6 Holiday Photo Card Tips

Merriest Christmas holiday card (Flat)

Ahh, the dreaded family holiday photo!

No, taking photos for holiday cards is not everyone’s favorite thing to do. However, with these 6 holiday photo card tips, you can make your photo shoot quicker and more enjoyable  and your card prettier!

Holiday Photo Card Tips: 1. Set a time and give your family notice

Most families are busy, and many children don’t enjoy taking photos. Give everyone enough time to prepare and look nice. If you have young kids, think about taking your photos in the morning when your kids are more awake. If your kids tend to be grouchy in the morning, take one in the late afternoon.

Holiday Photo Card Tips: 2. Choose a neutral background

The main focus of your holiday card should be your family — not the background. Make sure furniture and home décor is at a minimum and the setting is clean and tidy. If you take a photo in front of the Christmas tree, ensure a good distance between your family and the tree. If everyone is too close, the camera will focus on the tree and not your lovely faces.

We love outdoor settings. It looks very natural, and psychologically, humans prefer open spaces. We are hardwired to look for this setting because — back in our primitive days — it allowed us to spot any predator or threat (Side note: this is why medical advertisements always feature a patient on the beach or in a field of flowers; it automatically puts the viewer at ease). The best locations are clutter-free, such as walls, fences, parks or the beach. Be sure to include lots of sky, grass or pavement if you would like to add text or design overlay.

BONUS POINT: If you want a card that is ultra seasonal, take your photo at a tree farm or on a field of snow.

Holiday Photo Card Tips: 3. Use lighting to your advantage

Just after sunrise and before sunset are the best times for photo shoots. The lighting will be more consistent and not too bright. Avoid direct sunlight if you are outside and find some shade. However, don’t use too much shade as that will create too many shadows and a patchy photograph.

If you are inside, take photos near windows. Natural light always looks the prettiest, so turn off any artificial lights to avoid messing up the sunlight or casting an unflattering view.

Holiday Photo Card Tips: 4. Dress for success

Like your background, your clothes need to be neutral so as not to distract from your faces. As a general rule, avoid patterns unless it is subtle and neutral-toned. One exception is flannel, as this pattern is seasonal.

Whatever apparel you choose, just ensure everyone is dressed similarly.

Holiday Photo Card Tips: 5. Take lots of photos

A good photographer takes lots of photos. It is rare that you will have your best picture on the first try. Try switching up positions, orientations and zoom level. Mix up who’s in each shot. Take a photo of each child individually, parents together and parents with each child. If for some reason no one can agree on a full-family photo, you will have alternatives to create a photo collage card.

Although you will want to take some close-ups, it’s best to take most photos a little zoomed-out. This allows for cropping in case your photo card requires certain dimensions.

Holiday Photo Card Tips: 6. Relax

You don’t want to look too stiff or too posed. If you are not having a professional take your photos, ask a friend that your spouse (and kids) feel comfortable with. Think of a few jokes to tell when everyone gets tired. If your pet is in the photo, have some treats on hand. If your pet isn’t in the photo, allow him or her to be nearby so that he or she can interact with your family between shots.

Sometimes, the best times to get relaxed pictures of your family are when they are not looking. Have the camera ready to take some awesome candid shots.


Have the photo, but need a design? Check these out.

Still hate taking family photos? Check out our non-photo holiday cards.

For more holiday card inspiration, check out our Pinterest.