This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more info.
(Full Disclosure: Family Tree Prints has provided me with a free copy of one of their Family Charts for the purpose of providing this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.)
Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! Today’s post is a product review of an item I received a few weeks ago. As noted in my disclosure up above, Family Tree Prints contacted me to try one of their Family Charts and to review it.
Before I start, I’ll be honest: I love family history and genealogy related art and home decor. If I was more crafty, my house would be filled with cutesy knick-knacks celebrating my family history and ancestors. And I love it when I visit friends and family and see their family history decor – whether it is a family tree, a photo album on a coffee table, or a framed picture and mini-biography of someone.
Alas, I am not a craft queen. So I rely on buying decor items (or templates) from various companies and stores to gussy up my living quarters. That’s why when Family Tree Prints contacted me to try and review one of their products, I was excited. This was definitely the type of item I would purchase for my own home and I was curious to see how it would turn out.
Who is this product for, you ask? If you love family history and having modern, sleek, or fun styled art as part of your decor, you will appreciate the styles that Family Tree Prints offer. Some are more minimal and subdued, while others burst with color. They also have themed styles geared towards children’s decor. Because the styles do tend to lean towards the more modern and minimalistic side, someone who has more of an older, traditional aesthetic (dark wood/ jewel-toned decor, intricately designed artwork and furniture, etc) probably wouldn’t find their styles as appealing.
What is this product exactly? It is a decorative family tree chart that is HIGHLY customizable. For those unfamiliar with tree charts, they are family trees that tend to be either circular or ‘fan-shaped’ as opposed to a traditional ‘tree-style’ family tree.
Courtesy of Family Tree Prints
The tree charts that Family Tree Prints offers are modern, sleek versions of this. As mentioned above, they range from minimalistic to colorful and beyond. They also can be customized to be anywhere from 3 to 10 generations back. To put this into context, 10 generations (for most people) goes back to the early 1700s. Both my husband and I have lines that go back that far, but not many. However, if you have been able to trace your whole family back 10 generations or more, you could show all of that in a single piece of art. Which would be epic. You can also customize the chart to be anywhere from 360° (full circle) to 0°. (Though anything smaller than 175° begins to look smushed, IMHO.)
Where would you put family charts like these? Anywhere. You. Please. Personally, I’ll probably put mine in the living room, but these designs could go in a front room, a study, dining/eating area, bedrooms (including children’s rooms), hallways, and even yes, bathrooms. (I’ve seen people do this before and make it work design-wise). You could even create and frame a copy to have in a work office. Because this product is a digital file, you can have printed anywhere (and on virtually any printable media), which means the sky’s the limit for where you could put it.
When would you get something like this? Honestly, I’m already marking off which of my family members will be getting one of these for Christmas. But birthdays, other holidays, or even if you are changing up your interior design style. Heck, you could design a chart as a gift when someone has a new baby. Really, the options are limitless, especially if you (or the person you are gifting the chart to) loves family history or unique forms of art.
Why should you buy this? Because it is a beautiful piece of art and a great talking piece. One of the things I noticed with these charts (both online and then when I printed off my file) is that, with most of them, from a distance, it just looks like a decorative design or piece of art. Cool, right? Then when you get closer, you see the names (and sometimes dates) which adds to the aesthetic.
Another reason to buy this is that if you are a family history nerd like myself, it’s a great way to show off your family tree. Think of it, you’re hosting a party or other get-together and you start swapping family stories. Bam, you have a beautiful visual to add and people can ooh and ahh over your family chart. 🙂
Lastly, because it is a highly customizable digital file, it’s a super easy gift to make and give. When I did mine, it only took a couple hours to design and that was because I’m a creative type and a bit of a perfectionist. If you have a couple hours to spend and access to a computer or a laptop, you can mark off at least a few of the people you need to get gifts for. No shopping hassle, no running around, no worries about whether the item will make it to you (or your recipient) on time. Just peace of mind that you got them a cool, personalized gift.
So how do you go about creating one of these charts? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
First off, you head to the website: Family Tree Prints. Then you figure out what kind of design you want (no worries if you can’t choose right away, you can easily swap colors and styles in their editing area).
