Holiday Photo Cards

Guess what? It is November. I don’t know how it happened either. Apparently, it comes right after October. Crazy.

This year, I am not going to be stressed about the holidays. I’m going to do stuff early! No really, I am. I am! Stop rolling your eyes.

Last year I didn’t send out holiday cards. Because I’m a horrible person. Actually, I just forgot and then figured that nobody would notice since everyone else is busy forgetting things too. But people noticed. In fact, a few people called my mom and casually mentioned, “By the way, we never got a card from Amber. The mail always loses stuff, dontcha know.” Which is actually Minnesotan for, “Your daughter thinks she is too good for us ever since she moved to California and she didn’t bother to send us a card.”

So step one this year: photo cards.

The most difficult thing about sending photo cards is that you need a photo. Not just any photo. You can’t cut one out of a magazine. It has to be a photo of your own family. It also has to be a decent photo where nobody is crying and everybody has their clothes on. It also has to have been taken in the last twelve months.

I know! Difficult!

You can see why I gave up last year.

Most photo cards we receive look like this:


(The familyย appearing in the fake holiday card above is fictitious. Any resemblance to a real family is purely coincidental. In fact, I used the last name “Johnson” thinking that a common name would be safer. More generic. Course now I realize that this only makes it more likely that there is a family reading with the last name of “Johnson” who looks exactly like my drawing. It’s not you. I swear. I’m not even on your mailing list. Well, unless you love it, in which case, you’re welcome. Next time I invent a family I’ll go with the last name of “Schtinkeyphart” to be safe.)

There is always a plain background and the outfits coordinate and the color of the font matches and it all looks professional and stylish and hip. We actually pulled a card off like this once. It was when the kids were babies and it was easy to pin them down in place. We simply set up our tripod and it only took 352 tries to get a shot where everyone was smiling at the same time.

More recently though, most of our holiday cards have been blurry images of the kids running past the camera. You know, artsy.

Many of our friends with kids manage to have great holiday photos each year by going to a photographer (usually one of those mall photo portrait places) and having photos taken.

I have no idea how people manage to do this.

I’ve tried it.

I get everyone out of the tub. Faces are clean. Hair is washed. Clean clothes on everyone. No stains! We’re ready! Let’s go!

I announce that we are leaving:


But something happens on the way to the front door:


Clothes are removed, torn, stained, peed on, pooped on or possibly set on fire. Someone finds a marker and applies face tattoos. Melted chocolate and spaghetti sauce appears out of thin air and smears itself all over faces and bodies.

How? I have no idea.ย I can’t get my kids to remain photo-quality clean for more than three minutes. Even if we do manage to leave the house unscathed, all of the above will transpire in the car anyway. (Why yes I have chocolate and spaghetti sauce in the cracks of the seats of my car. It just needs to be rehydrated. Doesn’t everyone? You remember what my car looks like, right? It is not a temple of clean.)

So this last weekend, I came up with a solution. We’ll take the photos in our own yard. We’ve got three minutes.

While the kids are in the tub, Crappy Papa goes outside to set up the tripod.

I even have brand new clothes for them. Never worn! No chance of stains!

Everyone is dressed. Sure, their hair is still wet but we don’t have time to wait for it to dry. They are clean! We can finally prove to our friends and family that we really do own clean clothes.

I tell them that Crappy Papa is waiting outside to take photos. Let’s go!


But they won’t go outside.


They are swamp monsters who melt in the sun. They can’t go outside or they’ll die.

Great. This was the one thing I forgot about. Getting them to cooperate.

I promise them that they can still be swamp monsters. That they can be swamp monsters in the photos. I beg, I plead, I play, I joke. They aren’t going for any of it.

Finally, I wind up pretending to be a powerful witch who casts a magical spell on them that allows them to survive in the sun for ten minutes. Bingo! They agree to come outside.

We take one photo using the timer on the camera. But Crappy Baby was looking back at a bird and Crappy Boy was talking.

While Crappy Papa runs to set the timer again, I look down at Crappy Baby and notice that a spaghetti sauce-like substance has rematerialized around his mouth. What the hell?

I’m not kidding.

I quickly do that gross mom thing where use my spit to try to wipe it off but this makes him scream and start to cry just as the second photo snaps:


He runs off crying and I go after him to apologize and to figure out why he is so upset. Turns out it isn’t spaghetti sauce, it is blood from a tiny cut next to his lip that I just rubbed with spit and made it sting. Oops.

I finally get him to calm down and I wipe his tears. Course now his eyes are all red and you can tell he’s been crying. And there is snot on my shoulder.

Meanwhile, Crappy Boy is getting bored and impatient and tells me that the ten minute swamp monster spell is wearing off and that they must go back inside or the sun will start to make them ill and they will surely die.


Deep breath.

Okay. One last try! Okay, everybody fake smile! We set the timer…


One beep before it clicks and Crappy Baby stomps off deciding that he is “done” with all of this and wants to go back inside.

Desperate, and still wanting to take advantage of their relative cleanliness, I take the camera off the tripod and tell them to “be swamp monsters who are dying in the sun” while I quickly snap 4129 photos.

The wonderful part is that every tenth shot or so, I happen to capture one of their laughing moments in-between their dying, moaning and sad swamp monster expressions:


Those unexpected and totally spontaneous split-second laughing moments in between all the bad stuff?

This is what family is all about, baby.


I got the photo!




I can’t help you with photos. You and your swamp monsters are on your own.

However, I CAN help one of you with the actual cards once you’ve got the photo squared away.

Mintedย has generously agreed to give one of my non-crappy readers $175! (This should easily cover 100 cards or so if you’ve got a big list.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I really dig their holiday cards – all their products are from indie designers and the colors and typography is scrumptious. They also have holiday card ornaments this year which is clever. Please check them out!



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1,196 Responses to Holiday Photo Cards

  1. Erin K says:

    Love this story. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. June says:

    I was styling our holiday photo card just last night! I always get stumped on the newsletter portion, though – what do people want to hear? What do they care about? Does it matter? Am I overthinking?


    • Laura says:

      yeah, I’m not sure about that either. I did it a few years.. and didn’t last year. I’m not sure anyone would entirely love my quick and dirty version this year:

      Oldest daughter is great. Learning to read at school, developing a bit of an attitude. Son has inherited mom’s accident-prone-ness and got first stitches. Youngest daughter is first child to really explore the ‘terrible twos’, so combined with her lack of fear and also inherited accident-prone-ness, is nearly always yelling about something.
      Husband and wife are both alive. Husband and wife are likely to not be husband and wife early in the new year.
      And so concludes our last version of a family letter. We hope you’re all in a happier place than we are!

      Hmmm, yeah, me thinks my grandparents wouldn’t love this as much.
      I’ll forget the letter this year, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Tammy says:

      Yeah, I’ve never done a newsletter. Ain’t no body got time for that!

    • Katie says:

      I always overthink the newsletter. Than I realized that people just want to hear one good thing about each person. Good luck!!!!!!

  3. Kathy says:

    I have this same issue every year. Once the kids smell your NEED for a perfect photo they absolutely refuse to cooperate in any way.

  4. Jessica J. says:

    I love Minted! We ended up getting our wedding invites through there.

  5. Jocelyn says:

    I’m a photographer. So I especially love this post. I’ll share a couple quick tips for you.
    1) If you’re going to a photographer, bring the clothes with, and change them right before you go in.
    2) Doing at-home/on your own photo? Tell them if they smile at the camera the secret camera fairy/gnome/whatever they like, might appear in the lens.
    3) The natural shots that you got, are always the best ones.

    Love your blog.

    • Kathleen McLennan says:

      Thanks for the tips! I can never (ever) get good shots of my kids.

    • Sara Key says:

      I like these ideas! I’m in the process of figuring out how to get two squirmy toddlers to sit still for our holiday shot ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April says:

      Another tip that rarely failed me as a photographer. If the kids are being obnoxious and not cooperating on purpose, tell everyone to say anything but “cheese.” The more unexpected, the better.

      “Boogers” is a good one to start with. They always crack up at that one.

      • Leslie R says:

        That’s a good tip… My little girl is just learning to smile for the camera (okay, grimace!) but “cheese” tends to make her bounce about. Wonderful blurry smiles result. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Jenni says:

    We are taking our pictures on the 21st. My best friend is a photographer and I’m hoping she is able to work her magic once again on my own Crappy Boy and Crappy Baby. If not, I have been known to Photoshop a mean composite together.

  7. Liz says:

    This is actually the reason we completely failed to send out cards last year. Like, completely failed.

  8. poopiebitch says:

    I seriously don’t know how people got family photos before the invention of digital cameras. If we didn’t take >50 pictures, we would never get a usable one!

  9. Leslie F says:

    Oh the Christmas card photo. My least favorite photo of the year. One year a kid was sick, one year it was impossible to get a picture without a cut or rash, one year we did the professional thing…I dressed them there and took copious amounts of wipes and my husband bounced around like a monkey… We have an appointment for mini sessions tomorrow. I’m tired thinking about it.

  10. Palila says:

    Usually, we’re running late, and on the way to get pictures take, husband decides to wash his car instead of getting there on time-ish and feeding the kid so she’s not screaming the whole time. And then is disappointed that, in the pictures, kid is unhappy. But at least his car looks great!

  11. Ken Speich says:

    The best photos I’ve taken are with friends who are photogs at places like parks and lakes. If you know a photographer personally, they will be able to take personalities into account, and the flexibility of a non-studio setting makes the photo shoot more fun and more likely to produce awesome photos.

  12. Aryn says:

    I made the mistake of setting the bar really high the year my son was born with an extremely cute + handmade card, and now there’s a ton of pressure to come up with something EVEN CUTER every year. He’s only 3 and I can’t take it anymore!

  13. Amy says:

    Yeah. We’re…not good about doing it. Let alone good AT doing it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Jan says:

    I sent baby announcements and a letter at Christmastime last year, since I’d recently had a baby.

    Well, you know, IN MARCH I had a baby. But whatever.

  15. Kristin says:

    We always used to take pictures outside at random parks and places my mom thought were cool. We actually did love having our picture taken, though. =)

  16. Renee says:

    I generally prefer the chasing the kids around and getting the occasional beautiful candid shot of them. This year we were in Oceanside, CA (for the cheap beach side condo) for vacation and had my brother’s photographer friend (Daniel Frazier in San Clemente) take some family photos. I’m sure he took a million or so because he gave of 28 amazingly beautiful photos–no crying in any of them! He was so awesome with the kids, so we will definitely be using a few of those photos for every wall in the house and the holiday card!

  17. Liz says:

    We’ve yet to capture a great picture of my family! I’m considering the professional photographer…

  18. Grace says:

    I love this! It was so easy to get a good family shot when my daughter was a baby. Now, however… ha!

  19. Breenah says:

    We haven’t had a real family picture since my daughter was dedicated at four months old. One I love from last year was taken via my laptop camera.

  20. Becky Z says:

    I love Minted. And this blog. Coolest contest ever.

  21. Karin says:

    I took my family in for my son’s 1 year photos. I have three kids so you can imagine how that went. My 1-year-old managed to give himself 3 separate facial lacerations in the 36 hours prior to the shoot. He’d been walking for over two months at that time and was very steady on his feet normally, but of course he went through a clumsy phase and found a rock twice when he fell. The third incident involved a scratch on his temple that I’m pretty sure is going to scar.

    Anyway, we had an awesome photographer who photoshopped those out in the pictures we bought. Whew. My middle son was in a grumpy mood that day though and I can tell that his smile is fake in all the pictures.

    Finally, a tip: my boys smile better if I let them hit the button on the camera when we’re using the timer and then run back to get in the picture. It’s how we get our best family selfies.

  22. KristenSue says:

    I miss being able to send out funny christmas cards sans picture.

  23. Kaleena says:

    So funny & so true!

  24. Kelsae says:

    Family photos are the worst. Kids ruin everything ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Heather says:

    Our 18 month old is at that stage where we can’t make him sit still for a family photo. We had professional pictures taken and were lucky that his almost crying face actually sort of looked like almost smiling. Candid is the way to go!

  26. Christy L. says:

    My little one is due in a few weeks, so hopefully this first Christmas card should be easy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Ruth says:

    So much to look forward to! A baby bump is much more cooperative than a child, I guess…

  28. Jen L says:

    We’ve got a mini session lined up with a photographer this year, but the last few years have been a pain! We don’t have a tripod, and my MIL is not the greatest picture taker, so it’s tough to find one where we’re all looking the right way and smiling, and that has some sort of balance to the framing.

  29. Angie says:

    I’m lucky that I have a friend who is a photographer. One year I had him come take a photo of me, my son, my two brothers and my mom. He said it was as simple as herding cats. But the photos were great!

  30. Erica says:

    Too funny! I only have 1 and we struggle with pictures too! Can’t imagine having more than one.

  31. Kate says:

    We have a 2 year old. Getting a family photo is like herding cats.

  32. Jillann says:

    We’ve not managed to get a good family photo, despite the fact that my 9 month old is a little ham by himself. I guess he doesn’t appreciate sharing the spotlight with mama and daddy…

  33. Ashley says:

    My husband and I have never made into a card, we’re too busy trying to get smiles lol

  34. Stephanie Klemm says:

    We had prof pictures taken. Our 3 year old refused to take his sunglasses off for most of them. By the time we added grandparents he also refused to smile and our newborn was screaming. Joy.

  35. Jill says:

    I’ve decided this year that instead of the professional looking photo of our family of three that I’m using a picture from my brother’s wedding. They had a photo booth and we have this crazy picture of the three of us all dressed up goofy – I figure this is how we normally look so why not!

  36. jennifer says:

    last year i had a 6 month old, we did the cute twinklie lights in the background in a santa hat. This year, she’s a crazy toddler, I have no idea what I will do!

  37. Last year, my husband bought the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” and insisted on displaying it in our front window. So I put the boy in a sweater and my glasses, and did a photo shoot of him feeling up the leg, a la Ralphie. Yes, my mother did get some confused phone calls from older relatives who had not seen the movie.

  38. Valerie says:

    We can never get a picture where one of the 4 of us isn’t making a bizarre face or looking the wrong way.

  39. Jen says:

    I had the same problem last year. But this year, on two separate occasions while on vacation, a random person took a family picture for us and said “this will be your Christmas card!” And they were right! Fabulous pics with hardly any effort! Yeah!

  40. cindy says:

    I didn’t do cards last year either – so I too feel the pressure to do something great this year!

  41. Kara says:

    We are actually getting pictures taken tomorrow. I have 6 kids. Getting them all looking at the camera, smiling, and of course clean, is next to impossible. The last time we had family pics taken was almost 3 years ago when my twins were newborns and both screaming and hungry, it’s amazing we got any good pics. Hoping for at least a few that turn out good this time lol.

  42. Amanda says:

    We don’t even attempt posed photos. Not a chance of a good one with a four year old with autism and an almost 2 year old. Candid shots are the best… if we can actually get one of their faces and not just the back of their heads.

  43. Katey says:

    I don’t even bother with the family photos. I use pre-existing photos and make up weird stories about them. And send it out in an Onion-style newsletter. It’s been pretty popular.

  44. Erin Lynn says:

    We were one of those families that tried to coordinate outfits and set up an appointment with an artsy photographer friend. We stayed with my MIL (since we were on vacation in the area). Ironed all our clothes, got them ready. Walked out the door and drove an hour to the “big city.” Realized 5 minutes out of the “big city” we forgot our clothes for the photo shoot. I may have muttered some not child-friendly phrases under my breath all day. Then my husband reminded me that this is how we really are as a family, not all made-up. We were real and we were going to take the photo as it. And they turned out awesome. Now just to make Christmas cards.:)

  45. My kids never want to cooperate! Totally stealing your idea & hoping it works for us!

  46. Amanda B says:

    We totally cheated and got a friend photographer this year to help take our picture. The little wouldn’t smile for any picture though so now everyone will think he’s the grumpy kid.

  47. Alex says:

    Last year was easy, the baby didn’t move much! Now…I’m kind of scared what will happen this time around…we don’t go the professional route so we’re on our own to figure out how to get a good photo!

  48. Steph says:

    Ha! Thankful that my little one is only 1 month old. It is making our first family Christmas card very easy. I’m looking forward to the coming years (maybe) when taking pictures of her (and any future rugrats) becomes an adventure! And swamp monster pics are so much better than the staged ones ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. Megan says:

    We always try to take the pictures with dogs. And kid – but the kid has been little and not very mobile up to this year. I’m dreading keeping a 2 year old in the same frame as two 70 pound dogs – and somehow hoping to get everyone looking in the same direction!

  50. Andrea says:

    We have a (3 year long now) tradition to send photos of us in our Halloween costumes. It’s usually the best of the snapshots we got. And it works! Coming from a country and time where & when cards were only sent from a vacation, I still struggle with the concept. Especially thank you cards. I mean – didn’t I just thank you in person? Do I really have to send you a thank you card, too? And when I get a thank you card, am I supposed to send a thank you for your thank you card back? Argh…;-)

  51. Ashley P says:

    I always want to come up with something super clever to send out to our family. Still waiting on that “Aha!” moment…

  52. Shelly says:

    Same problem here except I have 5 kids to clean and contend with

  53. Char says:

    Love this. I would have thought though that you would draw crappy pictures for you photo card? I would love to send out a Christmas card with a crappy drawing of my family. ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. Amy says:

    Every year my sister and I try to take a picture of all the grandkids for our parents. They are 7,5,5,3 and 15m….. The best we’ve ever gotten is two looking at the camera, one running away, one shoving the one running, and the baby crying. Sigh. We would have better luck trying to get the cats to cooperate.

  55. Kismet says:

    I really shouldn’t have made the swamp monster face while at work while my cubicle mate was asking me a question that I wasn’t really listening to. Now he thinks i’m crazy (okay, he probably thought i already was. Oh well)

  56. Kelly says:

    Pictures and newsletters are way harder now with Facebook and pinterest. Everyone already knows what we did this year, and the Pinterest folks keep raising the bar on cute and creative letters and cards. Can’t. keep. up.

  57. Rachel says:

    I kid you not this exact same thing happened a couple of years ago to me. Except my kids are girls. I seriously think if I had boys though it would be easier to explain why I can’t keep my kids dressed, clean, looking nice, on time. But when they see two angelic girls (because they can turn on the charm in public. Oh how they turn on the charm) and I explain that I’m late because someone had a mess, accident, explosion everyone gets that look in their eye like ‘riiiiiiiiiight. These kids are perfect catalogue model children and you’re lying’ but I bet if I had boys people would just shrug and be like ‘boys will be boys I guess’.

  58. LivLaughEat says:

    All our Christmas card photos this year are from our trip to Disneyland. Where there was an unexpected and incredibly humid heat wave for the entire week. We look like we’re melting in every photo but it’s all about the memories…right? I think?

  59. Martha says:

    This year I might do one of those cards that have a bunch of pictures, so we can just choose the best ones of everyone individually – all four of us looking good in the same picture is 100% impossible!

  60. Lilly says:

    Ha, so true. I have no pictures of the whole family either!

  61. Cheryl Z says:

    Getting the perfect picture is always the hardest part!

  62. aimee says:

    I tried to take one year portraits of my son. My husband got him to look up by holding a can of puffs in the direction of the camera. Most of the pictures I got my son is reaching for the can of puffs, not smiling, oh, and the puffs are in the picture too.

  63. Serena says:

    Our Christmas photos this year will be from August, but hopefully no one will notice ๐Ÿ™‚

  64. Heldinhisgrip says:

    The nice thing is that natural, casual pictures are all the rage right now! So you’re right in style!

  65. Stephanie L. says:

    As always, you hit it right on the spot! Love it.

  66. I’ve got a 4 year old and 7 year old and we’re definitely in a tricky photographing stage where one poses “too much” and the other refuses to pose at all. I’m trying to tell myself that I just prefer “candid” shots but I think we all know the truth!

    • Liz says:

      We’re in that same age range (daughter will be 8 in feb, son will be 4 in feb) & I know exactly what you mean! Especially about the “over posing” O.o

  67. AngieG says:

    This is so true. Every word of it!

  68. Chelsea says:

    Reminds me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

  69. Amber says:

    I’m stressing about this year’s cards. Last year, we had family photos taken so it was easy as, “Oh, I like this one”, slapped on the card, ta-da. There are just so many ways to mess up that perfectly planned picture. I might go for the cranky/crying kids one this year. I always laugh at those ones!

  70. Kim says:

    family photo sessions are so much fun! We do at least two a year!

  71. Pamela says:

    The last time we had family photos done was five years ago. I forced my second-born to participate, and when we were finished he barfed on me. The end.

  72. Linda R says:

    I always mock those Christmas photos (because they aren’t cards and they don’t freakin’ stand up on their own which means you want prized space on my damned fridge?)…. but now I want to make one.

  73. Kellista says:

    I could totally use this gift card! We actually scored one good photo this year I want to use for cards!

  74. Linnea Wilhelm says:

    My boys thought it was way more fun to run away from me than be in the picture. We got some, but they aren’t smiling…as long as I look good, I don’t care!

  75. Danielle says:

    I am too scared to even attempt family pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

  76. Christie Pham says:

    You hit the nail on the head with this post! hoping our little swamp monster cooperates this year!

  77. Jessica P says:

    My holiday photo cards for the past 4 Christmases have featured just my kid. Her cuteness quotient is way higher than mine and my husband’s. Last year we had awesome success with a pic in a darkened room with her holding a lit candle. It turned out looking amazing AND it was free AND we didn’t catch ANYTHING on fire in the process!

  78. Rebecca Davis says:

    “aint no one got time for that!”

    i still havent sent out my babys birth announcements…from JULY!

  79. Heather B. says:

    We didn’t send out holiday cards last year either! I virtuously resolved to send out New Years cards, because we’d have more time after the holidays… well, by the time Easter rolled around, I realized that was’t going to happen. Maybe this year! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  80. Kim says:

    I always go with kids only photos anyways!

  81. Laura D says:

    DS is 14 months and won’t sit still for photos on his own. So every shot is of him crawling off to me with a sad look on his face.

  82. Sarah Stedman says:

    We have 6 kids and every couple of years I get inspired to get a great shot for photo Christmas cards. I also take take hundreds of pics hoping to get the one elusive one with everyone smiling. This year I think we will even try the timer out and get me and my husband in there!

  83. Bridgett P says:

    We’ve done this twice. The first time, baby boy was 13 days old, and toddler girl was two years. Lots of crying and screaming. Second time, baby boy was 4 months old. Toddler closer to 2 1/2. Wanted to kill husband when he suggested it. Wanted to kill husband during. Wanted to kill husband after. Love the pictures, though.

  84. Amelia says:

    This is my life!

  85. Lynalice says:

    freaking hilarious! There is always something red… blood, spaghetti, koolaid… ugh

  86. Becky N says:

    I don’t have as much awful luck as you, but I swear every time I schedule pictures, at least 2 kids (I have 4!) get big scratches or bruises on their face. And invariably, even though I pick the perfect timing, something will throw the youngest’s schedule off, and they’ll be in a crappy mood for pictures, and we will try desperately for a smile, and fail. And older kids will forget how to smile, and do the most awful face possible… And because we’re cheap, we only get a few tries before the photographer is done. And yeah, we’ve tried home photos with a tripod and timer, too, but somehow those never turn out any better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  87. Amanda says:

    Lol…so funny….we never do pictures, but for other reasons. This was great!

  88. cc says:

    Boogers – always the boogers. I finally manage to get one (yes, out of 1,113 photos) where everyone is smiling and the non-professional friend/relative who took the picture got everyone in the frame and looking acceptable… and one of my children inevitably has boogers. Or snot or some sort of nose ejecta… sigh.

  89. Amy says:

    I have 6 kids ranging from 11 months to 15 years. Enough said?

