With Christmas time just around the corner, it’s almost time for you to start panicking about all those preparations. (You know, the ones you swore last Christmas you’d never leave to the last minute… again.) Fortunately, there is still enough time to do some of the things you never seem to get to – like Christmas cards!
Although they have been kind of out of vogue for a while, Christmas cards with family photos are making a definite comeback. Making them is super easy and affordable – there are thousands of free templates available online – and you can choose to send them the old-fashioned way or via email or even post them on your social media platforms.
The most important (and often tricky) thing is to get a winning snapshot of your family to grace the cover of your card.
Whether you choose to use a professional photographer or just handle the camera yourself (that’s why there’s a timer setting, after all), we have a list of tips to inspire Christmassy family photos that sparkle with just the right combination of authenticity, festivity and sentimentality.
Deck the Halls
Much like movies, photos become Christmas photos the minute they contain even a single bauble, strip of tinsel, or fir tree. Think about it…
So why not combine your festive photoshoot with that other Christmas task you’ve been delaying – putting up the decorations? Get the family dressed to impress (perhaps in festive or sparkly colours), dust off the decorations box, and snap away. The great thing about this option is that it will make for some spectacular candid shots. You won’t have to nag the kids to smile because they’ll already be having a ball.
Encourage playfulness, like wrapping each other in lights or tinsel, for candid snaps and then take a few posed shots once everyone is relaxed and filled with the Christmas spirit. Once you’ve got the perfect shot, make your card, add your Christmas wishes and get sending!
Keeping It Real
If you’re all about authenticity and hate anything that looks staged, then keep the camera handy whenever the family is all together. That way you’ll be geared for an impromptu photoshoot as soon as those Kodak moments arise. In particular, be on the lookout for those times when you’re all up to something that is typical of your family – like lounging by the fire or pool (depending on your December climate) or sitting around the kitchen table chatting.
Already having those decorations up will add festive flair to the background of these photos, but you can always choose a card template with a really Christmassy border to add that in later.
Picture Perfect Pets
Who doesn’t love a cat in a Christmas hat? A dachshund with reindeer antlers?
If you’re the kind of person whose social media is already plastered with pictures of your fur baby, then it would be weird not to have them in your Christmas card photo, or even a video if you’re feeling adventurous. Including the family pet in any of our picture suggestions will definitely amp up the cute factor. Plus, there’s no such thing as a pet that isn’t photogenic, so you can always turn the spotlight on them if you’re pretty camera shy yourself.
While they are always cute, pets can be pretty tricky to photograph so we recommend keeping lots of treats and toys on hand to hold their attention. If you choose to make your pet the star of the shoot, keep all of the props from our other suggestions in mind. A puppy in a festive Fair Isle jersey? We can’t even!
If you’re looking for a family Christmas card photo so cheesy some may call it art, then dig out the old Christmas knitwear from Granny. If you’ve outgrown them, or don’t have that kind of granny, you can always buy some super cute Christmas jerseys. Look online if your local shops don’t have anything you like. We love the vintage Fair Isle look!
If you’d prefer a subtler option, consider some Christmassy scarves or woollen caps. Convincing your significant other to wear a pompom will be your own Christmas gift to yourself.
Maybe yours is the kind of family that never leaves the house during the holidays – comfort over adventure anytime. So you’re much likelier to be found on a couch in your pyjamas at midday, than out and about.
Just this once, put on your face, do your hair, don a fresh pair of PJs, and smile for the cameras. Christmas-themed sleepwear will do even better to add that seasonal touch. What a great excuse to do what you would have done anyway, only with a brand new set of pyjamas and a good hair day!
Christmas in the Kitchen
This is another way to combine two Christmastime tasks in one activity. If you always bake special treats for Christmas (or you’ve always wanted to try), take out the camera before you head to the kitchen.
As with the other options on this list, you can add to the Christmas spirit by hanging some decorations or dressing in festive clothing (even if it’s just your regular clothes with Christmas hats). This is a particularly fun choice for families with kids – you can capture the simple joys of rolling dough or cutting cookies to share with all your loved ones. Of course, if you’re not the baking kind, you can always just take out some flour, eggs and a whisk, pop to the shops for some Christmas cake or mince pies and pose for the camera just the same.
Let It Snow!
Few things say Christmas better than snowflakes. So, for an instant Christmassy feel in your photo shoot, head outside and start rolling those snowballs. If it’s currently snowing, all the better – let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
But what about those of us who live in warmer climes (or anywhere in the real world, where it doesn’t just snow on command)?
Turns out you don’t need a Christmas miracle to guarantee snow, just the right combination of household ingredients, winter clothing, and some clever camerawork (or editing skills). There are loads of recipes for fake snow online – we suggest you try out a few first to find the most realistic mix. Just be careful if you’re going the faux snow route, as it can come off as super tacky if you miss the mark – subtle is best and be prepared with a Plan B.
How often do you get the chance to take really nice family photos? An increasingly popular trend for Christmas card photos is to dress the clan in smart or even formal attire and add a festive setting or some props to mark the season. Subtly matching or colour-coordinated outfits can lend your pictures a sophisticated air. If you’ve been keen on a professional family photoshoot, this is the perfect occasion and a great excuse to get the family all dressed up.
You don’t even have to have a Christmassy vibe in all the photos – just be sure to get a few snaps for the Christmas card and use the rest of the time to capture some elegant memories. Most photographers offer affordable family photo packages, especially over the festive season. Consider using a professional hairstylist and makeup artist for a truly refined finish to your photographs.
If you’d prefer to keep things simple and relaxed, a single Christmas photo prop that always does the trick is a big festive blanket. Find something warm and fluffy, with a Christmassy motif (like mistletoe, reindeer, or Christmas trees) that is big enough to cover the whole family.
If the blanket’s pattern is particularly bright, bold or busy, it’s not a bad idea to dress the family in simple, muted colours. Then you can try out a whole bunch of poses with everyone – cuddled under the blanket, wrapped up in it, or just sitting or lying on it. Better yet, pack a picnic basket, find a picturesque spot, and make a day of it!
There’s Always Next Year!
Maybe you’ve run out of time and have pretty much given up (again) on doing the DIY Christmas card photo thing this year. Just like last year, you promise yourself you’ll get to it next Christmas. Just like last year, you highly doubt you’ll make good on that promise.
Don’t pack away that camera just yet. What better occasion for a festive photoshoot than Christmas itself? The only extra bit of effort you’d probably want to make is to ensure everyone is looking sharp. Brush the kids’ hair and get the husband to have a shave and then just wait for the magic to unfold.
You normally take pictures on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve anyway, right?
This time, you’ll just take them with that Christmas card in mind, maybe getting a few more posed shots in than normal. You are then either all set for next year (no more broken promises) or you can send out Season’s Greetings cards to celebrate the start of the new year.