Tips for Taking Your Own Christmas Card Photos

After breakfast one mid-November morning, I told my 2 ½ year old little man it was time to put on his Christmas pajamas and go jump on mommy and daddy’s bed.  He was more agreeable than ever to get his PJ’s on!  He was probably thinking that mommy had lost her mind!

With toddler in pajamas, stuffed animals, fuzzy pillows, and blankets all around, I encouraged him to “jump, jump, jump.”  He laughed, smiled, and we had a good ol’ time!  (And he took an awesome nap that day!) 

The reason behind this very strange morning activity?  To take pictures for our Christmas card, of course!

Sending Christmas cards, just like hanging Christmas lights, putting up a tree, baking cookies, and watching my FAVORITE movie, “Elf,” are traditions.  And I’m stickin’ to ‘em!

I especially love photo cards at Christmas time.  Sure we have Facebook and may see pictures of our friends and family often, but I just like having an actual card to hold in my hands with my loved ones smiling faces on it.

Christmas card photos

I’m sure many of you cringe at the thought of gathering up all the little and big ones, coordinating outfits, and getting the perfect smile on everyone’s face just to get that one perfect shot for the Christmas card.  My husband will agree with you.

But here’s my question: why does getting the “perfect” Christmas card photo have to be so hard? And does it have to be perfect?

If you have time and money to hire a professional photographer, wonderful! Your photos will be amazing!

If you are running out of time (there are only 20 days until Christmas) and are more of the do-it-yourselfer, here are a few of my best tips for capturing fun and unique images.

Tips for Taking Holiday Photos with Kids

1. Pick the best time.

Capture your kiddos in the morning after breakfast or after naptime when they are typically in the best moods!

2. Have good lighting.

Set up your little photo shoot near a window or any place where you will have good light for taking pics. 

3. Plan ahead.  

Plan ahead of time for the props and setting, while considering the ages of your kids and their ability to sit still for pictures.  Always think of safety for your babies and kiddos when picking props. 

Babies: Little blobs that you can place wherever you’d like and they stay put.  It’s super easy to set a baby in front of the tree, in a stocking, in a box wrapped like a present with the lid off…get creative!

Walkers: Find a way to keep your toddler as still as possible.  Last year my little man was 1 ½, so I definitely needed a way to slow him down.  I put him in his high chair in front of the Christmas tree with ornaments on the tray to look at and hold.  It was a success!  Or you could take his/her picture while he/she inspects the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree or holds a wrapped present with lots of shiny bows.

Very Active Toddler: My little man now falls in this category and there’s not much that will keep him still for long.  Which is what led to pajamas and jumping on the bed!  (For safety I placed pillows and blankets all along the sides of the bed.  And for the record, he did not fall off!)    

Preschoolers & Big Kids: Get creative!  Take pics during an activity like putting ornaments on the tree, decorating cookies or gingerbread houses.  Play dress up with Santa hats and reindeer antlers.

4. Have FUN

If the kiddos are enjoying themselves, you’ll be able to get your “perfect” Christmas card picture without any forced cheese faces!  Their happy little personalities will shine on your card!

christmas card holiday photos

Printing Your Images

So once you’ve taken your pictures, where do you make a photo card?  A Google search for “Christmas photo cards” will lead you to gazillions of sites.  This year I chose to use  (I had coupons! 40% off, plus $10 off, plus free shipping!) After narrowing down over 200 pictures from the jumping morning (lots were blurry), I made a card with the five best pictures.  

If you have time, check out a few sites and look for coupon codes.  This time of year most sites are running promotions on holiday cards.  There are lots of options for the style of card, number of photos to use, card size, type of photo paper or card stock, matte or shimmer, and square or round corners.

A money saving alternative to getting photo cards printed is to get multiple copies of your best picture printed and enclose the photo along with your standard holiday greeting card or kid’s handmade card.  In case you run out of time, you could do a Happy New Years card!Shari - cardfront2013

Are you keeping the Christmas card tradition alive and sending cards this year? 


Shari is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Cedar Rapids with her husband Mark, 2 boys and a pug named Yoda. Her toddler and preschool age boys keep her very busy. She loves warm Iowa days for playing outside with her family. In her "spare time" Shari enjoys quiet activities like crafting, browsing Pinterest, learning photography, creating family photo books and watching favorite shows with her husband. She also loves Iowa City Moms Blog and her MOPS group for the connections with other mommies!


  1. I LOVE doing Christmas photo cards each year! I start planning months ahead, and then look over all the websites for the best deal.
    I went with a Groupon from Zazzle this year. The picture/paper quality was great, but I wasn’t impressed with the website itself. Not very user friendly to edit your card.
    A couple of my friends recommended Costco for cards. Their website looks very easy to navigate, and you can get a lot of cards for pretty cheap.
    Happy Christmas Card Mailing!

  2. We use Vistaprint to print postcards- the kind for business advertising. It was $13.22 for 50 cards (including printing on the back, which costs a bit extra.)
    And sending a postcard costs less than a regular card too 🙂

    We send to the grandparents in an envelope to protect the cards, but figure if the rest get a little beat up, it will be fine.

    We did this for our birth announcements too.


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