  90. Gina says:

    I HATE pictures of myself… And I haven’t done a photo greeting card in forever… But I will… Some email or facebook post reminded me to take pictures of me…

  91. Chris says:

    last year I skipped trying to have parents in the photos and didn’t mention us in the news portion either. We don’t exist as far as holiday cards are concerned

  92. Anna Hung says:

    I love MINTED!! funny post!

  93. Stacy Hill says:

    I love your blogs!

  94. Lora says:

    Every year I try to get photos of me, my husband and my three cats. I’m sure the experience is similar. I’m a professional photographer and I can’t even do it.

  95. Megan McKinstry says:

    I’m actually an aspiring professional photographer. Meaning there’s some room for improvement, but I do pretty well and people pay me to take their pictures. However, my own son is TERRIBLE at getting pictures. I don’t know how he does it but he manages to never be facing the camera. I can dress him up, create a “scene” that I think will interest him, giving him a cool prop to play with and still get nothing good even out of 5000 photos. And in between terrible shots he will throw something to distract me then make a run for it, and for a toddler he is FAST. *sigh* I just want one good one and this weekend I’m attempting Christmas card photos. Wish me luck!

  96. kathy says:

    This year I think I will just cut a picture out of a magazine. Thanks for the idea!

  97. Jen says:

    Forget a photo…I want to commission a Crappy Illustration for our card.

  98. Amanda Jepson says:

    Rivers of tears, pulling hair, meltdowns are all common occurrences for pictures around here. Luckily, we also get that occasional smiling shot in between the chaos.

  99. Sharon says:

    I have a JCPenny photo shoot appointment on Monday. I am very afraid of the materializing spaghetti sauce.

  100. Berit says:

    If ONLY my last name was Johnson. I would ask if I could get a copy of that drawing and I would use THAT as my cards this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  101. Emma says:

    this could not have come at a better time, i am about to do my holiday photo on Sunday and my boys are 19months and 3 1/2!

  102. Angela says:

    Perfect timing as we are attempting our first photo shoot with my 2 month old tomorrow. I keep wondering just how many outfits she’ll puke on for the occasion. Or how many of my clothes she’ll have a blow out on for variety. Wish us luck lol!

  103. Abby says:

    Our toddler is 99.5% of the time smiling and happy (I think we were just lucky). But it appears that the 0.5% of the time when he is not smiling is always the times we are trying to get a family picture taken. It’s like he knows… “nope, not going to smile for you!” Of course once you put the camera away, the smile comes back.

  104. Heather says:

    Love. It. And I’m with you on not sending cards last year. Bad parent. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  105. Elena D says:

    I have never done Holiday cards. Does this make me a bad person? Maybe it’s time to start…

  106. Krissa says:

    I don’t bother with the professional places. Too much money! And no one cooperates anyway!

  107. Megan H. says:

    We don’t have kids yet. So, for our family swamp monster children = butt chomper dogs. Many a time I have tried to get pictures of both dogs looking at the camera only to have one chop onto the other one’s butt at the last minute. Puppy Sibling Love.

    • amber says:

      Ha, we actually talked about trying to include the dog and cats this year. Then we realized that was absolutely insane.

  108. Sarah says:

    I am having this internal battle right now…trying to find MY swamp monsters for the ‘perfect photo’

  109. Hannah says:

    We have a friend who is a photographer, and it was amazing how many shots resulted in four people looking in approximately 12 directions. Most of our pictures turned out great, but that could also be because she bribed our youngest with smarties.

  110. Sarah S. says:

    Clean, smily, holiday photo? WHATS THAT!?!?

  111. Sarah says:

    That sounds like an adorable picture. Last yyear was the first year I successfully sent out Christmas cards to everyone. I need to attempt to be successful again..

  112. Niki says:

    Love when you capture those moments!

  113. Jenni says:

    This year I’m using a photo of all four of us making funny faces. We look fun and I didn’t have to get them to smile!

  114. Cyndi says:

    Love this story! I can totally relate!

  115. Megan E. says:

    We’ve only taken family pictures once, the year my daughter was born. She will be 2 years older now, and our son will be in the picture as well. We’re awful about taking family pictures, and we’ve never sent out a card. Ever.

  116. Bridgette L says:

    We don’t do pictures. It sucks…but the last time my daughter had pro pictures was when she was 18 months. I just don’t have the patience or money to shell out and yeah…I suck

  117. Carrie says:

    I wish my husband would take spontaneous pics of me w the kids more… Candids of kids is my favorite.

  118. Jennifer Spencer says:

    My oldest is a pro at pictures. She poses, smiles, lights up the world, that kind of thing. The twins? They camera face as I like to call it. That blank stare that makes them look like aliens. Or they cry. Or one of them pokes the other one who screams and then bites the poker. I prefer the taking 68,758 pictures randomly approach. I adore those true wonderful smiles filled with glee and love.

  119. Erin says:

    We tried to get pictures last night. I spent the better part of 2 hours getting ready. It was DH’s job to get her dressed. I told him not put her dress on because it would get wrinkled in the carseat, so he forgot it at home!

  120. yael says:

    Oh my…
    I can’t remember the last time I did cards…maybe my first year of marriage? its daggone impossible ๐Ÿ˜‰

  121. Jean Moses says:

    We got everyone out the foor in one piece AND clean, and even well-bribed so that I thought they would cooperate. We even survived the drive to the photography place. And then, as we were all getting out of the car, my daughter crawled over my son and made him mad and he yelled and she hit him and he started screaming and I screamed at her and she started to cry and said it was his fault and it totally wasn’t as he then pointed out and then he started to cry too and then I was mad and they were mad and OMG WHY DID I THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!?

    Yeah. So our pictures will be priceless, no doubt. LOL

  122. Rebecca R. says:

    I got so tired of “crappy” pictures that I introduced the full moon picture. We all mooned the camera for 1 pic if they agreed to smile and take a “normal” pic. Works every time!

  123. Vanessa says:

    OMG, YES! We hired a photographer to do our family photos this year and we still couldn’t get that one shot…with only ONE kid! All he wanted to do was run around and pick up pine cones and heaven forbid he put down the pine cone so that we could get one pine coneless shot. (And of course in the pics where he is smiling nicely, I look like a doofus)

  124. DyAnna G. says:

    I am always pregnant in our family photos because husband is embarrassed that we don’t have a proper family picture of our existing kids before we decided to pop out another kid. I love family photos, no….not really.

  125. Melissa says:

    So true! I’m attempting to do my own photo cards this year. I’m hoping they turn out.

  126. Amanda O. says:

    This is my first year doing a family photo. I have a soon to be 10 month old who usually hams it up in photos. But, like most children, she moves super fast, so it’s hard to catch her without a blur or a turned head. And I can’t use flash because she makes horrible faces while the flash is going off. (And bonus, she has blue eyes that always have red eye in pictures. Yes it’s fixable these days, but still.) I’m hoping it all goes well.

  127. Sarah says:

    I admit I can normally get a decent picture if I just get a picture of the kids. I can even get the cards, but addressing and sending them tends to fail. So I have 100 cards from 2010 and 2012 that I never sent out, think anyone will notice if I send them out now?

  128. Bridget says:

    I have triplets, so you can imagine the chaos that ensues when it is time for our family photos :O Great post ๐Ÿ™‚

  129. Erica says:

    Mine often resemble something off of the Epic Fail website…haaaaa…….

  130. Emily says:

    The Christmas card thing…when, in November, I look through the past 10-11 months of photos to see if there is ONE DECENT photo of BOTH of our children TOGETHER. Too many variables. Just like you guys!

  131. Tiana says:

    I got incredibly lucky in the picture department – both of mine are total hams! When they were younger, the problem was getting them to let me take individual pictures. If a camera came out, they were both instantly in the frame. Now that they’re older, they’re well conditioned. Although I now have a tween, and I fear camera shy developments as we inch closer to officially ‘teen’.

  132. natalie says:

    My experiences were basically the same as yours, we took everyone to a local playground. I wondering how many years before the photos will include my husband and I as well.

  133. Jennifer D says:

    I totally feel your pain! I’m a photographer and this is one of the reasons my family and I don’t have any recent portraits. Lol. It’s so much easier for me to photograph others than my own family/kids.

    The last time we tried was just insane, haha. Crying, kicking, screaming, pouting, and that was just my husband! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    LOVE your blog!

  134. We’ve lived through holiday card hell for four years now, and last year I decided it was imperative that our 58 pound, exceptionally stubborn dog be in the photo too. 100’s of pictures later, they were all so incredibly lame that I just sent a collage of outtakes with the word “JOY” at the top. The perfect families with white shirts and jeans happily wading through the surf make me nuts. Silly reality is way more fun!

  135. Kanika says:

    I’m already stressing about our Christmas pictures. *sigh*

  136. Laura Sheriff says:

    We’re taking our three monsters (read: boys) to get Holiday photos on the 17th. I have matching, coordinated clothes and I’m seriously considering having them be naked in the car until five minutes before our photo time is here.

  137. Stacey says:

    We have given up on family portraits – We usually use a shot taken by some random stranger on vacation that offers to snap one ๐Ÿ™‚ OR I just have a pic of the kids. We gave up on trying to include the family dog long ago as well.

  138. Carley says:

    The first year we tried to do Christmas pictures my oldest daughter was 11 months old. She wasn’t walking. We weren’t out numbered. This was supposed to be the easy year. She bumped her head pulling up on the table 10 minutes before we headed to get the picture made, so she’s got a big bruise in all her baby first Christmas pictures. (Actually that was still the easy year. She’s almost 4 now, little sis is 2.5)

  139. Jess says:

    Once our photographer gave our crying son a tootsie roll. We were wearing white shirts. We ended up rescheduling!

  140. Michelle C says:

    Maybe I can scrounge up the one photo that was taken in the past year that has all of us in it. I won’t guarantee that it A) is in focus, B) has all of us smiling C) and/or has all of us looking at the camera.

  141. Emily Fowler says:

    My son (now 12) has finally realized that his somewhat obsessive mother is going to keep making him take pictures until he smiles an actual smile, so he had learned to cooperate quickly to lessen the pain of having to stand near his parents. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hoping for a tropical family pic this year!

  142. Lindsay says:

    Just returned from Santa. Thought we could manage a Santa pic since our family photos were a bust. My own crappy baby was all set to give santa his list when the helper told him SHE was going to give santa the list. So he burst into tears and remained that way for 10 minutes. Crying Santa pics are acceptable, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  143. Vikki says:

    I am sure everyone at work things I am losing my mind. I am laughing so hard I am crying. I have this same problem at my house!

  144. shelby F says:

    There are ALWAYS bunny ears some where in the photo.

  145. Kristen says:

    We never seem to have the whole family together when I manage to find time and outfits that work. Last year my husband hurt his back jumping out of an airplane (he’s Airborne) and was on the couch during our photo session. Seesh! One year it will happen!

  146. Cristin says:

    I have a feeling our pictures will be like this from now on. My daughter is cooperative, but my son never stops moving!

  147. Andrea Jacobs says:

    Our 6 month old (“Wiggly Worm”) was going in for his first pictures. We had him wear a bib the whole way there. We get there, set Wiggly Worm up for his picture, the photographer gets in position, and at the last moment the photographer had to fix something on her camera. Just as she turned away to set her camera, Wiggly Worm spit up all over his nice, new, picture outfit. We all laughed, cleaned it up, and the photographer smudged out the wet spot with photoshop!

  148. Meg says:

    Getting this accomplished means that a festivus miracle has occurred ๐Ÿ™‚

  149. lindsey says:

    My son is exactly like crappy baby. If i think i am close to capturing a kodiac moment i am so far from it that i make myself laugh

  150. SarahS says:

    I love family photos, we have them done twice a year. However, the last ones I had printed were from 2 years ago. For shame.

  151. Sarah Williams says:

    So I used to work at studio in a Target. I’m not sure how most parents did it, but some just changed the kids right there in the front of the studio, I think some got clothes there. The other trick I did a lot was take pictures of several groupings and then do a multi picture card to get the best look for as many as possible.

  152. janet phillips says:

    i gave up years ago trying to get a good family photo and shoot for one photo of each person thats card worthy ๐Ÿ™‚

  153. Kristie says:

    1400 photos later… I crop each persons face out of a separate picture and do one of those photo cards that has 4 spots… close enough!

  154. Karen says:

    This is the best! I have totally given up on posed shots and go for the “in between” candid stuff anyway. So much less stressful! Loved this post!

  155. Jen kitchen says:

    One of my BFF’s @ always takes at least one of ours and I make a collage card of other random pics that year. I can never pic just one, so I try to pic the card that has the most pictures.

  156. karla says:

    I am glad the pics only have to be within the last 12 months. We have some great beach shots while on vacation. We live in Texas, so wintery photos really only look like you live in the ugly desert. Which we do. Oh well.

  157. Jean says:

    I totally am on the ball this year – have outfits ordered and everything. But we got a horse. And want her and 4 boys under 10 to be in the photo. I can smell disaster and it smells like manure.

  158. Kat Grayson says:

    I LOVE Crappy Baby’s swampmonster roar face, lol.

    We did the whole, go to photographer’s house and take pictures, thing with our 17-month old daughter. Every shot, I have a Jay Leno chin because I was too busy trying to get my LO to look at the photographer, smile, and not flash her diaper.

    Did I mention, we got like 50 Xmas cards to send out last year and never sent out ONE. I’m thinking of sending out BOTH this year ๐Ÿ˜€

  159. Sarah L. says:

    We usually just do a little 1 page newsletter and throw in a bunch of photos (mostly of my daughter) from throughout the year. There’s bound to be a couple good pictures throughout an entire year, right? Right?! I just do my best, that is all!

  160. April says:

    Love this blog! Just discussing christmas cards the other day!

  161. Jen says:

    We did extended family pics this year…. 12 people had to look at the camera & smile nicely at the same time… oh…

  162. My older son hates having his picture taken, so every picture of him has to be taken on the sly, or when he’s in full costume. Can we put the Halloween ninja picture on our Christmas cards?

  163. Emily B says:

    We’re lucky enough now to have a great private photographer who we found early enough in her career that we get perks and whatnot from her when we do shoots with her. Makes me totally spoiled though because my sister talked me into Halloween/christening pictures for my new DD and I HATED the entire experience.

  164. Valerie says:

    Lol!! Some of our best pictures involve crying, grumpy faces, and stains! That’s my family and I’m ok with that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  165. Cortney Croxen says:

    I’m due with baby #2 on December 13, so I considered not doing cards this year. But I would really like to! Also, when I pretended to be a swamp monster, my 17 month old looked at me like I was insane.

  166. Mary says:

    also why we haven’t done photo cards….plus they are expensive compared to mass produced christmas tree cards ๐Ÿ™‚ The first year with our oldest, my husband wanted an awesome photo so he dressed him in just a cloth diaper (but we really don’t do cloth diapers so it was one we used as a burp cloth with only one huuge actual diaper pin to pin it) and tried to be fancy with him laying on a white blanket and a huge teddy bear. It was an hour of torture but super funny too.

  167. Diana Niethamer says:

    When my daughter was a toddler, I had the super-cute idea of taking a holiday card pic of her in a hip brown and pink suit holding a seasonal construction paper sign in coordinating colors. The sign read JOY. Unfortunately, she was crying. This year, after 10 years of pleading, yelling, and crying, I decided to grow up, give up, and buy non-photo holiday cards at Costco. Felt pretty good as I tossed the box in our cart. Until my daughter burst into tears. I was completely astounded as she sobbed, “Holiday cards are a TRADITION!”

  168. Christie says:

    Wish we could see the real thing but the crappy pic is pretty great.

  169. Melissa says:

    Sometimes I think you have a spy camera set up in my house and are writing what you see. :o)

  170. Sarah Richardson says:

    This year during our family photo shoot- my middle son decided not to cooperate. In the very last picture, he is making a sad face, has a full poopy diaper and is grabbing my boob in the picture.


    (It is actually one of my favorite pics)

  171. Dana says:

    Crap, it’s that time of year again?

  172. Ravn says:

    same here. 200 crappy pictures, one I can use !

  173. Hannah says:

    Good thing everyone loves an awkward family photo. ๐Ÿ™‚

  174. Mandy says:

    One year my husband insisted on taking our two oldest boys pictures, ages at the time were probably 2.5 and 8 months or something. The oldest one had super pink cheeks and glassy eyes. I was all, dude look he’s sick. And he was all, the light is perfect–must take picture now! Yeah, that was a disaster. Love how you did it. Maybe we’ll try that this year!

  175. Missy says:

    Just hire a professional!! They will retouch the chocolate and spaghetti stains out and combine all the 4129 photos into 30 awesome ones.

  176. Lynds says:

    When my kiddo was really little, I made a naiive promise to send daily pictures to his grandparents. This whole set of shenanigans happens to me almost every day, and while they don’t complain if the picture is of a tantrum or a curly headed-blur, I feel so defeated if I can’t send off something cute! We’ve hardly tried to do whole family stuff…if we win the raffle, I’ll document the whole process.

  177. Annemarie says:

    WE tried the formal family beach portrait one year, it looked like it was more suitable for Awkward Family Photos, we wound up using some fun shots I took of the kids playing on the beach, it was carefree, natural and some of the best pics we have of the kids!

  178. Jill Hughson says:

    Oh Amber, I had tears running down my face while reading this, again! I can always count on you to make me laugh out loud! You’re most excellent! Go Badgers!

  179. julie k. says:

    I think the best holiday cards are the ones with the non-posed photos. It captures the sweetness and spontaneity of children. Love your posts. Thank you for making me realize, “I’m not the only one.”

  180. Sharon N. says:

    Hmmm, guess I should think about buying some cards this year. Don’t think people really noticed that we didn’t send them out last year though…

  181. Nadine says:

    Once I was trying to curl my daughters hair to get ready to go to the mall photo place for Christmas photos. My 3 year old son would not stop messing around. Don’t you know he falls in to the edge of the vanity and gets a big red mark on his face. I was so mad cause they were all bathed, clothes cleaned and ironed, and he had a red mark on his face. I decided we didn’t have another free night to do this so I had to make the best of it. I whipped out my concealer and put some of that on it and off to the mall we went. To this day I still tell him he’s wearing make-up in that picture. Hehehe

  182. Emily says:

    Last year I got a great picture of the kids on Santa’s lap in November. I was pregnant, but we didn’t know when the baby would come. My 2 year old didn’t cry, but because of a strange woman taking too much time he was stuck on scary santa’s lap for about 20 minutes, and I could see him coming closer and closer to being done. Thankfully we got a great picture of the two of them. A week before Christmas, the baby was born and, like all sleep-deprived hormonal moms I decided I needed a new Santa picture with all three of them, a cute “before and after” even! We got there Christmas Eve.

    There were a million kids. Our Santa is on Union so at 12 on the dot he left a kid on his chair and went to take his lunch break. No joke. We were 10 spots away from being seen, but now we had to wait an hour. Thankfully my kids stayed mostly clean (a week later though they got hand-foot-mouth disease. Thanks strange kids playing…) We got up there and my 2 year old was having nothing to do with Santa. We’ve got 3 pictures of my daughter smiling, the baby sleeping, and the back end of a running boy, the back end of a hiding boy climbing behind the chair, and a foot as he hid behind a tree. See, not even professionals can always get the shot. If it hadn’t been fear of tiny baby being mushed, I would have told his sister to put him in a wrestle hold and keep him in the shot, crying or not.

  183. Deena says:

    My kids have always been super picture takers, they just have to be bribed. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, except for my daughter’s 18 month pictures, which prominently feature Mommy, since she wouldn’t let me go. Still cute, though.

    You don’t HAVE to send a pic of the family though. I set up an “I Spy” Christmas card one year, with mementos from our year to find on the front, listed in bold on the newsletter on the back. I should totally do that again… people loved it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did include pictures of the kids as part of the I Spy, though.

  184. Jessica says:

    swamp monsters! HA! my holiday cards are always those fun spontaneous moments too!

  185. Larissa G says:

    I’ve only taken professional photos once with the baby. And then the portrait studio went out of business. Thank goodness we got our prints!!

  186. NinaN says:

    Ha! We totally tried to this in the our yard last Sunday. It did not work! The sun became blindingly bright and the wind kept gusting every time the timer on the camera went. So all our pictures are squinty, hair covered faces. Maybe this weekend…..

  187. Nikki L. says:

    THIS. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE NO FAMILY PHOTOS. I’m not even talking card-worthy photos. Just no photos of all of us. In one frame.

    Until this year. We went the pro route. 470 images later, we have two to choose from. SUCCESS!

  188. Jenn says:

    I always put outtakes on the back. Some people say they like them better! I think it shows real life, so I like it!

  189. Kelly R. says:

    I love the composite cards… Choose the best picture of each person and it’s done! Plus my mom is a whiz at photoshop. She’s saved us in the years since we had a second kid (getting a good picture with one kid is not as hard as with 2…or3… Or more…)

  190. Carrie says:

    Woot! Crappy!!!

  191. Janet H. says:

    This is great. Usually we end up putting the Christmas card photos that didn’t make the final cut on our facebook pages. Those are always the best ones in the end, the ones where big brother looks like he’s strangling little brother but he was just trying his best to get him to sit still on the damn rocking chair in front of the damn tree and maybe little brother slipped down a bit and big brother’s hands just ended up around his neck. That one.


  192. Nazrin says:

    Love the story and love minted!

  193. MIndy says:

    Crying from laughing so hard and we really need pictures this year my last ones are from 4 yrs ago my youngest was still crawling:O

  194. Meg says:

    My husband always closes his eyes, but sometimes you can’t even tell b/c he wears glasses!

  195. Amy says:

    I choose to employ my friends who are just starting out as photographers. I like to help them out and it is cheaper than seeking out a professional. So far has worked but I am losing hope for this season, lol.

  196. MargieK says:

    As usual, you’ve nailed it. I think a lot of people compromise by picking a collage style, so they can include good photos of everyone.

    I actually have a pretty good picture I’d like to use — but that’s because my “kids” are adults now.

  197. teresa jackson says:

    I prefer photos of swamp monsters over posed family shots any day!

  198. rose says:

    I love this! Its so true too! I only have one toddler and any time I’m trying to get a group photo he crys and squrms!

  199. Sarah M. says:

    My 3-year-old son REFUSES to look at the camera anymore.

  200. Nicole says:

    At our family photos this summer, mistakenly at the beach, one child began wrestling with our dog, one ate sand, and the other wandered out into the water subsequently getting him all wet. Awesome…

  201. Emily says:

    I have a beautiful and charming daughter with the most infectious giggle and smile…however…she is two and confused about what it means when people say, “Smile!” She thinks you’re supposed to yell back at the photographer saying, “Smi-yool!” So she’s constantly making a round 0 shape with her mouth in all of our pictures. ๐Ÿ™ She isn’t tricked when we ask her to “Say cheese!”…she still yells back “Smi-yoool!”

  202. Heather says:

    When we took our son to take newborn pictures the studio said they were running “a little behind” and so when we got there Lucas was wife awake but by the time we finally got to take pictures, two hours later, he was fast asleep. Then he peed through his diaper and got it all over my husband. Good times

  203. Melinda says:

    I find it easier to just use pictures from the year rather than do a Card Portrait… much less stressful. =D

  204. Sanchia says:

    I guess I have been lucky when it comes to photo’s. We have been taking the same photo in the same spot for the last 6 years and have never had an issue….maybe it’s because I have two girly girls?

    Great story will share!

  205. Rachael says:

    The last three years of Christmas card-worthy pictures were the very last shot I’ve taken out of nearly 100 photos each time! Without fail! It’s like a tradition or something now.

