12 Unique Family Photo Ideas for your Holiday Card

12 Indoor Or Outdoor Family Photo Ideas for the Perfect Holiday Season Card

Taking a great holiday card photo can be challenging. It’s tricky to decide between an indoor or outdoor shoot, figure out what to wear, find ways to keep the kids entertained, and come up with unique poses. Here are 12 unique family photo ideas that will show off your family’s personality in style.

Family smiling in matching color palette

1. Find A Common Thread

Looking coordinated doesn’t require picking matching Christmas outfits. In fact, your photo will look more striking if your clothes follow a common theme, complementing one another, rather than looking like a uniform. Here are two creative ways to pick a theme that works for your family:

Build a color palette:

Pick 2-3 colors that you love, that work well together and that would work with the setting you or your photographer’s chosen. Then, begin to build your outfits around that palette. If you’re confused about what colors to choose, look to your surroundings for inspiration! If you’ve scheduled for an outdoor photoshoot, ask your photographer to send you some photos of your location and see what colors stand out. Or, if you’re planning to take your photos at home, snap a quick photo on your cell phone and share it with someone who isn’t used to seeing the setting every day - what colors jump out at them?

For a new take on a traditional palette, consider deepening or lightening the shade of each color. For example, instead of the classic red and green, try burgundy and forest green for a more classic feel, or try clay and olive green, for a more rustic feel.

Build a look:

What vibe are you going for? Bohemian? Preppy? Retro? Minimalist? Spend a few minutes searching the internet for different looks, or scroll through popular instagram hashtags related to each word. See what images jump out at you, and create a mood board that you can build outfits off of. You don’t need to match items of clothing, or even colors, if your overall look is cohesive.

It might be intimidating to build a theme with outfits for all family members at once. So, pro tip - try starting with one person, then find a coordinating look for the second, then the third, and so on.

Family gathered outside

2. Be Yourself

The cliche - “dress comfortably,” comes with good reason - if your kids aren’t comfortable in the clothes they’re wearing, it’ll show on their faces and will make the whole experience more stressful. At the same time, you don’t want to spend money and time on a photographer without looking a little sharper than your everyday. Start with picking clothes that are comfortable and easy to move in, then lift it up with fun accessories (a colored hat, cute socks that peep out of their shoes, or a headband). This will help elevate your everyday look, without looking too fabricated, and will make the photoshoot more fun for the whole family.

Family dressing comfortably

3. Lean On Your Photographer

If you’re planning to hire a photographer:

No one knows the setting of your photoshoot as well as they do. They have probably thought carefully about the time of day, the temperature conditions and the colors of the location that they have selected. This is a wealth of knowledge that you can lean on when deciding what clothes to wear.

Once you have a sense of what outfits might work, send your photographer a photo of your look and get their opinion. Are certain colors going to work in the setting better than others? Will any item of clothing make you look washed out with the lighting that they are expecting at that time of day? Are any of the outfits fitting awkwardly on a family member and should they be swapped out? And if you’re already set on what you’re going to wear, can they select locations that would help you stand out? Getting this feedback prior to the photoshoot is a great way to set yourself up for success.

If you are the photographer:

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the location beforehand. A few days before the shoot, visit the space, identify vantage points that would work well, and think about what outfits would make your family feel comfortable in the space while complementing the look and feel of the location. If you’re planning to use a self-timer to take the photo, make sure there are places where you can comfortably prop your camera or phone. Otherwise, bring a tripod or a friend who can help. We have put together some additional DIY photography tips for your convenience.

Daughter smiling in pickup truck

4. Lose The Pose

This one is particularly great for indoor photoshoots. Schedule a fun activity for your children, such as cookie making or tree decorating, and have your photographer capture candid photos of them in action. You can help prepare a beautiful setting for the activity beforehand by picking accessories or props that will work well together in the photo. For example, if you’re planning to host a cookie making party, pick icing colors that complement your children’s clothes. Alternatively, select your kids aprons and adult aprons in coordinating prints. Then let the candidness of the activity take over. The kids will be too focused on having fun to complain or care, and the photos will come out looking natural and beautiful.

Sisters playing in living room

5. Take A New Perspective

How often have you seen a holiday card with the family in the foreground, children front and center, and a traditional christmas tree or wreath behind? The look can feel tired and overdone, even though the elements are beautiful on their own. A simple change in perspective can often be enough to bring a new and interesting twist.

For example, do you want to use this holiday to announce a new arrival? Consider having just your baby in the foreground, fully in focus, and have the parents blurred out in the background. Or, do the opposite - consider having the parents in the foreground, framing the image with their hands or legs, and let the focus of the image be the background, with the children playing or being silly.

Family laughing

6. Play With Light

Good lighting is often the secret ingredient to a beautiful photo. Try to plan for an early shoot, when the kids have energy and you are sheltered from the bright, midday sun. Overcast settings are your friend and always remember to face the sunlight to avoid harsh shadows. If you’re planning to take the photos later in the day or in a dim setting, ward off red-eye by looking at a bright light first. This will cause your pupils to shrink and will minimize the chances of excess camera light turning your eyes red in the photo.

