If you have yet to choose a family photo for your Christmas card, it's time to start brainstorming. While you could always just choose a picture from your most recent vacation, it can be a ton of fun to send a photo that fits the holiday theme. The first step in staging the perfect photo op? Props. Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Christmas lights
I love using this prop because it's so versatile. Wrap your child in glowing stringed lights, or use them to tie each other up and stage a funny photo, like this family did. Make sure that the background of the image is dim or plain so the focus is on your luminous family.
2. Santa hats
Don't just take the classic picture with Santa at the mall – anyone can do that. Instead, get creative with Santa hats at home. Snap a picture of your kids during bath time using the bubbles to make white beards, or put a Santa hat on your little one as they admire their first Christmas tree.
This is a great prop to use if you have a newborn at home. Purchase a large knit stocking and place your little one snuggly inside (while the stocking is laying on the ground, of course). After you take the picture, use your savvy photo editing skills to make it look like the stocking is hanging from the mantle.
A simple prop with a rustic vibe, a chalkboard can be used to spread any message of holiday cheer you wish. "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" are obviously choices, but you can also incorporate a little humor. Are your kids throwing tantrums and simply not cooperating? Scribble "Naughty" on the chalkboard and snap a photo. Pair it with a smiling photo of you and your spouse holding a chalkboard that says "Nice."
5. Giant letters
Using large red and green poster board, cut out giants letters spelling out holiday messages like "Joy" and "Peace," like this adorable family did. If you're not the DIY type, you can always purchase pre-cut wooden letters at your local craft store.
You can really get creative using Christmas ornaments. Take a photo of your family's reflection in a silver orb, or surround your kids in a pile of colorful ornaments underneath the Christmas tree. And, of course, there's always the classic photo of your family trimming the tree.
Whether you have a new baby in your life or your dog is the center of your world, a wreath is a great prop for your Christmas photo shoot. All you need to do is hang it around their neck, like this cute pup, and snap a picture.
8. Candy canes
Are you newly married? Then candy canes are the perfect prop for your first Christmas card as husband and wife. Hold the candy canes out in front of you, forming a heart shape, as you steal a kiss in the background. If you plan to announce an engagement in the process, make sure the ring is front and center!
9. White paper
This one of my favorite quirky Christmas photo ideas. On a large piece of white paper, draw out a police lineup background. Once you've positioned your family in front (looking guilty or not) and snapped a photo, create a card that says "Santa, we can explain …" at the top.
Who doesn't love Christmas cookies? Take a photo of your family baking cookies together, or stage an adorable picture where your little one is sneaking one of Santa's cookies. You can even bake gingerbread men (and women) to look like each family member.