Build a Family Web Site
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Build a Family Web Site

It's easy (really!) to share photos, home videos, and good news online.

Your family is scattered across the country and everyone's schedule is crazy, but that shouldn't stop your clan from spending quality time together. Sign up for a free, pre-built family Web site and suddenly it's a snap to compare calendars and let everyone know about that good report card. Seem daunting? It's not, we swear. All you need is a high-speed Internet connection -- sites like myfamily.com and easysite.com will walk you through the rest. Then get yourself a digital camera or a simple camcorder and far-flung family members will feel as if they're living right next door.

Your Own Private YouTube

America is obsessed with online video, and getting your family into the act is easy. Upload your funniest home videos, vacation footage, or YouTube favorites to your site. Help Grandma make her own how-to video for a granddaughter who wants to knit her first sweater. Sing a happy birthday greeting together into the camera.

Five-Minute Photos

You can share photos instantly; no more hassles with prints and postage. Upload the kids' field day photos on field day. Start a "Photo of the Week" contest. Or get an honest answer: Your sister in Cincinnati will tell you if those jeans really do look good on you.

Virtual Bulletin Board

Online calendars keep families in sync so no one misses another game day, school play, or doctor's appointment. They're a fun place for kids to count down to holidays -- or extra-special dates, as when Dad returns from Iraq. Keep track of silver anniversaries or a first cousin's second birthday. Make 'em laugh by posting goofy dates like National Pillow Fight Day.

24/7 Chat Room

Just because you can't all come together at the dinner table doesn't mean you need to skip that family talk. Online discussion boards are great for keeping families in touch. Decide where to hold the next reunion. Take turns choosing topics: Argue politics or let the sports nuts in the family go on (and on and on) about the plays of the day.

More Ways to Stay in Touch

Talk Without the Phone Bills

With instant messaging, you can watch a favorite TV show "together" and feel as though you're sitting in the same room: "Can you believe what she's wearing?" "Shush!"

Create a "Family Room" on Facebook

If your family's already signed up, form a private group to serve as a simple family site.

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