Family Photo Tips & Unique Photo Gifts for the Holidays

mom with 2 kids family photo
I'm Kiera!

I used to be a memory hoarder.
That all changed when I inherited collections from generations past. 

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As a pro photographer with over 11 years of experience photographing hundreds of families, and a mom of 2 young kiddos, I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to preparing for and executing stellar family photos.

Last month, together with my pal, Katie Demo, CEO of Brass Clothing, we hosted a quick virtual workshop on The Brass Guild Facebook Page all about Holiday Photos and Gifts. I had hoped to share that recording with you all, but unfortunately, our sound was quite muffled and the quality of the recording wasn’t great.

Since the content we delivered inside that lunch time workshop was so helpful, I wanted to make sure it was re-recorded in a way that would live longer and was more accessible to all.

In episode 16, we take a deep dive into my favorite tips and tricks for family photos as well as my go to personalized custom photo gifts every year. At the end of this post you can access links I reference throughout the podcast and I share affiliate codes if I have discounts to offer to any of my fav products.

What to Wear for Family Photos Tips:

  1. Pick the outfit for the most difficult person to dress first
    • I’ve been working with Brass as their lifestyle brand photographer and have fallen in love with their clothing collection. For my outfit I picked their Coastal Knit Sweater and Sailor Pants paired with a tan colored boot.
  2. Match other outfits around the main outfit
    • The kids were decked out in their favorite threads from Target (per usual).
  3. Choose a common color scheme for the whole family.
  4. Add texture
  5. Don’t forget shoes and accessories
  6. Have a backup plan


  1. Pick a photographer/location based on what suits your needs
    • Tree farm = seasonally specific and leans toward holidays
    • Park, field or beach = more generic and can be displayed longer
  2. Try to find a location that offers variety for photos
  3. Consider conditions
    • i.e. rainy = mud; popular = could be crowded etc.
  4. Close to parking / not too far away (long travel times with kids stinks)
  5. Avoid mid day / bright sun times
  6. Be flexible and get creative

How to get great pictures during your photo shoot with little kids:

  1. Have fun (even if you have to fake it)
  2. Tickles
  3. Whisper “poop” or make fart jokes
  4. Look at the photographer or your kids
  5. Get close together
  6. Let the silly faces happen — best smiles come immediately after
  7. Be a clown behind the photographer’s back to help get genuine smiles from your kids
  8. Pack and serve snacks
  9. Lower expectations
  10. Have a plan – triage most important to capture image first (i.e. group shot) rest = gravy.

Unique Photo Gifts

I’ve created dozens of different types of photo gifts from many different vendors. This list comprises my favorites with affiliate links and discount codes should you want to use them. Please refer to our disclosure policy for more information.

Photo Calendars

  1. Pinhole Press
  2. Shutterfly

My strategy for photo calendars is to keep it simple:

  • 1 picture/month. (That way I only have to focus on finding 12 total).
  • Feature a person during their birth month
  • Feature annual trips or holiday traditions during other months
  • Pick 1 photo / month from the year prior to use in the matching month on the new calendar. It’s a fun way to time hop each month.

Stocking Stuffers from Pinhole Press

  1. Memory Games
    • Customize using 12 photos to create a photo matching game using photos of your family, favorite places, people and things. Our kids LOVE these games and seeing their silly faces.
  2. Puzzles
    • Range in number of pieces – We love 60 Piece puzzle for our family to do together.
  3. Board Books
  4. Annual Photo Printing Subscriptions:
    • Chatbooks:
      • This is our go to vendor for printing Photo Book Series. We love their Automatic Subscription options and variety of size offerings. Our go to is the 6×6 Hardcover Photo Book Series.
    • Mootsh:
      • We have been loving our monthly photo printing subscription with Mootsh. Each month we get to select 10 printed photos to receive in the mail inside a beautiful artisan archival sleeve with a black and white contact sheet. It has helped ensure we actually print our favorite photos every month and leaves flexibility for how we use and share those photos outside of being bound within a photo book or stored on our phones or “the cloud.”

Digital Photo Frames

  1. Nixplay
    • This is the frame I invested in last year for several of our family members. We love it so far. Looks like this year they’re also adding printing photo product options to their fleet. I haven’t tried these yet, but their pricing looks competitive with benefits for Nixplay Plus Members.
  2. Aura Frames
  3. Skylight Frames

Photo Cards

We love sending out and receiving holiday photo cards every year. As my kiddos are getting older, I’ve made it part of our tradition to assemble them together. From picking the photos, to stuffing envelopes and adding stamps, my kids have been able to help with the “fun” since they were 2 years old. And yes, some stamps go on crooked, and some addresses are stamped a few times on each envelope, but the intentions are well meaning and the cards are filled with love.

How to Create Photo Cards Easily:

  1. Limit yourself to 1 hour to spend searching for the vendor and card template you will choose.
  2. Simple designs are easiest to customize. You may only need 1 photo to complete the card.
  3. If words are on the card – make sure that faces don’t get chopped off.
  4. Triple check the text
  5. Keep addresses in a google sheet / updated annually or use an app like Postable
  6. Print return address on envelopes (at a minimum). If you can afford it or can find a company that offers free address labeling for mailing addresses — don’t skip this step! Especially if you order more than 50 cards annually. It is a HUGE time saver.
  7. Enlist help and make it fun. Throw on a holiday movie or festive music and get in the spirit.
  8. Scrap it – if this doesn’t bring you joy.

Photographers in Boston Area that I love that offer Mini Sessions:

The Pizzutis (Lowell Studio/Greater Boston Area) Holiday Studio Minis and Tree Farm Minis

Kelly Cronin (Cape Cod) Tree Farm and Beach Minis

Jessica McHale (Medfield/Walpole/Norfolk (MA); Eastern RI/Newport)

Corey Flint Photo (Lincoln, MA)

Jessica K. Feiden Photography (Boston, MA)

Steph Stevens Photo (Greater Boston area)

Margaret Belanger (30 min. mini sessions available within 15 min of Burlington, MA)

Photo Product Discount Codes:

We know you’re likely here for our affiliate codes so we created a section just for those. For more information about this process please refer to our disclosure policy. These codes are subject to change at any time and may expire without notice.

Pinhole Press: Use code: FOL15 for 15% off your purchase of any product from their site.

Chatbooks: Use code FRAMEOFLIFE10 for $10 off a photobook or 50% off your month books subscription.

Mootsh: Use code FOL50 for 50% off your first month subscription to Mootsh.

If you found this episode helpful…

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