Skip to Content

7 Tips for Family Christmas Photos

Over Thanksgiving break we got our Family Christmas Photos done, and I love how they turned out — thanks to my talented photographer & brother Billy Grubbs. We’ve done a photo card each year since my son was born and I’ve learned a few things over the last 3 years about getting that family Christmas photo.

#1. Snag a Deal on the Cards

Sites like Groupon and Living Social are always running deals on photo cards at this time of year. You can also find deals from photo labs like Walgreens.

Last year I purchased our Christmas Cards from a Mixbook Groupon, in 2011 from a Picaboo deal, and this year I used Zazzle.

So moral of the story… when it comes to buying a photo card for Christmas, you never need to pay full price!

#2. Decide whether to Use a Photographer or Do-it-Yourself

My brother took the photos for our 2011 and 2013 Christmas Cards. He does a great job, so this is always my preferred option. Plus, it’s much easier when someone else is in charge of the picture-taking and I can focus on the kid-wrangling/smiling/looking at the camera part of the process.

However, in 2012, we were taking the photos at the last minute, so we did it ourselves with a tripod and simple little photo backdrop.

It will make it easier to complete a successful DIY shoot if you set it up outside where there is already good lighting. It is one less thing for you to worry about as the photographer!

#3. Pick out the Outfits

After spending time on Pinterest searching for family photo outfit inspiration, I settled on this combination:

  • stripes
  • grays, blues, green

Every item was already in our closets, and I felt like it was a good combination of pattern and color without feeling busy or overwhelming.

You can find some stripes in each of our outfits. In my outfit, the stripes are a bold black and white; but in Mike’s outfit the thin stripes are only peeking out from under his grey sweater. We are wearing a mix of greens, blues, greys and browns. It’s not matchy-matchy… but it’s still cohesive — and all these colors are flattering on each of us.

I wore a brighter lipstick than my typical daily neutral. Even though I don’t usually wear bold lip color like this, I had read some tips that suggested going bolder with makeup for photos — especially on your lips! I’m glad I did because even in the close-up photos, the lipstick just highlights my lips without being too bold {I understand that people who wear lipstick regularly are saying “duh!” right now, but I was impressed at the subtle difference it made!}.

In 2012 we dressed our little guy to match the “tree cutting” theme with some Carhart Overalls, a striped toboggan and gloves.

The year prior we wore the traditional red and green combined with black, grey and browns.

#4. Have some Props on Hand

Props are especially helpful if you have little ones! Taking photos for an hour won’t typically hold a two year old’s attention very long. We took a little stash of toys to keep our toddler happy.

The toys were all Christmas-y items {like a storybook} and were all “aesthetically pleasing” {like wooden nativity pieces}. When he’d start getting antsy, we’d pull out a toy and keep snapping photos. My brother got some good ones like these storybook photos.

Of course, props can be great for the actual photo setup too. I loved our little boy sledding in 2011 and pulling his Christmas Tree home in 2012.

#5. Don’t Limit Yourself to Christmas Photos

This is a mistake I made in both 2011 and 2012. It wasn’t so much of an issue in 2011, when it was easy to get a photo of all 3 of us. We took family photos for Christmas, his birthday, Easter, etc. But now that he’s a toddler and sooo active, family photos aren’t so simple.

The last year or so I’ve found that the only photos we have of all of us are holiday-themed. Not that there is anything wrong with those, but sometimes I want a season-less photo to print and hang on our walls. We just don’t have that many!

So, if you’ve got children, try to get some photos that don’t look Christmas-y. In other words, in past years, I should have taken a few without the sled and the mini-tree. Or — if we are doing red and green, one of those colors might only be in the accessories, so we can take them off and get a not-so-Christmas photo too.

#6. Take along some Extended Family

Since we were getting all dressed up to go take some photos, my mom came a long with us too.

While we had the kiddo in picture taking mode, we got some other special photos on that same day!

#7. Buy Transparent Address Labels for the Photo Cards

This year we are addressing photo cards, mailing them, ordering gifts, and moving at the same time. Rather than hand-address each card, we’re using these transparent labels instead.

We keep addresses in an Excel file, and then we can just print them directly onto labels. Since these are transparent, we can choose a pretty italics for the address and it will look practically seamless against the envelope.

A bonus tip…

I’ll tell you one more photo tip too — prayer. I’m sure it sounds silly, but I was literally praying that God would give us some special photos of our family. I know it’s a little thing — but I know He cares about the desires of His children {Psalm 37:4}. I prayed that God would give my little boy patience and a happy attitude and he blessed that completely.

Do you have any other tips for Christmas Photos?

I can’t wait to hear your tips 🙂

Craftivity Designs

Friday 27th of December 2013

I'm glad you got a few good ones, Kimberlee. It is not easy with kids that is for sure -- and I only had one to try to coax into a good photo, LOL. It would be even tougher with more!!

Kimberlee Gibson

Thursday 19th of December 2013

Great photo tips. I took ours the day before you posted this. I like your pose ideas. I am dealing with a family of teenage boys - 3 of them and 1 husband. I am the only female. My 3 sons are really not very interested in taking nice photos. We kept having to redo them because one of my twin boys kept making funny faces on purpose. The joy of boys! We actually did get a couple that turned out okay though.

Craftivity Designs

Tuesday 17th of December 2013

Thanks, Gretchen! I know, I feel like I should address them by hand but it is so time consuming! There was just no way I could pull it off this year. Though I admit, after doing it this way, I don't know if I'll go back, lol.

Craftivity Designs

Tuesday 17th of December 2013

That's a great tip Wani! And so true!! Originally I had picked out a tie for my little boy, because it would have been so cute. However, he didn't want that thing on at all -- and it was much more important that he stay comfy and happy!


Monday 16th of December 2013

Great post! One thing I like to tell people when they are preparing for family pictures is to be themselves. Sure, its nice to coordinate but make sure no one is stuck in an outfit they don't like or is uncomfortable or unflattering just for the sake of going with the color scheme. ;-) You want everyone to be as natural and relaxed as possible. And when doing photo sessions with kids make sure they are well rested and well fed! I guess that last tip goes for grown-ups too!