Latter-day Saint Life

President and Sister Oaks on Ancestor Parties and Other Fun Ideas to Connect with Family History


On March 3, President and Sister Oaks sat together as keynote speakers in the closing session of the 2018 RootsTech conference—the largest family history conference in the world.

President and Sister Oaks shared stories of their ancestors' lives, as well the ways these ancestors have inspired them over the years. They also shared a few ideas that any of us can try for involving ourselves and our loved ones in family history.

Have an Ancestor Party

President and Sister Oaks shared how they had a “Stella Party” for their grandkids. Stella was President Oaks’ mother, and many of his grandchildren never had the chance to meet her.  In order to share the light and influence of this wonderful woman, President and Sister Oaks decided to host a party dedicated to Stella.

The party involved yellow invitations, yellow party decorations, and reading from the bright yellow cover of Stella’s biography because yellow was her favorite color. The party guests were also encouraged to wear hats, because, according to Deseret News, Stella was “never seen without one.” They also displayed photos and told stories from Stella’s life, and each guest left the party with their very own copy of Stella’s biography.

How might you host your own “Stella Party” with your family? First, pick an ancestor that you and your family would like to celebrate and get to know better. Next, brainstorm unique attributes of this family member or their favorite things. Like President and Sister Oaks, you might center the party around their favorite color or item of clothing. You might also think about serving their favorite food or a dish they made often. You could theme it around the era they were born, a significant event in their life, or one of their favorite hobbies.

Get creative, but remember that the most important part of any ancestor party is sharing photos and stories from their life with those you love.

Create a Family History Book

At RoostTech, President Oaks said that he’s written three family history books—the biographies of both of his parents and a history of his ancestors that crossed the plains as Mormon pioneers. He and his wife have also created a book of family stories called, Tell Me a Story.

“We have learned that to be remembered family stories need to be retold again and again,” Sister Oaks said, according to Deseret News. “We recommend that everyone create their own family history book.”

Creating a family history book may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a project that families can enjoy working on together on Sundays, during family home evenings, or as part of family reunions.  A family history book doesn’t need to be fancy. It could be as simple as having your child draw illustrations for a family history story you tell them at bedtime or sliding photos and text into an online photo book template.

Find Names to Take to the Temple

As part of their presentation, President and Sister Oaks had their great-granddaughter Kaitlin share her experience learning to find names and take them to the temple. She explained that although she was hesitant to get started, thinking that family history was just for old people and that there wouldn’t be much for her to do, she found that it was actually a lot of fun and that learning about her ancestors has given her added courage and strength.

“As we unite in this sacred work, we discover the existence and great qualities of those who have gone before, we gather them into our hearts and the binding links of our family organizations, and we connect them into eternal families through the ordinances of the temple,” President Oaks said, according to Deseret News. "Our logging onto FamilySearch is far more rewarding than logging onto Facebook."

If you haven't yet explored FamilySearch, you'll be amazed by all it has to offer. In addition to providing incredible resources for researching ancestors and facilitating taking their names to the temple, and the Family Tree app boast discovery activities such as "compare-a-face," where you can take a snapshot of yourself and see which of your ancestors you get your looks from, tools for recording family stories and uploading them to a family member's FamilySearch page right from your phone, and an interactive map that allows you to see family events, such as births, marriages, and burials, that have happened near your location. 

Lead image from Deseret News

You can watch President and Sister Oaks keynote presentation here and get even more ideas and inspiration on getting involved with family history.

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