To get even more creative, try using light props in a fresh way. You can hang your christmas lights on a tree or a chair, in the foreground of your photograph, and let your family be in the background. This will create a scattered light effect that infuses the photo with holiday cheer. Or, ask your photographer to take some photos using a bokeh - the blurred effect caused when some parts of the photo are out of focus. This way, you can keep the Christmas lights in the background without them taking over the image. Your photo will fresh and personal, as if it was captured in-the-moment.

Family walking under tree

7. Make It Pop

Sometimes, taking a great photo is as simple as finding the right backdrop. When surfing the internet, we often see beautiful savannah countryscapes or white snow in the background, but what about those of us who live in a city or in warm weather states? Luckily, there is a simple way to give your holiday card photo more pizazz - pick a brightly colored wall and pose in front of it. A bold pop of color is a great way to lift up a photo without much effort and you’ll get bonus points if your outfits complement the wall! No worries if you’re at a loss for what to wear; just go with black, beige & grey and you’ll match with most color schemes.

Kid standing in front of blue door

8. Sparky, Here Boy!

For a unique holiday card that’s sure to stand out on the mantle, consider making your furry friend the focus of the photo! Our pets do adorable and hilarious things, often on a daily basis, and adding a candy cane prop or a string of Christmas lights in the foreground will instantly make that moment seasonal. If you want a firmer nod to the Holiday season, consider dressing them up in a santa hat or a cute sweater, but make sure they aren’t uncomfortable or you’re not going to get the photo you’re after.

If you decide to include your family pet in your holiday card photo, make sure you bring some treats to the photoshoot, so that they remain relaxed and happy while you strive to get the perfect photo.

Family posing with dog

9. Create Movement

Static, posed photos tend to feel more stiff and unnatural than photos with some natural movement. However, we all know how hard it can be to capture candid photos where everyone looks good. Fortunately, there are ways to infuse movement into your photographs without having family members run about.

Let It Snow:

Try having your children blow snow out of their tiny hands, into the camera! Don’t live anywhere near snow? Not a problem - use confetti for a colorful twist. If you’re planning for an outdoor shoot, consider using dandelions instead - your little ones can make a wish for the new year as they blow the seeds into the wind.

Use Patterns:

Another way to create movement is to use repeating lines and patterns. When looking at a photograph, our eyes naturally follow repeating patterns to their destination. Placing the subject of your photo (e.g. the family huddled together, your kids, or your pet) at the end of the pattern will make the viewer follow a natural trajectory in your photograph and end at the place you want them to focus on. This neat trick can help create movement in the viewer’s mind, without actually having any movement in the photo.

Kids laughing holding hands

10. Use Your Home As Inspiration

We often forget how much our home represents who we are as a family. If you’re not in the mood for a planned family photo shoot, or are unhappy with the photos you have on hand, consider taking photos of items in your home that represent you. Stack each family member’s favorite book and take a close up photo to feature on your card, or consider taking a rustic photo of your fridge, with magnets holding up your favorite photos and drawings from the year. This unique take on a holiday card will give your recipient a real glance into your day-to-day life, and is likely to invoke a sense of nostalgia for the things that really matter during the Holidays. You’ll be sharing an important message without even trying!

Sisters baking cookies

11. When In Doubt, Start With Your Phone

We often discount our phone photos because we think the quality isn’t high enough for print, or because we’re worried that our holiday card photos need to scream “Holiday”. This isn’t the case. Some of the best and fun family photo ideas can come from earlier in the year, when you were celebrating a milestone, vacationing in a unique place, or having a quiet night in with board games. When in doubt, scour your phone for photos and see which one brings the biggest smile to your face. This might be the moment that you most want to share with your friends and family during the Holidays.

Can’t pick just one favorite photo? Tell the story of your year with an assortment of your favorite photos and use the back of your card to share a personal message that speaks to each moment. You’ll be surprised by how much has happened in just a year!

Kids playing on the beach

12. Leave Room To Edit

There’s nothing more frustrating than going through a long photoshoot and realizing you still don’t have the photo you want. Make the most of the shoot time by taking extra photos (you can never have too many!), a good mix of close-ups and wide angle shots, and a mixture of candids and posed photographs. In between photos, make sure to check your hair and makeup, adjust your outfits if needed, and keep the kids well fed and hydrated. You’ll be well set up for taking a unique holiday card photo that truly represents your family.

So there you have it, 12 unique family photo ideas to stand out from the stack. Already have your family photo but unsure of what holiday card design will work best? Text Minted your photo at 415-915-CARD (2273) and we’ll send you back 5 holiday card designs, selected especially for, and styled with your photo. Happy Holidays!

Son shows his family the way along the trail