This year, spread the holiday cheer with your friends and family with a holiday card featuring your Christmas photos with pets! To help you capture the perfect shot of your furry friends, we’ve put together a list of ideas for poses, outfits, and shoot locations to make holiday pet pictures extra cute and festive. We’ve also compiled a list of helpful photography tips surrounding how to get your pet’s attention, help them relax, and act naturally in front of the camera. Once you’ve captured the winning photo, you can choose from our list of cute pet holiday greetings and sayings to pair it with. Finally, we’ll show you how to complete your Christmas card with some unique finishing touches such as a “signature” from your furry companion via a painted paw print.
It’s a Wonder-FUR life by Sandra Picco Design
Today’s modern family differs vastly from how it looked a century ago. Families come in all different shapes, sizes, and more often than not include a pet. According to the 2019-2020 American Pet Product Associations (APPA) survey, 66% percent of U.S. households own a pet. That’s about 85 million families! Of that amount, 42.7 million of those households own a cat, and 63.4 million own a dog. When it comes to family, it is hard not to imagine your furry four-legged friend as a part of it. This year, share a new experience with your pets and spread holiday cheer with some fun Christmas pet photos featured in or on your holiday correspondence.
Getting the right Christmas photos with your pets may seem difficult, but we have assembled the below guide to help you snap the “puuurfect” photo. Read through our post on secret Santa gift ideas to learn about other fun ways to feature your family Christmas pictures with dogs on notebooks, in calendars, or even on custom-framed artwork!
Folk Frame by Geena Blackburn
Antlers, Santa Hats, bows, or holiday sweaters are classic ways to add a festive touch to your pet’s outfit. Get creative and color-coordinate between the family members. Remember to settle on a color palette and consider complimentary colors that will help match you to the season, background, or simply each other. Feel free to stray from the classic red and green color combo and opt for wintery whites or an array of blues and neutrals. Just make sure your pet’s color fur is contrasted with whatever they’re wearing, otherwise, it might blend in too much.
Pause by Kate Ross
For something a little more joyful and whimsical, wear coordinating, matching outfits. It can be anything from similar sweaters, Christmas light necklaces, matching socks, or even a onesie. You can never go wrong with a flannel look in your Christmas photo! The possibilities are endless, just check out our Christmas outfit ideas.
Peace + Love + Treats by Lucrecia
Try a jumping photo where all members are caught mid-air either outside or indoors by the tree. If your dog is trained to jump for treats, there’s nothing wrong with a little bribing. You might want to bring along the frisbee or tennis ball to the photoshoot! If timing the jumps with your pet is too difficult, try holding them in your arms while jumping.
Oh so merry in line by Qing Ji
Take the camera down to ground level and snap a few family pictures with your dog at that angle. Capture a different point of view that captures the world through their eyes. If you want to include family members in the photo too, wear some festive shoes, boots, or socks and capture an image of your pets sitting or nestled by your feet. Crop the photo from your head, knees, or waist, and below. You’ll be a part of the image but the main focus will be on your pets! Another way to keep your pet as the primary focal point in your photo is to place them closest to the camera with the rest of the family in the background slightly out of focus.
Show friends and family how much you truly love your pooch! Pick your dog off the ground and wrap both hands around them to show them off to the world. Be sure to take a collection of photos, as it can sometimes be challenging to get your dog to look into the camera. This pose works great if you have multiple pets or both dogs and cats, as different family members can hold each pet and keep them calm and separated for the picture.
A Vintage Christmas designed by GeekInk Design
Wrap a box up as a present with one side open so that your pet can peek out of it. For cats who especially love boxes, it should be a breeze getting them to stay in one. Prop the present box by the tree, the fire, or have a family member hold the box for a festive look.
Cookies for Santa, or should we say biscuits? Lay some treats and milk out for Santa, but make sure your pet doesn’t nibble away at these tasty bits until after the photo. A funny Christmas pet photo idea could feature a second plate (next to Santa’s plate of cookies) with a sign that says “[Your Dog’s Name] treats” or “reindeer biscuits”, with your dog munching away on them. Or, can they balance a treat on their nose and show good discipline?