  206. Sheili G. says:

    Oh holiday pictures can be so frustrating! lol Last year I settled on a picture for our card of both of my boys looking at Santa with a terrified expression. My husband and I are in it laughing (free pictures with Santa kind of place..otherwise no laughing on our part. haha). It was great! I’ve decided that’s what our holiday picture cards are going to be like. We’ll see how many years it’s going to take for them to both smile when taking a picture with Santa.

  207. Kat says:

    My doula is also a photographer, so she took some family pictures at my postpartum visit. We have some cute photos of our family, with a blurry toilet in the background of each of them (you can see our bathroom from the living room). So sweet.

  208. Meghan says:

    My brother was home from the military on holiday leave and I wanted him to take pictures with my 8 month old daughter. Just before we’re ready to leave (all dressed up too), I noticed a rash all over her face. The longer I stared, the redder it got and more it spread. Needless to say, we missed out on the holiday picture that year. And discovered my daughter’s skin aversion to winter. Also good times.

  209. Mary says:

    We are having a photographer (friend with a nicer camera than my camera phone) come take pictures of us in our backyard tomorrow. I anticipate lots of tears…

  210. Amanda R says:

    Hahaha! I have 4 kids. The first year I had the last one was cake….I used one where she was more teeny tiny and couldn’t really move (She’s born in June). The second and subsequent years! UGH! There is no way to get 6 people looking decent in a pic! I’m convinced! I try but SOMEONE is not looking good. This year I’m using disney pics and I think I’m gonna go with one of those collage looking ones…so I can get the best of everyone (and maybe forget to put my ugly mug on there!)

  211. Suzy K. says:

    Thank god they now have the collage holiday cards. I only need one good picture of each of the kiddos, One of me and hubby and voila– family card. ๐Ÿ™‚

  212. Andrea says:

    We managed ONE really cute picture of the kids this year, so I MUST send out cards.

  213. stephanie zeck says:

    we don’t have any photos of us as a family, except her first birthday … she’s seven now. we suck.

  214. Trixie says:

    While i have teenagers that don’t run away, getting them to smile is like pulling teeth. and they hate taking pictures so they just sit there with the “duh” look on their face….or they are rolling their eyes. love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  215. Liz says:

    So glad this doesn’t only happen with my kids

  216. Lucy says:

    Hmm taking pictures with a two year old.. It never goes well ๐Ÿ™‚
    My husband tried to take her for photos in a studio when she was one and came back so angry hahaha

  217. Karen says:

    I plan to bribe my children in order to get a half decent holiday picture. Since I have kids I’ve managed to send out holiday cards exactly zero times (they are 3 and 1) so this year will be a first!

  218. Kaye says:

    Sounds pretty much like us! Although we have an added “cheesiest smile EVER” added in for the little one so he looks like he’s demon possessed. O.o

  219. Michelle Martin says:

    OMG! I love reading your blog. So, so much in common – so happy to know that I’m not alone and feel less-guilty about not constantly marveling about my two miracles. Thanks!

  220. Jenise Lindo says:

    We’re lucky that our baby girl is a ham, but she’s only 1… 2 worries me!

  221. Alexandra Koncewicz says:

    Always such a huge production! Hilarious post! This year we had professional photos taken for the first time and I’m so excited to use them in a card!

  222. Deanna F says:

    It seems there is a direct correlation in the number of kids you have and how difficult it is to get a good picture. It’s so hard to get my toddler to look at the camera and do a real smile. We’ll see how our pictures go next weekend!

  223. What is wrong with the name Schtinkeyphart?

  224. Heather says:

    Thank you for giving me a much-needed laugh on this Friday as I plug out my last 2 hours of work!

    And will you PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE post the actual picture? (and some of the outtakes??) I want to see how cute your swamp monsters are!

  225. Mary D says:

    I never win these things, but I figure it’s worth a shot! My boys are 2.5 and 1. We just got family pictures done last month and it was a nightmare. But with bribery (m&ms) and a phone with Jake and the Neverland Pirates, we ended up with a halfway decent family picture. The boys aren’t smiling, but they’re at least looking in the right direction. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  226. Shauna says:

    Luckily my daughter is 4 and thinks posing in front of a camera is the most fun ever this year! Now I just have to get the husband to agree as well…

  227. Nette says:

    Think anyone would notIce if I just went ahead & sent the amazing photocards I spent hours designing myself last year but never managed to send out because I had PPD and spent the holidays crying, anxiety-riddled, and feeling overwhelmed?

    Seriously, anyone else ever done that? What did you donwith the cards after failing to mail them?

    • Nette says:

      I should note that said photocards have only photos of my daughter. I looked as crazy as I felt in every photo we took. Could have something to do with the constantly crying baby startling the dog who knocked the tripod over, nearly smashing the camera? This year can only be better!

      I only look a little crazy this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  228. Alyson Evans says:

    We gave up on the professional photos. It was too hard to get the kiddo to cooperate so we just take them out and about and they turn out great. Park pictures where she’s just able to play and be herself have been our best ones.

  229. Lauren says:

    I always love your spot on descriptions of our daily lives that make them so funny! My husband and I still joke about there not being windows inside of our house. (our kids think we are really weird- but probably unrelated to those comments) ๐Ÿ™‚

  230. Joanna says:

    Oh god I hear ya. I tried to do our own photos last xmas… I ended up titling it a very hairied christmas as we all looking a little too crazy and wiped out. *lol* But yes, candid shots for the win! ๐Ÿ™‚

  231. Beth says:

    Bwahaha!! I can definitely relate to this post. Especially having to take so many photos to just get one usable one. I’m not sure if the contest applies to Canada but I’d love to win it. Those holiday card ornaments are great!

  232. Maegan says:

    I finally broke down after my last child was born and signed us up to get a family portrait at one of those cheezy mall places. Yeah, my kids would not crack a smile. They all stared blankly at the photographer with no personality, no amusement, and no expression until they began to whine and complain of being hot from those dang lights and of course hungry, because they are always hungry. NEVER again!

  233. Siobhan says:

    Tip for getting them to the mall clean, I dress them when we get there.

  234. Stef says:

    Lol this is why I gladly pay a photographer who is a master of swapping faces and touching up dirt lol.

  235. Liz says:

    Have never taken professional photos for holiday cards, I am usually the photographer, which is why I am never on the card!

  236. Jackie says:

    We’ve got 3 small sons now ages 4, 5, and 6. I would NOT dress them in picture clothes until we got to the photo place. When the photographer said they would be ready for us in a couple minutes, then, and only then, would I dress the boys. I would also bring two sets of clothes for each boy as backups…just in case. Oh, and pull-ups. Until they were completely 100% potty trained they wore pull-ups during pictures. There were NOT going to pee on the background.

  237. Jennifer says:

    Last year daddy was overseas so we will see if this year we can get family pics of us all ๐Ÿ™‚

  238. Amanda says:

    YAY You are POSTING again!!! HOORAY!

  239. Hilary says:

    Can’t we all go back to the box of assorted Hallmark cards which last for 3 years, where your only potential pitfall is sending the same card to someone 2 years in a row? They even come with cheerful holiday greetings printed inside!

  240. Victoria says:

    Our pictures were a struggle this year. I did not get one picture of all 5 of us smiling at the same time! Fortunately I know how to do head swaps in photoshop. ๐Ÿ™‚ Problem solved.

  241. MonicaDaisy says:

    One time we were scheduled to take family pictures and my mom had a horrible headache and my youngest brother managed to fall in the mud as we were walking out the door. Needless to say, we weren’t the happiest family ever when we arrived. But the photographer was hilarious, so we ended up with all six family members smiling big cheesy smiles in the pictures. A happy ending!

  242. Candy says:

    I think I have no choice but to go for artsy is year. I somehow missed the real photographer deadline.

  243. JoAnne says:

    New business plan: we send you our crappy photos, you turn them into crappy ™ pictures, and we use those as our Christmas photo cards. I’ll totally pay, or be a guinea pig, or whatever you need!

  244. Amber says:

    I can relate to this!! This was our first year taking a picture to order cards. I was a sweating mess trying to get the kids ready. I can’t imagine trying to be in the pictures, too!

  245. Erin says:

    The first time we tried to get a Christmas photo was a disaster, the next day we found out my son had an ear infection. Now we go for candid shots.

  246. Erin Barry says:

    We haven’t taken official family photos yet. my son is 20 months. I feel like a bad parent. we just moved to a place near a beautiful beach. maybe I can get some pics while it’s not freezing yet. sigh. wish me luck!

  247. Holly Hakes says:

    Glad you got a good shot! My son is 18 mo. He will say Cheeeeese and I’ve got 2 secs to get a shot, so I’m starting to see this happen!

  248. Shelley Aldridge says:

    We’ve never even ATTEMPTED (6 & 3 yr olds) a family photo, how sad is that???

  249. Rebecca says:

    I love the part about taking 400 pictures to get one where everyone is smiling. So true!

  250. Tanya says:

    I love Minted! And I too have taken 6,324 photos of my daughter in her sweet Christmas dress, only to have maybe one or two shots passable, at best. Sigh.

  251. Chrissy says:

    We finally have good pictures of the family – we need to send out cards this year!

  252. Krisha Collins says:

    Somehow amazingly I’ve had good luck with this picture thing. I don’t expect it to last.

  253. Jessica says:

    Our attempts at family pictures usually end with crying (generally me!).

  254. Olivia Beal says:

    We’re attempting the professional photo this weekend, with 2 kids and a black lab, this should be fun!,

  255. British American says:

    Too funny! Glad you got the photo. I need to take mine.

    Last year we put two pics on the card, one of them featured our youngest crying, in the middle of his two fake smiling siblings. ๐Ÿ˜› I put the caption “Love Peace Joy” next to it. I figured I’d just go with it. I also made my oldest son wear this vintage plaid thrift store 70s suit in the photos. He looked awesomely hilarious. We have one of the outtakes on our December calendar next month. We peeked at it yesterday to get a good laugh.

  256. Kristina says:

    So…I just checked out the Minted website and they have these mini-book cards…which seem like a perfect solution to this problem, a couple of pages for individual kid pics, then one nice timer photo of the parents!

  257. Dorothy says:

    We do pictures once a year and hire someone ELSE to take a thousand pictures. My woman goes on location, is great with kids, and for the (to me) very reasonable price for an hour session, gives you every photo she took of you and your family. Win!

  258. Stephanie says:

    One year we couldn’t decide what to wear for pictures so we made a pact that each of us would choose a random mannequin at the mall and wear the exact outfit.

  259. Beth says:

    Not sure even Minted could save our holiday cards, but I’d love to find out. :+)

  260. Mandie Devoe says:

    We are Whovians, so now all of our pictures include the kids being Weeping Angels. Not even joking, it is impossible to take one without that pose.

  261. Corinne W. says:

    I go through this every year as well, AHHHHHHHH!!

  262. Jen says:

    I have this same experience every year with my cards. I’ve decided to embrace the crazy ๐Ÿ™‚

  263. nicole says:

    as a photographer who’s used to these scenes daily… you have hit it right on the nose! helps to have a fast camera.

  264. Traci says:

    My problem is every “family” photo contains my three kids with my husband. I’m always taking the photo
    (Plus I just hate being photographed)

  265. Mandy P says:

    We tried to take cure ones of the kids in front of the tree with each parent individually…639 pictures later we have lots of funny ones (including my hubby holding our 2 year old aloft by his feet) but none that are card worthy. We skipped cards that year…

  266. Amber says:

    Last year my 2 year old kicked my husband in the face while taking family pictures. We’re awesome like that ๐Ÿ™‚

  267. Mary Beth says:

    Always love your posts, Amber!

  268. Molly M says:

    I find taking photos of children is just as hard as taking photos of pets. Neither one is very fun…

  269. Melissa says:

    Pick me pick me! This year we took church photos close enough to holiday card time that I’m just going to use those and not subject us to any of the madness you mention above. They’re 11 and 6 and still…it’s madness.

  270. Jacqueline bridgman says:

    We take fam pics next week. If they’re anything like the last set, we won’t be buying them…

  271. Lea says:

    OH God, YES, Family photos are so exhausting.

  272. Jessy B says:

    We haven’t really done family photos for Christmas in the last four years, since before either of our boys were born. It’s not that we haven’t tried, but we have some of the same problems with you. The last set we did get done was great though! We all wore our PJs to the store, got some really cute pictures, and got home in time for naps!

  273. Rebecca says:

    So funny! We have a pre-schooler and a baby, family pictures, even with a professional photographer are getting harder!

  274. Alison says:

    Laughing kid pictures are always the best! I say you win!

  275. CyanneB says:

    Ugh. We just took pictures last week. I hope there’s just one good one the whole bunch- My 3 year old daughter wouldn’t stop running around long enough to sit and pose with her baby brother; at one point she fell off the river bank into some reeds and TOTALLY freaked herself out for the rest of the shoot. (Did I mention we were outside, in 20 mile an hour winds and it was so cold we’ll probably all have bright-red cheeks in EVERY picture??) Not as fun as I imagined it! We’re staying in the studio next time!

  276. Merritt says:

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who has children that get those amazing magical spots that show up right before pictures.
    Think I”m going to copy you and just take some cute pictures of the kidlets for Christmas cards this year.

  277. Rebecca O'Connor says:

    I always try to get a natural smile from my kids by having them say something ridiculous but I like the swamp monster idea ๐Ÿ™‚

  278. Mandie Smith says:

    I love the spell idea! I’m totally using that!

  279. Jessica says:

    We don’t usually take family pictures because of the whole bath to picture scenario you described above and my kids are 5 and 9. When my son was around a year old I took him to a studio for pictures and they put him on this high pedestal thing. I kept thinking what a bad idea it was because they kept making me hold onto him with my hand and pull it away at the last second. He fell and got a black eye and that was the end of our portrait days. Now we have school pictures which are their own brand of weirdness!

  280. Lindsay D says:

    The last time we tried to do pics of my 5 kids, I accidentally booked the appointment the same weekend as my sister’s out of town bachelorette party. I kept the appointment because my hubby swore up and down that he could handle it. I picked out cute cdcasual outfits for each of them, right down to matching socks and went over what to do with our older daughter’s hair. A week later when it was time to go order prints, I headed to the portrait studio expecting morperfection but at least than ome cute pics of my kids. Oh how thansion I was… I looked at the pics with a mixture of horror and desperate attempts to avoid laughing until I cried. The pics were my kids alright…. Kate looking like her hair hamemory’s the dn’t been brushed in a month sporting a red velvet dress, purple Dora tights, Marco gras beads, and sneakers. Alex and AJ had mixed up their shirts and AJ’s looked painted on him. Jon was wearing the shirt I left, but his paints were way too short and to be honest, I have blocked th baby’s get up from my memory it was so bad. I love my husband, but that is the last time he isaallowed to dress the kids for anything more important than a play date

  281. Leslie T says:

    We could only schedule a time with our photographer right after nap-time. We thought our little guy would nap on the way there in the car. No dice. He didn’t sleep and whined/cried the whole time

  282. Kirsten Glinke says:


  283. Glynnis says:

    I always thought these photo cards were adorable and couldn’t wait to have a family so we could send our own! Now I have a 9 month old and just trying to wrangle him and his dad into taking a nice picture is quite a feat. I can’t imagine doing it with more kids, but I can’t wait to try! ๐Ÿ™‚

  284. Sarah says:

    I have five children, ages six and under, and I could tell you SO many stories about trying to get a great family photo. Oh, Lord. This year, we battled rambunctiousness, snotty noses, and drama queen attitudes in order to get ONE semi-decent shot. Ugh. Happy freaking Holidays!

  285. Kelli Shafer says:

    I love your posts ๐Ÿ™‚ I can also relate with my 4 boys.

  286. Anne says:

    Our best picture last year was all of us sitting on the floor, side by side with our legs straight out in front of us and bare feet. It was easy (relatively) to get all the kids to wiggle their toes and laugh.

  287. liz says:

    Try a photo montage of all your favorite Twitter/Instagram/Facebook or blog photos you posted during the year. We gave up on the one cute fam photo but everyone loves the “year in review” cards we do – and you can just have them printed at Walgreens/a store as a photo montage and put them in regular Christmas cards too to save $ if you don’t want to pay for the 6+ picture cards on Shutterfly/etc.

  288. Jourdan says:

    Last year for our Christmas pictures, we let our older boy eat a boiled egg on the way, because daddy was and he was “hungry”…we get there and there’s no sign of egg on him. Yay! We get out, walk to where we are taking the pictures, and are posed and ready and my sister (the photographer) tells our son to smile. He won’t. Eh no husband and I smile. Our daughter is not having it, so no chance of a smile from her, either, oh well. We stand up to walk to a different location to take more pics. Then we find why he wasn’t smiling. The egg is still in his mouth. The whole egg. He didn’t have a weird expression or anything. But he wouldn’t smile because he was still hoarding this egg. My husband FINALLY convinced him to spit it out (after a lot of pleading). But he was mad he spit it out. He wanted it back. So we started running and that put him in a better mood briefly…but he wasn’t interested in smiling haha

  289. Sarah says:

    I tried this once. Our “best shot” involved my son pulling my hair. :-/

  290. Mindy says:

    Cool! thanks for the giveaway!

  291. Amanda says:

    First family holiday picture coming up tomorrow! We are going to the mall, and she’s only 4 months old, so I have hopes it will work out. Of course, knowing my luck she’ll probably have a poopsplosion the second I put the dress on even if I wait till the last minute to do it!

  292. Tracy says:

    And I thought it was hard getting one kid to cooperate! She is normally very smiley and excited, until you hire a photographer, then she is somber and only interested in dirt. Also, the dog has now been excluded, because I can’t handle it!

  293. sheri o. says:

    Haha, loved being a monster in the car! My kids thought I was nuts! Thanks for asking me to be silly!
    I got smarter about Christmas cards years ago. I take a cute picture in the middle of summer. Everyone is happy and tan (cause some of us are pasty white right about now). The background is either nice lush greenery in the yard or the beach. And no one even notices it’s for a Christmas card, so I don’t have to hear any complaining. Then all I have to do is remember to down load it to my computer! Easy-peasy!!

  294. Heather S says:

    Amber, I freaking love you. You bring so much laughter into my life!!!

  295. Theresa says:

    we are hoping to get our almost 4 yr old to cooperate with her twinado cousin boys, 3 and a 1 yr old. yeah, that’ll happen. Hope I win the contest.

  296. Sarah says:

    We found the most awesome local photographer who does most of her shots outside. They are absolutely gorgeous, and most of the best ones are spontaneous. Plus we get to support a local small business!

  297. Natasha says:

    Mine this year are going like this, as “gif-ed” by my youngest brother, the uncle. The girlie is mine. All mine.

  298. mindy says:

    I take pictures all year and hope one will work….

  299. Kelly K says:

    We did our first family photos with my 10 month old and our dog. My son is a ham! He smiled, giggled, posed and the dog was well behaved. So clearly I will never try again because it could never go as well as it did this year!

  300. Kristen says:

    Hmm, maybe I will attempt a family photo this year, but I can’t make any promises!

  301. Lori says:

    Heh. We did the mall portrait place sometime this last summer. The kids had coordinating shirts. I’ve discovered a few things about this (in order of importance):

    1. Set an appointment for your photo shoot and make it THE FIRST one of the day. Then you won’t have to wait for other families to arrive and be late and push back your appointment time. Which makes for anxious parents and impatient kids. Which makes for bad photos.

    2. Don’t get the kids’ hair cut within a month of the photos. It will look like you had it done just for the photos, so they’ll look fake. Besides, my boys look much cuter with their hair a little bit raggedy (they have straight hair so this works).

    3. Bring an extra set of clothes. Better yet, dress them in old shirts and bring along the coordinating shirts you agonized in Target over, so they only start wearing them a few minutes before the photo shoot.

  302. Kari says:

    Last year, trying to get my now 3 year old to smile, or even hold still for the pictures was almost impossible. For whatever reason, I think it was an accident, the photographer took a picture of her, which my daughter noticed, and liked looking at the baby… So that’s how we did it. Took a picture, let her look over and see herself, smile real big, take the real picture. It took a while, but luckily our photographer was patient, and we ended up with some great shots.

  303. Jamie Sam says:

    We had a photographer take our photos about a month ago. My 3 yo son has not yet figured out the concept of photo taking. We tell him to smile and he says “smiw” as he looks at down at the ground, or some where other than where we want. We told him to fold his arms so he would sit still for a second, and he does so very obediently, but also insists on closing his eyes and praying “Heavendy Fader…” He also likes to pretend he is also taking a photo… Hands in front of face, “Ka-cha!” Apparently that’s what a camera says. It’s also what a gun says…

  304. Cheri Copeland says:

    This story is great! Annnd much like all of our family photos… So what if my 14 month old has day old banana in her ear?!

  305. Really? Why’d you have to go and do that, huh? Now I’m gonna hafto. And I don’t wanna…

  306. Allison says:

    Lol, I just started trying to take a couple hundred pics of my two boys in hopes if getting 1 decent one!

  307. Megan McDoanld says:

    We try to always do photos and just embrace the absurd. The sillier it tries to be on the offset, the better the results at the end. We try to do a few that are nice and then just go for it. Our best one to date (pre-littlest guy who will be 2 this xmas) has the four of us (mom, dad, 9 year old girl, 6 year old boy) all pretending to beat each other up. Girl punching daddy who is making exaggerated punched face, mommy scowling disapprovingly while strangling boy. Etcetera. You can see were I’m going. Very Simpsons. Everybody loved it. We did one of those photo cards with 2 pics on it – one relatively good pic that was happy and cute and one chaos pic. They were both in front of the tree which for some reason had turned off in the chaos photo. Perfect.

  308. Patrice says:

    This is awesome! I still have the 150 photo cards from 2 years ago that I forgot to send out….but I’d still love to win!

  309. Mallory says:

    We just got our holiday pictures done last weekend and it went surprisingly well !! Glad you got the picture !

  310. Jess says:

    I as well did not do Christmas cards last year! And my mother received similar phone calls…however, I only live 7 miles away so they can’t accuse me of being to good for Ohio…since I still live there and all.
    I try to do picturesque photos of the kids for them each year and I go through 50 million pictures and someone is always crying or not looking at the camera, or has snot running down their face…trying again this year!

  311. anna says:

    We haven’t had bad family photos, yet there’s still plenty of time for that, I’m sure. Last year we waited for an hour and a half waiting for a Santa photo at the zoo, of course he screamed the second Santa touched him (6 months old). Thankfully you don’t have to pay for those (ridiculously over priced) photos ahead of time. Two weeks later we saw a Santa photo op at Sam’s Club with a photo disk for the same price as 1- 8 x 10 at the zoo, so we did it and got a lot of really good pics.

  312. CuppaJo says:

    My mom, who is not terribly computer savvy, actually taught herself Photoshop so that she could finally have ONE good family picture with all the kids and grandkids facing forward (not even all smiling, just all forward). This year, for my kids, I’m skipping the bribery and going montage.

  313. Love this post because I feel like that’s how my family photos will be this year since I have a 4 yo daughter, 2.5 yo son and a 5 month old. SOMEONE is going to cry in the picture and you know what? I’ll be the one laughing and they’ll be the ones cringing 30 years from now at their wedding. ๐Ÿ™‚

  314. Jessica says:

    one time i went to the park with my son and husband to try to take some nice pictures on a beautiful early fall day. only, there was a football game at the park. and then an ambulance. and a covered picnic area. and rocks. all of which were way more interesting than sitting still for a second for a photo. sigh.

  315. Jenn says:

    The first time I took my oldest to get professional pictures done, she poopsploded everywhere. And of course, being a newby, I wasn’t prepared for this. I had extra clothes, sure. But not picture quality extra clothes. After that I started waiting until the second before we took the picture to dress her.

  316. Kelly B says:

    Ughh, now I have to start thinking about holiday cards and figuring out how to get my 2 year old AND my husband to cooperate. My husband is much more skilled at ruining a family photo, and he’s working on teaching our son all of his tricks.

