How to Get Inspiration for your Christmas Cards

The Details

In partnership with Vistaprint. All opinions and selections are my own! Photography by: Angie Garcia

When I hear someone say they want to start a blog, I typically ask two things. First, I want to know what is your, “Why?!” I LOVE hearing about people’s “why” because it gives such a unique perspective into who they are as a person and where they are going. It is so rare that people have the same reasons for going into a specific hobby or industry and I think the “why” is such a gift to hear from someone. It opens up a huge piece of their heart that I love getting to know.

Then I ask if they like to take family photos. This is where you are probably wondering, “How is that relevant?!

I tell people my job is like taking your Christmas card photo 8 times a week. There’s outfit prep, and location scouting and color coordinating, and aesthetics, and themes to think about. Family photos can be a stressful endeavor about {trust me, I STILL get stressed thinking about all that COULD go wrong before my shoots. I forget something. Maxi gets sick. etc. etc.} but today I want to break down how you can get inspired and ENJOY the process. Because holiday cards are about sending joy and we want that moment in our year-end history to be joyous. I can’t tame toddler tantrums, my little one is going through a phase of, “NO CHEESE!” anytime she sees a camera. I kid you not at a pumpkin carving event someone asked to take a photo of her with her pumpkin and she looked at them as if they were going to cut her arm off and said, “I NOT CHEESE!!!” with tears in her eyes. ha! BUT, hopefully, I can make the planning, scouting, and sending of snail mail a little more joy-filled on your end via this post.

So let’s start with the inspiration. I’ve said before that it is not comparison that is the thief of joy, it is Pinterest. But I’m a glutton for punishment because it is my absolute favorite form of social media. I could scroll for hours and get inspiration, but that’s just that. You have to take inspiration, NOT comparison, and that’s just how you can utilize it.

Grab some tea and I’ll spill mine to tell you how to do just that.

  1. Grab a legal pad. I’m very pro legal pads. Monogrammed notepads are precious. {Mom, if you are reading, I love all 7 you give me for Christmas each year. I promise!} But legal pads are where it is at. CHECK LISTS FOR DAYS. You’re going to use this in conjunction with your Pinterest board and then use it as you style your photos.
  2. Create a Pinterest board just for holiday inspiration. You can see mine here. Then, either take 3 or 4 bloggers you love and peruse their boards or just skim for inspiration. DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING IN MIND AT THIS POINT. Seriously. Don’t go into this thinking, “We did red plaid last year, we have to do navy this year.” Parameters kill your Pinterest creativity. Just pin. Forget your dishes, your e-mails, your to-do list. Just pin for fun onto this board. You can pin family images, colors that excite you, textures you love, or holiday decor.
  3. Go through your phone. Favorite your favorite family photos from the year. Were your kids happiest at a farm? Did you build a house and spend the most time in the kitchen? This is going to help you scout your location.
  4. Once you pin and favorite photos, take 10 minutes and find the common threads. This is where you want to whip out your legal pad. List out those common threads. For me this year, our happy place was the beach. It was the happiest moment I could think of for our family this year and I also had common colorways. I was pinning soft Christmas decor, blush tones, agate stones, sand. Once you can find 3 colors and at least 3 themes you can go shop your closet.
  5. As you prep for family photos, lay out the clothing you have on the bed. If you’ve got those 3 coordinating colors it’s okay if you are really colorful and it’s also okay if you keep it more neutral. For our beach photos, we wore white with pops of color. Maxi’s white dress had rainbow shells.
  6. Book your photographer and share your board with her! This is going to help you both come up with a great shot list to make sure you get the shot for the cards and the shots for your home. I think the biggest key factor that helps me blog each week is a shot list. Even for this blog post, I had a page of shots I wanted to get to help you all see my process.
  7. Before your shoot, look up 3 cards. You want to go into your shot feeling confident and by selecting 3 or 4 cards you love already such as those black greeting cards, you’ll know that SOMETHING will work. I recommend finding a card that embodies the family posed shot, the collage of photos, and the candid photo. We did those {I’ll share below!} and honestly, it felt so much less stressful selecting. I selected our cards this year with Vistaprint and their gold foil selections were incredible. I didn’t want anything that leaned too Christmas tones and their cards had plenty of blush, turquoise, and even agate just like in my Pinterest board! You may think of Vistaprint as your business go-to, but they have it all: canvas prints, photo gifts, Holiday cards, etc. I looked at their cards after a girlfriend told me she was browsing early September, and I’m excited to have tried, collaborated, and loved them this year. Looking back through my order history, I saw my blog business cards I ordered via Vistaprint back in 2014. That felt like such a long time ago and it really isn’t.
  8. Another reminder before you shoot: you are beautiful! Your family is beautiful! And no amount of color-coordinating, Pinterest-esque family photo can prove or deny that. Remember Pinterest is there to help guide your inspiration, not frustrate you over your family photos. If your twins are crying in 9 our of 10 photos- that is OKAY. This is a season of life you will remember. Everything is a season and that’s just what you are capturing. You don’t know the girl on Pinterest and she doesn’t know you. So just go into your family shoot knowing that and believing that to be true. I look at myself all day long in photos and it would be so easy to nitpick things. I have so many baby hairs. Sometimes {okay, many times} I have self-tanner goofs. I have clothes that bunch awkwardly in photos. And that is JUST okay, it’s more than okay. It’s normal.

