So now that you are all psyched about the upcoming television series Who Do You Think You Are? starting here in the United States on March 5, 2010 on the NBC network, are you also planning a viewing party?
Really? A Viewing Party?
Don’t laugh – I can just hear it now: “My friends already think I am weird for hanging around so many dead people. Why would they want to come over and watch a television show about it?”
Well, as I’ve been saying for the past few months, WDYTYA as well as Faces of America – the Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. series on PBS beginning February 10, 2010 – present an opportunity to bring in new family history enthusiasts and get them excited about genealogy. The last time there was such an opportunity was over a generation ago – in 1977 – with the broadcast of the television mini-series Roots. And back then, viewers didn’t have a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device to use to find their own ancestors.
Here are some ideas on how to hold a viewing party for either television show:
- How about a graphic with a family tree chart, the invitee’s name and then question marks for his or her ancestors?
- This time of year, in most locations it is easy to find a dead tree branch. Spray paint it gold, anchor it in a clay flower pot with sand and use it for a centerpiece.
- Carry the tree and leaf theme over to the tablecloth and napkins.
- If you need name tags, consider creating them in a leaf shape and them tie them to the tree centerpiece. When guests arrive, have them locate their name tag and ask them to wear it.
- If you have a family tree chart or other items created from your research, put them out for display. Let your guests see what the possibilities are when it comes to genealogy.
- Twigs and leaves are not suitable food for a party. Even if everyone is on a diet. Sorry.
- However if you wanted to make cookies using a leaf or a tree shape that would work. Or spiff up a simple dessert with hand-made chocolate leaves.
- One way to ease the burden of cooking is to have a pot-luck where party attendees bring a dish. Asking people to bring a favorite family dish that is part of their heritage would get people excited to share their own family history.
- Your guests might want a “take away” (something they can take home with them) so they can get started on their own journey of discovering their roots.
- Print up a colorful sheet listing the major online genealogy research sites and their trial offers such as ancestry.com‘s 14-day Free Trial.
- If you have old genealogy software or resources you aren’t using, consider making it available as a door prize or a give-away.
- Watching the show is the obvious activity for such a party!
- Lead a discussion by asking your guests what they know so far about their family history.
- Ask each person if there is a family mystery they would like to solve, possibly through genealogy research.
- Make your laptop, netbook or desktop computer available for folks to use to do some research. How do a quick demo on how easy it is to get started on ancestry.com or any of the other sites.
- If children will be present, consider an activity involving their family history to keep them busy. Check out the neat portable family tree magnetic game made by fellow genealogy blogger Michelina Hall as one example. And Missey Corley at Bayside Blog has lots of neat ideas as well!
So what are your ideas for a viewing party? Share them in the comments below.
© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee