How To Get The Perfect Christmas Card Photo Without All The Stress

The Christmas season is under way! There is no shortage of advertisements for the perfect gizmos. The grocery stores are fully stocked with all the fixin’s. Moms are gearing up and making a list of all their to-dos, and at the top of the list are those pesky Christmas card photos.

You remember last year’s, right!? The one where your toddler was screaming his head off and the baby projectile vomited all over you. No? You mean you didn’t feel like you were in a bad horror film? Well maybe it wasn’t that terrible, but you still spent time stressing over everything: budget, outfits, your children’s current moods, etc. 

This year, there is no need to stress! I have a few tips for getting the perfect Christmas card photos.

Tips for Perfect Christmas Card Photos

1. Outfits

Take the kids in their pajamas! It’s my biggest de-stresser! Seriously, think about it! You went through all the planning and budgeting, just for your toddler to have an “accident” on the way there or the baby to have a massive blowout? I don’t think so! I always place my daughter’s outfits and accessories in the car the night before, making it super easy to load up the next morning and head out! 

What if our pictures are outside? No worries, just dress them in the car once you get there! Yes, it takes a bit more effort, but trust me–it’s doable! We did it one year with our oldest and she had two outfit changes that year.

2. Non-traditional Photographs 

When it comes to taking photographs, children are the least enthused. This is why it’s important to think outside the box. Photographs of everyone staring at the camera have their place, and I always strive to have a few from each session. But, in truth, I love photographs that show our true personalities and things we enjoy doing in our day-to-day lives.

For example, my oldest has always been a mover and a shaker. So, for one of our Christmas sessions I brought along a few books to read while some of the photos were taken. It was the perfect way to keep her engaged for a few minutes, while doing something we always do together–read books. This photograph turned out to be my favorite!

Tips for getting perfect christmas card photos
Photo Credit: Colette Brockman Photography

3. Snacks

A little bribery never hurt! We always bring snacks to every session. I always consider two things when bringing snacks: what my children are wearing (light/dark clothes) and the type of snacks that would work best. I want it to be a real treat to keep them motivated, so it can’t be something they have all the time. But it also can’t be super messy. We have done things like marshmallows, apples, M&Ms, etc.

Tips for getting perfect christmas card photos
(She is holding marshmallows in her hands.)
Photo Credit: Colette Brockman Photography

4. Schedule

The holiday season is busy; trust me, I understand! But children don’t. Make a list of the most important things you want to accomplish for the holidays. If photographs are one of them, then make sure to schedule a session in advance, so you get a time slot that works best for your children’s daily schedule. Don’t try to squeeze in a quick session during lunch or nap time because you have a million other things on your to-do list. That’s a recipe for disaster! When we schedule a photo session, we don’t make any other plans for that day to ensure we don’t feel rushed.

5. Photographer

Remember when we were kids and our moms would haul us down to the local department store for photos? There you were, sitting with your siblings, in tights that itched like crazy! The photographer held up a squeaky toy like it was the holy grail, and you were supposed to be mesmerized. Your mom was saying, “Smile, kids!” in a nice, but extremely stressed tone, because she wanted the perfect photos to send grandma. 

Luckily, times have changed! Now, there are a plethora of skilled photographers to choose from. Here are some of our favorite local photographers! When choosing a photographer, there are a few things to consider:

1. Are they good with kids?

2. Can they think outside the box?

3. Are they skilled at their craft?

A skilled photographer spends time editing the best images. With multiple people in a photograph, that often means doing things like head swaps and composites. All of these take time and experience, in order to make each image look as natural as possible.

(This was photographed with a pacifier in the baby's mouth.) Photo Credit: Colette Brockman Photography
(This was originally photographed with a pacifier in the baby’s mouth.)
Photo Credit: Colette Brockman Photography

After a few sessions, our family photographer got to know my oldest daughter well. So for one of her sessions, she suggested finger painting. It was the perfect way to get some amazing photographs of our busy bee and showcase her true personality!  

Photo Credit: Colette Brockman Photography
Photo Credit: Colette Brockman Photography

So, don’t stress this holiday season! Plan ahead. It’s the best recipe for a perfect photo session! But most importantly, remember to relax and have fun with your children. If you do that, your photos will be a true representation of your family!


Nikki Wildemuth
Nikki is new to the area. She graduated from the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Campus in 2009 with a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education. She married her husband the same year. Nikki loved the creativity of teaching and continues to bring that same creativity as a stay at home mom. During the day you can find her chasing after her precocious toddler. By night she is a Pinterest junkie! She enjoys getting out and spending time with her family!


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