Set up a backdrop that creates a magical winter wonderland for your pet’s photo shoot. If you live somewhere with snow, you can take the photoshoot outdoors and snap some action shots of your pet frolicking in the snow or beside snow-covered greenery or trees. For an indoor option, have your pet pose beside your fireplace or tree with cutouts of snowflakes, white and silver tinsel, and other festive snowy decorations.
Not Jack Frost by Akweley Creative
Candids and accidental moments can sometimes make for the best and pictures! While you might try your best to get your pet to behave so you can get the perfect shot, sometimes a funny picture of your pet sticking out their tongue or even licking your face can make for an unexpectedly adorable holiday card photo. Take a look through some of your “outtakes” and see if any make for good action shots you can use.
Paw La La by Erica Krystek
Give your cat or dog the spotlight in 2020 with this artistic Christmas pet photo pose. Add some front door decorations like a wreath, sprigs of holly, or Christmas lights to set the holiday backdrop. Think of other areas that might make for a great backdrop like in front of the Christmas mantle or beside the family tree.
Capturing a Christmas photo with your pets may be difficult since some pets may be camera shy, scared, or simply confused by a camera. To get them comfortable with being in front of one, give them the opportunity to sniff out the camera and become familiar with it. Click a few shots away from them so that they are ok with the sounds. Giving treats will help show them that the camera isn’t a threat. This will help encourage positive associations with it so that once you start clicking away, they’re not running.
Is your dog or cat always looking off into the distance? While cute in some candid photos, maybe you would prefer them to look in the same direction as everyone else. To help with this, we recommend squeezing their favorite squeaky toy or dangling a treat above the camera, then calling their name. This will help get them excited and look your way for the photo. Holding their attention will be even easier if you reduce as many external distractions as possible like loud music, other animals, or strangers.
Barking Fun by Stephanie Given
We all know getting the perfect Christmas pet photos may require repeated attempts. This might mean carrying your pet for longer than they are used to or expecting them to sit or lay for longer than they would like. Maybe they’re bored or antsy, and like kids, would rather run off and play with a squirrel they saw. Pets typically respond negatively to unfamiliar or stressful situations, which often makes them less inclined to sit still. Before the photoshoot, play with your pets so that they are happy and tired out. Consider taking them for a walk or playing a game of tug a war with your dog. For cats, laser pointers or a dangling feather toy are often a hit. Relaxation supplements are also readily available at your local pet shop. These supplements are safe and will help put them at ease by reducing stress and anxiety. This will be particularly useful if your pet is feeling uncomfortable during a lengthy photo shoot.
Not a Creature was Stirring... by Brooke Chandler
Just as people get done up before a photoshoot, groom your pet to make sure they’re looking their best. While a professional grooming session may not be on the docket this year, you’d be surprised how much of a difference bathing or brushing out their fur can make.
Aim for good lighting by shooting during golden hour or in a space where natural light is abundant. Golden hour occurs right after sunrise and again right before sunset. During golden hour the sun is low and more diffused, so it will give your Christmas photos with pets a warm and golden glow. If you’re unable to take a photo during that period, opt for an area with lots of natural light which will allow you to skip the flash. Flashes can often create poor coloration or that yellow-green light in your pet’s eyes. Additionally, the sudden burst of light from flashes may startle your pets and increase stress. Avoid shooting in direct sunlight since this will lead to harsh lighting and cast unforgiving shadows. If you find yourself shooting in intense sunlight, move towards a shady spot where you’ll still be able to take advantage of the bright light but will avoid sharp shadows. Read through our additional tips for taking photographs yourself.
Snow Good by Sarah Brown
Capturing the perfect photo is stressful already, so instead of worrying about poses with your dog, candid photos are always fun and natural. They take the stress out of getting the perfect photo since you might already have one on your phone that you love. Action shots of your pets playing, running, or even blissfully laying in your lap are great options. Allow your pet to be comfortable in their typical surroundings and you’ll be able to capture their happy everyday emotions on camera. Just keep your camera or phone handy since you never know when they’re going to do the silliest or picture-worthy thing.
