Should you give a DNA test kit as a Christmas Present?

Have you started shopping for your Christmas gifts? The DNA testing companies have started their sale ads on TV suggesting their test would be a great gift, and you are probably wondering which company offers the best test.

I can rate each company for my use but can not suggest one for you to take without knowing what you want to learn from the test. The test results give you two types of information. The basic data set is a list and diagrams showing the possible areas your ancestors left and imply these are your Roots! The second set of information is a list that matches your DNA in varying degrees to other people and gives a range of relationships, such as 2nd to 4th cousins or 4th to 6th and more. The test results will not magically present you with a complete family tree as some ads suggest. To get your family tree, you will have to commit to many days and nights of work uncovering your family history.

If all you want is to know your ethnic origins take the test and review your results. However, this set of data is the least accurate. Also, each company bases its projections on different base data, so comparing results from different companies may present a confusing picture. (Note, this comparison may happen when your siblings or cousins each use different companies for their test samples.) I have not found data that points to one company’s results being more accurate than the others. All are updating their data to improve their accuracy, but I have found comparing the results does give me clues that help. The results are not 100%, but they will provide a general idea. I am sorry, but they can not point to a specific village.

If you want to start uncovering your family history, DNA testing is not the first step. You need to collect family stories, documents and compile a family tree showing at least four generations before submitting a sample for DNA testing. The DNA results will give clues that may tell you how you relate to your cousin matches. If the relationship is not clear, you need that information when you contact your matches.

DNA testing is not magic. It is a science and a tool that may give you clues to your family history. Genealogy Research also is not magic. It is detective work where you need to apply sound and detailed research to be successful.

Please don’t jump into DNA testing without knowing why you are doing it. It may lead to something fantastic, or it may be a waste of your money.

Find the details, do the research, and have fun.

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