5 Steps for a Successful Family Holiday Photoshoot

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Step 1: Schedule Your Holiday Photoshoot Early

calendar on clipboard with lady holding the clipboard
Get your family holiday photoshoot scheduled!

It is easy to get caught up in life with the plethora of activities, parties, school events, and family gatherings and we often forget to take a breath and get our priorities in order. If you want stunning Christmas family portraits that capture the awe and magic of the season, find a photographer, and schedule a photoshoot or holiday mini session right away. Many photographers are booking Christmas photoshoots now so do not procrastinate, nail down your date, and get the perfect picture in time for your holiday cards.

Step 2: Take the Time to Plan and Coordinate Holiday Attire

Folded red and white coordinated clothes laid out
Coordinate family outfits for the Family Holiday Photoshoot

OK, you have your date, what’s next…wardrobe. The photographer you booked for your family holiday photoshoot should provide guidance on selecting the right colors, patterns, and overall look you are trying to achieve. In addition to your family’s holiday wardrobe coordination, I have a couple other tips that have helped families with this step.

Tip # 1: Mom should be the first person to select her outfit for the photoshoot. The “Mom” ensemble should be an extension of personality, it should be flattering, and most of all comfortable and easy to move around in. To score the ideal holiday family photo a fair amount of movement and re-positioning is going to be required and an outfit that allows this is essential. After Mom is confident and relaxed about her photoshoot attire then it’s time to focus on wardrobe selections for the rest of the family.

Tip #2: You will probably need to purchase some articles of clothing to pull-off your family holiday look. We all have experienced or heard stories of the pandemic causing items to be on back-order for days, weeks, sometimes months. As a photographer I have experienced clothing orders taking longer than expected to arrive. My tip, plan your holiday attire look early and if you need to order clothes do it well in advance of your holiday photoshoot date.

Step 3: Involve your Kids in Planning Your Christmas Photoshoot

Mom with daughter picking out Christmas ornaments
Get your kids involved in your Christmas Family Photoshoot

Let’s face it, all this planning and coordinating to get a perfect family holiday shot is to show off the loves of our life…. OUR KIDS! In order to get the shot you want involving your kids early in the photoshoot process just makes sense. A pre-photoshoot exercise I recommend for toddlers is to let them wear their holiday outfit before the big day (inside of course, not around food, etc.). Noticing and removing itchy tags or picking alternative clothes that work better for your toddler will make picture day easier for all. For older kids let them have a say in what they wear, let them know how fun and meaningful these pictures will be (for them, for you, their grandparents, etc.), and meet the photographer before the session so they feel comfortable interacting and talking with them. When kids feel part of “the big holiday picture” they will happily participate in your family Christmas photoshoot.

Step 4: Understand and Plan Around Your Family’s Rhythm

toddler beating on a drum in her play room
Following a family's rhythm keeps everyone happy

You know the beat of your family’s drum by heart so take this rhythm into account when selecting the time your holiday photoshoot will take place. If you have littles that nap (ahhh… precious naptime) I recommend scheduling your photo session well in advance or after your child’s nap. I also tell families to be well-nourished before a photoshoot. A “hangry” family member (child or husband) could cause off-beat crashing cymbals during picture time and holiday photos that could have been “great” might just be “OK.” You know best when your family’s beat is steady and calm plan your 2021 holiday photoshoot during those times.

Step 5: Bribe Your Way to Great Christmas Family Photos

Mom, Dad and 2 boys on couch with wreath and presents
Successful Family Holiday Photoshoot

It is a fact that parents have different opinions about bribing their children. Some do it all the time, some use it sparingly, some try to not do it at all, and some just do not know how to do it well. As a photographer and a mom of two girls I can honestly say I use bribery to help me get the pictures that I want. Let’s be honest, the holiday family pictures you will receive and cherish after your family photoshoot is your reward, don’t you think your kids deserve a reward too? I propose making a list of your kids’ favorite treats. Sit down and brainstorm different treat ideas, start with edible small treats (M&M’s, yogurt covered raisins, popcorn, dried fruit, etc.) and then go on to large, colossal prizes (ice cream sundae, favorite Marvel action figure, that cute narwhal stuffy, playtime at a favorite park, etc.). In preparing for your holiday family photoshoot bring a variety of the small edible treats that you can use during the shoot, rewarding your kids after listening and following directions from the photographer. After the holiday photoshoot plan to reward each family member with their most sought after large, colossal prize and end your successful holiday photoshoot with smiles all around !

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