For the main part of the gift, I did a family geneology. Ancestry.com was an invaluable resource. By browsing their online archives, I traced two sides of the family back to the early 1600s. You can view and print various birth, marriage and death records, emigration lists, news articles and other glimpes in to your ancestor's lives. Due to privacy legislation in the 1900s, most of this information is pre-1930s. This all will be a huge surprise to my mother who never knew anything beyond her grandparent's names. Then on Etsy I found this blank ancestry chart to fill in:
I also bought some vintage catalogues on Ebay; one for the year my mother was born, one for early adolescence, and one from her years as a parent. I think it's a hoot to browse through these and see how styles and prices have changed over time.
I wonder if she ever had these toys?
Did she dress this way?
Ebay had a huge selection of old magazines also. I found a couple that I hope represented the teen trends of her time (yep, that's Sonny and Cher circa 1967!)
And finally, I collected some of her favorite books from childhood in old editions at local booksellers. She always tells stories of playing for hours with paper dolls as a little girl. I made some gift bags for the books out of this quaint fabric.
It's the kind of gift I like to give. Something you can't buy at the store, and that was as much fun to make as it was to give. (Okay, more fun. I guarantee I poured over every catalogue before wrapping them up, and enjoyed the geneology search more than I can say!)