  317. Mandie Smith says:

    The spell idea is awesome!

  318. Nikki says:

    Last year my then 1 and 2 year olds were going to be the only ones in the pic for our holiday cards, yeah I know we were feeling overwhelmed just trying to get them ready let alone coordinate mom and dad outfits. So we get them these super cute Santa an Rudolph long sleeve tshirts and put them on jeans, simple and cute right?! We go to our appointment at a local cheap-ish photo place. They have the Christmas tree set up with presents and an adorable back drop. It’s gonna be perfect we just know it! The girls are both clean and presentable! Our two year old goes straight up to the tree stands by it and smiles the most adorable smile! Perfect! I carry our 1 year old over (she can walk she’s just way too lazy – even to this day lol) I set her down and BAM psycho baby appears in her place! Who is this screaming child with a death grip on my leg and snot running down her face?!? The whole30 minute session went this way, I couldn’t set her down without hysterics ensuing. We were so frustrated there wasn’t even a single shot we could use. End of story? – no Christmas cards were sent. I got super lazy and took a pic of the kids in front of the tree at home, put it on Facebook with a merry Christmas caption and called it a day!

  319. Rachael says:

    SO glad we have a DSLR camera, how else would I ever get good pictures of my kids. I take 200 pictures and maybe get a few good ones.
    The best way for our family to get good pictures of all of us is with a professional photographer and candid shots.

  320. Jena says:

    my son loves to take pictures if he can see the screen so thats my plan. last year he was 10 months and we casually took one at a big xmas light village thing that ended up great. so yeah, thats the plan. or photoshop.

  321. Mari B. says:

    I like to use the pics of the kids screaming and trying to run away. It’s a true reflection of our family, so why not?

  322. ashlea says:

    haha Ill have to use the act like swamp monsters tactic in the future! Right now they are 5 weeks old and 15 months and its still pretty easy to plop them in front of the camera ๐Ÿ™‚

  323. Geny says:


  324. Kiinu says:

    Hah! we’ve never had a photo good enough for a photo card. The last christmas photo we have of all the kids the oldest is 5, looking at the camera like a runway model (no smile, head tilted back), the middle is staring VERY intently at the big bauble they handed her to look cute. An the youngest is sitting sideways, looking at his feet, all three are on a sled… yup.

    But their outfits coordinated!

  325. Julie W. says:

    I love this! (And thanks for reminding me that I need to get off my lazy bum and get started on this!)

  326. Shari says:

    I laughed so hard I almost spit my gum out. Thanks! I needed that laugh (at work).

  327. Leah says:

    For some reason, my kids always cooperate with our self-taken Christmas card photos. If my husband is actually holding the camera, though, instead of it being on a tripod, we get the craziness. Stick it on a tripod, though, and suddenly they’re both looking at the camera and smiling. Now I’ve probably jinxed myself for this year’s card. I should mention that my husband is a nature photographer, so he feels compelled to make us all hike out to some off-the-beaten-path location after the first good snowfall, so maybe they’re just cooperating so we can get out of the cold.

  328. Nita says:

    My photographer told me she was specifically going to make us an outtake CD of all the pics of the 2yo yanking his shoes off. Can’t wait to see it!

  329. Chessie B says:

    We’ve done family portraits before. My little girl almost never smiles. The most recent time was when my older son had school portraits. The photographer allows family to bring siblings and sneak in a free sibling shot that she’ll print at least one of depending on what package you order. She actually cried the entire time. The shot I chose to have printed of her was her with a BIG frown. I know we’ll look back on it and laugh. She just isn’t a big ham when we do professional photography. Now if it’s just me and the camera on the phone, then she will make the worst cheesy face ever and I can take a thousand pictures and pic the best one.

  330. Natalie says:

    You always crack me up! I love candid pics best!

  331. Velvet says:

    Love it!

  332. Melissa Bedford says:

    I just did a photo shoot for a friend who has a new baby and a toddler…I took a million pictures and came away with only a few good ones…in kid photos it is all about quantity! LOL!

  333. Tessa says:

    We usually end up sending New Year’s Cards–this would be a great motivation to send them out earlier!!

  334. B says:

    Thanks for reminding me to get on my holiday cards like now.

  335. Nicole says:

    Particularly fond of the keeping there cloths on part. I swear half the day my girls are mostly naked at home.

  336. Heather L says:

    Haha! This is definitely me and my brood. We can never get a picture of us all smiling!

    • Hilary says:

      It is one of my least favorite things to do. Trying to get all 4 of us in a picture. Last year I went for candid and had complaints from people because we weren’t all face front and smiling. Kinda wanted to make one butt front and smiling in response.

  337. Alissa says:

    My friends and family don’t seem to notice that I don’t send out cards anymore. Should I be worried?

  338. Brandi says:

    Should be interesting this year with two kids.. Hey I should probably buy our new snazzy outfits. Thanks for the giveaway!

  339. Kim says:

    We hired a photographer and went to a park for our pictures. The session was half an hour, and I swear the smaller two spent the whole time screaming, and the larger two spent the whole time trying to touch the ducks in the pond. Somehow, though, we ended up with *gorgeous* family photos. So hey, here’s a vote for hiring an independent photographer. They run specials during the holidays too, so it wasn’t significantly more expensive than that place in the mall!

  340. Devon says:

    I’m a photographer, and I tip my hat to you for having the guts to even try a group family shot with small kiddos.

  341. Shannon says:

    We finally did family holiday photos again last year – the time before that the kids were 6 and 9 mos, they are now 17 and 11. ๐Ÿ™‚ it was much easier this time!

  342. Rachel Salinas says:

    Taking pictures of little boys is difficult. period. I feel your pain.

  343. Jessica says:

    We hardly ever have all three of us in a photo so I usually do a montage with a couple of the kid, kid + dad, dad + me and me + kid so we’re all in there at least on the same card if not the same frame ๐Ÿ™‚

  344. Alicia says:

    You need to find a photographer who will come to you! We have one and she’s awesome. THe kids still freak out and meltdown and panic, but then no one has to worry about the timer and someone else has to look at the 4 billion awful outtake type pictures. ๐Ÿ˜€

  345. Dorothy says:

    ..and this is why we go do a family photograph once a year. Are any of the pictures (from June) printed yet? NO! But I have the jpgs… somewhere… I think. ๐Ÿ™

  346. Heather says:

    I didn’t even try this year. I found a photo of my 2 from a walk on the beach last spring. Colorful hats, coats, wellies… And running AWAY from me on the beach. It’s a picture of their backs. Falls into the artsy category, right?!

  347. Punam Roy says:

    We’ve never taken family portraits! Maybe because I never get around to it, or because they feel so stuffy.

  348. Melissa Oquendo says:

    I love getting family photos done! My girls are 1 and 5, and we get lots of awesome shots. However I suck at actually following through and making Christmas cards. I made 10 last year, and gave out 7, so that’s progress.

  349. Liz says:

    So far I’ve just done candid shots and last year my son painted cards. Except they were never sent out and i stuffed a few into gifts…fail. This year, my son has an outfit and we are driving to a pretty place with our tripod and one of those pics is going on a card regardless of happiness ๐Ÿ˜‰

  350. I just got a fancy new camera and have the same pressure now- eek!

  351. Rachel E says:

    Getting our pictures taken next weekend. Hoping I can get the boy to smile normally and not like some cartoon character.

  352. Tiffany C says:

    We’ve tried taking family pictures once and failed miserably. Our toddler just wanted to run around & explore. The only “family” photos we got were with him scowling at the camera.

  353. Nicole says:

    Last year, we actually managed to do one of those amazing pictures. We went to a local park to a spot that always smells like poop and right before we left the car I thought to grab my daughter’s mittens that look like monsters (I, too, never clean out the car) which my friend squeezed her hand into and did an impromptu puppet show to get the kids to look at her, and 2/3 kids actually smiled decently! The baby (he was like 15 months or so) was busy eating his hands (molars!) but he was at least looking at the camera. The boys had matching sweaters from The Children’s Place, my daughter had a silver dress from Target and my husband wore a gray sweater and I wore a red sweater. I am positive that this year won’t be as ideal– it’s near impossible to get 3 children to cooperate. I am still at a loss of how it happened. I wish my husband was better at Photoshop!

  354. Elizabeth says:

    Hilarious! And so true!

  355. Kristen says:

    Your story is almost exactly out story. 5 year old acting like a dog, 3 year old crying about who knows what…he is three after all…and 1 year old just woke from nap and oblivious to all the activity. The photographer did do an awesome job, though. Of the over 300 pictures of us all, we did get one good family picture.

  356. Barbra says:

    I love taking family pictures! It’s kind of an obsession that my husband hates and the three year tolerates. Sort of.

  357. Tara says:

    HAAA!!! Everybody has some sort of phantom spaghetti sauce substance that appears out of nowhere at the worst possible times. I’m sure of it.

  358. Chanda Schwartz says:

    When we take family pictures, our son is the boss (at 2 1/2 years old). If he is done, we are done. But when he is feeling the camera, we can get some really great photos…it just depends on the day, the time, how he is feeling, how the moon is positioned that day etc. etc.

  359. Rena Tackett says:

    We aren’t scheduled to do family photos until thanksgiving weekend. I’m terrified.

  360. rachel says:

    I luckily hire an amazing photographer that catches amazing shots even when I’m sure our shoot was a total flop.

  361. Julie says:

    My son and I had a swamp monster contest, which resulted in the baby laughing hysterically and me realizing my son had yet to brush his teeth today and it’s 1pm. (His swamp monster was very in-my-face). Come to think of it, he needs a bath too. He is an excellent swamp monster today. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  362. Charlene Fisher says:

    I absolutely love you. Any time I need a laugh I come to your blog. I even bought your book…does that help me win? Lol seriously though, you’re awesome and I can totally relate. I thought having a girl would make pictures easy because she would want to be pretty and smile and the center of attention…nope! She would rather jump in mud puddles and wrestle the dogs. Needless to say our holiday cards usually involve ten legs, three heads and a lot of giggles.

  363. Liz says:

    I have had 2 years with *really* bad Christmas card photos. One year I had a 2 y/o and a 6 month old. The best I could do was the two of them laying somewhat near each other. No smile, actually they both look kind of annoyed. And that was the *best* shot.

    Two years later I had a 4 year old, 2 year old, and newborn. The baby looked cute and was smiling but the older two looked annoyed (again!) but this time they had both had red rimmed eyes from the crying (oh the crying!) Plus my husband and I got in the hugest fight in the history of fights because…I snapped at him while giving him posing instructions for the kids. Torture, sheer torture, for all involved!

    Fast forward, my kids are now 9,7, and 5. The last three years I have gotten stellar card photos, so hang in there! It does get easier!!! (I have also learned that it’s actually easier to get the kids to focus on me and my camera if I do it by myself without my husband. And his royal highness doesn’t get his feelings hurt by my brisk, all-business way of speaking to him during photoshoots.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  364. Christina says:

    Family pictures are impossible! We go to the mall for Christmas. They are cheap and pretty good at getting a decent photo of us. One year, however, we had a picture taken that was so bad, it was funny. Hilarious, actually. One of those “bad paid for photos” photo that could have been on the Ellen Degeneres show. But I had to buy it because it was a stressful time in our lives and I couldn’t help but laugh every time I looked at it. We never got cards out that year, or last year either, but this year will be different! Maybe.

  365. T. says:

    A few years ago we attempted a photo of my boys in matching holiday pajamas. What we ended up with were many lovely shots of my two year old son crying while shoving his crying 6 month old brother partially off the couch. Luckily no one was hurt and we used individual non-holiday photos for the card.

  366. Betsy Luczaj says:

    The favorite card I ever got was of both kids crying in their fancy Christmas outfits. I always end up doing it right before the holidays, get an o.k. Picture(s) without red eye, and try to get them out at least as Valentines cards. The one year I sent my Happy Holidays valentines, I got more positive responses and comments than any other year!

  367. Nicole H says:

    Oh, how I know the pain of trying to get a good family photo!! The last time we did photos, I caught my hubby mumbling, “I f**king hate picture day!” under his breath. Can’t blame him. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  368. Katie W. says:

    Can I just photoshop the new baby into last year’s photo?

  369. Amanda says:

    I got the photo and the cards done last year, but never managed to address them or send them out. How is that for lazy?

  370. Jen says:

    Artsy. That’s what I’ll call those photos. Thanks!

  371. Kathy says:

    Feeling your pain. Finally going to pay for professional photos this year.

  372. Julie says:

    Getting ready to take photos this weekend! It will probably end up being just of the kid playing…again!

  373. Xtina says:

    Love it! I think the candid photos are the best. I have the hardest time throwing away all of the Christmas photo cards I get each year.

    • amber says:

      I know! I always shove them in our photo albums, I feel guilty throwing them away.

      • April says:

        Starting with Christmas cards, I keep all the cards (birthdays, etc.) we get throughout the year in a big bowl. That way we can sift through them for a quick smile throughout the year, and I don’t feel guilty throwing them away ten seconds after opening the envelope.

        Then, when we get our first Christmas card of the next season, I take the whole past year’s worth and dump them. By then they’ve been enjoyed for several months to a year, and brand new ones of the same family start to come in, so the guilt is magically gone.

  374. Rilla says:

    I haven’t done holiday pictures cards in ages… I’d totally do it if I won… ๐Ÿ™‚

  375. Teresa says:

    I have a 5 year old daughter and 3 year old twin boys. Getting all 3 to sit still long enough for a picture is torture! The year before last I took separate pictures of each child and chose a card with 3 picture slots. Last year I was determined to get one of them together. So I set it up and acted like a fool in front of them while hubby took the pic. I ended up having to smack myself in the head with an ornament to get them to laugh. Fun times.

  376. Kathleen says:

    Hmm, I just did the blurry artsy picture last year – and there I thought I was being pretty clever…

  377. Christina says:

    I’ve never been in a family photo. Ever. The only photo I have of my immediate family is of us at a Taco Cabana, me holding a beer. And we’re not even all in it. Sigh!

  378. Sarah Penney says:

    We are just like this. This year we hired a photographer to go out with us and take pics. Before we started she said-if you’re not happy with the pictures, I can always come back out. I want you to be happy. Well, as your post explains, it is unlikely that I’ll be happy unless I let my two boys roll in mud which is what they want. As you guessed, it did not go well. And as you guessed, I made them all do it again! Sorry husband, boys and photographer.

  379. Anadine says:

    Mo’ kids, mo’ problems with pictures! Luckily I have a husband who is an expert at photo shop, so we just find the pictures that are similar enough that we can swap heads until everyone is smiling and looking. This year, however, we (I) decided to go to a super fun location (The Salt Flats) that’s an hour away. I had the outfits worked out and even a few props like a kids rocking chair, rocking horse and a dining room chair. It was going to look awesome! When we got there, the wind was whipping around at about 40 mph and it was freezing. My daughter cried the whole time so her face was a swollen red mess and my hair looked like a banshee’s in every single take. Sigh. We will be having “artistic” pictures this year.

  380. M says:

    Mine always end up with messy hair! It looks like some serious bed head five minutes after in done fixing it.

  381. Sarah M says:

    Even as a pro photographer that’s pretty much how it goes.

  382. Erika says:

    We’re having photos done tomorrow. Hoping they’ll agree to wear what I picked out for them.

  383. Jennifer says:

    I’ve shied away from family photos in the past, because one (or both) of the older kids always glares at the camera like they’re trying to melt it with a death ray laser shooting out of their eyeballs. But I’m trying again this year! Wish me luck!

  384. Courtney says:

    My biggest issue in recent years is getting three kids (now 12, 9, 2) to care or listen enough to stay in the same spot for 3-5 seconds.
    My other biggest issue is trying to “save” my actual good pics and not post them on Facebook, because if I need them to make cards I don’t want people to say “yeah, seen that”…

  385. Jen says:

    last year’s picture only one of us wasn’t blurry. oh, well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  386. Riley says:

    We attempted family pictures this year the day after my newly turned 3 year old’s birthday party and it was his fourth consecutive day with no nap. Yeah. Pretty sure you can imagine how well *that* went…

  387. Jess says:

    we don’t send a newsletter part. just a picture. that’s all they really want anyway. with one we’ve been able to get shots, not so sure about next year though!

  388. Megan says:

    I think I will make it my goal, when I have kids, to put the most naked, messy photo of them on my photo cards and just send it out saying “Happy Holidays from the Naked Kids!”

  389. Jenn says:

    Hahaha!! I’ve also become the queen of the random in between shots! Sometimes it’s the only option.

  390. Brenna says:

    The one time we successfully took family pictures was 3 years ago. Our oldest was 3, our youngest was 1, and we were crouching in the bathtub in front of the camera. Yes, in the bathtub. This helped not only to contain the kiddos, but gave us a decent background since the outdoors was wet and freezing.

  391. Sara says:

    This same thing happens every time I try to take pictures for holiday cards. I always mean to get pictures of all 5 of us, but never can get us all in the same place for pictures to be snapped. So I end up just using the 3 kiddos (7,5,4). They refuse to all look in the same direction at the same time and actually smile. The last Christmas card I actually sent had the three of them on various states of laughter, but it was the best I could do!

  392. Andrea says:

    Oh I’m dying. Can totally relate. Christmas photos scheduled for the morning. Can’t wait. Even w a professional photographer it’s soooo hard to get both my boys to cooperate too!

  393. Kara Andretta says:

    Three boys. One will not take a serious picture ever. Not ever. Not even with a bribe. Big one who is beyond picture eye candy and he knows it. Tiny little one who always wears the “guess what’s in my diaper?” smirk when a camera is around. Holiday pictures going smoothly? Nope. And I wouldn’t have it any other way ๐Ÿ™‚

  394. Laura says:

    Yay for crappy give aways! With $175 to spend I would make some of the best holiday cards that I too would struggle to actually send out.

  395. Alex says:

    I’ve been contemplating professional photos this year, but you make some very valid points as to why I may just end up in my backyard ๐Ÿ™‚

  396. Stacey says:

    Thanks for the post so I know I am not alone. With our 3 girls we have resorted to just kid pictures for our cards as well. For some reason when the parents get in the mix it’s all over.

  397. Michelle says:

    We have a friend take photos. Said friend brings bribes. Usually works, although there’s typically a sippy cup (and or an adult beverage) around to make it happen.

  398. carrie says:

    Maybe I’ll just let my kids draw a pic of us for our family portrait….

  399. Kali says:

    This year we had our pictures taken outside around our home by a pro photog. Kids looked great and were in good moods. The problem: their parents. A few initial proofs were sent ahead of the lot and I don’t know what we had been doing the night before but both my husband and I looked so weary & tired. We had bags under our bags under our eyes. I had my hair cut & colored in the morning to ensure some semblance of “put-togetherness” and to remove the grey but it ended up looking like Gene Simmons’ everyday hair helmet. Luckily more proofs came back where we were a little bit of a distance and we didn’t look quite so haggard.

  400. Elissa M.R. says:

    Ever since I moved to the states, I’ve been in love with holiday cards. We’ve been sending them for 4 years now. The first year I had my brother-in-law take pictures of me and my husband. Second and third year we scored a deal at JCPenney to get the digital pictures for 49.99. This year I discovered a sponsored post by the way, but I loved what I got from there) and I found an amazing local photographer and we took the pictures at my daughter’s favorite park! I loved it! It was so easy, because she got to run around and play and be silly, and the photographer got the most adorable pictures of her! The best part, it was super cheap!
    Now I just need to print the cards and send them!
    I cannot wait for the holidays!!

  401. Tina says:

    Every family picture I own now has an ex in it, my ex husband, my sister’s ex boyfriend, my mom’s latest exhusband (but still my totally awesome stepdad ๐Ÿ™‚ ) time for new ones I guess!

  402. Shayna Plankar says:

    I dread the annual holiday photo session every year… But then I’m glad we did it because it ends up being the only photo we have all year with all of us in it. Stains and all.

  403. Jen says:

    We just did our “christmas card” family photos this past weekend went with a professional… Things don’t tend to go smoothly when we attempt tripod-ing it! The first half of the shoot my 2yo was red-faced, just done crying and now super shy because there’s a strange dude taking her picture. Then, the nose-picking started. We ended up ALL picking our noses and then she started to smile. Ended up with some winners, THANK GOD!

  404. Vivian says:

    I suck. For the past two years I have taken the stupid picture, made the cards, buy them and not mail them. Fail!!

  405. Allyson says:

    I have a 3yr old and 2 teenage stepdaughters that I’ve managed to snap some photos of for Father’s Day but said father… Won’t do it! If I’m able to win this giveaway I’m pretty certain he’ll allow the full family photo ๐Ÿ™‚

  406. Colleen says:

    We have done the professional photos in the past, but I think this year we’re going to just have to comb through all our random photos (my husband’s really good at getting those great laughing moments on film) and stick the kids on there – we look the same every year, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or at least I can pretend we do…
    Good work getting those swamp monsters captured on film!

  407. Paula Hartson says:

    We have the hardest time getting the picture of all of us together. Usually because the dog photo bombs us!

  408. Jessica Conifer says:

    for our Christmas photos I get the kids ready, I clean the house so every spot is totally photogenic… I often lock the children in another part of the house until the last minute… I leave them naked also until the last minute, I get extra batteries in my pocket or even a 2nd camera then I let them in the room and start taking 10thousand photos… look at the tree, sit on the couch, look at these fake gifts, run around and destroy the room… whatever… in the end their clothes may have to be thrown away, the room is destroyed the tree is down, ornaments broken but of those 10,000 photos I can usually find about 10 to edit the CRAP out of for a collage (collages are good because small pictures do not show boogers as easily) let them be crazy, don’t stress and if all else fails then make a card illustrated with crappy pictures.

    p.s. what adult complains about not getting a card out loud? especially to another adults MOTHER?

    • Jessica Conifer says:

      does your camera have a setting that will let you take bursts of pictures? our can be set to take three in rapid succession… increases chances of having eyes open in at least one of them

  409. caitlin says:

    love your blog and love minted!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  410. Sara golden says:

    Great post today! We’ve had family pictures done once. We lived in Japan(Okinawa) and just had our second boy. A military wife was trying to build her portfolio and offered to do maternity pics/newborn and family pics for us. I went into labor two days before the maternity shoot. Didn’t get those done! The newborn pics turned out adorable, she even used one of our pics for her business cards. The family shoot was at a beach and my then 2 1/2 year old could not be convinced to sit down on the beach or stay out of the ocean. So hubby, new baby and I are sitting on the blanket while toddler is up to his knees in salt water. Turned out pretty cute.

  411. Mindy-J says:

    Almost all of our family photos are taken by me with my arm extended out with the camera, my daughter closing her eyes or sticking her tongue out, and my husband smiling like Chandler from Friends. Atleast they’re candid.

  412. Kellie says:

    Oh good! I’m glad to know that this year our pictures will be good, because our daughter is only 5 months old. I have a couple years before I freak out trying to get a good family photo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But I like the ones you did while they were being swamp monsters better.

  413. Jenny says:

    Oh my goodness, my husband HATES trying to get photos for holiday cards and to give as gift portraits at Christmas time. Similar stress for all parents! This story reminds me of the day my daughter had to use the bathroom just before we began a photo shoot in a public garden. You guessed it — no bathroom in the public garden. It was a mess. Fun times!

  414. Angie says:

    I just love reading your blog! It brings back memories, as my “babies” are 15 and 13. Anyway, we do the holiday pic every year, except last year, because the matching sweaters I ordered the middle of November came one week before Christmas!! Grrr!! I am using pics from our cruise last April, this time ๐Ÿ™‚

  415. Kathy says:

    If I could make the photo happen, this would be great!