Once you know what general kind of design you want, click on ‘Start From This Template’. That’ll take you to the editing area. And this is where the fun begins.
On the left side are 7 tabs – 6 design and 1 import. Click on the import tab and choose either A: ‘Sign in to FamilySearch’ or B: ‘Import GEDCOM’.
Yup, you don’t have to worry about manually inputting any names if you don’t want to.
If you have a Family Search account, literally all you have to do is sign in and then decide who you want to be the 1st generation. If you don’t have a FamilySearch account, you can either get one (click here for my post on how to easily create one for free) or upload a GEDCOM family tree file. (Most family history sites, like Ancestry or MyHeritage, allow you to download a GEDCOM file of your family tree on their website to your computer.)
Customizing Your Chart
Once your family tree is in and you’ve decided who is your 1st generation, then you get to start designing and customizing. The six (6) design tabs are as follows:
Shape: This tab lets you choose from 5 general shapes – 2 ‘fan’ shapes, 2 ‘circle’ shapes, and 1 ‘192°’ shape. Once you’ve imported your family tree in, you can decide which general shape you want to go with.
Palette: This tab lets you choose between the various color combos that are available. So, for example, if you were torn between ‘Evening Patriot’ and ‘Dusky Iris’ – you can choose to see how each color combo would look on your chart.
Chart: This tab lets you get into the nitty-gritty. You can change the font, how many generations, angles, margins, lines, etc.
Generation: This tab lets you play with the radius and font size of various generations, which is handy if you have ancestors with very long names (like Maria Frederica Wilhemina Schroder…). This is also where you can change the information displayed between just names and names & dates. However, I will admit having some issues with that aspect. I finally got it to show, but it took a little bit of perseverance.
Individual: This table allows you to edit the individual people on your tree or add people into blank spaces (if you were to find them between importing your tree and completing it. Here you can also change the font color for individual people. While a nice option and certainly adds to the customization of each family chart (especially with some of the multi-colored designs), I didn’t find it terribly useful on mine.
Decal: With these charts, you can add a quote or title of up to two (2) lines below the chart. You can tweak the font, size, and color This is a really cool option and one that I had fun playing around with.
- Highly customizable.
- Affordable – the charts start off at $19 and top out at $39.
- Easy to design and order.
- A beautiful array of designs – there is literally something for nearly everyone.
- Aesthetically pleasing even with the simplest of printable media. (I printed mine out on a piece of 8.5″ by 11″ copy paper, attached it to some matting, put it in a frame and it looks like one of the nicer pieces of wall art in my apartment.)
- Some of the color combos can be a bit jarring. (This is purely a personal preference thing, so keep that in mind.)
- While importing is easy overall, I had issues being able to ‘pick’ who my first generation was. However, when using FamilySearch I was able to circumvent that by specifying the FamilySearch ID of the person I wanted to be the ‘first generation’.
- Not a lot of fonts or font styles to choose from. (Though I might be spoiled from dealing with graphics websites that have hundreds of fonts to choose from.)
- There isn’t an easy way to tweak the lines if you want names and dates on a certain style. Instead of dates being centered, they tended to be aligned to the left and there wasn’t any simple way to fix that.
- In the ‘Palette’ tab, it is difficult to figure out which color combo is which style. For example, figuring out which color combo was ‘Frosted Diamond’ and which was ‘Frosted Opal’.
Overall? Not complaining. I love the design I chose and plan on either printing it on nicer paper and re-framing it, or putting it on canvas in the future. I also know exactly what I’m getting my mother and mother-in-law for Christmas. The prices are quite affordable for the amount of customization you can put into this and for what you are getting. There are a few things that I found less than great, but they were mostly personal preference and technical things that could be tweaked very easily.
When buying and/or reviewing things like this, I also like to take into account, how easily I could do this same project on my own. And at least for me, the amount of time, effort, and frustration that DIYing something like this would entail, makes this product more than worth the cost. So for me, Family Tree Prints’ charts are a definite win-win. I get to design a beautiful family tree chart for either myself or someone else and I don’t have to go through the hassle of DIY or the cost.