Tents for Dummies
Before I go into tips for tent buying, let me say this: If you aren't avid campers, and only find yourselves heading back to nature once or twice a year, don't purchase a tent! You can rent camping equipment, or borrow from family and friends for those occasions you camp. I only suggest buying camping materials (any really) if you go more than four times a year. Any less, and you are hogging up space, and wasting money.
If you are in the market for a new tent, take a deep breath! There are over a dozen styles to choose from, and the process can be overwhelming. My first bit of advice is to nix online shopping at first. It is a good idea to see and experience what you are buying in person. Many chain stores like Target or Walmart have a camping section, and if you're looking for a deal these should be your first stops. For more elaborate, expensive tents look for local camping or outdoor supply shops. Once you know what you want you can often find better deals online. To get a geat deal you can look for a tent from Mountains Plus.
When considering a family tent, size is normally the most important thing to consider. You certainly don't need a tent that can fit twenty people, but each member of your family should have their own space, albeit a little one. For a family of four, a five or six person tent is ideal because it will fit all of you, and all your supplies comfortably. A tent that's easy to set up, and undo is also important. Practice setting it up before you take it camping for the first time. When the tent is not in use, it should take up as little space as possible.
Your tent should be made of a material that can protect you from the elements, and remains durable even with kids running into it during a game of tag. Nylon is ideal for the family tent, but the downside is that during the summer months it can retain a ton of heat inside. Look for a rent with a vent system at the top, so that during the evening you can open it up while everyone is sleeping. Full fly is very important for rainy days, so that you can stay dry inside the tent.
For mor tips on buying your tent see an article: 7 Rules of Selecting a Great Family Camping Tent.
Make tent buying a family affair. Have your kids pick out colors they fancy, and make sure that everyone has their say before you pick your first tent out.