Received a DNA Test for Christmas? What you Need to Know.

Whether a DNA test kit was on your wish list or Santa slipped it in your stocking, it was one of the most popular gifts this holiday season. Perhaps you are curious about where you came from, are looking for a lost relative, or maybe you are interested in knowing more your genetic health.  

But before you swab or spit, here is a quick guide to DNA Test Kits.


What is DNA Testing?

Until 2000, genealogists mostly relied on records to document family trees. DNA testing has given us another tool to use in research -  one that can help validate records, prove relationships, or uncover new paths for further family research.

How Does it Work?

Every test comes with instructions. Depending on the test, you will either swab your cheek or spit into a tube and then send the sample through the mail to the testing agency.

Spit and Send Now

According to Wired magazine, AncestryDNA sold 1.5 milion testing kits between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Because of the record sales, the expected wait time for results is expected to double or triple.

Who Needs DNA Testing?

Anyone who is looking for to know more about their ancestry can benefit from DNA testing. Those seeking lost relatives will benefit from the DNA matches AncestryDNA and 23andMe can provide, but only if you choose to opt in.

What are the Differences Between the Tests?

Here is a brief overview on the top DNA test kits and their differences.


AncestryDNA offers genealogical DNA testing. With 5 million profiles, they have the the most extensive database of DNA results for comparison. You can link your DNA results to your online family tree.


23andMe offers can offer information about both your personal genetics and your ancestry. It is the only test that does health-related DNA test results will give you genetic health risks, as well as your carrier status for many conditions.




National Geographic's Geno 2.0 Next Generation Kit tracks your ancestor's migration patterns back 200,000 years and helps answer fundamental questions about where humans originated and how we came to populate the Earth.



My Heritage DNA offers a full genealogical package and you can connect your DNA results to your online family tree.




Which Test is Best?

Which test to choose depends upon what is your most pressing question.

Looking for relatives? AncestryDNA and 23andMe will look for DNA matches, but only if you choose to opt in. AncestryDNA has the largest database, so you have a higher chance of possible connections.

Looking to see where in the world your ancestors originated from? National Geographic Geno Project might be for you.

Looking to know more about your ancestry and health? 23andMe is the only DNA testing company providing both genetic and health results.

Looking to connect DNA results with online family tree? AncestryDNA and My Heritage DNA are good options.

Final Thoughts

These tests are relatively inexpensive and can help you answer the questions “Who Am I?” and “Where did I come from?”

While they will provide you with some enlightening insights into your family history, they can also come with some surprises. Results can range from informative to life changing and most tests come with a warning. You might find a long lost cousin, learn your grandfather wasn’t your father’s birth father, or discover you don’t have a drop of Irish blood in you although your name is Jack Murphy.

Kimberlie Guerrieri