  416. Katie says:

    We have never done cards. Now that we have two little ones, I have considered it. Buuuut this post does not make me hopeful for a Hallmark picture, especially with a toddler and fussy baby. But, like you, maybe we will get a real moment that is just as beautiful.

  417. Nina Im says:

    I am horrible at picking outfits out but I always seem to remember an outfit that a cousin handed down that I can’t get the kids to wear on a normal dressy occasion but YES why not for a picture that is going to hang in the living room for the next few years! YEA great idea. So anyway the kids are pretty good at taking pictures they look like they love each other and that’s all that matters. <3

  418. Stephanie says:

    I have a friend who is a photographer and we’re going to try and get together with her, my 3 year old son – and my twin 3 year old nephews.

    Yup – 3 three year olds – and we’re going to try and get a photo of them to give to the grandparents. Should be interesting.

  419. Sav Jay says:

    HEY! My last name is Johnson, and if we put my older son in pigtails, that would look *exactly* like us! Thanks for saving me the trouble of making a Christmas card this year. I owe you one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  420. Jennifer S. says:

    Yep – I try to take my own photos, which is a total bust…need to remember to schedule a photographer ahead of time!

  421. AJ says:

    You are funny. We do this with 4 kids and my best friend who is a genius, comes to our house and does magic photo shoots in less than 10 minutes. Otherwise no one would ever see a picture of our whole family EVER.

  422. M@SSBD says:

    I recently discovered Minted, first through you, and through another blogger Mom I follow. That is a lot of mullah to give away.

  423. Kaity says:

    I love this post…

  424. Ceri says:

    Minted is SO Cool! If I won free cards maybe I would send them out….

  425. Merredith says:

    This happens to us every year too!! The more kids you have, the worse it gets. Plus last year I actually printed out all our photo cards and just didn’t manage to get them mailed. I just threw them away recently!

  426. kimberley staley says:

    I’m thinking a trip to sears and the space themed background for the family photo this year? Wait…I just googled it and they are out of business! Did you know Olan Mills is still around!?

  427. Genevieve M says:

    I’ve never sent Christmas cards, I just can’t get it together. This year I was all set out to do it, even bought some fancy (aka. balls expensive) hand painted cards from the local arts guild fundraiser. Not even 2 days later I went into my 5yo daughter’s bedroom and found every single one of them filled out with a giant smiley face. They were in the upper cupboard in the kitchen, I don’t even know how she found them, it’s like she can smell the lickable glue from behind closed doors.

  428. SUZAN says:

    we took family photos with the newborn and toddler on the Lakefront in Chicago. It turned out to be the rare cold day and our coordinated outfits were covered by jackets. In the end, the shots looked great anyhow!

  429. Laura says:

    I haven’t even printed photos in 7 years – chritmas cards haven’t happened in three years and our baby was born Dec 3rd last year and I still haven’t sent a birth announcement – but hey I guess all the people that actually KNOW me have heard that he was born so what the heck at this point I will probably just skip the birth announcement it has been almost a year anyway…

  430. Amy says:

    Our awesome photog makes family photos easy!

  431. Denisines says:

    My youngest son is ALWAYS NAKED around the house, so I only send photos to his grandparents — he’s 3 1/2 years old!!! ; )
    Pretty soon granny & gramps are going to say ‘Doesn’t your child have any clothes?!’ lol

  432. Kay says:

    Love this post! I am kind of looking forward to taking “the photo” this year, it’s our first year doing it and I doubt we’ll get the trophy for most put together looking but I’m sure it’ll be fun. I agree though the outtakes and random shots are usually the best ones. Glad you got your pic done!

  433. Ceri says:

    Alright, I guess I should read what I am supposed to comment about. I will say I would MUCH rather make my own than go to a place that they print them for you with a picture they take. I prefer to make my own. Which we attempt to do every year, but never get around to printing them. So if I win I could print them and mail them. Whew! PS if I will I will send you a card. And hey, why did you picture have to be perfect? Everyone knows your pictures are crappy! Ha ha ha! ๐Ÿ™‚ (in a good kind of crappy way)

  434. mrs b says:

    I laughed so hard! I was just taking pictures for Christmas card yesterday, and it was just not pretty! But glad to know I am not the only one here ๐Ÿ™‚

  435. Stephanie says:

    My daughter always smiles till the last second then sticks her tongue out. :p

  436. Chloe W. says:

    My kid is a Santa crier. You know, the kind that’s sobbing while Santa is just sitting there looking stressed while the child on the other knee stares into oblivion. The past two years I attributed it to being a baby who wanted to never leave me ever, but my hope has been lost for the upcoming picture as of last week. I told him we were getting rid of some toys before Christmas, and he now thinks Santa is coming to take his toys. Oops.

  437. Athena says:

    This reminds me…I need to think about pictures and Christmas.

  438. Melissa Dehne says:

    We usually go out into the backyard to get our picture as well. We still haven’t managed to get it done this year yet. There’s still time, at least that’s what I will tell myself until mid December!

  439. Rachel says:

    This is our first year trying to get family pictures. I hope they turn out!

  440. Shannon Miller says:

    I am actually one of the slackers that has NEVER done Christmas cards. I should start doing that…….

  441. sam says:

    candid shots are the best!

  442. Angie says:

    As a photographer I love taking photos of other families and kids, but when it comes to getting some of us it is a nightmare!

  443. Kimberly Robinson says:

    We have had only one family photo and it was when my oldest was a newborn. Every time since then our family photo session has had to be cancelled. Once due to a death in the photographer’s family, twice due to our whole crew having the stomach bug, twice due to weather for outdoor sessions, etc. It just NEVER works out!

  444. Robyn says:

    It was so much easier when our son was a baby and would just hold still…now he thinks I am the mamarazzi and says “no camera, mommy!!!” Though, he will do selfies with me IF he is allowed to push the button…Merry Christmas from the Selfies 2013?!? ๐Ÿ™‚

  445. Karin says:

    Love this post! Family picture? What’s that? My sweet husband got one of us last year that we did use as the family Christmas Card using the outstretched arm method. HA! That’s the best we have!

  446. Erika ellis says:

    The spontaneous laughing parts are what life is all about ! Love it!

  447. Angela Stevens says:

    This is SO my family! My husband tells me every year I turn into a well….CRAZY lady when trying to take my kids pictures and I bribe them with everything under the sun! I’m a photographer myself, so while I get fantastic of everyone ELSE’S family, getting my own family shots is not only pressure…but TORTURE! ๐Ÿ˜•

  448. Jessica says:

    Attempted to take a family photo with our 2 year old. Ended up using one where my husband and I are smiling nicely in the background and our son is running toward the camera (you mainly just see his head). It seemed fitting.

  449. Stephanie F says:

    Our daughters are 15 and 11. We have not have a family portrait done since our youngest was 1. Please, let me win so I can prove to our family and friends that I really do still have two kids!

  450. Angela H says:

    Love this! We haven’t tried family pics for Christmas yet, we did just our daughter last year. I took advantage of her first visit with Santa while she was too young to be afraid and got a great shot for the card ๐Ÿ™‚ This year she is a toddler so that should be an adventure..

  451. Sara Gibson says:

    Oh my goodness, you really had me laughing on this one! Just yesterday I tried to dress my three kids up all nice and go to a nice location and shoot some nice photos of them. I had to bribe them with candy, and even then, I took over 100 photos to end up with ten mostly-good ones. No wonder professional photographers charge so much! LOL

    P.S. Schtinkeyphart is the best name ever.

  452. Amanda says:

    Love the swamp monsters! I had a friend do a drawing of our family rather than fight the toddler.

  453. Leslie B. says:

    We’ve never been able to get a real family photo taken. Ever. Before we had our son my husband was all anti-picture, and now that we have him and one on the way it’s even more impossible. My son is perpetually dirty, too. I don’t get it. The kid takes a shower and is dirty again in less than 10 minutes (but only if we are needing to go somewhere!)

  454. Kimberly says:

    Okay. I totally cried that you got your “shot”. I’m pregnant. It’s not my fault. I’m still really happy you got your pic. Only now I also feel I need to send Christmas cards. And I don’t want to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  455. Theresa B says:

    I love this. Because this is exactly what happens. I’ve given up on leaving the house with the “picture” clothes on them.

  456. Brieanne says:

    Ahh yes, the dreaded Christmas card photo. I was cleaning our basement yesterday and found a copy of last year’s card. I am seriously contemplating copying it several times and sending it out again this year. Nobody would notice anyway, right…?

  457. NeuroNerd says:

    One of my friends got professional photographs for her card one year. The three year old AND the 6 month old were SMILING … and then the company that printed the cards cropped the baby’s chin out of the photo. I won’t name names, but it rhymed with shinymints.

    You can’t win.

  458. Paulina says:

    HAHAHA true story here, one is always crying, the other one hides, and the third makes faces at the camera… oh so stressful! and hysterical!

  459. kelly says:

    I give up on whole-family photos–my husband would never do it. I just send out baby-only ones, so that people can think I’m baby-obsessed and my daughter will grow up a narcissist. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  460. Teresa says:

    Oh man, holiday cards. Bane of my existence.

  461. Jema says:

    I really want to see your candid photos of your swamp monsters now!!!

    Our stories go similarly, except we have four to wrangle, and we usually procrastinate until the night before my husband’s TV station employer wants pictures of all the employees’ families to show on Christmas Eve. So then we’re trying to get a decent pic with two teens who are infinitely too cool for this sh*t, and two littler ones who have no patience. We managed to get one decent shot. You almost can’t tell that one teen and the 5yo were in tears two minutes prior, and that they were all threatening to kill each other.

  462. Rachel says:

    For every smile, I get 15 “funny face” pictures from my daughter! ๐Ÿ™‚

  463. Can you believe we have never had Holiday photos made? I usually just take some of my daughter, then add a few of us as a fam from Thanksgiving or something. Lazy, I know.

  464. Elva Syvertson says:

    Whew! That was a lot of scrolling to get here ๐Ÿ™‚ Family portrait session captured exactly as I recall!

  465. Melissa says:

    The same thing happened to me last year. I tried to take professional looking christmas photos in my living room. I even hung up a soft fussy blanket for a nice background. It looked good. My daughters were 3 months old and 18 months old at them time. My oldest didn’t want to cooperate because the sweater she was wearing made her hot. My camera timer was set to take 20 photos, 2 seconds apart. I have many pictures of daddy holding a struggling crying toddler with the baby flailing on the bed in her dress next to him, blurry shots of me jumping in and grabbing the baby. Trading babies mid-pictures because the toddler wants me. Baby looking at something off to the side with toddler now making frowny faces. Mom and dad with strained smiles. I just picked the best one to send to people that wasn’t too blurry and popped the rest of the hilariousness onto facebook ๐Ÿ˜€

  466. Erin Martino says:

    Last year, December 27th was our last family portrait with my family of 4, my parents, my brother and his wife. The ONLY day we could take it was on the 27th because of ours and the photographer’s schedules. The week before pictures, our Texas weather was in the 70s. I was so excited for our pictures to be in cooler but not freezing temps! I shouldn’t have been surprised when, on the 24th, temps were mild and then it snowed hardcore on Christmas Day. We had a 30 degree drop in temperature from one day to the next and it just kept getting colder and snow stuck around for our pics. But not pretty white snow. By the 27th, it was brown slush. Somehow, we got a decent pic minus frozen hands, my mom having the flu and our 5 and 3 year old boys screaming from being so cold.

  467. Carmen says:

    Laughing so hard! How does all that dirt materialize on kids out of nowhere?

  468. Amanda says:

    We took our family photos yesterday. The photographer asked if my 18 month old liked us to each take one of his hands and swing him. We’d never done this before, so we decided to give it a try. Well, he LOVED it and did not want to do anything else. So we did it about a million billion times. There is no possible way our Christmas card picture will be anything other than our 18 month old swinging through the air with one hand in each of our hands.

  469. Sandra Nelsen says:

    I have nine kids, three son in laws, kids in another state, one daughter with a boy friend and two kids, plus the other 8 grandkids, and my dog likes to get in the picture. I don’t do math well, but it is exponentially even harder than trying to take a photo of mom, dad,and two kids.

  470. Rikki Daniels says:

    We have a family portrait hanging on our living room wall. The baby is crying in my lap. The 2 1/2 year old is picking her nose. The almost-2-year-old is screaming on Daddy’s lap. I’m looking at the baby. Daddy is looking at the camera with a resigned look on his face. You could not get a better portrait of the Glorious Mess that is our life right now. Sometimes you have to go with “real” rather than “perfect”.

  471. Amanda Shertzer says:

    We skipped a year too for the same reason. Mine are 3, 5 and 7 and this year we managed to get ONE AWESOME family photo where everyone is smiling and looking at the camera! WOOT!

  472. Kira says:

    We have baby #4 due next week. I’m waiting rather impatiently so we can do family photos with baby on the outside. But oh wait, I’ll look like I’m been wrung through the wringer, and flabby and gross. Maybe this year will be of just the kids.

  473. Melinda says:

    This is hilarious! Usually if I do end up getting the kids and husband all looking and smiling, then I am the one looking pained.
    Also, I am putting your book on my Christmas list! ๐Ÿ™‚

  474. Jessica says:

    The last time we took a “family” picture was 10 years ago, right before I got married. I usually go with a pic of the little one, but we added another this year, so it might just be the two of them. I keep wanting a “family” picture, but I’ve been too scared/lazy/busy to get coordinating outfits and figure out where to get them done. ๐Ÿ™‚

  475. Bridget says:

    This will be the first year we attempt this . . . I am terrified

  476. Cheryl says:

    Love it! Always a crazy time with a 1 & 3 year old and nap and snack times!

  477. Rebecca says:

    I highly recommend the photo montage card. It’s impossible to see all the snot and red teary eyes and spaghetti sauce stains if you use 4 tiny photos instead of one big one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  478. Allison says:

    you actually got pictures of kids? I can’t even get a decent pet picture…

  479. StephJ says:

    I’ve already got my Christmas card photo for this year. We got a pic this summer when we went to Jasper National Park, I only had to photoshop 2 of the family’s faces to make sure everyone had their eyes open and was looking at the camera! After all that work, I decided last August: this will be our Christmas card shot! And DONE.

  480. JeanBean says:

    Photoshop does wonders. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  481. Pamela H says:

    Our Christmas photos this year…it was so windy that in all my pictures my hair is sticking straight and our eyes are squinted because of the crazy wind!

  482. Sheri says:

    I feel your pain! My friend just took some family pics for us where my girls (4 and 2) basically spent the time running away from my husband and I to play in the leaves…I’ve yet to see them, crossing my fingers there’s one decent one!

  483. phaea says:

    oh god the messy picture…I can’t.

  484. Rachel says:

    We have pictures scheduled for Sunday. Here’s hoping we get at least one!!

  485. Angie Owens says:

    I love this because– although I have 3 girls under 4 who typically don’t do swamp monsters– it is very difficult to get the whole holiday photo thing done. In fact, during our five years of marriage, we’ve never actually done one—- I just take a picture of us on the sunday morning before christmas where we all look reletively holiday-ish and edit it on my phone with some artsy “Merry Christmas” font, and post it to facebook. And thats about it. It would be amazing to actually do the real printed and mailed photo thing!

  486. Eve Guiles says:

    We haven’t even tried. One kid? That I can photograph! Both? Together? Looking in the same direction? That requires magic I tell you!

  487. Lindsey says:

    My Husband is the picture stinker in our family. This year, he was ‘done’ before the 3yr old and baby!!

  488. Erika C says:

    Bet it’ll be the best Xmas card out there!

  489. Heidi O says:

    We just got pictures done yesterday! My husband’s cousin is a photographer, so we went out to visit her and get them done. My girls actually like getting their pictures taken, and my 2-year old was just a little under the weather, so he wasn’t in the mood to run off, but he was still happy enough to smile when tickled. I’m more worried about how I’ll look in the pictures, since my kids look cute no matter what. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now we just have to see if I get around to making them into a card…

  490. Emily says:

    Minted cards are the best!

  491. Crystal Casey says:

    We didn’t do cards last year because it’s nearly impossible to get four kids to cooperate. I have the coordinated outfits bought for this year, and the date scheduled soon! Hopefully we can make it happen this year

  492. Amy Loveday says:

    We used to try to take these really lovely photos outside with our pugs. Like the kids, the pugs never look in the same direction, one of them wanders off, and someone either pees or poops. Unless, of course, we decide (like this year) to take the photo sans pugs. Then they were begging to be in it!

  493. Elizabeth King says:

    Ohh my getting holiday pictures taken with a 2 yr old and 1 yr old is an adventure!!! My one yr old is always on the verge of tears.

  494. Hannah says:

    OMG – we just took our holiday photos this weekend. I had to bribe my kids with eating chocolate ice cream right out of the container if they let me do their hair any way I wanted. Which just meant I wanted to take it out of a pony tail. Such a hassle!

  495. Kristin says:

    Outdoor fall pictures with the beauty of the changing leaves in the background. It’s going to be beautiful. We’re in the wilderness, matching clothes, leaves to play in, and…no bathroom. My 6 year old definitely peed in her pants after the first few cameral clicks. Soggy pants, no change of clothes, chilly day. Not as I imagined, but nothing ever is!

  496. sam says:

    We took our pictures a few weekends ago…and they turned out good! Well, the ones that the photographer deemed worth of showing us.

  497. Megan O says:

    I totally do the mall photo experience. It is an hour away, I’m always late for my appointment and super stressed out. It costs way too much and I only send out about 10 cards. The rest sit on my desk for another year.
    And you’re right: getting the kids’ cooperation IS the hardest part of it all.

  498. Elizabeth says:

    I found a great setting on my camera that will take several pictures in a row on the timer. It helps…a little…

  499. Nico says:

    My favorite part is when you give up on making it perfect and start just looking for the good parts of reality. That is where it’s at, mama!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  500. Kelly P says:

    Last year was fairly easy because we squeezed a ‘family photo’ into our newborn photo shoot, where they came to our home to do the pictures. This year I’m not shelling out that much money to try and get a family photo just for cards so I’ll get to wrangle 3 squiggly wiggly kids, take 1473 pictures and hope for one good one.

  501. Sarah says:

    Hilarious and honest, as always!

  502. Carolyn says:

    Just love it! Reminds me of our one and only “family” Xmas portrait where my husband looks like he is going to strangle the photographer!

  503. Amanda says:

    My husband is worse behaved than the kids and he definitely doesn’t care what any of the photos look like!

  504. Tracy says:

    Doing family photos with our kids is very much the same. We have 3 boys now and another little one on the way. I have no idea how we are going to be able to pull off getting all of them to cooperate and end up with a decent family photo.

  505. Jen says:

    sitting here crying at work – hysterical Amber!

  506. Jenn Rodriguez says:

    We have done the professional photo shoot thing but my favorite pics have been the ones that we get from an impromptu shot… I call it artsy ๐Ÿ™‚

  507. Kim says:

    So funny – I dread the holiday card photo. Still on my to-do list for this month though!

  508. Lizz says:

    This is the first year we have another human being to worry about besides my husband and I. I think I might make the baby the whole photo vs trying to get one of the three of us. Even that will be a challenge I’m guessing.

  509. Ashley B says:

    I have 1 year old twins, so I know just how hard taking a “good” family picture is! But sometimes the ones that go wrong are the best ones of all. =)

  510. Emily says:

    We maybe have 3 total pictures of all of us – too much work! Everyone just wants to see the kiddos anyways ๐Ÿ™‚

  511. Lisa says:

    I love taking photos of my kids, but I have an awesome one of my oldest with the meanest face ever. Which was taken right after her yelling at me ‘momma! Take my picture!’ Yep. She WANTED an angry pic, and it’s still my favorite of her ever.

  512. Valerie says:

    We always take ours ‘selfie’ style with me holding the camera out as far as i can reach and pressing the shutter button while we all cram as close together as possible. They are always funny to look at afterwards.Who is missing an arm, an ear, half their face etc. One of the kids always manages to cry or pick their nose during the photo as well.

  513. Jennifer Phoenix says:

    We have a photographer that we use who comes to a location of our choice to take pictures. About a year ago she did my daughter’s newborn pics, then we had pictures taken in April, and we’re having more tomorrow.

    Anyway, both times previously my son has been awfully uncooperative… he even tells the photographer to “Go away!” Luckily she is a good sport and says my son has “spunk” and that he’s still adorable.

    I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds. We are going to attempt an outfit change for both kids. Oi. What were we thinking?

  514. Ali says:

    I have taken the kids to a place to gets professional one done. Know my kids are much like your and after they get dress somehow they are dirty in <1. So I take the clothes with me, get to our apt early & change them there. I thought this was something several moms did, but I get some weird looks.

  515. Nicole S. says:

    We did the professional photos last year. I stressed about having to find coordinating outfits, then I was a total stress case trying to get my kids to behave for the photographer…a few came out okay, but the photographer did not leave any blushing comments about how “charming” our family was on her page. I’m going to stick to my photo collage cards from now on, with the pictures that I take. It’s cheaper, and less stressful. Just love your stories!

  516. Daphne says:

    Omgoodness. We’re trying family pictures tomorrow. At the mall. Fingers crossed!

  517. Denny Webber says:

    I always did the gross spit thing too with my kids! The oldest (who’s 28 now) still brings that up and heaven forbid you stick your finger in your mouth then act like you’re going to touch her! It’s hilarious and we do it often!

  518. Becky Thurmer says:

    Too funny! And soooo sooooo true…

  519. Ashley says:

    I can’t take pictures of my swamp monsters either. The little one (she is 7!) won’t look at the camera, and gives me the strangest “I’m terrified” smile in existence. The older one (he’s 8) always to make faces and be a ninja. It’s exhausting!

  520. Bricia says:

    Haven’t taken them this year… dreading it!

  521. Alli says:

    We figure that people really only want to see them anyway. Someday I will get to be in the picture, but I’m in no hurry. ๐Ÿ™‚

  522. Jolee Burger says:

    You are a better mom than me because I BRIBE – specifically with Lego sets or Pokemon cards.
    Also, I pay good money to have someone else take the picture so I can concentrate on wiping their faces with my spit.

  523. Susie says:

    One year a family friend’s holiday photo card was a genuine ‘natural’ family photo, with 2 children fighting and one pulling at Mum, all messy and Mum and Dad looking exasperated. It was brilliant, and stayed up in our kitchen long after all the others went in the bin!

  524. Nicole Smedley says:

    I need to win these amazing cards!! I never have the patience to take my own pictures, I leave it to the professionals. And bribery.

  525. I’m a photographer which results in about 5000000 pictures of my kid and ZERO of us all together as a family. I might have to change that this year! ๐Ÿ™‚

  526. Tessa says:

    It’s not too bad with one, but I’m not looking forward to trying to convince two to cooperate ๐Ÿ˜‰

  527. Sarah says:

    I despise taking family photos! Both my boys generally break into fits! But I think hubby hates it more than me and the kids!

  528. Maggie Hamadi says:

    I decided to try and take a picture for my sons birthday invite. He would not sit still or smile until I put a funny video on the phone and held it above the camera. I ended up getting a smile picture but he had a “turtle” neck in it. After one hour and 500 failed attempts it was good enough!

  529. Jesse Reid says:

    We have so much trouble with this that once I snapped a great pic of a goat family–they posed so well!–and almost used that as our holiday card. I still might…

  530. Kerry says:

    One of my favorite cards we received was from a family with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old. On the front, the children were angelically posed in their holiday finest in front of the Christmas tree. On the back of the card was the exact same picture except the kids were screaming/crying their heads off!

  531. Nikki H says:

    Our first anniversary picture was taken with a wooden golf club. That was 39 years ago, and we were laughing so hard, we nearly didn’t get it. Those selfies are just hard to do. I still smile when I look at it. We were so young. {sigh}

  532. Brandy says:

    LOL. Every single year I kill myself trying to get the perfect shot & every year I question my santity after the fact. Yep. Motherhood has made me nuts.

