After the first snow falls, the holiday spirit kicks into high gear and Christmas inches closer and closer. Even as the weather often sends an uncomfortable chill throughout our bodies, the holiday season brings with it the welcomed warmth of family.

As family members make the journey from every corner of the world to be with one another, the holiday season presents the chance to rain down love and gifts, but it also provides moments of togetherness that become rarer as our families get older and expand. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect your past and your present through your stacks of old photos.

Not sure of the best way to use your photos this Christmas? We have just the suggestions for you.

Photo via Flickr Photo via Flickr

Be a storyteller

We all have a story to tell and the photos we’ve taken only enhance our memories, adding context and visuals to our lives. It’s too bad most of our photos sit dormant on shelves, in boxes, or on our phone’s camera roll. Why not dust them off and share your past? We do plenty of sitting around during the holidays, but what if we made those moments together mean a little more?

Next time you find yourself surrounded by family, become your life’s narrator. Fetch an album or two off the bookshelf or out of the basement and really dive into the person you used to be. Don’t spare the details because your family deserves to know the real you.

Photo via Flickr. Photo via Flickr.

But don’t stop there. The holidays are also a great time to share and discover where you came from beyond the relatives you know. Use your old photos to propel conversations deep into your family tree. Where are your relatives from? What were they like? Were you or your siblings named after them? Not everyone has the resources available to fill in the gaps of their genealogy. By asking questions of or recounting the past, our children and grandchildren will have the power necessary to maintain our legacies for generations.

Create a photo book

Every Christmas your family took a trip to Mexico to escape the cold and now you are left with a mess of photos. You loved this specific vacation because it always brought out the best of your family. No fighting, no pettiness, just good times. There was something about being together in this place that made it that much more special. Why not combine all those memories into one convenient place to commemorate your annual highlight?

Photo via Flickr Photo via Flickr

Photo books like Shutterfly’s Custom Path Photo Book make organizing your photos, especially those with a common theme, super simple. It’s your book, so you can style it as you wish. In addition to selecting the images to include, you can design it in the style that best suits you and your photos.

Don’t feel comfortable designing it yourself? Shutterfly’s Make My Album service will pair you with a designer to create the perfect photo book.

If your photos are still sitting in old physical albums, scan them with the Photomyne app so you can add them to your collection.

Make a holiday collage

So you’re not interested in gathering hundreds of photos for an album or photo book, but you still want to do something for a family Christmas picture. Photo collages are the perfect medium between filling all of the pages in an album and the single photo you send to everyone you know. The holidays are too special to boil down to one image of your family in matching Rudolph onesie pajamas, so don’t. Instead, collect your family Christmas cards from the past and put them all together in a collage as they can tell a fuller story within the confines of a single page.

Photos via Flickr. Photos via Flickr.

A Christmas card collage is easy to create with Photomyne. First, find up to six of your old holiday cards and scan them with Photomyne. Once you’ve scanned them into your smartphone, you can create your collage directly from the app by selecting the photos you want and selecting ‘share’. The app will align the photos so you can marvel at the transformation of your family from year to year. Once you’ve created your collage, feel free to send it to your family as is, or add a frame to it with a site like Photo Fun Editor to give it that Christmas card feel.

Recreate a childhood photo

Old photos are a blast to browse because they find a way to bring us back to the exact moment when it was taken. They remind us of us. Our clothes and hairstyles are emblematic of not only who we were then but also of the time period itself. Some things just cannot be replicated - our state of mind, our naivety, or our desires. However, we can reproduce the image itself.

Photo via Flickr Photo via Flickr

That photo of you holding your baby brother for the first time as he cries uncontrollably is a family favorite. Now picture it today with you and your brother as you are - adults wearing the same outfit you wore decades earlier and your brother no longer weighs seven pounds, but you still cradle him in your arms as he weeps. Make recreating your family photos an activity for everyone. You’ll love the bargain bin shopping for the clothes, the ridiculous poses, and of course the final result. It may even top the original.

Bring back the past

Once upon a time, we didn’t have the power to create slideshows in minutes. Cameras needed special film for slides as well as a projector and, for a time, it was the best way to share your photos beyond a traditional album. However, now our slides have found themselves stored away next to our VHS tapes and cassettes. There’s no reason to let your memories go to waste, even those on forgotten mediums.

Dig up those slides so you can share not only your life but a little piece of history too. It will take you back just seeing those little white frames around the transparent images. No projector nearby? That’s okay. You can scan your slides with SlideBox by Photomyne and have them handy whenever you want. Make it into a family activity so generations can explore the past as it was together and welcome it into the modern world.