can be transferred to other formats.
AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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