  533. Melissa says:

    We just went to a professional photographer for family photos for the first time in quite a while. I got everyone there still clean (I have girls so I think it’s a little easier) but my 2 year old would not stop running back and forth across the room, for the entire two hour session. Needless to say she immediately fell asleep in the car.

  534. Erica says:

    Ah yes, holiday card pictures. Thankfully we have a friend that takes fabulous pictures who will do one for us. Thanks for the reminder that I should go ahead and get on that….like now!

  535. Hannah says:

    Congratulations on getting the photo. I was just thinking about taking a holiday photo today… and sort of dreading it. Maybe I’ll just send a swamp monster photo.

  536. Meg says:

    It’ll be our first family photo year! If I can convince my husband it’s a good idea. Winning would help! ๐Ÿ™‚

  537. EBG says:

    Ha! Sounds very familiar.

  538. a says:

    we bribed my kids with cookies this year. i swore i would never be that mom….

  539. Veronica says:

    Last year I gave up and made a collage of all the bad pictures and hoped it got a larf. Genius? Perhaps. Lazy? You betcha.

  540. Lauren Moylan says:

    Last year’s photos all had my sister in them. She’s eight and put up a big fight, she had to be a part of each one ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s not so bad, but I just wanted ONE of my two only!

  541. Rachel says:

    Way too cute! And so true.

  542. Kara G. says:

    HAHAHA sounds like my kids! It’s amazing how spots magically appear ๐Ÿ˜€

  543. Amber says:

    As a studio photographer (the person taking your pictures at Sear’s), I always felt bad for people who had kids that really just didn’t want to take pictures. Then, I’d get someone who would blame me for it, as if I am a miracle worker who can make all children smile at will. ๐Ÿ˜›

  544. Alicia says:

    I think you should use one of the ‘bad’ pics and have this blog printed on the back of the card. Christmas cards would be way better if they contained real moments.

  545. Melinda says:

    Lol that would be me spit rubbing a cut and making things worse…

  546. Jlynn says:

    My son is very photogenic and it is tough to get a bad picture of him. My daughter on the other hand cannot seem to seem to smile nicely if there is a camera in the same room as her.

  547. Michelle says:

    Last Christmas our card was with the Santa from my husband’s work party. It looked like he had a very rough night and his beard was all crooked. Everyone was so distracted by the odd looking Santa they didn’t really notice us, or the fact my 9 month old looked terrified!

  548. Jacqui says:

    My cards usually feature screaming and crying children trying to get away from Santa. Hoping the 5 year old will smile this year but I doubt the 2 year old will! But they make the best Christmas cards!

  549. Cydney says:

    We just had our pics done last weekend. The night before my husband decided that our Crappy Baby needed his first hair cut. He then had a mullet for pictures. And our photographer brought ornaments as rips for some of the pictures. Baby only wanted to throw the ornaments like balls. And then it was nap time. The end. Pictures are so stressful!

  550. Teresa says:

    Last year we barely got a photo—our 2 year old was pulling off our santa hats—but it turned out great! This year we have a 9 month old to contend with too—wish us luck (:

  551. Jaclyn York says:

    I love the pictures, but dislike how hard they are to take. With three children, my expectations have been drastically lowered over the years.

  552. Cyndi says:

    Much easier to just do a pic of the kid(s) than use the temperamental time!

  553. katrina k says:

    great post feels like a page out of my world

  554. Nancy says:

    So funny and SO true!

  555. Adrienne says:

    Way better than a photo studio backdrop any day. Well done!

  556. Alicia P says:

    We’re trying for our photo tomorrow.

  557. Kayla says:

    New fan from Crappy Pictures ๐Ÿ˜‰

  558. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the chance to win. I love your blog!

  559. Myssie says:

    One year I had cards made (with my super cute smiling child on them), purchased them and forgot to send them.

  560. amanda says:

    so so true…love this story!

  561. Beth says:

    I would love to get cards. Maybe we can do a family photo again, since we haven’t done one in 5 years and we now have another child that no one knows about since she has never appeared in a family photo. ๐Ÿ™‚

  562. Babs Kerns says:

    I’ve never done the picture cards for similarly non-photogenic family reasons, but I’ll try anything once. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  563. Lisa says:

    Last time I tried to do kids pictures my daughter was terrified of the guy taking the pictures but last time I had family pictures done I had two less kids and it was easy and fun.

  564. Lulu says:

    This is hilarious! I’ve only managed to get holiday photo cards out once, two years ago. I have to get it together and try again this year! My daughter loves hamming it up for the camera, so hopefully it won’t be too difficult.

  565. Andrea says:

    I have a hard enough time with just one !

  566. Cris says:

    Um – Try including a dog, chickens and goats – uh huh… cuz Awkward Family Photos has nothing on us!

  567. Danni says:

    Why don’t you do a photo of each of you individually and make a montage card? Less co-ordination of cleanliness/smiles etc. You can hold crackers and crop shots etc so it looks like you’re pulling them from one photo to another.

  568. Rebecca says:

    Great post! I really should get off my butt and do some too! A friend of mine has 4 kids, she doesn’t bother trying to get them all to get into one good shot anymore. She just took a course in photoshop and now ‘creates’ a family portrait from individual shots ๐Ÿ™‚

    Personally I’m liking the swamp monster game tho!

  569. Daria says:

    Thank goodness for digital cameras! I love having the opportunity to take dozens of shots without wasting film. It makes taking pictures of my three-year-old so much easier, and there’s always at least one good one!

  570. Kristy says:

    Our first family portrait together was weeks after our daughter was born, making our son about 18 months old. It was a warm day at the end of January, and I dragged everyone outside for the picture. This was the result:

    A mere second after this photo was taken, my son leapt out of my husband’s arms, flipped forward, and landed flat on his back on the ground. This was the ONLY picture from that session. Luckily, we were more or less looking good. ๐Ÿ˜€

  571. Erica says:

    We took over 400 photos of our two year old for two smiles. :/

  572. Megan C. says:

    Hoping to get nice pictures for our Christmas cards this year!

  573. Izzy says:

    I just have one kiddo – and it’s like trying to herd fleas. Yes, fleas. Cats are easy; just pick them up and try not to get your face scratched off. Fleas though, much like my 3 yo, are born to be evasive, tricky, and all over the place. Gah!

  574. Melody says:

    I was trying to do holiday cards earlier this week but the only pictures I have of my husband, stepson and I all together are from last Christmas and are not good! I had spent two weeks without running water at my MILs and my hair was greasy and there was no makeup and the background looks like we were in the desert. Not very holiday inspiring at all!

  575. Carole says:

    We don’t tend to have much luck with family photos, either. ๐Ÿ™‚

  576. Allison Watson says:

    We did our pictures last weekend! We were semi-successful!

  577. Shannon Lynch says:

    Did Holiday photos last year. Took two trips to the photographer. Managed to get a couple great shots. Only have 2 kids, and one decided to melt down at each session. Geesh. I think I will do a photo collage card this year with all the happy candids. Cheaper, cuter, might actually work.
    Since the kids are older, 1 and 3, i guess i have to do a letter too now. Oi.
    This did make me laugh, tho, cuz it is soooo true!

  578. smb says:

    Our oldest (5) is in an anti-papparazzi phase, so getting photos is super hard. We did awesome Minted cards the first year we were a family of 4, and a friend who is an uber-talented photographer took an awesome family photo. There’s no way to ever top it, unless I win the Minted certificate, and can then afford to hire the photographer again.

  579. whomever says:

    hahaha, so funny.

  580. Caroline says:

    We would love to do a photo card this year and are currently trying to determine whether we are brave enough to attempt a trip to the photographer with our 7 kids aged 6 and under. *sigh*

  581. Heidi Rouse says:

    even if kids aren’t the problem – don’t give the camera to a person who cuts off heads or the pre-teen who is dancing around like they have to pee!

  582. whomever says:

    If all three of us had our eyes open and our mouths closed during a family photo, the world might implode.

  583. deanna says:

    When hiring photographers…they want either the first light of the day or right before sunset for the best lighting. When we tried to book a photographer this year…the times were either 6:30am or around 6pm. For a 5 month old and 3 year old. Are you kidding me? Nightmare. So I told him, I don’t give a damn about lighting..I’ll see you at 9am. 4 million photos later and we got a few good ones..all smiles, no tears.

  584. reba says:

    I love taking pictures. i take them all the time mostly one kid is crying and the other one is torturing. one day they will look back on those pictures and wonder why i appeared to take so much pleasure in their pain. then i will show them the holiday card, easter picture or 4th of july moment where they happen to look adoringly at each other if only for a second and they will know…i was capturing THE moment.

  585. Rita says:

    Make sure to keep one of the Christmas cards for each of your boys! I have a photo album of every annual Christmas photo card that my parents have sent since I was born, and it’s awesome to look back through the years and remember the where and why of each occasion.

  586. Jamie says:

    I swear, every one of your posts is like it was a biography of my family. We just finished our card pictures, too. Not just our own family, but all my husband’s siblings and their families too. We are gluttons for punishment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  587. Cynthia S. says:

    This Christmas we are a family of four (Yaaay)… For the holiday card will probably need 1 Zillion shots before we can get one we can actually use. Halloween pics were a blurry disaster… who knew kids could move that fast! lol ๐Ÿ™‚

  588. Maia LeDoux says:

    Oh yes… I started thinking about trying to take that magical photo before Halloween. I am impressed that you use the timer and get everyone in the photo… I just try to capture the kids figuring that I’d rather people use their memories of the younger me instead of a photo of me.

  589. Krystal T says:

    I have the same types problems w pictures. I don’t even have nice headshots of myself for my biz page–! trying to get that remedied soon.. But seriously–the last time I got three good pics of my (five!) kids together was in a field of bluebonnets. It only took 30 minutes and 200 shots, LOL.

  590. Lauren says:

    Last year was our first attempt at Christmas cards. It was already half way through December, during a commercial while our favorite show was on, that I announced, “Let’s take a Christmas picture!” because this is how I do things. So during the next set of commercials we all got dressed, including our 2 year old, because we were previously pajama clad. The commercial set after that we arranged a camera and appropriate setting. After, that we thought, “Awesome! Now we just have to snap a quick picture and be done!”
    “Naive” is the word you are looking for. We spent the next 3 commercial sets snapping pictures, plus ONE HOUR after the show was over before deciding, “nope. Christmas cards are stupid” and went to bed.

  591. Bonnie Fournier says:

    Last year I ended up cutting my kids faces out of 3 different pictures and putting them together on a card I made (GIMP not by hand, lol). I took 10,000 pictures of the three of them and didn’t get a single one where they were all smiling or looking at the camera.

  592. Katrina says:

    Last year I took my 3 sons out on one of the coldest days in November with out jackets in an attempt to get a good shot…Unfortunately we didn’t get the picture, just a couple of colds.

  593. Julie says:

    I’m about ready to give up on photo cards. One year when our son was just crawling we were so proud we not only got out cards and on time with a great pic of my husband, kiddo and myself all looking at camera, etc all we got in feedback was complaints we excluded our do from the photo. Being our ‘first’ child people were upset we didn’t include her. It’s not our fault the only decent photo we could get was while hiking in Yosemite where dogs aren’t allowed!

  594. Ginia black says:

    Our backyard faces west, which is not so great for keeping the house cool, but it makes for wonderful evening light. We have so many great milestone photos of our 18 mo son taken back there. You know, when he wasn’t looking & was busy walking around with acorn caps on all his fingers!
    Great giveaway!!!

  595. Chrisy says:

    Thank you for always making me laugh! (Still giggling over the Jedi characters post. Your kids are spot on with their name versions. I think Ki Adi Mundi is secretly Lucasian for King of the Shriveled Penis Heads.) Today’s post is no different, especially as I was sadly browsing through my photos trying to find a good one for the holiday card. No dice. So I’m opting to for the Reject Photo Holiday card as this will be much more authentic and entertaining.

    Btw, a friend of mine was given some pink sparkly socks with a rainbow farting unicorn on them. Didn’t know Farkles had launched a clothing line? Crazy unicorn! I will try to send you a picture of them.

  596. Shauna B says:

    This is the first year we aren’t doing the whole family – just the boy. I’m pregnant and don’t want to be immortalized on everyone’s fridge.

  597. Christina F. says:

    this year, we hired a REAL professional–not just one of those places at the mall. we scheduled our outdoor photo shoot a couple months in advance. and it rained for several days straight. the day of the shoot, it did not rain for the hour and half we were outside (but it did before and after). our two year old was decked out in a beautiful holiday ensemble, complete with tutu. and wellies. o.O but they’re hunter, so i was telling myself it’s okay because that’s how they wear them in the magazines and all. then she found the puddles and after the photographer snapped a shot i looked down to see the kid face down in a puddle splashing around like it was the freakin’ bath tub. and here is why i love our photographer: she laid down on the wet ground to get on the kid’s level and snapped away. we have some great puddle-jumping, puddle-splashing photos that actually show my daughter’s spirit SO well! <3

  598. Angie says:

    I was convinced that we didn’t need to do cards this year. The thought of trying to get a decent photo of the kids was just too much. But your post has inspired me to at least try it. Or…at least to think about trying it…

  599. kristin says:

    I know you asked for comments about family photos, but this is my first year fighting that swamp monster. I’m sitting in the waiting room while I’m waiting to get the oil changed in my car (also not a temple of clean) and I’m crying. I’m absolutely crying, with tears streaming down my face & everything. About to hand my phone to the person sitting next to me. I don’t know this person, but she wants to know why I’m laughing…. Hilarious.

  600. Jennifer says:

    LOVE your blog!

  601. Melanie says:

    We just did our own family pictures and it could not have been more hilarious with our 17 month twins. Put shortly, there was a cat walking around us at the shoot. I was just so thankful there were some pictures with them looking the same direction (didn’t matter if it wasn’t the camera).

  602. Monica Barrientes says:

    I am a professional photographer, so in theory, I SHOULD have oodles of great photos to choose from, or be able to take some easily. Not so! My kids now despise the camera, and behave in all sorts if strange ways when it makes an appearance. I can get magical photos of other peoples children all day! But my own, only in my dreams. So this year I took the plunge and paid lots of money for someone else to do it. Our session is in a week and a half! Nervous! ๐Ÿ™‚

  603. Kristi says:

    All those years that my oldest absolutely refused to smile…

  604. Erin says:

    Wow. Now, I know what to look forward to. Despite our kids being too young to cause much trouble (so far), I seem to fail at sending out any sort of holiday greeting, despite the best of intentions. Last year I got as far as writing the cards and addressing the envelopes. Unfortunately, I think they’d look a little weird arriving this year :-S

  605. Alexa says:

    My mom has a designer and she constantly asks for a family photo. Every year I give her a Christmas photo. It’s the only time of year I can get all 3 boys (currently 2, 3 and 5) to smile. The promise of more presents from Santa for a smiling photo is irresistible.

  606. amber says:

    We did family pictures with my parents and my brother’s family last year. We *tried* to get a picture with the 4 grandkids and the grandparents. Suddenly my children couldn’t stand to be in the same city as their beloved grandparents. Seriously, my kids LOVE their grandparents! The consolation was getting a great picture of my dad poking my nephew in the ribs in an attempt to get his pre-teenness to smile. The look on their faces, mase that the best picture of the day!

  607. Tara L says:

    We haven’t done a photo card since my daughter’s first Christmas in 08′. I’m looking forward to one this year since it will be my sons first Christmas.

  608. Laurie says:

    We just took family pictures. We had a photographer, we were at a park, everyone looked good, the whole nine yards. I have two kids; a two yr old and a five yr old. They were great. My hudband on the other hand was not. “Are we done?” “How much longer?” Why do we take do many pictures?” “How many poses are we going to do?!
    The worst part was he brought a football and kept playing with my son in between poses so I would have to yell at them to come back. I got so frustrated I finally just stopped the whole shoot. Luckily our photographer is great and we got a few “perfect little family” pictures.

  609. Erin D. says:

    Hilarious! And LOVE Minted!

  610. Kara says:

    I am actually the mom who is constantly taking pictures. I love it. My kids are so used to it that they randomly stop and “pose” and say “cheese”! lol. It’s hilarious. Sometimes I have to pretend to take their pics with my phone because they won’t get in the car until I take a picture of something.

  611. Susan says:

    I am the photographer as well, and I literally hold down the button on my digital camera to get the shot. Multi shot mode-my best friend!

  612. Heather C. says:

    This about sums up how it is at my home too when trying to get the perfect shot.

  613. Jess says:

    Ugh holiday cards. I feel your pain! Glad you got a good shot!

  614. Risa says:

    I love picturing your little swamp monsters! And your summary statement at the end totally made me tear up. Well done.

  615. Mary says:


  616. monica p younes says:

    I think my kids conspire before pics telling each other that at least one of them must not look at the camera and when to throw a tantrum. They get mommy everytime.

  617. Sarah Spellman says:

    I have yet to attempt the family picture thing…see, my husband is physically incapable of smiling for a camera….grimace, growl and expression of seizures we can do…a smile not so much (even our wedding pictures we only have 1 good one-and that one was a miracle and due to my brother pretending to do a strip-tease behind the photographer). So I use the kids hands or feet prints and turn them into angels or animals or whatever. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to do a family picture…

  618. Allison says:

    I despise family pictures. We look like a traveling band of gypsies. Despite this, we just had some taken with a fancy schmancy photographer. So now we have expensive traveling band of gypsy pictures.

  619. Jennifer R says:

    I totally understand. Trying to get a picture on your own is IMPOSSIBLE! Luckily I have an amazing friend who takes great pics. Everyone knows your kids will listen to ANYONE better then their parents. They love Justi and usually give her amazing smiles. But it usually takes MANY shots to get a good one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  620. Heather boyce says:

    I’m dreading this year’s photo attempt…

  621. Lindsey says:

    Photos are impossible! I swear either one or the other of them is crying… and sometimes I am crying. And my husband has the most ridiculous smile for photographs. He is completely incapable of a genuine smile on cue. He looks like Mickey Mouse or something. We always end up with 643 pictures where I look exactly the same and the three of them have varying degrees of awful on their faces.

  622. Laura B. says:

    I completely LOL’d at the drawing of them after they had been in the car…with the torn and stained clothes. Ain’t that the truth! I’ve got three and that completely happens in the car. It truly does require buying new clothes just for a photo. We too do not use a professional photographer nor do we go to the mall portrait places. We also just set up the timer and use other random recent photos taken.

  623. genie says:

    I’ve been a portrait photographer for nearly 15 years and I can honestly say that very few of those photos were as simple as they seem. From the mom who doesn’t want to admit when her kids are done to the dad who is po’d from the beginning because he is missing football, I’ve seen them all. Yes, there are always some families whose children are so well behaved that I want to tie them down until they give me all their secrets but they are few and far between.
    Me? I swap heads until all four of us look perfect.

  624. The Mommy says:

    I’m a professional photographer, which means I take beautiful photos … of other people’s families. Anytime I break out the “big” camera my children run, screaming from the room.

  625. Tina says:

    We actually managed to get two family pictures this year. One at a wedding where we were all dressed relatively nice, besides the fact that I already changed the boys into play clothes. And another after trick or treating. I won’t get another better one than that so the wedding one it will be.

  626. Courtney says:

    My daughter is two and last year for Halloween we went to a local farm and did the pumpkin patch/wagon ride (there was no hay involved which really bugged me, so it was just a wagon ride) and I took this amazing self group pic (groupie?) that we used on our cards. Tried it again this year and got one photo without crying, boogers or strangers… My daughter has an O face… Not so much.

  627. Peg says:

    Hilarious and spot on! I’m still working on getting a passable holiday family photo!

  628. Angela says:

    “Schtinkeyphart” Gonna die laughing

  629. Annie says:

    This is hilarious!! I love it!

  630. Amanda says:

    In our most recent family pictures, my sons hair is red in all of them…except he doesn’t have red hair… Le sigh…

  631. Hank F. says:

    Our daughter’s a ham, so it’s usually pretty easy. So, yeah, nothing really funny to share here…

  632. Brittany says:

    We recently tried to do family pictures outside to announce our new baby sister. Well two photographers and two sessions later.. My three boys 3,3, and almost 2 still barely had one decent picture of all three of them together. Boys! lol

  633. Amanda Cina says:

    We made it to Target to get our photos taken. Forgot the shirts at home. :/ Thank god it was Target, bought new shirts. Kids didn’t want to smile, begged, pleaded, tried to bribe…nothing worked. I think we got two pictures of everyone looking at the camera. Sigh. Super fun.

  634. Christina says:

    Last year, we dressed the baby up in Christmas PJs, chucked him on the floor with ornaments and Christmas lights, and snapped a zillion photos. We liked the ones of him with a light in his mouth the best (blue baby cheeks are cute) but decided we’d look like more competent parents if we chose one where he was just holding the lights and smiling.

  635. lindsay says:

    i, also, did not get cards out last year. the flu got us all. this year, we had to let the kids bring their superhero masks for a couple of shots in order to get cooperation. LOVE your stuff & minted — awesome giveaway!

  636. Jenna says:

    we got some great photos last year (taken in our yard with the camera on timer funnily enough!) In one of them the baby in walking away from us towards the camera blocking his dad but you can see his two brothers sitting back still and I just love it.

  637. Lindsey says:

    You should have seen me making my swamp monster face at work.

  638. Absolutely hilarious and true. I’m dreading out Christmas card photo for this very reason. three girls with three different ideas of what “the card” should be.

  639. Jill says:


  640. Mary Colvett says:

    I have six kids – I have always said if I can get one where they all look miserable – THAT is the card! Sadly, that is just as hard as all being happy.

  641. DJ says:

    Sounds exactly like what happens at my house. Last year we tried to have a “quick” family portrait taken outdoors by a professional. The end result worked but only because the photographer was a genius and was actually able to snap a shot at the precisely perfect moment. All it takes is one split second, right?

  642. Brooke says:

    I’m always the designated family photographer for other family holiday cards so I’m loving the gnome in the lens trick! Will certainly use it. Great post!

  643. Elizabeth says:

    Each fall we have a wonderful, miracle-working woman named Crystal who comes and takes 7,000 pictures of us in our yard and in at least two of them we are all looking at the camera and looking happy, which gets translated into our holiday card. Except this year because of two vacations and some car repairs we, like the sovereign nation of Greece, are observing Austerity Measures until our cc is paid off. Sooooo, no Crystal. Our buddy came to take a photo of us in our yard and my 2-y-o was an annoying cavegirl, my husband was all rosy cheeked from drinking pre-photo scotch (what the hell??) and I didn’t have time to brush my hair or change out of work clothes. So, I guess we’ll look like our normal selves this year. But not upgraded to fancy.

  644. Marianna says:

    We just had family pictures taken last weekend. My kids are obsessed with vehicles, but especially motorcycles. I thought they would be thrilled that the mini session we were doing had a vintage vespa in it. They cried nearly the entire time… Sigh.

  645. Sandra says:

    I think the last time we tried to take pictures we ended up with 600 pictures of our kids crying, pinching each other or the back of someone’s head and 1 decent shot. Thank God for digital cameras!

  646. Marielle says:

    We’ve only ever gone once for professional photos when my boy was 11 months old. It was fun…we did a cake smash shoot and it came out good. He’s almost 3 now and we haven’t had a shoot since. I’m hoping his class picture comes out cute so I can just use that in some cards.

  647. Corie says:

    Crap! Holiday cards! Last year it was easy because we had a newborn. Now she’s one and the boy is almost 3.5 and I foresee two kids not cooperating for pictures.

