How to start making a family tree

How to start making a family tree

What is a family tree?

A family tree is a diagram or chart that represents the genealogy or lineage of a particular family, displaying information about the ancestors and descendants of the family members. It typically includes the names, birthdates, and other relevant information of each person in the family, as well as their relationships with one another. Family trees can be created in various formats, including digital, hand-drawn, or printed versions, and they can be used for both personal and genealogical research purposes.

Why create a family tree?

Creating a family tree can serve several purposes. Some of the main reasons people create family trees include:

  1. Genealogy research: Family trees can help individuals trace their ancestry and learn more about their family history. They can be used to identify ancestors and descendants, as well as to understand how different branches of the family are related to one another.
  2. Preservation of family history: Family trees can be used to preserve important information about a family’s history for future generations. They can be used to document important dates, events, and stories that would otherwise be lost over time.
  3. Understanding of oneself: Creating a family tree can give an individual a better understanding of themselves and where they come from. It can help them to identify patterns, traits, and characteristics that are passed down through the generations.
  4. Connecting with family members: Family trees can be used to connect with distant family members and learn more about them. They can also be used to plan family reunions and other events where family members can come together to share stories and memories.
  5. Gift: A family tree can be a unique and personal gift for a family member, especially for a birthday or anniversary, it can be a sentimental and meaningful way to show someone you care.

Let’s start making a family tree

This project would make a fabulous gift or centerpiece for a birthday or anniversary of an older family member. It works well for a 30th, 40th, or 50th wedding anniversary centerpiece. The premise is making a literal “family tree” for the birthday or anniversary celebrants.

The first step will need to be started at least a few weeks before the event. Ask family members for photographs of themselves, preferably as close to the same size as possible. That is accomplished by requesting that no 5″ x 7″ or 8″ x 10″ pictures be given. Specify “normal-sized prints” or wallet size. Be sure that everyone understands that the photos will be presented to the guest of honor and not returned. Make sure that photos of all children and grandchildren are covered and that someone will be providing those photographs.

When making the request for photographs, it will be a good idea to have a deadline. Things such as this are often procrastinated for some reason, and telling everyone that you will need the photos by a certain date may help to get the task completed in a timely manner.

In addition to photos of all children and grandchildren, you will need some photographs of the recipient(s). Depending on the plant you will be using, often a 5″ x 7″ works well. For an anniversary, using a photograph of the original wedding day works extremely well and is always a hit. If this will be for a birthday, perhaps a photo of the birthday celebrant as a child will be a good choice.

The next step is to decide what kind of plant you will be using. It can be done with a live plant, but often artificial works better considering the photos will be tied (albeit gently) to the branches. One of the plants that work best of all is an artificial palm plant with many fronds. If you can find one with a square planter base, it will work perfectly. Any size or height of the “tree” will work, but keep in mind the number of photos that will be hanging from it before choosing the size. A smaller plant will be fine for a small number of photos, but for large families, you will want a larger plant.

Now you will be deciding how the photos will be attached to the tree. You will need some kind of ribbon first of all. Very thin decorative ribbon works well and can be bought in a great variety of colors or prints. The thinner the ribbon you buy, the smaller you will have to make holes in the photographs, so that fact is important when shopping for ribbon. The ribbon and the plant itself should be all the expenses needed for this project.

When you start receiving the photos, it will be time to get them trimmed into nearly the same size. As mentioned, wallet-sized works well, but by all means, use your creativity here. If you have the time and patience to, for instance, cut all the photos into heart shapes, by all means, do that, it would look great! If you decide on wallet size, you may want to mount each photo on a construction paper mat, allowing a small border of the colored paper to show around each photo.

After the photos are the size and shape that you want them, you will need to decide how to mount them onto the “family tree” that you have selected. What seems to work best is using a paper punch. Make your hole in the top of the photo, either at one of the corners or in the center for some of them so you have variety in how they will hang. Decide how long each piece of your ribbon will be (how far, if any, the photo will hang down from the branch) and cut the ribbon. String it through the hole you have punched, and tie it around a palm frond, tree branch, etc. depending on what kind of plant you bought.

It may seem as if just looping a tied ribbon over a branch will work, but you will find that transporting the centerpiece with the photos just “slipped” onto a branch will become a daunting task and they will undoubtedly begin to fall off when being transported. Because of that, you will need to tie them to the tree.

That is all that you will need to have a finished product, but once again, this is a good place to let your imagination embellish your “family tree.” Perhaps you can tie a broader ribbon around some of the bare branches for a more decorative look, or somehow attach the recipient’s photograph to the top of the tree instead of the base, thus having all of his, hers, or their descendants on the tree branching out under them. If you put their larger photo at the base, sometimes a square base will allow you to simply slip a larger photo into the container. If that does not seem possible, attach it to the base in some other way.

When it is time for the birthday or anniversary gathering, use this as a centerpiece and make sure that guests have a chance to look at it. After the celebration, the tree goes home with the birthday celebrant or anniversary couple.


Q: How do I start creating a family tree?

A: To start creating a family tree, begin by gathering information about your immediate family members, including their names, birthdates, and places of birth. Then, use this information to start tracing your ancestry and identifying other family members. You can use online resources, such as ancestry websites, to help with your research.

Q: How do I add information to my family tree?

A: To add information to your family tree, you can use various sources such as census records, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, and family documents. You can also use online resources and genealogy software to help with your research.

Q: How do I organize my family tree?

A: To organize your family tree, you can use a variety of tools, such as genealogy software, online family tree builders, or even a physical chart. Each option will have different features and capabilities, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Q: How do I show multiple marriages on a family tree?

A: To show multiple marriages on a family tree, you can use different symbols or colors to indicate each marriage. Some genealogy software also allows you to create multiple spouse lines for an individual.

Q: How do I share my family tree with others?

A: To share your family tree with others, you can use online family tree builders, which allow you to share access to your tree with others. You can also export your tree as a PDF or GEDCOM file and share it via email or social media.

Q: How do I know if the information on my family tree is accurate?

A: To ensure the accuracy of your family tree, you should use multiple sources to verify the information you have collected. You can use online resources and genealogy software to help with your research, but you should also consult with other family members and experts in the field.


In conclusion, creating a family tree can be a fun and rewarding experience that allows you to learn more about your family history and connect with distant family members. By gathering information, using various resources, and organizing your tree, you can create a detailed and accurate representation of your family’s lineage. Additionally, a family tree can be a unique and personal gift for a family member, especially for a birthday or anniversary, it can be a sentimental and meaningful way to show someone you care. Remember to verify the information on your tree and share it with others to preserve your family history for future generations.

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