Skip to Content

Creative Christmas Card Photo Tips

Creative Christmas Card Photo Tips
 This post is sponsored by the good people at Shutterfly, but all thoughts, opinions and ideas are my own!

Creative-Christmas-Card-Ideas-2 Most years, I’m a bit on the fanatical side about my Christmas cards.There has been a year or two where I’ve actually started planning them in, oh, July. After twenty years of family Christmas card photo responsibility, I’ve come up with an idea or two about what really makes up a great photo Christmas card. In the past few years, photo cards have come so so far, it’s getting harder and harder to get a really bad one done. Shutterfly (my totally favorite online printing company) is my go-to for Christmas cards when I’m not designing them myself. Which I never do anymore because Shutterfly’s Perfectly Personal™ greetings are so awesome I don’t have to…they have everything from the card to the postage completely customizable. Even so, you want to avoid having a totally boring Christmas card photo on your beautiful card, so here are a few Christmas card photo tips!

Christmas Card Photo Tips for Creative Christmas Cards


1. Choose your card design first, before you take the Christmas card picture.

Wait, what? Pick the card first? Yes, first. Every card has a different layout, different number of picture slots to fill and different coloring that may or may not go with your pictures. If you have a good idea that you’re going to need a great horizontal shot that compliments a red and turquoise card and two square photos to go with it, you can give your photographer better direction as to what you need and pick your background and clothing appropriately.

2. When you choose your Christmas card photos for a multi-picture card, pick a variety of close ups and shots taken from a distance.

A card full of all close-up pictures is overwhelming, and if all the pictures are taken from a distance, it’s hard to really see the people in the visual clutter. Close-ups combined with overall shots will give the eye something to rest on and create balance in a multi-picture card. Creative-Christmas-Card-Ideas-4 I really loved this “Chalkboard Snowflakes” folding card from Shutterfly – there were six different places to put family photos — and bonus, there was a matching address label to go with it!

3. Avoid perfection.

Perfect=boring and definitely not creative. Think of all those great pictures on that are perfectly posed forced looking portraits. Your picture will be a more interesting to look at in a Christmas card if you’re capturing a moment, and not striving for absolute symmetry and perfect perfect smiles. Not to mention it makes your photo session a lot less stressful if you’re not trying to get a 2 year old (and sometimes 18 year olds) to look perfect for the camera. You don’t have to go crazy, just be sure to let a bit of your real selves into the picture and relax a little!  

christmas card 2012

4. Try to capture personality.

You don’t have to go to the extremes like in the “hohoho” card I designed above. This shot was so perfectly my children I couldn’t help but use it. When you get Christmas cards in the mail, it’s so much more fun to see a sense of humor, a mischievous glint, or pure joy in little (and big) faces in a photos.

If you’re taking the Christmas card picture yourself, sometimes you have to follow the kids around for a bit until you catch “the” photo of them doing what comes naturally.  


5. Get a theme; be creative.

Creatively staged pictures by far make the least boring Christmas cards. If your family is tolerant of getting a little crazy (like dressing up as a family of snowmen on the beach), it can also be a whole lot of fun cooking up the yearly picture. There is SO much inspiration out there–you can start with my Creative Christmas Card board here on Pinterest to get the juices going!

Creative Christmas Card Ideas

6. Plan your outfits with purpose.

We’ve all done it–taken the family photo where everyone wears the same blue or black (or white) shirt. Just be cautious; too large a group and the people get lost in a sea of conformity if they all wear the same thing. Aim to coordinate with each other, not match perfectly so the picture has some texture and interest.  

christmas 8-700

7. Find a great background and a few props.

Adding some interest to your photo can be as simple as adding a little prop–like a banner or a Santa hat, or as involved as staging a winter picnic. If you’re a DIYer, there are lots of tutorials on making props out there, including this one for the HO HO HO letters you saw above. Lots of photographers run mini-sessions this time of year and set up your interesting background and think of the photo props for you. Take advantage! You can usually buy the digital image and bring it over to Shutterfly to make your perfect Christmas card!  

Creative Christmas card pictures for funny Christmas cards this year!

8. If all else fails, Photoshop your Christmas Card!

We’ve had a lot of fun with Photoshop and Christmas cards. If you can’t do it yourself, or don’t know a friend who can help out with some Photoshop fun, check out the designers on for some help!

If you’ve got an epic Christmas card, I’d love to see it! Send it to me at paula (at)



Paula Biggs

Owner at Frog Prince Paperie
Paula Biggs is a party planner, DIY crafter, and owner of Frog Prince Paperie, where you can find hundreds of party, craft and lifestyle ideas.