Posted by Ancestry Team on April 5, 2008 in Website

A couple of years ago, when I was living in New York, I went to Philadelphia to spend the Easter weekend with my sister and her family. The guests at Easter dinner included my brother-in-law’s sister. She brought Napoleon Dynamite lunch boxes for my nieces, who had seen the movie so many times that they could quote entire scenes verbatim. About an hour after Aunt Jenny showed up bearing gifts, five-year-old Liesel said to me, “Aunt Stef, you didn’t bring us anything for Easter!” The rest of the conversation went like this…

Me: “But I came all the way from New York to visit you. We did puzzles together and played tennis and Monopoly. Isn’t that better than a present?”

Liesel: “No.”

Me: “Are you saying you would rather have me put a present in the mail and not come visit?”

Liesel: “Yes.”

I’m happy to report that Liesel has matured to the point where she no longer demands a present from every grownup who walks in the door. But you can’t really blame a kid for pointing out the simple truth that walking through the door with a present in your hands is better than showing up empty handed.

Sure, your mom will be happy to see you or hear your voice on the phone when you wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She’ll say she’s just glad you came or called. But imagine how she’ll react when you give her a totally unique gift that you created yourself.

The deadline for ordering a gift from AncestryPress in time for Mother’s Day is April 27, so you still have plenty of time to make a photo book or family history book for your mom. But if you want to do something that takes less time and has just as much impact (by which I mean it’s just as likely to make your mom cry when she sees it), you might want to check out our new collage posters.

Here are a couple of examples that I threw together in just a few minutes. I can’t take credit for the photos or the cute kids, although they are related to me.

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image

AncestryPress collage posters are currently available in two sizes (20″x16″ or 24″x18″) and four layouts (with 4, 6, 9 or 20 images). You can also make a poster from scratch if you’d prefer to start with a blank canvas. Choose from 15 professionally designed backgrounds or use a solid color background and dress it up with a few embellishments. Some of the backgrounds have a family history theme, while others work well for showcasing photos of kids blowing out birthday candles or frolicking on the beach or what have you.

Here are some examples of what you can do with vacation photos. The camera I used to take many of these pictures was ruined in a canoeing incident (tip: leave your camera in the car during water-based activities), but I’m glad to say that the memory card survived.

Click to enlarge image

Click to enlarge image

As you can see, you really don’t need a lot of embellishments. Personally, I prefer a “less-is-more” aesthetic, but it’s pretty easy to do something more elaborate. As always, my motto is “Do what works for you.” Use an existing poster layout or modify one to create your own template. Insert some text…or not. Add embellishments or keep the look clean and simple. Just by picking the right photos you can design a great looking poster in 10 or 15 minutes.

All of the posters come in standard frame sizes, so you can easily pick up a frame at your favorite mass merchandiser. If you want to make your gift look a little fancier, get a frame in a larger size and add some matting. But honestly, we have some sample posters here at the office in $25 frames that somebody got at Target, and they look terrific. You’d never guess that the poster and the frame together cost less than $50.

By the way, collage posters are also a great way to decorate a kid’s room. I’m working on a poster for my nephew with photos of him in his favorite superhero costumes. I’ve learned not to take my Favorite Aunt status for granted.

P.S. I tracked down the NPR piece that I mentioned in last week’s blog. It features a poem called “The Lanyard” by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. After you’ve read it you’ll never think about your mother in the same way again.

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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas

In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.


  1. Chrystal La Muro

    I can not access the internet from Family Tree Maker. It tells me that I need to change my options for my firewall. I have done that but still can not get in. Does the computer software have more than one firewall? Any help?

  2. jen hamilton

    yes i i;m trying to find something or anything on my grandmother ;her name was cora mitchell she was born in mississippi ; and she die of a sickness at a very young age ; she marry into the hamilton family ;this is all i know of her if anyone knows anything about her they can tell me please e-mail at thank you jen hamilton

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  4. Thanks for this interesting post. Poster art often captures a moment in time and gives us a taste of the period when it was done. And yes, I have spent hours studying posters at various web sites.

  5. peggyleaduncan

    Thanks Stephanie for your wonderful story about posters & collages.You have such great ideas & I can’t wait to work on this. I did a family calendar which was a big hit! You guys are great. So, if I go back to Mycanvas then I will be walked through how to do a poster collage? Thanks so much once again & I bet you are now a “Super Hero” to your nephew & nieces! God Bless & happy hunting for family roots!

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