| Savings & Tips

Some families plan for it for months while others bemoan its very existence – it’s holiday photo time! Because Thanksgiving and Christmas may be the only occasions that the whole family is in the same place at the same time, snapping a family portrait can be a meaningful tradition. You could go to a professional studio to have a portrait taken, but that can be expensive and impractical if you’re crunched by holiday schedules. With today’s advances in technology, you can take a painless and pretty holiday picture right at home. Here are our top tips for taking beautiful holiday photos on a budget!


Position the camera too low. You’ll end up with unflattering shots of your family’s nostrils.

Camera positioned too low

Use a bright, open window as a background. If the window happens to be the only place with enough room for the whole family, close the curtains or blinds. Using an open window as your backdrop will make your loved ones look like shadows.

Poor lighting

Worry about the perfect pose. There is no perfect pose! Keep snapping photos as people look at one another, open gifts, or chat. The best smiles happen naturally! Plus, highly posed photos can look cold and impersonal.

awkward family photo posing

Wear something you might regret, or worse, wear less than you should. Is your holiday photo really the time or place to make this kind of a joke? Sure, it might seem funny in the moment, but you could regret letting the cousins go shirtless and the uncles wear matching plaid suits when the photo ends up in grandma’s living room.

what not to wear for a holiday photo



Tidy up the background. The less cluttered your backdrop, the better, and watch out for items in the background that could look like they’re sticking out from a person’s head or body.

Good Family Christmas Pose

Close the gaps. Get everyone as close together as you can. If you can see the background between two people, have them scooch closer, tighter, for a more affectionate feel. It’s OK if people overlap one another.

Perfect Family Christmas Picture

Allow for playfulness! People seem to automatically stiffen up when charged with saying, “Cheese!” Instead of asking your little ones to sit still and smile, give them something to hold or do, like put together a puzzle or read a holiday book. They won’t be thinking about the camera and you won’t be worried about them scuttling off.

Perfect Kid Holiday Photo

Find the right light. If you can go outside, try for early morning or late afternoon. These time periods tend to create a warm glow around the people in your photo, while the glare of the midday sun can be unflattering. If you’re indoors, let in as much natural light as possible, turn on all of the lamps in the room, and avoid using your camera’s flash.

Good light for holiday photo


Above all, think about who the picture is for. What would they like? What would mean the most to them? If this is your annual gift for the grandparents, think about creating a picture that they’ll enjoy looking at for the next year. For that matter, what kind of picture do YOU want to look at for the next year? Share your tips and tricks below for creating the perfect holiday pictures. The more, the merrier!