Are you DIY’ing the family holiday card this year?
Yup it’s that time of year again: time to start thinking about the annual family holiday card. If you’re on top of things, you’ve already got your photos done and the card is just about finalized. Or maybe it’s on your to-do list you just haven’t gotten to it yet. I hear ya, I haven’t done mine yet either, but the ideas have been swirling around in my head for the last few weeks. Now I just need to give my husband proper lead time to mentally prepare himself for wrangling our two kids into what I try to make the “perfect” holiday card every year.
Our card last year was nothing short of a fiasco. I had this vision of our then two year old perfectly holding our 2 month old in this cute little sled. They’d both be looking at the camera and smiling and everyone would comment on how amazing the photo was. Ummmm no didn’t happen. My 2 year old couldn’t hold up his baby brother all that well, he constantly wanted to throw him to the side so he could climb out of the sled, the baby just cried because he hated wearing hats, was not stable in the sled and was likely cold and/or hungry at the time. And my husband, well, let’s just say after five minutes of “what the heck is happening right now” was ready to walk away and let me figure it out on my own.
Then in the midst of the chaos, out of shear desperation to end the madness, my husband did the most amazing thing. He knelt down behind the sled while holding up the baby and said “just photoshop me out”. I literally laughed out loud and took the photo. Needless to say that was the end of the “photo session”. As I looked through the photos on the back of the camera while feeling frustrated that my best laid plans went terribly wrong, I came across the photo and laughed for two minutes straight I actually cried. The photo that landed itself on the front of our card perfectly summed up our life at that time. Sometimes you just have to let go of “perfect” and settle for perfectly imperfect and honestly, that’s the best way to see life when you have small kids that you just can’t control! So yes, this is our card from last year and it still makes me laugh.
Annnnnd the back of the card, well I only did three additional sessions with the kids to get these four photos out of the 789 that I probably took.
So from one mom to another, here a few tips on how to make the most out of your holiday photo session:
Figure out your vision for the card
Take some time to think about what you want your card to look like. Do you just want the kids in it? Are you including the family dog? Or do you want the entire family in it? Do you want to take the photos indoors next to the fireplace, or outside in the backyard or maybe at a park that you really love? Give yourself some time to think about all this because winging it can be stressful and you might end up with photos you don’t really like.
What to wear?
This is really important because what you wear is crucial to the aesthetic of the card. Is everyone going to wear Christmas jammies or pea coats and hats? I’m personally not a fan of matchy, matchy. Instead of everyone wearing the same color or outfit, mix it up and coordinate with colors and patterns. Here are few examples from some of my recent sessions that I thought did a great job of coordinating their outfits.
See what I mean? The colors and patterns are so well coordinated. We’ve got blues, grays, sparkly and checkered patterns, and scarves, faux fur, and headbands. These color palettes feel fun and fresh. So when thinking about what to wear, plan ahead, lay outfits out on the bed to see how they jive next to each other, iron out the wrinkles and get crackin’!
Properly Plan if you have a baby and/or toddlers
I can’t stress this enough: have low expectations and you’ll be ok! I’m kidding (kind of). Seriously though these tips should help wrangle the kiddos into getting those shots you want.
[li]Take the photo after a good nap. Tired, cranky kids look, well, tired and cranky.[/li]
[li]Feed your child(ren) before the session so they have one less thing to complain about.[/li]
[li]Bribes. They work wonders. But refrain from giving them a messy snack during the session, or you’ll end up with that messy snack on their face/hands/outfits.[/li]
[li]Dress them appropriately. If you’re taking the photos outside and it happens to be a cold day, dress them in layers or throw a cute coat on them. Cold children do not photograph well. I promise you they don’t. No amount of photoshopping can get that lip chattering, red cheeked, runny nose look off your child.[/li]
[li]Go with the flow! If your vision is going terribly wrong because of uncooperative participants (been there!), change it up a bit. Let the kids run and get action shots, have someone hold the baby and get photos that way. In the end if it showcases what your family is really like and it makes you smile then save yourself the frustration and just go with it![/li]
You’ve taken the photos now what?
You have your winning photos and it’s time for the card design. I personally buy my photoshop templates from Etsy and customize them as needed for our family card and client cards as well for that matter. But if photoshop isn’t your thing and drag and drop is more your speed then online card designers like Minted, Tiny Prints and MPix are three shops that I like to recommend because they have lots of design options to choose from and the paper quality is pretty good too.
If you’ve read this entire post and are still feeling a bit shaky about the whole DIY thing or just don’t have the time or energy to put into it, then call your favorite photographer and beg that he or she will squeeze you in last minute! Hope your card turns out fabulous! Happy Holidays!
A Few Tips if you Plan on DIY’ing the Family Holiday Card This Year
FILED IN: Helpful Tips
November 27, 2016