  648. Judy Gates says:

    Yeah, that’s EXACTLY (well, pretty much) how family picture-taking went when the kids (4 of them) were little . . . and a little bigger . . and, well, by the time they were teenagers they were old enough to cooperate and did, but by then I looked fat and old in every shot!

  649. Kristiana Morris says:

    My kids are not the toughest part about getting good family photos. It’s my rolling of the eyes, “this is stupid” saying husband!

  650. I gave up on group photo cards a long time ago. I can get the boy or I can get the dog. Never both.

  651. Lori Hardy says:

    We have resorted to bribery and outright threats to get some decent pics with my friend the photographer. As such, we got a few good ones, but they still only lasted about 15 min!! (ages 8,6,2)

  652. Judy says:

    Yeah, thatโ€™s EXACTLY (well, pretty much) how family picture-taking went when the kids (4 of them) were little . . . and a little bigger . . and, well, by the time they were teenagers they were old enough to cooperate and did, but by then I looked fat and old in every shot!

  653. joshua says:

    we also have an inability to stand still and look at the camera- something about posing for pictures is hardwired as “run it’s a snake” in my 5 year old.

  654. Amber says:

    If you think family photos are hard – try taking them of animals you are trying to sell. Rabbits don’t understand the concept of sitting still any better!

  655. Miranda says:


  656. I’m a professional photographer, and I STILL never manage to get good shots of my kids. They’re always too busy acting like superheros to look at the camera….

  657. Stacey A. says:

    my son is 22 mo and we’ve only had one professional session…he was still in the NICU and the NICU scheduled the session. Everything else is candid. oh well, i love the pics i get because he’s a fun little nut.

  658. Hilarious and oh so true! Last year, Hubby entire family got together to take family photos and out then 2 year old cried the whole time. We just used a family photo of the four of us with his blotchy face. Screw it!

  659. Stephanie says:

    I’m always in awe of other people’s family christmas pictures. Can’t wait to see your final card.

  660. Kelly Clark says:

    thanks for the laugh, and SOOO true!

  661. Wendy Dufoe says:

    Love this, just like taking pictures in my house. Although my husband is often the one with the weird face.

  662. Courtney says:

    Last year we got some gorgeous pictures, but I didn’t make time to send them in for printing. Finally, in February, I printed the pictures (with Christmas tree in the background) as St. Patrick’s Day cards. I got them all addressed and ready to send, no stamps. They’re still all sitting in a pile, ready to be mailed.

  663. Mags Lin says:

    Lol, I totally understand this. I think I am the only one among my friends who doesn’t do professional studio sessions for my kids. Somehow, the yrs that we have managed to get an xmas photo pic out, our tactic is for DH to do the multi-shoot function on his camera and we just cross our fingers that one of the pics looks ok. Funny enough, we’ve had some yrs where the pics came out surprisingly well, despite the stress behind getting it.

  664. Cat says:

    Ah, I’m going to do the same exact thing this weekend. Wish me luck.

  665. Sandra says:

    There are so few pictures of all four family members together that my main motivation for doing Christmas cards is to prove we all exist on the same time plane.

  666. Jodi says:

    I would love to win this so I can get a really great photo of my son and his cousins for the holidays. My parents are in their 60’s It would be a fabulous grandparent thing.

  667. Kelly says:

    We actually got a good family photo last year!

  668. Tori says:

    hilarious. because I’ve been that mom. and I photograph that mom several times before the holiday season. HAHAH!

  669. Tineka says:

    I have to say, I love your Swamp Monster sunshine survival spell idea! Quick thinking that one!

  670. Bethany K says:

    I have never sent holiday cards. I have my first child now and should probably start, but then I would have to choose a photo for the card. See I take lots and lots of photos and I love all the little quirks that I catch of my family. So I would have a difficult time picking “the one” ๐Ÿ™‚

  671. Elizabeth says:

    When we bought our house two years ago, we found a fabulous aluminum Christmas tree in the attic! So we took a Mad Men-inspired picture in front of it. Last year, however, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, so I didn’t even send out cards. I thought it was a good excuse.

  672. Jaynee says:

    This is hilarious and totally accurate. I am a photographer and it’s fairly easy for me to capture pictures of my family without me in them by using the 100 clicks per minute method.. but I am never in a good picture with my family. We have three acceptable pictures together and my daughter is 4 years old.

  673. carly says:

    Oh my gosh. My three boys are maniacs. I’d LOVE to get a nice picture of them together. There’s always one crying/mad/ridiculous boy. Always.

  674. Mary Dickerson says:

    Yep… every year… I’m also the mom who never manages to send out birth announcements.

  675. Laura says:

    Haven’t reached this stage yet, he’s still cooperative and willing to sit still for a few minutes. I’m guessing that will magically change the moment we show up at the picture place to have the pictures taken.

  676. Shelley West says:

    Love this. Giggling and in tears. I either do a single photo card or newsletter with a few photos through the year, making sure each family member is accounted for. Done deal….I don’t even attempt the family thing.

  677. Elizabeth says:

    I laughed so hard! It’s so true!

  678. I usually prefer those outdoor family shots taken by professional photographers in parks or at the beach or something. But this year we couldn’t afford a photo shoot (I actually scheduled one, and then had to back out at the almost-last minute). ๐Ÿ™

    Then, I asked to borrow a friend’s camera to do what you did, and she offered to take the photos for us! In a park! While she was supposed to be studying for a test!

    The pictures turned out even better than they would have with a “professional” photographer because we got to decide where to go, how to pose, etc. It was great!

  679. Jen says:

    Next time I will fly out and do your portraits for y’all!!

  680. Jennifer says:

    As our family has grown, the challenge of getting a “good” holiday photo has increased. Now that we are outnumbered 2-1 it is extremely difficult. Last year we missed out even getting one because someone was either sick or had some facial injury. It was the first year out of the last 13 we missed getting our family portrait done. :(. Thanks for the laughs though, I could completely relate to quite a few instances. ๐Ÿ™‚

  681. Jen May says:

    Two kids. Total meltdown. The baby peed on both of us. Thankfully the photographer was also a mom.

  682. Patty B says:

    We have done photo cards the last couple years but had decided it was just not affordable this year. But if we win then yeah for us and doing photo cards! My husband is a photographer but with 4 toddlers and #5 on the way around or just after Christmas its hilarious trying to get a family photo!

  683. Casey says:

    Last time we tried the “official” family photo, hubby was hung over and couldn’t smile and baby cried the whole time. Now we go for “candid” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Much easier! ๐Ÿ™‚

  684. Brandie says:

    This is totally us. I’ve all but given up. Going to have professional photos done in the spring. I’m breaking out in hives already just thinking about it!!

  685. RaeAnne says:

    I don’t do them. Problem solved.

  686. Brooks says:

    This is hilarious! I love that you pretended to be a witch to get them outside. I think I’m going to have to keep that one in my back pocket for a special occasion!

  687. Lisa R says:

    So far it has just been me, my husband, and the dog. The dog’s attention is easily gained with a phrase such as “Wanna treat?” I’m 7 months pregnant now and just had maternity pics taken so this year’s card is a piece of cake. Next year, with a mobile child, who knows!

  688. Carmelle says:

    I literally spit out my coffee when I saw the ‘3 minutes later’ drawing. You’re hilarious!

  689. ACsMama says:

    Most of our family pictures growing up, either Dad was making a weird face, or Mom thought she looked too fat, or my bro was doing something weird, or….. with 6 of us, it was always a nightmare! Thank goodness for the age of DIGITAL photography when you can take 6000 photos, take the best one of each person and photoshop them together – voila! Good family photo!

  690. Melanie says:

    This is so classic! My girls will always make funny faces now. And when I join in, they decide to smile nicely. Go figure…

  691. Laura says:

    Amazing. Our daughter is almost 6 months old. SO easy to take photos of her…until now. Now she’s into some Jane Fonda hip lift exercise when she’s lying down and loud, pterodactyl screams. Still super cute, but I think we’ll just rely on the 5 month Halloween picture for our holiday cards. Festive, right?

  692. I love this post because that’s us!!! Pants on, kids clean, seconds later there’s snot and dirt and crazy hair!

    I have some friends who had a crazy Christmas photo card. The picture was horrible (seriously… kids everywhere, cat on the fireplace mantel, decorations falling down) and they used it on their card. They labelled it “Keeping up with the Jones’ this Christmas” and it was BRILLIANT. Unfortunately I can’t steal the idea (because we have oodles of terrible photos) but it was one of the best Christmas cards we ever received.

    I love Minted – they have GORGEOUS cards!

    Wishing you a lovely day.

  693. Johanna says:

    We actually have some great candids and portraits from over the year, but I am not in any of them.

  694. Christine N. says:

    I never win when there are lots of entries, but I am attempting Christmas cards this year, our first year with five kids, and I’ve already bought half the clothes and booked the photographer. Here’s hoping for at least one good pic. ๐Ÿ™‚

  695. Elizabeth says:

    So funny that this was waiting in my inbox today because I just got back from my family photo shoot. We did it at a studio in a big toy store – so we got lots of pictures of my 1 year old running for the door of the studio to get to the toys and lots of pictures of him crying as we try to hold him back. We got exactly *one* shot where his fussy face could actually be misinterpreted as a smile…

  696. Carrejo says:

    This has been the story of every set of pictures weโ€™ve ever tried to have taken! The twins manage to cover themselves in something, SO winds up being annoyed, no one wants to smile or stand still, and the dog is upset that he canโ€™t be right there in the middle of every single picture! We finally found an awesome family friend photographer back home, who did an excellent job with my uncooperative kids and SO to get great pictures.

    Also, I had never heard of minted before. After looking at their site through a link from one of your posts, Iโ€™m feeling like maybe I should actually send real cards this year… as opposed to slapping some word art on a pictures and putting it on facebook with family tagged in it!

  697. Jennifer says:

    Our last family photo was, uh, 2 years ago…I think. Yep. It rains chocolate spaghetti in our house, too. Usually without warning, and only when Mommy is trying to keep everyone clean.

  698. Jill says:

    I can’t get a good, happy, smiling photo period…holiday card or otherwise! My monster sees a camera & immediately refuses to smile, no matter how we try to entertain him. *sigh* ๐Ÿ™‚

  699. Freya says:

    I just bribe my kids. Good parenting….right???

  700. Stephanie Jacobson says:

    My mom wanted a Christmas photo of her 3 grandkids & her golden retriever puppy. We had Christmas cookies to keep the kids happy, little kid chairs set up on our deck to keep them still….and after I took over 300 shots we still had to use photoshop to blend 2 photos together so that we had all 4 faces looking at the camera and smiling!

  701. Michelle says:

    Our children are all adults (legally….not in their actions, of course) now and we still have photo sessions that go exactly like this one. Insert eye rolls for the tears and you’ve nailed it.

  702. Carrie says:

    We usually try to do a “New Year’s” card and letter since the holidays are so hectic and people will more likely read it. I actually want to try out Minted’s postcard template this year to make it even more easy.

  703. Gina says:

    I begged, pleaded, threatened, and finally bribed my 3 year old to sit still for pictures when we had newborn portraits done for his little brother in September. It’s a special kind of hell, except for my 3 year old, who got several new toys and McDonalds out of the deal.

  704. Jennifer says:

    One time we did a photo card with a toddler and a dog. They wouldn’t both sit at the same time!

  705. Heather M says:

    120 photos to get ONE of my daughter sort of smiling! I found a groupon for portrait people this year, just not sure yet if I am actually going to go through with it!

  706. trina says:

    I haven’t sent cards in several years, but I really should and pre-printed picture cards would certainly make that a lot easier. My girls are past the messy stage so picture taking is much easier now than it was a few years ago.

  707. Amy says:

    You forgot 1 part!! “Then, Crappy Husband gets annoyed and says, “Did you get it yet!?!?””

  708. Bernadette says:

    OMG! I laughed so hard. That is us every year. We never try to have my husband and me in the photo. That is just crazy.

  709. Michelle says:

    This is us exactly…. family photo? What’s that?

  710. Mary Kita says:

    We have maybe one or two decent family photos a year. My older son absolutely HATES being in photos of any kind, alone, with friends, or family. So it’s been challenging to get a nice family photo and by the end of the year, we are scrambling to get a nice one and usually a bribe helps to keep him in place for a few minutes.

  711. Andrea says:

    Oooh, this would be so awesome! My family photos always go like that too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe it’s the 2 boy thing.

  712. Rachel says:

    Love this post. Love Minted. Just realized that my Dad photographer is coming to town this weekend and we’ve got to get a shot. The blasted Xmas outfits aren’t here yet, so black and white it is. Thanks for the reminder. HOW IS IT NOVEMBER?!?

  713. csa says:

    my dad’s favorite family picture is the one that everyone else hates. my mom had just changed her hair, decided it looked hideous and hadn’t gotten a chance to change it, and i’m wearing a too-tight pink shirt because when i was little i got mad when people thought i was a boy. looking back, it’s horrible.

  714. Pam says:

    Every time I pose for a photo, I look absolutely ridiculous. My Christmas cards will only have my daughter on them!

  715. Haley says:

    Action shots are the best! And everyone just wants to see the kiddos anyway. Great idea!

  716. JennieP says:

    We do this every year as well. My is kind of a prima donna and LOVES to have his photo taken so it hasn’t been an issue. However, we missed the last two years because last year I was 9 months pregnant and was rushing to get the cards out the door before the baby came, and the year before we had just moved into our new house and were too busy unpacking to send cards at all. Hoping we get a good one this year without too much trouble!

  717. Nickol says:

    last year we did an ‘old fashioned’ sit by the fireplace and look miserable for our b/w depression era christmas cards. they were the funniest when people didnt get it

  718. Renee Palermo says:

    Love it!

  719. Ang says:

    I am getting my daughter’s pics done in a few days. Then I “just” have to design the photocard….so, that’s easy right? As long as I don’t stress about making it perfect… which is the not so easy part.

  720. Amarylla says:

    My whole family hates them, but I love it as I get in at least one photo a year!!!!! Like mom school pictures.

  721. Brenda says:

    oh man… family photos are the worst!! We can usually get one decent photo out of like 50. So, then I slap that one on the Christmas card… just know that all those “perfect” family photos you get all have about 90 outtakes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Afterwards, I reward myself with chocolate. It’s a stressful experience.

  722. Theresa says:

    I am venturing into the backyard this weekend in hope to successfully capture all four of our lovies and the pup looking relatively excited about another Christmas card photo. Lol! And the weatherman just informed me its going to snow…wish me luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  723. We have 4 kids, and it is a challenge to get them all to cooperate!! Plus we want to add the 2 dogs and the cat. We’ll see if we can do it. I have a feeling there will be only one or two people that will be looking at the camera!!

  724. Stephanie S. says:

    We have a setting on our camera that takes a picture anytime a face comes into frame… so we just turn on the setting and let it take hundreds of photos while we play around and try to pose. Usually only 1 turns out well, but its a really easy way to get the picture done!

  725. Donna Arthurs says:

    We once took all 3 kids to a photographer to get a special family photo. He actually got a shot with everyone looking at him, smiling, still clean, and all looking happy to be together, except for my newborn who just kind of laid there on me. I was so excited that everyone cooperated and could hardly wait to get our pictures. When we got them I realized that the big old honking strap of my nursing bra was hanging out of my shirt. I still laugh when I look at the picture on the wall but at the time I was mortified.

  726. Laurie says:

    Can’t imagine anyone will read this far down, but just in case…We’re one of those obnoxious families who have sent a photo card for the first 20 years when the kids were growing up and now just for special occasions. Of course, have gone through everyone’s experiences in getting those photos shot, but each year, put the photo in an album and it makes me so happy to look back at them all!

  727. Alison says:

    I hate taking Christmas card pictures! We’re just a family of 3, so you’d think it’d be easy, but no. The lighting is too low, daughter won’t smile, I look weird, husband does goofy thing with his eyes. It’s such a PITA! I think we should all go back to plain cards and Christmas letters.

  728. Jules says:

    I’m a portrait photographer and mom. I get to be equally disappointed by this whole process!

  729. Michele says:

    I love this story. It is exactly right on. I wouldn’t complain about getting the fancy cards, either, as the hubs and I decided life sucked so we quit our jobs, moved across the country, and moved into my mom’s basement for a little while until we can make life not suck anymore.

  730. Delicia says:

    HILARIOUS! Love your stuff!

  731. family photos are always such an adventure!! thank you for always making me smile just by telling the truth!

  732. Nicole says:

    Candids are the best!

  733. Emily says:

    Yes. Just yes. Glad to know it’s not just me with dirty, blurry, pouty children.

  734. Chelsea D. says:

    Love your blog and love minted….what a great combo! My son is relatively still herd-able (he’s only 1), but I’m just waiting for the adventures that await in a few years.

  735. cynthia says:

    I joke that I am going to take our next family photo when both my boys are sick, and therefore calm quiet and cuddly

  736. Alice KS says:

    I love this post! I’m a professional family photographer, & I soooo know how it is to photograph children. They are the best when it’s spontaneous & fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ I shared your post today on my Facebook page–I know it will resonate with a lot of parents! Love it!!

  737. Mary Jane says:

    When I was a kid we only did ones of me, because my parents were divorced and only my dad’s family cared. They actually have a few of the outtakes with me screaming about my barrettes being too tight, crying because I thought that if my picture wasn’t good Santa wouldn’t bring me pics, etc. Somehow, tho, they always managed to get an adorable picture out of a 3 hour ordeal

  738. Marlea says:

    In the past I’ve paid a lot of money to a fantastic photographer to have our pictures made, but I was a lot less stressed this year when I had a friend with a decent camera take our holiday pictures. I wasn’t as worried about whether or not every shot was great because it wasn’t costing me anything. And out of 150+ shots, I found the two I wanted for our cards. =)

  739. Jess says:

    My husband’s father was a photographer when he was growing up so he is not keen on “photo shoots.” Well, my fil is out of town so we recently went for the first time with two very small children to a professional “in the mall” places. … I will never, ever do that again. haha. Glad it’s over but, at the very least, we got our shot.

  740. Elinor says:

    Ha! We have a love/hate relationship with photos at our house too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  741. Jenny says:

    Love this! Last Christmas the baby was fussy, my husband was late for the photographer because he had waited until the last minute to get a much needed haircut, and we realized much too late that the baby’s dress clothes were like 2 sizes too big. Win.

  742. Mil says:

    My older sister did my make up (I was around 10) and hair and I was feeling pretty amazing. We went to the backyard to take the pictures, and we couldn’t get the dog to sit still. I’m not sure what happened, but after that BOTH younger sisters started crying. My parents finally got one of all of us smiling, but we’re all squinty-eyed because the sun is shining in our faces and my younger sisters have red “we’ve been crying” faces. Sigh. The picture is DEFINITELY the hardest part of holiday cards.

  743. Jo says:

    All so true (as ever!)

    Re ‘Round Robins’ as we call them in the UK – everyone hates them but I copied a formula from a friend of mine which really helps to
    1) make it interesting to write
    2) makes it funny and personal to read (I’m told !)

    Make a grid
    Give each person in the family a row
    Make 4 headings of your choice from the following suggestions:
    What made me laugh this year ?
    what made me cry?
    What made me excited?
    What was disappointing ?
    What was the best book I read ?
    What was the best film ?

    Do It and I guarantee people will actually wait for your Christmas newsletter & not dread it !!!

  744. Kristy says:

    I am always so relieved to read your posts. It makes me feel that just maybe, my family is closer to typical than I thought.

  745. Wendi says:

    family pics are so hard. I have learned to just appreciate the not perfect photos.

  746. Theresa says:

    Last Christmas we just took the obligatory mall Santa pic and sent it with regular cards. We did the photo cards when it was just the hubby and me (7 months preggers).

  747. Kathy says:

    I just try to use the cutest kid picture from the last year. It’s too hard to get everyone coordinated and in the same place!

  748. Jessica T. says:

    So far, I’m up to 287 tries on the kid photo (I gave up on including hubby and me). All I want are: eyes open, real smile (not the fake photo smile), and in focus. That is all. Why why why so hard???

  749. Meredith says:

    Love this. Hysterically true.

  750. Virginia says:

    I am extremely lucky to have a professional photographer as my best friend; she takes amazing pictures! I’m also lucky enough to have kiddos who loooove to have their pictures taken. We just tell them to smile like Batman and ta-da!

  751. Julie Ghrist says:

    My son was always afraid of those backdrops at the mall. He wouldn’t stand on them and if we made him he would cry. Now that we have 2 it is impossible to get them both looking and smiling at the same time! The last time (right after our 2nd was born) we paid someone to come to our yard and take pictures. So much easier but not cheap ๐Ÿ™ so worth it for those few great pics tho!

  752. Lala says:

    Okay, I have to say, I have been blessed-Both my husband and I seem to have otherworldly, bizarre, and uncanny luck with getting really good family pics. 75 % of them are of naked toddler butts, but still, they’re photogenic toddler butts, always excellent use of negative space and exceedingly lovely composition. Then again, maybe it is difficult to mess up a cute toddler butt. Most people are disgusted at our inability to keep our kids clothed for photographs, but I like the final product.

  753. HDR says:

    Oh boy! I have been there. The candids are really the most precious in the end!

  754. melissa meredith says:

    I don’t even try to get in the picture!

  755. Katie Jo says:

    Hilarious post, as usual! I completely empathize with you about holiday cards (or lack thereof), and the virtual impossibility of capturing a holiday-card-friendly moment of family life (with all family members in the photo). Perhaps we will take a modern art, collage approach to the 2013 family card.

  756. Mollie says:

    I can’t stop laughing about the Schtinkeyphart Family!

  757. Sara says:

    I have an infant and a toddler. It is literally impossible for me to get any semblance of a decent shot, especially since my 3 yr old is in a ‘no pictures’ phase!

  758. Danielle says:

    Our best was goofy pictures all dressed up waiting to leave for thanksgiving! Timers and posing…

    Mostly we do the “year in review” since I have more chance of getting eyes open and smiles ๐Ÿ™‚

  759. Nicole says:

    I have twins who REFUSE to smile at the same time. We always think we have them, camera goes click and we look at the picture to find one grinning like a fool and one throwing blue steel. Try again and they switch. Put the camera away? Both smiling and holding hands.

  760. melissa trimbath says:

    I have literally never sent a family holiday card out. My son is 12. I am a jerk! Pls help!

  761. Michelle L says:

    We actually had a random stranger offer to take a photo of us while we were hiking 2 weeks ago. It was so good, forget trying to get anything else for our cards!

  762. We have 10 kids. Enough said. Gave up years ago. But, thankfully, they are all grown now and last year I finally got our first family photo! 21 years after the last one was born!

  763. Donna Goss says:

    For us, we rely heavily on Photoshop!

  764. Leona says:

    Hi! One year we took a picture, cut off all our bodies, had the youngest draw us stick person bodies and the oldest draw the background. Turned out not bad.

  765. Larissa says:

    I’d much prefer a picture of the swamp monsters than the perfect Johnson family. Real life is awkward, trying, and hilarious!

  766. Courtney says:

    We were on vacation and a man nearby was taking pics of his kids and instead of saying “say cheese” he told them “say ‘I like to fart all day!'” It worked. But at what cost?
    Admittedly, I tried copying that trick, to less successful results.

  767. Erin says:

    I usually have such good intentions- especially after receiving cards from the previous year that look “perfect.” They never work out, but my husband is optimistic and takes our yearly crappy photo. So, we either just handmake our cards, or find some really nice premade ones. If there ever is a nice one of our daughter, we can slip it in the card.

  768. Melissa stocker says:

    It usually takes a bazillion photo tries to get a good one! At least it only happens once a year :)!

  769. Chelsie says:

    I don’t have kids yet, but my cat doesn’t like to be still long enough for portraits either ๐Ÿ˜‰

  770. Maria says:

    This year is going to be hard! I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old!