Nailing the perfect image often takes time and patience. Lots of patience! Having a lot of options will be helpful in case someone closes their eyes, looks in the wrong direction, or moves. The variety of options will also make pairing it with a card easier since some Minted designs look better with a close-up or panned-out image. If you’re indecisive but love multiple shots, you’ll be able to choose multi-photo designs or even booklette style cards to feature plenty of your favorite pet photos. Minted offers an array of formats you can select from. If you still can’t decide, try our Text Us Your Photo service. Minted makes it easy by sending you 5 designs that will pair well with your photo, or photos!
naughty dog by erin deegan
If you feel like coordinating outfits and a photoshoot is altogether too much work, help is abundant. Local and chain pet shops like Petsmart and Petco often have in-store events offering free pet photos with Santa. You can also check if one of your local malls or outlets is hosting an outdoor, socially distanced “Take Your Picture with Santa” event and if they allow you to bring pets. Check Minted's recommended list of photographers to find a photographer that can take photos with you and your furry friend. Professional photoshoots range widely in cost but can start around $250 for 60 minutes. Use photos collected from the shoot not only in a holiday card but also in beautifully framed photo wall art. Share with your photographer that you want to have a photo taken with your pet, so they can help you nail the best poses with dogs or cats, lighting, props, and backgrounds.
XOXO by Roxy Cervantes
Now that you’ve gotten the perfect Christmas pet photos, you might be wondering how to pair it with a clever holiday greeting. The traditional “Happy Holidays”, “Joy To The World”, or list of 95 other Christmas card sayings can do the trick, but in case you prefer something a little punnier, draw some inspiration from the list below! With Minted cards, you can easily swap out the greeting if you have something else you like better.
Let's Paws by Erica Krystek
Go the extra mile and add an additional personal pet touch. Incorporate your pets further into your holiday correspondence when you sign the cards. Instead of signing all of the cards yourself, include the whole family so that all cards are signed by each family member in their own handwriting. Have your faithful pup or cat take part in this with a simple paw print. Before you embark on this, it is essential that the ink or paint you use will not expose them to any dangerous toxic substances. Pets are prone to licking their paws so this is crucial. Keep reading for some non-toxic options that are safe for your furry friend.
Puppy Love and Joy by Hooray Creative
Odds are, you likely already have a few tubes of this lying around. Washable body paint and finger paint will work best but tempera or water-based ones will work too. For tempera and water-based paint, just make sure it's labeled as non-toxic and child-safe. Tempera paints come in both matte and glossy finishes so it does offer a little more creative room. When working with paint, be sure to wash off their paws immediately after stamping to avoid potential digestion. Even though it's non-toxic, eating paint should still be avoided if possible.
Skip the paints and inks by using an edible alternative. Mix a package of Kool-Aid with some water to create a thick paste. Make sure to keep the amount of water moderate since if there’s too much water then it will not properly stick to their paws. Spread the paste or brush it onto their paws and once it's coated, press it into the paper. Allow the imprint to dry out completely before closing the card and stuffing them into the envelopes. Once that’s done, reward them by letting them lick it off, it’s perfectly safe! Use a wet towel or grooming wipe if you prefer they do not consume the sugars.
Reindeer Ears by Hooray Creative
Ink pads can be an easier and less messy alternative. Craft shops like Hobby Lobby often sell ink pads made specifically to be pet-friendly, so be sure to check the stamp aisles. Our favorite is Colorbox Pawprints. With a steady hand, these ink pads will help leave the best impression.
You can also create a custom stamp of their paws. Various online retailers will create a custom stamp of your pet’s paw. All they’ll need is a photo or outline of their paw print. If you opt for this route, you’ll be able to use a larger variety of paints and inks, especially those with glitter which can be a fun touch for the holidays.
When stamping pawprints, make sure your pet is first on board to help. Trim long nails and clean their paws. A quick wipe down with a moist towel should do the trick!
Taking Christmas photos with pets, whether it’s a dog or cat, will be a breeze once you apply these tips. Get your card to stand out from the stack with some punny greeting, cheerful pet photos, and customizations. Who wouldn’t smile after seeing your pet front and center of your holiday card?