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DIY Christmas Family Photos

The holidays are a stressful time of year. Not only are you running from one event to another but you’re also spending more money on all the memory-filled activities. It doesn’t help that you have a list of 20 people to buy for, either! Money is tight but you want to remember these busy but beautiful moments in your life. That’s why we’ve resorted to doing our own DIY Christmas family photos.

Years ago, we spent an hour getting dressed up in brand-spankin’ new outfits, fixing our hair and making sure everything was perfect. We hopped in the car, drove to the local Christmas tree farm and hiked down the muddy path. By the time our photographer was ready to take our annual Christmas family photos, we were a mess. The kids were screaming, it had started sprinkling and we were all sinking in the mud. After a few forced smiles, we drug the family back to the car and swore it was the last time we did that again. After all, paying nearly $200 for photos isn’t my idea of joy, let alone when the whole family could only muster fake smiles and tear stained cheeks. 

But, I’m a mom. So, of course, I still wanted those family photos, just not the stress of it all. It didn’t take me long to realize I could easily snap my own family photos.

They may not be edited to the extremes or turn out “Instagram perfect,” but the kids would actually be smiling. My husband would have the biggest smile of all when he realized how much money, time and tears we save by doing our own DIY Christmas family photos. 

Over the next few years, I learned a few tricks to getting a gorgeous DIY Christmas family photo. They’re not perfect, by any means but they’re just what our family needs.

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7 Tips for Adorable DIY Christmas Family Photos

Today, I’m sharing those tips and tricks with you. Whether you have a fancy DSLR or just a cell phone, you can create memorable family photos in under an hour!

Set the Scene:

The secret to taking your own DIY Christmas family photos is to get rid of the clutter! The more simple, the better! If you want to include your Christmas tree, move your furniture, end tables and other items from view.

You want the people you love to be the focus of your photo, not your furnishings!

Scooching everything out of the way only takes a few minutes but it makes a huge difference! Even if you choose to do your photos outdoors, try to keep it as simple as possible. Lots of buildings, trees or vehicles in the background is distracting.

Make It Fun:Save money and take killer DIY Christmas family photos! #holiday #photos #DIYphotography #christmasdiy

Who said Christmas photos have to be boring? Say goodbye to your fancy dresses and stuffy poses. The best part of holding your own family photoshoot is that you can have fun with it.

Try tying the kiddos up with Christmas lights, wearing ugly sweaters or sport Santa’s beard! Trust me, everyone will love the holiday cheer when the receive your silly Christmas photos!

Use Your Light:

You don’t have to be a photographer to make the sunlight work for you. 

Simply don’t face your family into the sunlight for best results. Instead, place them in a large shadow, like the side of a house or under your front porch.

Avoid getting squinty eyes by allowing the sun to shine from behind or beside your family.

Get Low:Save money and take killer DIY Christmas family photos! #holiday #photos #DIYphotography #christmasdiy

One trick to getting high quality photos is to get on eye-level with your subjects. A lot of parents tend to snap photos while standing up, which results in seeing the top of your kids’ heads. Instead, bend down to capture their faces more clearly.

Dress Up (or down!):

If you don’t have matching dress clothes, don’t fret! Family Christmas photos are just as cute when you’re wearing pajamas, whether they match or not. There’s just something adorable about little ones in their bedtime attire, smiling under the Christmas tree!

Prop It Up:

Okay, okay. I know I just said to don’t add a bunch of props but some props can take your photos from blah to wow! I like to add just a few small props that flow naturally with our DIY Christmas family photo theme.

Have each kiddo grab a present or throw on a Santa hat. Read your favorite book during your DIY photoshoot. Have the kiddos look up from stringing popcorn. Whatever you decide to do, make it fun and natural-feeling.

Zoom In:Save money and take killer DIY Christmas family photos! #holiday #photos #DIYphotography #christmasdiy

Here’s the thing: folks don’t really care about what is in the photo. They care only about who is in the photo. Instead of setting up a cute scene with props galore, try filling the camera’s frame with cute little grins.

The best family photos are the ones where you can see all the details of the ever-growing faces of little ones.

Invest In Yourself:

Deciding to take your own family photos can be a great way to save money during the most expensive time of the year. I like to take about half of what I would normally spend on family photos and invest it in my own photography set up. You’d be amazed at what $50 can do to improve your photos. Whether you choose to purchase a background, props or camera gear, it’s nice to have a little money to play with to improve your photos.

The #1 thing that helped me learn to snap better photos of my kids wasn’t a new camera or a fancy editing software.

It was Shultz Photo School.

The information was presented in a simple and easy-to-understand manner and my photos improved a ton, practically overnight.

It was worth every single penny and it’s the first thing I recommend when someone says they want to take better photos of their kids. I’ve paid for the class time and time again by the amount of money we’ve saved by taking our own family photos.

Here’s some of my favorite photo investments:


Gear I Use:



Take Your Family Photos to the Next Level:



While taking your own DIY Christmas family photos can seem like a hassle, it’s worth all the work! The stress, tears and money you spend are just a fraction of what you’ll have to pay when you hire a professional photographer. 

Save money and take killer DIY Christmas family photos! #holiday #photos #DIYphotography #christmasdiy

Looking for more holiday cheer? Check out these fun posts:

This quick and easy Christmas charades game for kids is the perfect free printable for the holiday party! Funny and cheap, it's a win/win! #christmasgames #charades #cheapentertainment #cheapparty These easy felt ornaments for kids are perfect! Our tree looks gorgeous and we made so many memories! #handmadechristmas #handmade #christmas #tree #ornaments Christmas Rice Krispie Treats have never been so cute! #christmasbaking #holidaycheer #santa #santafood #christmasdesserts #ricekrispietreats #elftreats When there's no money for Christmas, it's easy to be discouraged. These 10 ideas literally saved our Christmas!Experience Christmas like never before! Check out these 10 ideas to help you give memories instead of gifts. It'll be the best Christmas of your life! Genius ideas to tame the gift giving or have a gift-less Christmas. MUST TRY THIS YEAR! Our kids NEED to learn to be content.