Mom Advice

How to Take A Perfect Family Picture for Holiday Cards

It’s almost that time of year when your practically perfect mommy friends start sending holiday cards. Their darling family always looks like they belong in a magazine. Everyone is smiling, wearing matching outfits and looking calm and content. And in a moment of weakness, when you are staring at their pristine, professional quality picture, you decide it would be a good idea to do a family picture on your holiday card too.

I too, fall into the comparison game. Every year, my family tries to capture the perfect family picture for our annual holiday card. We dress up in coordinating outfits and entice the pets with treats. The, we attempt to get that one magic picture that will go on our holiday cards for the year and perfectly sum up our family.

Family picture blooper.
We were freezing and the “natural light” was in our eyes.

Life with three kids is never easy, but trying to get all of them to stand next to each other and smile at the same time is almost impossible. Then, add in a grumpy husband and two dogs and well . . . you get the picture (pun intended).

This year, I thought it would be fun to document the process for my readers and turn it into a tutorial. So here you go – step by step instructions on how to capture the perfect family picture for your holiday cards!

Pick the perfect date to take the family picture for your holiday cards

We usually do it on Thanksgiving Day because we have to dress up for dinner anyway. Plus everyone will be home and sports practices are cancelled. Whatever date you choose, clear it with your partner, children, the president, the pets, extended family and whoever else normally takes a spot on your calendar.

Make sure that you choose a date in November or early December. This gives you have time to edit the photos, order the cards and get them out in the mail before the holidays. Nothing is worse than taking the time to do all this and having to scramble at the last minute to get the cards out in the mail.

Choose matching outfits

This needs to be done weeks in advance. Make sure you choose a color that looks terrible on someone in the family so they have something to complain about. It’s much more fun that way.

The outfits don’t have to be exactly matching, but they should at least compliment each other. You could try mom and dad in one color and the kids in a different one. Or the boys in one color and the girls is another one. You get the idea, right?

Pick a location to take your family picture for your holiday cards

I always want to do the pictures in front of the fireplace, but according to my husband, our house has “no light” and is completely unacceptable for taking pictures. This means that we move it outside into the natural light. And the freezing cold. And we can’t wear coats because then no one will see our charming, matching outfits.

Trying to capture the perfect family photo
Trying to capture the perfect family photo

Wake everyone up early

Remember, we had to get the best natural light, so I tortured everyone by waking them up at 9am. And then I only gave them one hour to get ready for the picture. Keep in mind, my kids get up at 6am for school, but I’m assuming they were planning to sleep all day by the commotion that they made.

Waking them up early also gives you time to fuss over everyone and make sure they look perfect. Tuck in their shirts and use some mom spit to comb down their hair. Assure everyone that they don’t look like a dork and that they neighbors are definitely not staring at us.

Get your pets in on the action too

What family picture would be complete without the family pets? And we all know how much they love wearing stupid outfits, right? So make sure that you put darling little outfits on them too. And remember, they need to match you too!

Now, in addition to trying to keep the kids clean, you have to make sure the pets don’t eat their outfits before you get the perfect family picture for your holiday cards.

Take the actual family picture for the holiday cards

Here is the moment you have been waiting for! You get to stand outside in the freezing cold while your spouse sets up the camera. Wait until he is ninety-nine percent done, then give up and go inside, which will tick him off because he is still standing in the cold.

When he starts screaming, come back outside, pose everyone and attempt to actually take the picture. You will probably have to smack at least one child in the back of the head because they are still pissy about waking up before noon.

Everyone should smile and huddle close together to stay warm. Then, you can take another 50 pictures while silently praying that at least one will look decent enough to put on the holiday cards.

Make sure that you attempt to get a few pictures with the family pets too. Keep taking pictures until your partner gets frustrated because the pets won’t sit still or the dog drools on someone’s new outfit.

Decide you have had enough

Give up, run inside before you freeze to death, change back into leggings and thank the lord for Photoshop.

The pets were in the family picture too
When one sits nicely, the other one wanders away. 

And there you have it folks – the step by step guide for taking the perfect family picture!

Other articles you might like:

Surviving traveling with teenagers

How to get your teenagers to talk to you

How to get everything done

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How to take the perfect family photo
How to take the perfect family photo
Family picture for holiday cards
Family picture for holiday cards

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