11 Christmas Outfit Tips for the Family Photo Shoot

Say goodbye to family Christmas photos overshadowed by Mom’s “wear this so we can match”, knitted sweaters. (Sorry Mom—you had a good run!) It’s finally your time to shine. But how do you even wrap your head around what works for your family? Whether you have a family of two that suddenly grew, or a large group of seven, follow these eleven tips and ideas to coordinate your best Christmas outfits yet.

Tip 1: Visualize your Christmas card.

The card’s design will have an impact on what photos you can use and outfits you can wear. A quick peruse of Christmas card designs can help give you an idea for your attire. If you’re more drawn to ornate designs, you may want to dress simpler to balance the whole look of the card (and vice versa). Know that you want gold foil on your card? Incorporate some gold jewelry to tie the photo and design together. Planning ahead will give you more design options to choose from at the end. The little details will make all the difference.

Tip 2: Determine if you want an indoor or outdoor family photo.

Indoor Christmas outfits tend to have more flexibility while outdoor attire can have more factors involved.

For Christmas outfit ideas for an indoor photo shoot:

  • Roll out of bed in your PJs. Whether they’re matching onesies or mismatched pieces, take the efficient route and wake up in your outfits.
  • Go glam when it’s too cold outside. There’s no reason why you can’t dress up for indoor photos too! Since you’re able to better control the temperature inside, go for that luxe dress you were hoping to wear all holiday season. Channel your inner front cover magazine dreams and model by your fireplace.
  • Be comfy, casual, and timeless. Cream and white sweaters paired with jeans are great closet staples to take advantage of. Don’t own any sweaters? A white t-shirt will do the trick just as well.
Family wearing holiday pajamas

For family Christmas photo outfit ideas for the great outdoors:

  • Make practical clothing choices. Can you really wear that dress in the cold if you sleep with fleece pants in 75 degree weather? Keeping warm while outdoors is essential to natural smiles. No one looks good when forcing a smile in the cold.
  • Choose your fabric wisely. Will your solid, satin stilettos on the beach end up as a new pair of textured shoes? As great as your legs might look in those shoes, be mindful of the environment you will be exposing yourself to. You never know what you might step in or get stuck on when walking around.
  • Leave camouflage to Waldo. Will your family become one with the trees if you all wear the same shade of green? The outdoors can be a great colorful backdrop, especially for a woodsy Christmas theme. Even if green is your favorite color, you don’t want that to be the only thing people see. Make sure to differentiate yourself from the environment to bring out faces in the photo.

Tip 3: Remember that color is key...

No matter what type of family picture outfit you choose (theme-based, festive, or casual), colors play a crucial role in keeping photo harmony. You can choose to showcase a color (such as red) and have that color pop throughout your family’s outfits. (For even more precise matching, make sure those reds have similar undertones. For instance, a blue-red tie may clash with a brighter orange-red sweater.) Just like makeup, you want color to enhance your overall look, not overwhelm it.

If looking to highlight members in your family photo, such as a newborn, dress them in a bright color or a slightly more decorative pattern. For even greater emphasis, swaddle them up in festive colors to showcase their dainty size. Choosing what to wear for your little one is especially fun since the sky’s the limit—they don’t know how to negotiate yet. Read through these articles for more tips on photographing children and newborns!

Family smiling outdoors

Tip 4: ...and the key to color is neutrals.

While color is a great way to bring cohesiveness in a group image, neutrals help ground your photo. Too many varying colors can distract your Christmas card’s recipients from focusing on you and your family. If you prefer to take your family photo against a busier background, neutral outfits are a great contrast to it. A red lip with a black top pairs great with a spouse’s black sweater and blue jeans. Finish the look with a cozy outfit and some red sneakers for your little one. Adding subtle peeks of a softer color can also help break up a more monotone look.

Family standing in front of colorful mural

Tip 5: Stay within the same color palette.

Adding color to your photo is a delicate balance. Too many different colors can create visual chaos. However, the perfect color mix weaved throughout your photo will add instant polish to your overall look. We’ve outlined some of our favorite palettes:

  • For a more traditional Christmas look with an elevated modern take, turn to earthy palettes. Colors like forest green, rust, and tan group beautifully together.
  • For a softer aesthetic, look to muted colors for inspiration. Dusty blue and/or blush, accompanied with white and light grey, against a snowy backdrop, will transport your family into a winter wonderland.
  • For an elegant ambiance, jewel tones are your best bet. Rich colors like burgundy, golden yellow, and emerald will add great depth to everyone’s outfits.
Father holding baby

Tip 6: Return to the basics.

