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It’s Christmas Card Photo Season!
We are officially into the Fall season, and that means it is time to start planning your family photo outfits for Christmas cards. Every year, I spend weeks trying to put the perfect outfits together. We are always so busy and our Christmas card photos are usually my one shot a year at getting a good photo to hang on our walls. That makes it especially important to consider our outfits with our home decor in mind. I’ve put together some tips and my go-to tricks that ensure that not only will your family look perfectly and naturally coordinated for your Christmas cards, but will also coordinate with your home decor. I’m neither a fashionista nor a photographer, so my tips can easily be done by anyone!
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1. Decide on a basic color scheme and style
Take a walk through your house. Is there a room or a wall that is begging for a family picture? Use this room’s basic colors as your base. Our home is very cohesive all throughout, with gray/greige, navy, sea salt (a beautiful grayish green), and touches of natural woods and greenery so I could use any of these as a base. This does NOT mean that you want to stick exclusively to those colors, but I’ll get into this a little later. These are the colors you will keep in mind when you go shopping.
Our house is nestled in the woods and we have a modern farmhouse chic type feel going on. I usually choose an outdoor natural setting for our photos as an extension of that instead of something like a downtown city, red brick wall feel, which I might chose if we had an industrial or contemporary style. Is your home or room formal or casual?
2. Stay true to everyone’s personal style
When my oldest son was a baby, Pinterest was full of adorable babies with overalls and no shirt. I went to the mall to find overalls for his fall mini-session and stopped in my tracks. If I have to buy something that he will never wear again, WHY would I want a photo of him like that (even though he would have been the cutest chubby overall wearing baby ever)? My husband wears only 3 things: a long sleeved fishing shirt, a solid colored mesh polo, or a button down oxford if we are dressing up. That’s his uniform, so I go with it. He wouldn’t be caught dead in a sweater vest, so I am not going to force him into one for a picture. My boys have naturally followed in their dads fashion footsteps, but I try to keep them a little more interesting than those 3 standard staples.
We live in Florida and it is 96 degrees right now. Yes, in OCTOBER! When it hits 76 degrees, you better believe my boots and sweaters are coming out, but we don’t really do scarves or those puffy vest things, so they are not making their way into our family pictures.
3. ALWAYS choose Mom’s outfit FIRST!
I can’t stress this enough. You will save yourself so much time and energy if you don’t even THINK about your husband or kids until you’ve found your outfit. Whether you are shopping at a store or in your closet, find something you love, and feel confident and comfortable in, that coordinates with your home’s base color scheme. The rest of the family will come so easy. Men’s clothes are basic, and kids clothes choices are endless and they look adorable in everything. Maybe it’s a dress, a floral shirt, or leggings with a sweater, only you know what makes you feel great, so go with it! This gives you a starting point to build the rest of the family. However, keep the next tip in the back of your mind…
4. My “checkerboard rule”
This is not the 90’s. We don’t want 4 or 5 family members all lined up with blue jeans and white shirts on. Enter what I call the “checkerboard rule”. SOMEBODY has to have some color or variation on the bottom! I like to coordinate the colored bottom with someone else’s shirt (or color in the pattern), like a checkerboard. That really pulls it together and blends the colors nicely. In this photo, Kolton’s pink shorts matched Jeremy’s pink shirt.
If you have girls, you are so lucky. Colored long or short skirts, dresses, colored jeans, sooo many options. For my family, even if I wear a dress or colored jeans, it will still not be as balanced if all three boys wear jeans. It does help that Kolton has been held in some pictures, which brings his jeans even with our tops. I try to throw in khakis for one, or a color on Kolton because he is still young enough. Shorts are easier with boys to mix in color and also don’t be afraid to mix shorts and pants as long as you aren’t using scarves or boots on others family members.
5. Patterns are our friends
While you don’t want the entire family in all bold patterns, you should definitely incorporate them! Photographers used to tell us to stick to solid colors, but that takes so many opportunities for interest pieces and personality away. Use your patterns to turn your home’s base colors into coordinating pieces instead of an exact match. For example, my floral shirt has blush colored flowers. I don’t have an ounce of blush in my home, but since it is with navy and gray, it pulls it into my home flawlessly. Think of the patterned clothes like throw pillows or table runners.
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Let’s talk plaids. It’s just me and the 3 boys, all who typically wear plaid shirts. I try to do at least one of them in a solid color on top. I do totally mix plaids though! If one boy has a large plaid, I’ll do the other in a small plaid, one light and the other dark. A large plaid and a small check works great together. The key is to make sure that the plaids are different enough that they don’t compete. Also be careful that the plaids aren’t introducing too many new colors to your home color scheme. Try to stick to your base colors or the pop of color that you pulled in mom’s outfit.
6. Layers and accessories
Photos always look better with layers and accessories. It adds texture and interest. I have used layers over my boy’s plaid shirts as a solid color to keep from having too many plaids, like Kamdon’s blazer below. I’ve also put Kamdon in a gray sweater, which was a checkerboard to my gray jeans. Girls can add a cute fur vest, jacket, jewelry, or tights.
Kamdon’s Oxford Shirt (similar); Kolton’s Button Down Shirt (similar); Jeremy’s shirt – Polo Factory Store (notice a pattern?); Kelly’s shirt – Macy’s; Kelly’s jeans – J. Crew; Kamdon’s blazer – Gap Kids
Accessories are a great time to tie in some of your home decor elements. Those yummy mint throw pillows you just bought? Add a chunky mint bracelet, scarf, or your little girl’s shoes. I like to use statement necklaces or bracelets to tie into to the boy’s little pops of color. The possibilities are endless. One of my favorite photos is a canvas I had done of Kamdon when he was a newborn, tucked into a baseball glove. He has a baseball themed room and it hangs beautifully in there!
Rock your family photo outfits!
The most important thing is not to stress. You want to look relaxed and happy in your pictures! My secret for the boys is a back pocket full of gummy bears (they NEVER get them otherwise!) If they smile and stand still, they get another one. There are so many Christmas card templates available online. You can match ANY color that you choose to a Christmas card theme. I always search Easy for “Christmas Card Photo <insert color>” and there are thousands of choices. Follow these tips, and you will have a perfect family photo to hang in your house, and your family will swoon over your card this year!