5 Commandments of Christmas Card Photos


It’s coming….can you feel it? The minute the pumpkin spice lattes descend on us, your heart starts to constrict. There is a weight upon your chest. Do you know what that feeling is? It’s the crushing weight of getting the perfect Christmas card picture. And the minute there are pumpkin JoJos at Trader Joe’s, we are filled with anxious questions. What local field can we go stand in wearing our very best clothes? What photographer can we pay our hard earned dollars to so that we can yell at our whole family to JUST SMILE ONCE FOR THE LOVE. What Saturday can we cram this hour of torture into that is late enough that we don’t sweat into puddles and early enough to still get that early discount on cards on Shutterfly?

Head my warnings. It was a million degrees and these jackets were dumb and made everyone grumpy.

Christmas card photos are not for the faint of heart. That is why I love getting Christmas cards. Each one demonstrates not only a family’s holiday tidings but countless hours of worry and shopping and planning by every mother represented.

This picture doesn’t matter to anyone in your family as much as it does to you, so plan accordingly. I have compiled a list of 5 Christmas Card Commandments to make this arduous task a smidge more pleasant.

  1. Don’t take the slot during naptime. I know that sometimes it is tempting to take the last available mini-session from your favorite photographer even if it is during toddler’s naptime. Don’t do it. You know better. This is hard enough without setting yourself up for failure. Only take an appointment during a time that is good for your kids and won’t throw anyone off their groove.
  2. Dress for the season you are in. We live in Texas where fall is a myth and a legend with its supposed lower temperatures and crisp mornings. It is still 90 every day- you are going to get sweaty, red-faced babies in your pictures if you make them go do pictures in denim jackets and fur vests. Fall colors in warmer weather styles are going to be your best friend here.
  3. Order matters. If you have been dreaming up a specific shot in your head, do it first when everyone is fresh. Then let everyone run and play and get some action shots. Then give some posed ones another try. In my experience, you get about 7 minutes of cooperation at a time–make the most of it.
  4. Clear communication of expectations/bribery. I am above NOTHING when it comes to dealing with this. My husband hates last-minute obligations that he is not prepared for. So I am clear with him way before the day of the photoshoot and I tell him that I know he hates this, but it is very important to me and here is what I need from him. I think that older children can be told that you don’t care if they don’t like it, it is important to you and they are expected to act a certain way or there will be consequences. And bribery is on the table for husbands and children of all ages.
  5. Focus on Mama. I have a policy for all family pictures be they fancy ones or snapshots on Facebook: we pick the one where mama looks good so you better be acting right in all of them. I care about a good family photo more than anyone else in my family ever will. I will look at it more than anyone else in my family ever will. I want to look back on it and smile. So you better believe I am picking the one I like of me. I have 5000 adorable pictures of my kids. We have all given our entire lives to these little families of ours, and I don’t think it is unreasonable to want to be the best version of myself in a special photo.
Was there a photo that was had better smiles from Odette and Mae? Yep. Did we use this one because I looked better? Dang right.

There is no need to fear the Christmas card photoshoot. It is hard. There are schedules to coordinate, outfits to plan, children to wrangle. At some point you will be in high heels, wearing your best Spanx standing in a hot field surrounded by screaming children and think that this is dumb and you are just going to text people Christmas memes instead of sending cards. But just like everything else in this ridiculous journey of motherhood, it’s hard but worth it.


  1. Your pictures are darling and I agree with everything you listed! One thing that has taken away allllllll my stress is learning some minor photoshop skills…namely head swapping! I always pick the picture that is best of me and swap everyone else’s heads to create a “composite” image where everyone looks their best. When it comes to the family picture…I have no shame using artistic liberties to get the picture I love. If you have the digital files of your pics, I’d be happy to head swap for you, if there are some perfect smiles spread across multiple pics. Just let me know!


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