Tips, Ideas and Inspiration for Planning a Family Holiday Card
I probably obsess way too much over our holiday cards, but I LOVE them. I love everyone's holiday cards, especially the photo cards. I never take in the mail, my husband does when he comes home from work, but holiday season - no matter how cold it is - I am running to that mailbox. With so much now being electronic, I find that what typically comes in the mail is always so boring. To me there is nothing more exciting and special to open "joyful" mail, whether a wedding invitation, birthday card, thank you card; I LOVE happy "real" mailbox mail!
Ok, enough. I swear this post isn't sponsored by the USPS!
In the past years since having our kids, I have received many compliments on how I style family photos and holiday cards. Several of my friends have solicited me for advice so I thought I'd make a post out of it! (see all of our past year's cards below)
Here are some things to consider when styling/planning your family's holiday card:
1. How old are your kids?
You may have an awesome idea in mind, but if you have a newborn who essentially is a sweet little mushy thing, it may not work out. I suggest you do some research and search either on Google or Pinterest "infant holiday cards." Choose a pose or position that will accommodate your baby, life will be much easier this way!
If you have a crazy toddler who won't sit still for two minutes, having holiday cards taken in a studio may be stressful and a challenge. Consider doing an outdoor shoot or more candid photos.
2. Are you going to feature just the kids or the whole family?
If you are only focusing on your children, choosing outfits is much easier, but again depending on their age it may be easier for you to hold them or be in the photo as well. Decide ahead of time so you know what to plan for, this way you can keep an eye out when you are out shopping, or browsing online.
I personally like to have a certain "feel" or "theme" to go off of. Do you want it to look Christmasy? Fall? Do you want it to be funny? Formal or informal? If you have a theme, style, or color scheme to go off of I find it makes things more focused and easy to plan for.
4. Start Planning Ahead of Time
Maybe for next year's card you want to do pictures of the kids throughout the year, some summer vacation pics etc. Remind yourself, set up a folder on the computer and when you have a great pic from a party, vacation, or a random day playing outside remember to save it to that folder. Then you won't go crazy scrolling through your 5,000 photos on your phone or asking your mom to text you pictures from the kid's birthday that you think she took, or was that your mother-in-law? Dammit. Plan, girl plan!
5. Outfits and Props
Since I start thinking about my card relatively early, I give myself time to gather clothing pieces (that I either already have or need to purchase). I also get inspiration from bopping around the stores on my Mommy's nights out. Maybe there is a cute banner in the dollar bin at Target that you think, this is stinking adorable! Grab that three dollar sucker, go home and brainstorm how you can incorporate it into your photo.
As far as the clothing goes, I try not to get overly matchy matchy, but do like to have everyone "coordinating." I am a crazy over buyer/constant returner. I will go to the store and buy a whole bunch of different outfits that I think may work together then go home, lay them out together and see what I like. Then return anything I do not like.
6. Professional photographer or not?
Personally, my vote is for professional. It does depend on what kind of card you are going for. As I mentioned earlier if you are going to do a collage of your kids throughout the year, then a pro isn't necessary.
Last year with all three of our kids, we did an outside shoot with our photographer Sandy from Perceptions Photography, and I thought for sure the whole thing was a disaster. I was SHOCKED at how many amazing shots she got with Greyson running around like a mad man the whole time, and my twins cranky and tired. For a list of awesome tips for planning for a family photo session with a pro, check out THIS post.
7. Can I go to a store that does photos?
Sure you can, if you want a studio look to your card. I am personally not a huge fan of store photography, unless you go in there very prepared, have your own props and your kids are a little older and will cooperate.
I have only brought my son to do some pictures with his cousin to a store photographer and it was challenging. It gets hot, they are typically very busy and you are stressed for time, there are people waiting with their kids, the whole vibe to me is just chaotic.
8. What if I can't afford a professional photographer?
I totally get it. The pros are certainly more pricey than other options. Ask around and see if anyone has any recommendations for new photographers who are starting off and are relatively inexpensive. You can also see if there is someone in your family who has a decent camera (not a phone camera) and is pretty good at taking pictures. See if they wouldn't mind taking some pictures for you.
9. Where do I find my inspiration?
I suggest you go on Pinterest or Google and search for holiday card ideas, or family holiday photos. Even if you are going to go with a photographer check out Shutterfly, Minted, or Tiny Prints for ideas from their sample cards.
I know last year I knew what I wanted my font to look like on our card from inspiration from a card I saw on one of those sites.
Remember you don't necessarily have to "copy" someone else's card. You can see it, like it, and remix it to work for you and your family.
Last year it was my intention to take pictures at a log cabin, we ended up in the same outfits I envisioned only at a tree farm.
10. Try not to wait until the last minute, or if you did....
I know that juggling kids is tough, this is why I also go the pro route so it is scheduled, I have a deadline and I know it's getting done. I also know that taking family pictures with a three year old and two 20 month olds is STRESSFUL! This is supposed to be a joyous time of year, so do what works for you. If you did wait until the last minute and now you are driving yourself nuts putting up a tree in your living room, and wrapping your kids in string lights, and everyone is just screaming, and one has snot pouring down his face - momma, just call it quits! Remember that cute picture from cousin so and so's christening in the spring? Get the sucker downloaded and use it for your card!!
Here are our family cards over the past three years since we have had our children:
2015 (Photography and card design by Perceptions Photography)
2014 (Photography and card design by Sebastian Photography)
2013 (Photos taken by my brother in law and printed via Shutterfly)
Good luck everyone and Happy Holidays!!
**This is NOT a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.