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Don't silence Granny with a sherry this Christmas

  • Over half of Brits regret not making the most of their time with their grandparents
  • For 22% Christmas is the one time the whole family gets together
  • Tips on what to ask Granny this Christmas
  • Start Your Family Tree Week runs from Boxing Day to 1st January

Brits wish they spent more time with their grandparents and older relatives, but many don't know what to talk to them about, according to a joint study by leading family history sites and Sadly, not spending enough time together is regretted by over half (54%) of people whose older relatives are no longer alive, and 59% of those whose are.

For almost a quarter (22%) of Brits, Christmas is the one time of year the whole family gets together. While many have close and special relationships with their older relatives, 10% only see them at Christmas or other big events, and 14% often stick to small talk as they don't know what to say.

On average Brits are in contact with their older relatives almost twice a week, but the nation would like to do more - particularly the younger half. Almost three quarters (70%) of 18-34 year olds wish they spent more time together, compared to 39% of over 55's. The younger age group also prefer sitting down with their relatives and talking face-to-face (49%) compared to that of over 55's who would much rather pick up the telephone for a catch up (59%). One in four (24%) with older relatives wished they made the most of their knowledge by asking more questions.

Questions you could ask Granny this Christmas:

  • What was my mum/dad like as a child?
  • Does [occupation/character trait] run in the family?
  • What were your grandparents like, where did they live and what did they do?
  • What was your favourite item of clothing/ place to go when you were in your twenties?
  • What did you do during WWII?

Rhoda Breakell, head of, commented: "If you're unsure of what to talk to your older relatives about this Christmas, just remember the one thing you do have in common is family. Asking questions about their experiences and sharing memories is a fantastic conversation starter over the roast turkey, and will probably see you right through to pudding! So rather than silencing Granny with a sherry, or talking about the weather, make the most of the get-together and unlock your family's past."

Start Your Family Tree Week runs from the 26th December until the 1st January and encourages people to learn more about their past and family history. With Christmas around the corner, this is the perfect time for many to catch up with family and tap into these memories.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, said: "Start Your Family Tree Week is an ideal time to start exploring your family history, whether it's tracing great-grandparents' names, searching military records or even discovering that you have a famous inventor in the family. The internet has made it so much easier to trace your family tree and learn about your family's own unique story, full of colourful, real-life characters from the past. Every family has its intrigues, well-kept secrets and heart-warming tales."


Note to editors

* Research carried out on behalf of by Opinium Research via an online survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,014 people from the 6th to the 8th December 2011.

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Notes to the Editor - About Genes Reunited

Genes Reunited was launched in 2002 as a sister-site to the Internet phenomenon Friends Reunited. Since then it has grown to become the UK's largest genealogy website.

It marked a revolution in genealogy and ancestry by combining them with Internet social-networking. Members are able to build their family tree by posting it on the site and investigating which ancestors they share with other members. They can also search historical records such as census, birth, death, marriage and military records.

It currently has over 11 million members and over 750 million names listed. One new name is added to the site every single second.