Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas

Put on a holiday sweater—ugly or not!—and strike a pose!
Put on a holiday sweater—ugly or not!—and strike a pose!
12/5/23 - By Vanessa Leigh

Want to make your family Christmas photo cards stand out this year? Here's how!

We're making our list. And it's long. We don't even need to check it twice. We need to make sure everything gets checked off easily and quickly. For most families, taking a Christmas photo and sending a holiday or family Christmas card is high on that list. It's also high on the list of activities we don't like to do!

But this year, let's make it easy. We've got you covered with the best ideas for an easy, clever, and creative family Christmas photo shoot. We've got tips for getting the best picture, places to take the picture, the best shops to order the Christmas photo card—plus some really original themes and ideas from family game shows to album cover recreations.

Tell some Christmas jokes for kids to keep 'em smiling, pop a classic holiday movie on a screen to keep 'em occupied, and say cheese! For more holiday fun, check out our Guide to Christmas Activities and Holiday Fun for Kids.


5 Top Tips for Taking a Great Family Christmas Card Photo

Plan your Christmas photo card!

Set a date for the holiday photo shoot. Make sure the date and time works for everyone in the family. Plan for a date that gives you enough time to order or print your photos and send them out for your desired timeline. 

Get organized 

Lay out clothes the night before. Make sure everyone has a full belly before you leave the house, and make sure to pack some non-messy snacks and water. 

Ask your friends

Chances are, there's a photographer in your circle of family or friends. Having a friendly face take your family holiday photo can make the experience more meaningful and comfortable, especially if you have young children.

Practice your smile faces with a timer

When the big day comes, have a countdown timer (as simple as 3, 2, 1, smile!) to ensure everyone is looking at the camera. You can make a game out of it at home and practice before the family photo shoot begins.

Have fun!

Sometimes we're so focused on the final product or making sure everyone has the perfect smile. Remember to enjoy the moment and the memory making. Your family Christmas card is going to capture a precious moment in your family's life. A crying kid might be funny. One person with closed eyes might just encapsulate this year perfectly. Try to keep your expectations at a normal level and laugh, enjoy, and accept.

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Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas: keep it simple with a few favorite pics!
Don't stress over holiday cards, a classic selection of family photos keeps it simple and fun! Photo courtesy of Jaime Sumersille

15 Awesome Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas

1. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Santa

Take a family photo in front of the Christmas tree or on the front porch with a Christmas wreath in the background. Keep to the holiday theme by dressing everyone in coordinated red, green, and white holiday colors. Seasonal, simple, done!

2. Family Game Show

Think The Price is Right or Family Feud: Dress in the same color sweatshirts and jeans. Create name tags for every family member, and smile for the camera.

3. Cuddle-y, Cozy

Gather the family around a cozy fireplace or campfire. Snuggle under a big blanket. Capture the warmth and coziness of the holiday season for your family Christmas card photo.

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Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas: use a photo collage
Show off your family with a selection of photos, including a family vacation photo. Photo courtesy of Elsa Simcik

4. Family Vacation

If you traveled as a family this year, then you may not even have to take a whole new family Christmas photo. Use your best vacation photo to print your own holiday cards. Bonus points if it was taken in a warm climate that'll be the envy of all during the cold winter months.

5. Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and the Elves

A Christmas-themed idea for your family Christmas card is to get everyone in the full North Pole theme. The kids can be the elves and even bring some presents and toys along as props. If you have a family pet, consider including them in the family photo as one of Santa's trusty reindeer, with some simple cat reindeer ears or dog holiday outfits.

6. Dressed in Your Sunday Best

For this family Christmas card theme, everyone gets to dress to the nines. Wear frilly dresses, ties, and suits. Shine your shoes, and show those pearly whites to make a beautiful holiday memory.

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Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas: Turn your halloween costume into a card!
Did your family dress up as Clue characters for Halloween? Turn it into a holiday card! Photo courtesy of Meghan Rose


8. Halloween Re-do

If you didn't get that family photo that you wanted with everyone in their Halloween costumes, dress up again! It's the perfect way to capture part of your family's year-in-review and share it with family and friends. Plus, you get a second use out of those costumes.

8. Just the Kids

Let the adults be the photographer (or stand next to one to encourage bright smiles). The kids can be the stars of the show for this year's holiday card. Whether you choose to do a professional photo session in the studio or have candid moments captured in your backyard, this card will have a special place in your heart...and on your fridge.

Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas: Get the family matching holiday PJs
Get the family matching holiday PJs and gather around the fire for a cozy feeling holiday card. 

9. Matching PJs

This holiday family photo idea is a popular one for good reason. It's cute and cozy! Dress up the family in matching family pajama sets; many even have matching duds for the family pets. The best news is that you can continue to wear them all season long.

Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas: Pose with Santa for a cheerful holiday card.
Pose with Santa for a cheerful holiday card. 

10. Photo With Santa

This may or may not be a family holiday tradition already. Some kids can't wait to meet Santa at a local spot; others may burst into tears just at the thought of sitting on a stranger's lap. If this is a "go" for your kids, keep the picture to use for this year's family Christmas card. 

11. Under the Mistletoe

A family smooch under the mistletoe can make for an adorable, love-filled holiday card. Different versions can be fun, such as a toddler holding the mistletoe with parents kissing underneath or the entire family kissing a newborn baby under the greenery.

12. Share an Announcement

A family Christmas card may share multiple messages. First, it can say season's greetings to those near and dear to you. It may also be a creative moment to share a piece of upcoming joy, such as a new baby announcement, a new family home, or a new family pet. Whatever the announcement may be, people are sure to join in the joyful celebration when they receive the Christmas card.

13. Funny T-shirts or Ugly Sweaters

These could be anything that shows your family's sense of humor. You've heard of or maybe even attended an ugly sweater party – now is your chance to have one of your own... in print! You can also make matching T-shirts for the whole family.

14. Write a Message on a Felt Letter Board

If you already have one of these for the first day of school pictures, bring it out again to write a family Christmas message for the holiday card. It could say, "Joy to the World" or "Season's Greetings from Our Family to Yours." It could also say "Bah Humbug!" You do you.

Best Family Christmas Card Photo Ideas: Make an Album Cover, like the Beatles!
Turn your family into your favorite band! Photo courtesy of Meghan Rose

15. Recreate an Album Cover or Movie Poster

Take a favorite album cover, movie poster, or even just characters that embody your family and recreate it! Is your family The Addams Family? Recreate one of their movie posters. Consider yourself the Fab 4? Make a Beatles album cover (this is what our managing editor's family does every year!).

Where to Order Family Christmas Photo Prints

There are lots of options when ordering your family Christmas cards. Be on the lookout for sales and deals, as most companies have promo codes or run special sales during the holiday season. Shop around for your favorite fonts, designs, and messaging to find just the right Christmas card printable for you and your family!

  • Minted – We voted, and these are the most popular in our office.
  • Shutterfly – Probably the widest selection, at the most price points!
  • Artifact Uprising – These are simple, elegant, and can be a little pricier.
  • VistaPrint – If you're designing your own card from scratch, this is the best, and cheapest, option!
  • Snapfish – These adorable designs look expensive at first glance, but the site usually offers fantastic discounts as high as 70% off.
  • Simply to Impress -–This site manages to marry affordable with some pretty cute designs, and is a great place to start if you don't know what you want, but don't want to spend a lot!
  • Your local Costco (partners with Shutterfly)
  • Your local Walmart

This article contains some affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you make a purchase. There is no extra cost to the reader. We only recommend products and services that we have personally used or have thoroughly researched.

Unless noted, photos courtesy of Canva