And also remember, you don’t have to do all of this in one sitting. In fact, I think it’s better if you space it out. Pin one day. Come back to it the next. Dig in your closet the third day. For really big shoots, I’ll start planning and prepping like this a month in advance.

As you shop your closet, take a few mirror selfies before the big shoot! You may feel a little silly doing that, but things photograph SO differently. Y’all, I have stuff that in person isn’t that flattering and on camera it looks wonderful. I have stuff in person that looks as chic as Kate Middleton herself and then on camera I think, “DO I EVEN OWN AN IRON?! WHAT IS THIS WRINKLED BAG I’M CALLING A DRESS?!” Trust me, y’all. The camera plays games with clothes.

You know your family best and your photos will describe your dynamic and personality. So I highly doubt you need any tips from me in that department. But if I could give one teeny tiny piece of unsolicited advice it would be to keep moving! Flow in your movements almost like you are dancing so your photographer can get the shot, but offer movement. It brings life and love to your photos. I know that sounds like a corny wall sign in a living room, but I’ve heard everyone from wedding photographers to photographers at fashion week beg for movement from their clients. Remember how Tyra Banks would always say to smile with your eyes? Softly dance with your movement while shooting and you’ll be obsessed with how they turn out.

We worked with Vistaprint this year on our cards and here is how they turned out! I selected three cards and couldn’t narrow down. Above is the candid shot of Maxi playing in the sand and it says, “Peace on Earth.” This is the exact card here. We did the matching labels and envelopes. This card to me describes the most peaceful days of our 2019. Back in May at Rosemary Beach Maxi would just play in the sand all day while we ate sandwiches on the beach and enjoyed the breeze. This card’s design gave me an Anthropologie-vibe which is a huge reason I was drawn to it. It felt more whimsical than traditional holiday. I’d never done cards with Vistaprint before and it was so easy! You don’t wait for drafts. You can upload your photo, crop, change colors, fonts, and get an immediate mockup. Then when you go to order, they provide matching return labels if you want or coordinating envelopes. I ordered mine via my regular Vistaprint account and within a few days, they were to my front door.

Our second card selection was the collage. It was so hard to just select one photo and I loved this option to show off Maxi more than once. 😉 Joking aside, this card felt so happy in its greeting and that’s how this year feels. Moving into a home we can see ourselves in for decades to come, planting deeper roots in our community of friends, and rounding out the year filled with gratitude for my mom’s successful hand surgeries made it a wonderful year beyond our dreams. Try this card here.

Lastly, the style blogger in me had to go with this one: the aesthetic card. Can you even get enough of this agate?! The agate print continues on the back and the address labels match! I could {and am tempted} to frame this and put it on a wall. This reminds me of all the boutiques and spots in Rosemary which is where our photos were taken just outside the house we rented. Try this card here.

Next comes the fun part! I always make crockpot hot chocolate {from Pinterest, of course!}, blast the Michael Bublé Christmas album, and watch a Hallmark movie while addressing. For close family and friends that I will see, I will put their card on their gift while wrapping. I just like to insert it in the ribbon as shown above.

As you make your list for Christmas cards and check it twice, I hope these little tips help you enjoy the card you create and the card you send. You can browse my Pinterest here and Vistaprint’s card selections here.

If you want to recreate my cards or style your own, Vistaprint is offering a 50% off code. Use code 2019HOLIDAY for 50% off  Holiday Cards, Wall Calendars, Mugs, Photo Gifts, and Wall Art.

This is a paid link

You really can enjoy this process as stressful and daunting as it seems. I hope that a few of these tips can be implemented in your holiday photoshoot and planning or even just in family photos in the upcoming year. Thank you so much for reading!


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  1. Katie wrote:

    We have used VistaPrints the last few years for our Christmas cards and been thrilled. We also have made the cutest picture thank you notes to send out when my son was born. People loved them!

    Published 28 Oct 19Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Oh I love that!! I’m going to do that for Maxi’s birthday. Thank you for telling me! xx, Katey

      Published 28 Oct 19Reply
  2. I seriously love the whole Christmas card tradition in the US! It’s a little cheesy but it always seems so much fun! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Published 28 Oct 19Reply
  3. Laura leigh wrote:

    Oh my goodness your photos are beautiful! Absolutely love y’alls looks and how your love radiates through these photos. Just gorgeous! Great tips as well – we are planning ours right now so this is very helpful!

    xo Laura Leigh

    Published 28 Oct 19Reply
  4. Marian Richards wrote:

    Love the holiday card and your precious tree!!! So soft looking and pretty!!!!

    Published 28 Oct 19Reply
  5. heidi wrote:

    Great tips! love your little christmas tree! could you reference where you found it please?

    Published 16 Nov 19Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Of course! I got it at At Home! xx, Katey

      Published 18 Nov 19Reply