Getting your family together for a photo where everyone is not only looking at the camera, but also smiling, should be an Olympic event. However, it’s an Olympic event we willingly participate in year after year to get the perfect (or as close to perfect as possible) holiday family photos.

Going into your holiday photos prepared and with a plan is the best way to move the needle towards success. In this guide, we’ll outline our top tips for family holiday photo outfits that will keep your children comfortable for the session as well as holiday card photo ideas.

Family holiday photo outfit ideas

The first step you need to take to be successful during your family photo shoot is to find the right outfits for everyone. Not only do you want to pick cute outfits that will complement one another, but also you need to find clothes that are comfortable for everyone. If your child is wearing something itchy or just generally uncomfortable, they will not be in the right mood to smile and cooperate.

Photo of holiday family photo outfits

Family holiday photo outfit suggestions

  • Be cute but comfortable. A new outfit might seem like a good idea for a photoshoot, but you should make sure that everything has been tried on and stretched (a bit) before heading out for photos. Brand new shoes, itchy shirts, tight pants, and even ties, can cause your children to feel uncomfortable during the photos.
  • Complement rather than match. Rather than putting everyone in the exact same outfit or pattern, try to find complementary colors and textures. Or, if you want to include some matching, you can have the children or parents or girls or boys match and then have the other people in the family complement what they are wearing.
  • Avoid busy patterns and bright colors. You and your family should be the stars of your photos. Wearing busy patterns and too-bright colors can be distracting and draw the viewer’s eye away from your family’s beautiful faces.
  • Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to show your family’s personalities in their outfits. If you have a child who loves their princess dress or cowboy hat, let them wear it in the photo! You and the people who see your family photo will love to see them in their element.
Photo of holiday family photo ideas

Holiday family photo ideas

With the above tips, you should be ready to start planning your family holiday photos. Whether you are planning to send physical or digital holiday cards or just trying to take nice photos for your living room or social media, these ideas can help you make these photos your own!

  • Lean into the holiday theme. If you are big into the holidays, there is nothing more fun than dressing up the family to lean into the theme. You can include props or take the photos in your home with your holiday decorations as the background.
  • Choose a color scheme. If you are looking for nice family photos that you can use as a holiday card or just post on social media, try something a little more casual. Choose a color scheme, like earth tones or complementary colors and dress everyone up. Take the photos outside and let the natural light do its magic.
  • Match in something fun. Can you get the whole family matching onesies or sweatsuits? If so, you can take fun photos in your house by your Christmas tree or menorah or in your yard with the decorations in your matching outfits. 
  • Surprise and delight. Most people expect holiday cards to feature families in plaid, holiday colors, sweaters, and more. You can make your holiday cards your own by dressing in something completely different like Hawaiin shirts, bathing suits, or something else unexpected. Your friends will love it!

Tips for family photos

With your outfits planned, now you just need to make final preparations and get your photos taken! Use these tips for family photos to help you avoid common pitfalls and tears, if possible during your photoshoot.

  • Keep an eye on the light. If you plan to take photos outside, you want to make sure you watch the time. The sun sets earlier in the fall and winter. While you might love sunset photos on their own, the setting sun does not make for a good background of photos of people. In fact, cloudy days are best for outdoor photos!
  • Embrace activity. You want some photos where everyone is standing together and looking at the camera, of course. However, we also suggest you embrace the active nature of children and let them have fun for some of your photoshoot as well! Are there leaves around that they can throw in the air? Can you take some photos of them skipping and holding hands? Can you let them climb (safely) a tree or even a jungle gym? These photos will feel more natural.
  • Enjoy the candids. Similarly, you might find that you like candid photos of the family more than the posed ones. There is certain magic in capturing your children just being themselves. These photos will surprise you, make you laugh, and probably win your heart.
  • Don’t take too long. Even adults grow bored of standing around and taking photos. Children have an even smaller photoshoot attention span. Get the photos you need and then have fun with your family! If you are at a park or playground for your photoshoot, let your children play. You can even use this time for those candids and personality photos so they can have fun while you get more pictures.
Photo of tips for family photos

For more guidance on taking winter and fall family photos, see our additional guide! Once your photoshoot is over, spend some time with your children doing fall craft projects like creating themed picture frames to display your beautiful family photos. If you find yourself looking for activities or classes to help your children discover new passions, check out the exciting activities that our educators offer everyday on Sawyer.

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