How To Create Great Holiday Card Photos

The leaves have just started turning, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about the pictures you want to send to family and friends in your annual greetings. Whether you’re going to have them professionally printed on digital photo holiday cards, slip them into your Christmas letters, or simply post them online, you want to make them memorable.

How many times have you sent or received posed photos with the whole family decked out in matching sweaters and the dog front and center wearing reindeer antlers? It may make an undeniably cute picture, but it’s been done and done before. So here are some new ideas for pictures that will be fun for all of you to create and fun for everyone you’ll be sending them to:

Re-Think The Family Portrait

If you have little ones, it may be hard to resist decking them out — in Christmas stockings, elf costumes, or just their Sunday best — and making them the only stars of your photo. But friends and family, particularly if you haven’t gotten together in a while, want to see every one of you. There are plenty of ways to do it in style.

  • Wrap yourselves up like gifts. Each family member could be popping up out of his or her own box, or you could simply tie a huge ribbon and bow around the whole lot of you. Or try it with masses of tree lights.
  • Dress in character. Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the crew from the workshop is a gimme, but you could try a different seasonal twist with the Grinch and some folks from Whoville, for example. If you want to go all out, you could recreate the cast from Frozen, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, or A Christmas Carol. If your kids are older, you could even do Downtown Abbey or Game of Thrones.
  • Take it on the road. Christmas decorations will be up all over town while you’re still eating leftover turkey and cranberry sauce, so grab some of the early holiday spirit where you find it. Bundle up and take everyone to a Christmas tree lot or pay a visit to a mall Santa and all get into the picture. Maybe a local department store has great display windows you can pose in front of. If the town trolley is decked out, get aboard and wave for a fun picture. Or you could go to the zoo and take the family picture in front of the polar bears.
  • Do what your family does best. Are you skiers or cyclists? Do you ride horses or like to fish? Go have a great day and take a lot of pictures with your holiday card in mind.
  • Bake up a delicious picture. Put everyone to work making festive cookies. Document the baking and decorating process – the messier the better – and don’t forget to take a picture of the proud bakers with the finished products. Pick the best shot for your card or do a collage.
  • Make it warm and inviting. Take your family photo around the dinner table at Thanksgiving. (If you want to switch holidays for the shot, swap out the pumpkin centerpiece for a moment and replace it with a bowl of Christmas ornaments. No one will be the wiser.) Or pile everyone into bed together and absolutely include the family pets.

Put Your Your Message Right In The Photo

There are tons of ways to include your own greeting right in the picture. Depending upon what you’re planning for the pose, you could use a chalkboard on an easel, a banner hanging above or behind you, a laptop screen, or stack of children’s alphabet blocks. You could also make a set of poster cards with one word on each so that every member of the family is holding part of the greeting. And if you’re baking those cookies, you could write it out in icing.

Pay Attention To Details

You want to show everyone to the best advantage, so be mindful of some general guidelines for group photos. The best pictures are taken when people are relaxed, smiling naturally, and even laughing. Arrange people casually or in fun combinations and let the unexpected happen.

Unless you’re in costumes, clothes don’t have to match but they shouldn’t clash, either. Of course if wearing matching pajamas is your family’s thing, go for it. Just whatever you’re all wearing, make sure the kids don’t have on graphic t-shirts that distract the eye and send the wrong message.

Above all, have a good time taking your pictures. It will show!

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