How to Achieve the Perfect Holiday Card

Happy holiday season to all of my lovely readers!  You have probably seen by now that I’ve been partnering with a bunch of professional photographers to get photos for my blog.  Let me be totally honest with you though, I HATE photoshoots.  The reason I do them is that I am just not an artistic person and every time I try to take photos myself, even with a nice camera, they look terrible!  I know it’s worth the time but it is stressful for sure. Year after year I dread pulling everything together for our holiday card and now I have the added stress of trying to find a way to keep Lily happy while we shoot!  This year, after some added experience with all of these photo shoots, I am finally starting to get the hang of it.  I just made our holiday card with Basic Invite and I am in LOVE.  I thought I would share with you all some of my tips for planning the perfect holiday card.

Christmas Card front

Shelby Gordon

  1. Start plotting ahead of time– If you know you’re going to do a holiday card, the best thing you can do is start planning a few months early. That way you can decide what you would like the theme to be and plan around it without rushing.  If you’ve had a big event during the year like a wedding or a birth, you may be lucky enough to already have photos that are perfect for the card!  If not, you’ll want to plan to shoot the perfect photo whether it’s on your own or with a professional photographer.  I have a recurring reminder for the second week of October every year to start planning for our card!


  1. Plan your photo– If you don’t already have your Christmas Cards photo in mind, it’s time to make a date to shoot! I think the investment of a professional photographer (at least for the photos on the front of the card) is totally worth it!  I love the idea of having a high-quality photo of our family for each year. Hiring out is also great because everyone can get in the photo and you have a seasoned vet to scout lighting and positions for you and your kiddos.  Once you’ve found someone or you are set on doing it yourself, pick a date!  Find out when your photographer & family is available and make sure everyone has it in his/her calendar.  It’s best to shoot in late October or November so you have plenty of time to pick your photos, have them edited and put into a card in time to send them for Christmas!


  1. Pick a location-This one can be tough!  I like to pick my photographer’s brain.  Most of them do this every year so they know a lot of spots in your area that are great for this time of year.  Last year we shot our card in a park that was covered in freshly fallen leaves.  This year we were in Santa Cruz and decided we could combine my maternity shoot with our family photos.  We may be on the beach for the main photo, but we planned outfits that had a more winter vibe & the photographer did a great job making it not look too “summery.”


  1. Plan your outfits– Once you know where you’re shooting you’ll have an idea of the backdrop & you can plan what you’re wearing accordingly. This is actually my least favorite part (which is so strange because I love fashion).  I’m not big on having a family full of matching outfits (denim on denim anyone?!) but I do love coordination.  Last year our color scheme was cream, gold, tan, soft pink and maroon.  I wore a soft pink dress with gold heels, I put Lily in a cream dress with gold shoes and a maroon bow and Andy wore maroon pants with a flannel shirt and soft pink sneakers.  The colors came together SO well.  This year, because we were combining my maternity photos, I wanted to wear something blue for our baby boy.  I picked a beautiful navy-blue dress with pink florals from Pink Blush maternity & found a similar one for Lily from Old Navy (they ended up being almost identical which was totally not planned but still looked cute!) and Andy wore tan chinos and cream button up.  The color combo wasn’t as specific as last year but we all complimented each other really well!  To make it easier, you can decide what you want one family member to wear and go from there!  Does your little one have an adorable red dress you want her in?  You can plan your color scheme from there: red, grey, cream and maybe a dark blue or try red, gold, cream, blush and dark green.  You want to make sure that you aren’t introducing too many colors and that you coordinate but don’t necessarily match!


  1. Be prepared for photo day– Make sure all of your outfits have been tried on and steamed. Plan to be there a little early and make sure everyone has been fed and is comfortable!  With little-little ones, it’s good to have a toy the photographer can use as a way to get them to look at the camera.  Last year Lily wouldn’t stop crying without her favorite stuffed bunny so we just included bunny in our photos!  Make sure you get a bunch of different shots and don’t be afraid to ask for a little break to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable!  Check your jewelry and makeup in a mirror, reapply if necessary and ask the photographer to see some of the photos on the camera so you can readjust anything you don’t like.  Nothing worse than having an ALMOST perfect photo!
Christmas card back

photo by Shelby Gordon

  1. Make your card– Once the photos are back to you or you’ve selected something you already had, find a stationery company and start looking at templates! I started using Basic Invite this year after planning our pregnancy announcement card and they came out SO great.  Basic Invite offers all types of stationery including cheap holiday cards! Right now, Basic Invite is offering 15% off everything with code: 15FF51 so if you need to send out a last-minute card you still can!  I love using basic invite because they have over 500 holiday card designs and a ton of customizable options like virtually unlimited font colors, tons of different fonts, 40 choices for envelope color and foil print in gold, silver AND rose gold (we picked the rose for ours and it is STUNNING)!  I like picking one big photo for the front of the cards and then doing a collage on the back.  You can see in the photo above that I picked some photos from our maternity shoot and others from throughout the year that had similar lighting/coloring.  We chose to just put short messages on ours wishing everyone a happy holiday season & reminding everyone about our baby-to-be but you can choose templates that have bigger spaces for text so you can keep everyone up-to-date with what’s been happening with your family!


  1. Send the cards out with plenty of time– It’s December 10th and we’ve probably received about half of the Christmas cards we usually get already.  I think right around now is the perfect time to have them arrive!  A lot of families, like us, like to hang up holiday cards they receive as décor around the house so it’s nice to have them arrive a couple weeks before Christmas so people can enjoy them!  I ordered ours on November 28thto arrive by the end of last week.  The BEST decision I made this year was to use Basic Invites addressing services!  All I did was type in all of the recipient’s names and addresses and Basic Invite did the rest!  They packaged, sealed, addressed, stamped and mailed all of my cards for me.  This is a great option if you’re a little behind on getting your cards out so you don’t have to worry about mailing them yourself during the busy post office season!  We also used their custom sample service and ordered a single sample of our card before approving the final product (and I’m so glad we did because I decided I wanted to change a font color before the rest got mailed!).


  1. Save one– I didn’t grow up with a ton of traditions in my family and I’m trying to change that now that I have my own! Andy and I decided we would keep one (well, two for security) of our cards so that we can put together a book of all of our Christmas Cards throughout the years. I think it will be so fun to see how our family has changed every year and will be so great for our kids and grandkids to look through someday!


Hope this guide helps keep your holiday card planning a little more stress-free!  Feel free to ask me any questions and to follow Basic Invite on Instagram and Facebook!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for Something?