Does your extended family need an on-line calendar? I think ours may.
I’m blessed to live around the corner from my parents, and my husband’s parents and two brothers and their families live within a three mile radius. Between the five grandchildren, we’ve got something scheduled that the whole family wants to see on many a day. Between sports events, recitals, plays, and the newest addition’s first trip to the swimming pool, there’s always something we want attend or even just know about.
Now, we all do our best to keep each other informed, but there’s usually a flurry of phone calls on game day for the forgotten details — time, place, who exactly is playing.
So my brother-in-law, who’s the most digital of all of us, came up with a great idea to consolidate the schedules and make them viewable for the entire family — an on-line extended family calendar. He suggested checking out Cozi, Famundo and Family Crossings. I added that making our Google calendars available to each other also might work.
Here’s what I found upon investigation of each.
Google Calendar is fine if you want to see everything I have scheduled through out my day — practice schedules, doctor’s appointments, carved out time to blog. Brother-in-Law could see it and I could see his, but it is too much information. It just didn’t fit the task. So I moved on to the others, which are more visually appealing and more fun.
Family Crossings is pretty and easy to navigate; however, there are two levels of membership. For free you have access to the calendar function, a “Latest News” tab where you can note the score of the game or that baby got a new tooth, and you can post photo albums. You also have click-through ads down the right side. For $9.95 a month you can create an additional family database where you can share recipes and household hints and wish lists, and you can play games called “Magnetic Poetry” and “Memory Game.” You also get 250 MB of storage versus the free 150 MB.
The thing that bothers me about this site is that I can’t figure out quickly how to eliminate all the paid stuff from my personal site. All those options that I really don’t need and don’t want to pay for just sat there on the home page and on left-hand column even though I can’t use them. I click them and get the message that I must have the premium package for access. It’s probably a good marketing ploy to get you to pay, but I don’t like it.
Next was Famundo. Everything is free here and there are many options: calendar, address book, to-do and shopping lists, and the options to send messages to each other and share photo albums. For me, the data entry is cumbersome here, lots of drop downs and hidden options to seek out.
The calendar has the same basic look as a Google calendar, but strangely it doesn’t look as good as my Google calendar. Perhaps I am distracted by all the click-through ads surrounding it. The ads run in a bar across the top and down the right hand column on every page you access. I don’t want Toby Keith tickets or to apply at University of Phoenix. This is not the one for me.
Finally there is Cozi. I have used Cozi before, but not regularly as I found Google Calender better suited to my major day-to-day scheduling. For our extended family calendar it was worth another look. The all-free site is visually appealing, simple with soft colors and shapes. It really does look cozy. It has the basic calendar, shopping list, and an option to send messages to one another. The only extra is the Family Journal. It’s a place you can post a picture and jot down the score of the game or something funny a kid said. Billed as an instant online scrapbook, I can see it’s value in sharing those precious daily moments that come up with kids.
The site does have one ad that shows up on your home, calendar and shopping pages. It is as cozy-looking as the rest of the site. The home page also features a menu of tips and articles from Cozi’s “Live Simply” site. On my screen I had to scroll down past the ad to even see it. The shopping site has as coupon finder, which could actually come in handy. Since it’s free, I guess I have to expect some of that and on this site it just isn’t as obtrusive as it could be.
So for us, Cozi it is.
Now, whether anyone other than me and my brother-in-law will look at it, that’s a post for the future.
Do you use online calendars? What functions are most important to you?