If a quirky photo isn’t quite your cup of tea, dress for a classic black and white photo. Although different colors won’t be seen in the photo, the brightness of your clothing will be visible in these classy photos. Fair-skinned complexions are best contrasted with darker clothing while darker complexions are brought out by wearing lighter colors. To avoid glowing like a ghost in a picture, refrain from stark contrasts of dark and light. This means saying no to black tops with pure white pants—unless you don’t mind your legs looking like toothpaste.

Additionally, you will want the color of your outfits to have some tonality. The benefit of a variation of tones is that it will add more visual interest to your family photo. Tones are crucial to creating depth in black and white photos. If everyone wore the same shade of black in a dark environment, the post-editing process to add depth will take much longer to fix.

Family smiling

Tip 7: Remember that not all Christmases are alike.

If you’re lucky enough to live in warm weather throughout all seasons, why not show that off in your card? Bring some sunshine to your friends and family with photos that show your family:

  • Surfing in wetsuits
  • Barbequing in tanks and shorts
  • Road tripping across the state
  • Standing outside your church in your Sunday best
  • Eating popsicles in your Hawaiian shirts

For some additional humor, add reindeer headbands or elvish socks to contrast your unique Christmas. You can even satisfy your longing for summer clothes by using last July’s travel photos.

Tip 8: Save time on last-minute Christmas outfit ideas for your holiday card.

Sometimes life and the holidays can throw a million things at you and your family outfit ideas are the last thing on your mind. No need to worry though—here’s how to determine what to wear ASAP:

  • Get double the use from past event photos. Since you are more likely to dress up for events, photos from your wedding, maternity shoots, or children’s birthdays are great resources for finding well-dressed pictures of your family together. Utilize those moments!
  • When in doubt, use your feet to bail you out. Even plans to match can end up as a mess—zippers come undone, hats cover faces, or Thanksgiving takes a greater toll on your body and you have to rethink what to wear. Skip over those potential hazards and speed up your photo taking with a snap of your family’s shoes or feet. It’s easily accessible and it’ll undoubtedly stand out from a sea of faces. Add your pet in the center of your feet for some additional fun.
  • Jump on the benefits of technology. Do you have the perfect spring family photo, but want it to feel more like winter? Although a bit unconventional, Photoshop is great for changing the colors of existing outfits—quickly bringing in the holiday spirit. Once you have your photo, utilize our Text Us Your Photo service to receive 5 holiday card designs, styled with your photo, for FREE.

Tip 9: Finish off your Christmas outfit with the right touch.

If you haven’t noticed already, we’re huge advocates for tying things together. Adding accessories and outerwear are great ways to complete your look. Simpler outfits can be jazzed up with festive mittens, sparkly jewelry, and faux fur vests. Fun pieces like funky bow ties or Christmas themed floral hair combs are also a great way of showing off your family’s personality. Don’t have anything that fits the mold? Check out your local thrift shop to seek out interesting finds. Anything can have the Christmas spirit with a little help of cleaning and polishing.

Mother smiling with baby on the beach

Tip 10: Don’t forget your favorite family member.

All your furry and hairless members of the family deserve some time in the spotlight too—no, we’re not talking about your husband, we mean your beloved pets. Just like how our Christmas cards come in many shapes and sizes, we know your pets do too—have fun thinking of creative ways of integrating your pets in the holiday photo! There’s no need to break the bank for a new outfit. Simply find ways to reuse what’s around your house. Get your DIY juices flowing with these Christmas outfit ideas:

  • Repurpose your baby’s one-time holiday onesie - You may or may not have gone overboard during your little one’s first Christmas (how many holiday onesies can an infant really wear?). Upcycle them by cutting two small holes at the end of the onesie. Now your pup is all set to go!
  • Wrap your furry friend up - Already wrapping presents for Christmas? Add a cat wrap(ped) to your gift list. (*Disclaimer - only try this if your cat has a mellow personality. Minted is not responsible for outraged responses of grumpy cats.)
  • Tie a ribbon around your pet - Coming upon ribbon is more common than you think. You will want a bow that has a little more stiffness to stand up by itself in the photo. Remember that box of beautifully wrapped Ghirardelli chocolates your boss gave you? Say hello to your new ribbon for your turtle.
Dogs dressed up for christmas

Tip 11: Share these tips and ideas with your family.

This newfound knowledge is a great opportunity to turn what may seem like a chore into a creative brainstorm session. Providing your family with the power to choose will make them feel like their opinion matters. You can either work with individuals to pick out their Christmas outfits or establish a color palette for them ahead of time and set them loose. If someone isn’t quite ready to determine their own creative direction, put together two outfit choices and let your partner or children have the final say.

Ultimately, the most important thing when choosing your family picture outfits this Christmas is that it honestly reflects who you are. Aim to first capture the pure joy and essence of your family. If that’s your priority, your family’s genuine smiles will make your outfits match perfectly.