  771. Rachelle says:

    I gave up on family photos… taking individual shots is easier! And no husbands included… he’s a whiner!

  772. Emily says:

    Family pictures are tomorrow… wish us luck!

  773. Katy Powers says:

    It always seems to work like that! When you least expect it everything falls into place!

  774. Lexi says:

    Taking family pictures is impossible. We have four kids and everyone is always bumped or bruised or who knows what!

  775. Jennifer says:

    Taking family pictures is so difficult!

  776. Wendy M. says:

    Having 4 kids I rarely even TRY to have a family photo. Have you ever tried to have 2 adults and 4 girls not “fake smile” at the same time?

  777. Amanda says:

    It’s just me, my husband, and our dog, and already taking that perfect picture for the Christmas card is so hard! I’m pregnant with our first little one, and I’m thinking I’m going to have to give up the idea of the perfect picture soon!

  778. Nicole says:

    The year my son was 2 I had a terrible time getting pics. He had an injury related black eye for 3 weeks caused by 3 different injuries. I SWEAR! I did not want a black eye pic! I finally had to give up and get a pic of him kissing his sister with his black eye turned away from the camera. ๐Ÿ™‚

  779. Jen P says:

    Oh yes! My sister and I played swamp monsters when we were kids. Except we thought they were real. And that we were going to be eaten. So, no, not really the same thing at all.

  780. Julie says:

    I always wish I knew how to photoshop…

  781. Michelle says:

    The one and only time we tried to get professional pictures taken, they managed to only get ones of my daughter crying. It was awesome (as in the way a bird pooping on your head is awesome)

  782. Lauren says:

    We never did Christmas cards growing up, but i’m going to attempt it now… we shall see!

  783. Sara R. says:

    My best trick yet for getting a cute Holiday card photo was to tell the kids to pretend to be asleep. Then I wrote in really cute font on the photo, “And to all a good night.” It totally worked and without getting them to smile or look at the camera. ๐Ÿ™‚

  784. Melissa says:

    Our family cards have been funny cartoon people with our heads photoshopped on. Even added our cats too ๐Ÿ™‚

  785. Jessie says:

    This year I finally got smart and promised ice cream if they were cooperative. Surprise, bribes work!

  786. Amanda says:

    We actually got our photo recently! We went with rustic, hiking in the woods style so a little dirt on the clothes would blend right in.

  787. Amy says:

    I have a list of specific pictures I want taken now that baby #4 is here and we are done having any more babies. ๐Ÿ™ still trying to get this accomplished 7 months later… they NEVER cooperate at the same time!!

  788. Rebecca Hoop says:

    You are so lucky that you got that shot. I know it is there, but I always end up getting the scrunchy, sour-face that happens a split second before or after the smile.

  789. Wendy Miller says:

    Family pictures now are much more that we have a little one. We used to just send pics of the fur babies!

  790. Sarah U says:

    Well, it’s never been terribly successful with just 1 child. Tomorrow, we are attempting the first time with 3 children! I’m terrified!

  791. Rebecca Hunt says:

    Family pictures. Something I equally love and hate ๐Ÿ™‚

  792. Beth says:

    I always thought babies were harder to get to cooperate, but I’ve changed my mind since having a 3 year old. Unfortunately we have both to deal with this year! Yay!

  793. Nancy says:

    I actually had the same game plan! I want to catch them playing and take candid pictures of them having fun. We’ll see if it works. I’ll probably wind up taking an awkward posed shotโ€ฆagain.

  794. Lauren A. says:

    A photographer once made the mistake of betting my brother she could make him smile for the family photo. I don’t think she had kids at that point.

  795. Melanie says:

    The best pictures are always of just the kids being crazy.

  796. xcmama says:

    I am a big fan of the out-takes reel as a Christmas card option. ๐Ÿ™‚

  797. Natalia says:

    I totally relate with having difficulty taking family photos! You describe my feelings exactly!
    Thank you for the good laughs!

  798. Di says:

    Same here. Infant year was easy. I haven’t bothered since then.

  799. Jen says:

    My daugher loves photos and gives huge cheesy, full-face smile. My son hides behind my legs whenever I pull out a camera, or at least looks down or turns his head. It’s VERY difficult to get a good pic of them! Professional photographers we’ve hired haven’t had any better luck than I have!

  800. Katie Walsh says:

    Yes, yes yes! I know all of this all too well. With three small children it is nearly impossible to get a decent picture of the 3 of us. Now I just try to get one good photo of each kid and then choose a picture card with 3 pictures…. kinda feels like I am cheating but eh.

  801. Stacy says:

    No power in the universe can get my 3 children to all look in the same direction and smile. I have gotten exactly one good photo in 3 years!

  802. Mandy says:

    I love the idea of outtakes on the back of the card – thanks to whoever suggested that! We tried a studio last year when our son was 3. The photographer tried to get him to smile by waving a feather duster at him saying “I’m going to tickle you!” He hates being tickled so that was a big fail! Going to try taking our own this year.

  803. Jessica says:

    I’m going to remember this story when my family and I attempt to take our holiday photos. ๐Ÿ™‚

  804. Nichole Crawford says:

    No crazy experiences with photographers yet. But my normal life with kids pretty much parallels your life. That’s why I love your blog because I totally relate. Thanks for the laughs and making me feel like this is the way it’s supposed to be with kids.

  805. Jackie says:

    Two years ago we tried to do “JOY” spelled out with his body. You know, three separate pictures of him making a J, O, and Y. Yeah, he was two. The only one that quazi-looked convincing was the Y and people only got it because I made sure to type “to the world” on the front of the card under his body.

  806. Ursula says:

    I am so excited! I so need to start my holiday cards now! My little one is 1 year next week! I need the help as the card has to be the one, as my mil says… Love u amber and you get me through the days so thank you!

  807. Lyndsay Johnson says:

    I am cracking up because that is my family in the fake Johnson card!! It was our one good year, and my husband even had a bit of a beard. Right hair color and everything. No joke.

  808. Katie says:

    Hilarious. My photographer friend does ours every year. And we still have a horrible time getting the picture!

  809. Thanks for sharing. We haven’t done Christmas cards in a couple of years, but we actually just had a couple of nice pictures taken last weekend by some friends. A Minted gift card would be fantastic!

  810. Jennifer Miller says:

    Yep, this was about the same thing going on when we tried family photos a week ago. LOL

  811. Kate says:

    This is hilarious! And all sooo true! I completely understand from the mother side of it and the photographer side!

  812. Cat W. says:

    I still only have one under 2yo so we haven’t had too much issues with the pictures yet. My only suggestion is to get YOURSELF on the card, too. Like, do 2 pictures. That cute one of the kids laughing and then maybe a tripod shot of you and the hubs. I hate it when people hate themselves so much that they won’t put their own pic on the card. (I’ve moved a lot and haven’t seen most of my friends in YEARS; the least I can get is a pic of them and not just the kids.)


  813. Kandi says:

    I’ve solved this problem by having so many kids, cards are no longer expected of me [since, yaknow, I’m SUPER busy. All the time. *sob*]

  814. Cat W. says:

    p.s. one of the best episodes of “Modern Family” is based on this holiday picture idea. You should watch it.

  815. Katie W says:

    Since my daughter learned to walk, I can only get a clear picture of her if she’s strapped in a highchair. Grandma expects cards with an adorable, dressed-up, posed photo. She’ll be lucky to get a spaghetti-colored blur with some holly photo shopped around the edges.

  816. Amber says:

    One year I made special cream-colored outfits for my boys. I got the pictures, but it was SO STRESSFUL! I dressed them at the mall, and then undressed them after the photos! They hate those outfits when they look at the pictures.

  817. Trudy says:

    Oh my gosh. My dog, a pug, always goes ape-shit crazy when it is her turn to be included in the family photo. So much so, that she ruins her own chances of being put on a family photo card and sent to a billion people. If she knew she were going to be famous, then maybe she would cooperate, because then, who knows, maybe she would receive extra treats from tons of people!

  818. Katie says:

    Any time we try to “plan” a picture, it seems to result in nothing that is usable. Usually the holiday photo card development involves me reviewing every picture we took in the last year to find a random one that works out okay. Besides, I like the crazy cards best anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚

  819. Amanda mason says:

    I always have a hard time finding the perfect photo too. Ours last year was from vacation in Savannah, where it looked like our 3yo was trying to jump out of our arms and into the Forsyth Park fountain. ๐Ÿ™‚ not sure what this years will be like…

  820. Spartacus Leistikow says:

    I aim to be the Johnsons but all of this hits so close to home (and I only have one swamp monster so far but she’s a really BIG one). I have no idea how this will be once she either is older than 16 months or we add to the monster mash.

  821. Stephanie says:

    This is totally what family is all about. Thanks for the giggles.

  822. Kristelle says:

    When I take family photos I usually set the automatic timer to 10 shots; one of them is bound to be good!

  823. Michelle says:

    Those “natural” ones are the best anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

  824. Ali says:

    So funny! We have “cheated” and used day care photos the past few years…for some reason, the kids smile so great, hold hands, loom adorable…never happens at home with the photo ops!

  825. Maria says:

    I have so much trouble getting a good picture of my two year old- everything comes out blurry because she refuses to be still for even a moment! (She even tosses and turns in her sleep!) Not sure how I will get a Holiday picture card!

  826. Sarah Carter says:

    LOVE your humor!!

  827. Amelia says:

    My little one Hates Santa!

  828. Julie says:

    Last year, we were a ‘practice’ family for a new photographer at one of the mall places. They had promised me free pictures. After it was all done, I didn’t want them. I took one on my phone while we were waiting and used that instead. At least they weren’t all dressed up for nothing!

  829. stacy says:

    Thanks for the laugh! My twin boys are almost 2 and I can definitely relate. Especially to blurry pictures! They are never still or clean.

  830. Lauren Elysia says:

    Last year my babe was only 4 months old, so at least her squirminess was contained! I did have trouble with printing the actual card though, so using Minted would be great this year! Thinking about it even if I don’t get picked ๐Ÿ™‚

  831. Joeymom says:

    I never, ever try to get in the photos myself. I manage to get them outside, and get that speed-snap going. I often bribe them by telling them to bring their favorite objects to be in the photo, too. I think my family has learned we’re just us, and our clothes wrinkle and our boys like to be… boys. Which for some reason, usually involves dirt and a Nerf toy.

  832. Katie T says:

    Lol, we haven’t sent out cards in years. Mostly because I get them, but addressing them seems like a lot of effort so I stick them somewhere safe, then Christmas is gone. Oops.

  833. Jessica Fairbairn says:

    Thank goodness for Photoshop!

  834. Ericka says:

    Wow. So many comments.

    This year I’m not sure what our picture will look like. Our baby was fine of course but our 7 year old three a massive tantrum and refused to be in any pictures at all. So I don’t know if or what she got taken for us…… S

  835. Adrienne says:

    Our photographer/friend has my son sing songs while she takes his pic! Somehow it works!

  836. Beverley says:

    The part about wiping the blood made me lol. Does that make me a bad mom?

  837. Eleanor says:

    I am a mom of 4 kids, ages 2, 4, 6, and 7. Last year was the first year I’ve EVER sent out holiday cards! I always wanted to, just could never get myself organized early enough. So we went to the park and I took approximately a bajillion photos of them, and still ended up having to piece together one kid from this picture and another from that picture in order to get one where they were all smiling and had their eyes open. Sigh.

  838. Meran says:

    every time i read one of your posts my face hurts afterwards, from laughing so much. it’s nice to know that i’m not alone in dealing with a rambunctious little boy who makes everything 17,000 times harder than it needs to be. thank you.

  839. Karla says:

    Most of our photos are taken by someone else while cutting our Christmas tree or something out in a field. Unfortunately there’s usually snot on a face (it’s clod man!) or something weird in the background. Just putting the kid’s picture on the card is somehow way easier…as if us adults make the photo more difficult.

  840. Amanda Daniel says:

    I have only done family pictures for the holidays once last year. Due to the uncaptured moments and ideas that I look for in other family portraits I decided to start doing my own to become more of a unique situation.

  841. brooke brandt says:

    My kids just want to say potty words instead of cheese!!!

  842. Carol says:

    Cute story! Makes me feel like I am not alone when it comes to photos ๐Ÿ™‚

  843. Amanda says:

    Haha we did our Christmas today! Super early! I did photo cards last year and I’m not entirely sure I can be arsed this year ๐Ÿ˜‰

  844. Tenessa says:

    My kids are 8 and 5. We are past the “just stay clean for three minutes” and now they seem to have somehow forgotten how to smile. They contort their faces into uncomfortable looking grimaces but say they are smiling….agh, can’t win!!

  845. Alisha says:

    I think this experience sounds definitely like one of your own. Too bad I am horrible at drawing anything with a mouse, otherwise I’d do my own pics. My sister, her husband, and two kids came to town to visit (flying and rental car required). She calls me from the next exit down from my house at a restaurant, wanting to know if I want to meet her there with the kids (ages 5 and 2). Ok, sure. Dear hubby decides not to go. So, I get there at the table and attempt to put 2-yr-old into high chair. He refuses to go and begins to throw a fit because he thinks I’m going to put him there and leave him with my sister. He clings to me like plastic wrap folded over on itself.

    Next day, my sister decides she wants to get a photo of us with the kids. 2-yr-old running around happy and in a great mood…UNTIL…I attempt to put him on MY lap as I sit down next to my nephew and her. Big mistake. He began crying and continuing with the same fit as yesterday. He did NOT want to be that close to my sister. He was either wailing, squirming, or half out of every picture we got. ๐Ÿ™

  846. Melissa says:

    Every year on Christmas morning I make my family pose for a photo in front of our Christmas tree. I am thinking that maybe for this year’s cards I will use last year’s Christmas photo. You know, the one where I told my daughter that whoever smiles the biggest in the picture will get a piece of chocolate. She looks only slightly deranged with her smile that is 52 times bigger than normal…

  847. Heather says:

    I just bought shirts today. Moved to the middle of nowhere and we have NO PLACE that takes pics. I can’t believe I have to try this with the phone on my camera. Shoot me. No pun intended!

  848. Melissa Russell says:

    We have not attempted a family photo yet, but have our first session scheduled with a real photographer next week. I can only imagine the stories that will come from that :). My favorite family photo from when I was younger was when I had a black eye from tripping and going face first into the corner of my grandmother’s coffee table.

  849. says:

    Twelfth Christmas with kids…still haven’t managed to get a photo card printed, let alone stamped & mailed!

  850. Melanie says:

    I was going to comment even before I found that it enters me into the giveaway! But now that I see it will help my chances, here is my comment, yo! Woo hoo!

    But really I wanted to say I love you, Amber! You are so real, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that you admit the things that a lot of us like to pretend don’t happen, like a messy car and dirty clothes on our kids.

    My experience with family photos? Wanna hear a secret? Photoshop makes everything better. That way not everyone needs to look good in the same picture because you can just paste them all together. Oh, the world is so fake these days, isn’t it? And here I am contributing to the problem. Sowwy.

  851. Brit says:

    One year as a kid, I was angry because I busted my front tooth sliding on a tile floor right before family portraits so I refused to smile. My brother stood like a soldier and didn’t smile. Come to think of it, no one in my entire extended family smiled (we were all there with the grandparents, etc.) …. Except my sister who was practicing her dreamy preteen “Anne of Green Gables” smile. Still have that picture, it’s awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  852. Heather Sutherland says:

    Usually I make a card with just my daughter because I think if my husband and I are in it, it won’t be as cute. Is that awful? She’s growing up parentless in photo archives.

  853. Bronwyn says:

    We have a Christmas portrait every year and for my sins, it’s themed – on the 12 days of Christmas. We are up to 10 lords a-leaping…..I was totally stumped until my other interest in life intersected… it’s the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, who is a Time LORD… see where I’m going with this?….

  854. Crystal Zima says:

    All I can remember is my mother sewing us matching outfits with lots of plaid and polyester. Yikes!

  855. Robin C says:

    Team “I hope everyone else is busy forgetting stuff”!

  856. Rachael says:

    I’m pretty sure we’ve never taken a photo with all four of us where we were all happy/looking at the camera. Probably my favorite from the most recent attempt was where Mommy, Daddy, and Oldest were all sitting and smiling and looking awesome, and Toddler was climbing away down the hill as happy as can be. It was certainly the most fitting shot. ๐Ÿ™‚

  857. Megan says:

    I have 2 boys as well, I feel your pain.
    Last year, my youngests first Christmas, I had an awesome antique red rocking chair I wanted him to sit in while his big brother stood next to him and they wore matching shirts and smiled perfectly and it turned out great the first time!! Actually only the matching shirts part of that happened. He was only in the chair for about 3 seconds before his big brother flipped him out of it and he slammed his face into our wood deck. Giant goose egg on the forehead, bruised instantly, and cried the rest of the time the photographer was here unless I was holding him. Perfect.

  858. Denise Z says:

    Ha! I love that the ‘3 minutes later’ drawing of your kids looks like real Swamp Monsters!

    My experience w/family pics is that I hated them as a kid, but try so hard to get them now as memories of my kids. And mostly I’m never actually in them b/c, like you, I’m the mom who has to take the darn photos!
    PS. Love that your ‘plain background’ for your photo is the siding on your house. ๐Ÿ™‚

  859. Margaret says:

    It’s only my daughter and me, so easier to get a good pic. I go to the local Santa the day after Thanksgiving then order the prints.

  860. KC says:

    Lots of memories of holiday card picture taking!

  861. Erin says:

    Okay, so I only have one kid, but I can completely relate to your story. Last year, we had such a hard time getting a card-worthy photo of our monkey that we ended up photoshopping the whole thing. It looked like crap. I’m so not ready to deal with this for this year, but I’d love to win your giveaway!

  862. Janalynn says:

    Love that your kids are swamp monsters! I see a swamp monster-like photo shoot in our near future as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  863. Amber S. says:

    My experiences taking family photos? Uh…I guess I’d better get on that. You know, before they grow up and ask why there are no photos of them. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Actually, we had a grand old time when visiting my in-laws last April. We live in Hawaii, they live in Texas. We see them every few years so when we get together, my MIL is gung-ho about having professional photos taken of the whole family. The whole family is her, her husband, my husband and me and our two kids (one is a toddler and terrified of strangers) plus my SIL, her husband and their five girls, one of which is also a toddler and don’t forget my 17 year old stepdaughter. All fourteen of us. In one photo. With crying babies.

    Oh my god, please don’t make me relive this memory.

  864. em says:

    oh man. i totally know this feeling. it’s actually THE worst. i think this year might be a “we’re sending you a picture of a toddler in full blown tantrum mode and this is ACTUALLYHOWWELIVEALLTHETIME so happy holidays!”

    wouldn’t that be funny.

  865. AmandaPN says:

    We try to do family photos every Christmas… we usually do get at least one good one, but it’s not easy. I remember the first difficult year for photos… Landon was a year old. OMG… we’d had adorable photos before he was mobile, but from then on, it was just luck if we got a good one! ๐Ÿ™‚

  866. Jess says:

    I feel your pain, we have to wrangle a 1, 2, and 3 year old this year…should be easy right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ says the delusional pregnant momma…

  867. Kelly says:

    We skipped a year for exactly this reason!

  868. Victoria says:

    thanks for the reminder… need to do cards. going on 3 years of forgetting to send em

  869. LilyT says:

    OMG, loved this one! And so true that the whole family thing is that part that happens unexpectedly between all the other chaos :-). I thank you for pointing that out. Prior to reading this, I would always wonder (while trying to snap 4028 photos) why I’m trying to get the happy smiling picture when the REAL representative photo is not like that at all. Love Love Love your blog!

  870. Sarah L says:

    I never even tried for a family photo last year.. I’m counting on the girls again this year, too! I don’t even have a camera with timer.. Just the ol’ phone camera!

  871. Jenn says:

    I never send holiday cards anymore and trying to take pictures of my kids together makes me lose my mind. But maybe I should try this year, they’re pretty cute at 3 1/2 and 9 months and I’m sure the grandparents would all appreciate it.

  872. Amy J says:

    With a 5-year-old-cheesy-grinner and an almost 2-year-old-won’t-stand-still-or-look-at-the-camera-or-smile-or-basically-cooperate-in-any-way, it’s almost impossible to get a great family photo. But I’mma try anyway! Love your crappy illustrations!

  873. Alma says:

    Ahhhh yesโ€ฆ.I remember two years ago, that I took my family to two, TWO different “professional” photo places (aka Penny’s and BRU photo studios), my daughter CRIED like she was in electro-shock therapy the whole time. The ONE time we got a decent profile pic (which I had to tell the camera girl that it was Ok for my girl to NOT be looking at the lens and to JUST TAKE THE PICTURE) my hubby chimed in with “say cheese!” which, to a two-year-old meant “HERE comes 120Volts!”โ€ฆI almost threw the stuffed teddy bear I’d been cajoling her with.
    Then I realized that I’d be blamed for her outburst (a mother who throws a stuffed bear at her husbandโ€ฆhuh, I wonder where the girl gets all her emotions from). So yeahโ€ฆI think we ended up with a photo withOUT her that year…

  874. lisa says:

    as always awesome post.

  875. Kara says:

    Can completely relate to family picture hell…

  876. Kirstin says:

    The past two years, cards have been golden – one kid, choose a relatively recent cute shot, done! This year? Two kids? Who have NEVER taken a good picture together (it’s hard enough getting a picture, let alone a GOOD one!)? Um… YEAH. This is gonna be *fun*

  877. maggie says:

    We’ve only attempted it once so far, and it wasn’t a total disaster; just so not worth the $200(!!!). DD was 9 months old, and my plan for her to nap in the car on the way failed. She was still pretty cooperative, but refused to smile and had that exhausted flush to her cheeks. Her copious, fluffy hair was doing something weird and uncute all day and I couldn’t fix it–not that she’s ever uncute, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰ She just didn’t look like herself. Also, the photo lady judged me for DD not being able to stand up yet :O One of these days I’d like to try again, but your experience doesn’t hearten me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  878. Kaydee says:

    I have my cousin or a friend take our pictures so my kids aren’t weirded out by a stranger.

  879. Kellie says:

    My first few children and holiday card experiences were done without digital! I went through rolls, not knowing if a single one came out until they were processed. Thanking the gods for the invention of digital cameras!

  880. Kristin says:

    Yeah. The last time I had a family photo card was… 3 years ago. I had one less child and my youngest was at pin-down stage so it was only one child we needed to get to smile. Those were the days!

  881. Diana Snyder says:

    Favorite part…
    The most difficult thing about sending photo cards is that you need a photo. Not just any photo. You canโ€™t cut one out of a magazine.
    Ha! That would be easier! We go today for our portrait sitting.

  882. sarabeth hudson says:

    I didn’t’ t do cards last year either. Totally stressing about it now!

  883. Carrie says:

    Who couldn’t relate to this post lol! I woke up today thinking about our pictures and how we’ll get them done- Oye vey!

  884. Marisa says:

    THE best Saturday gut-busting laugh! I came from a friend’s link, so if I win, she and her adorable family will get the minted stuff from old spinster me… But thank you, I enjoyed this post .

  885. Jade says:

    I have waaaay more trouble getting MYSELF to look photo-ready than my kid! All of my holiday cards for the past 5 years have featured only my son, and all are spontaneous, yet really cute snapshots. I figure, nobody really wants to look at a picture of me anyways ๐Ÿ˜€

  886. Amanda says:

    We sent out our holiday cards for valentines day last year

  887. Donna says:

    It always takes us 5 or 6 tries of 100 plus pictures each time. Seems worth it when you look back over the great cards. In the moment, I always wonder why we are doing this again! It’s the most wonderful time of year…

  888. Cynthia812 says:

    I relate to this totally. I’ve resorted to doing individual shots of the kids. I can usually find one good one of each in a year.