Creating the Perfect Holiday Photo Card

One of the things I love about having this blog is that I get to work with photographs.  They help me tell my stories.  The photos that many of us use in our holiday cards also tell a story:  What we did this year, where we went, how much our kids have grown, or even how cute our pets are.  It’s our chance to connect with friends and loved ones in a very personal, tangible way.

Each year I look forward to creating my holiday photo cards, and this year I created them on   Since this was my first time using minted, I thought I would share my experiences and also a few things about creating photo cards that I have learned over the years.

Do a Little Research

Before I chose my photo, I hopped onto the minted website to check out their 2015 holiday collection, which includes folded cards, postcards, flat cards, ornament cards, petite cards, minibooks, and booklettes, all designed by independent artists.

Minted Holiday Booklette
Minted Holiday Booklette. Image courtesy of

Most of minted’s holiday cards can be further customized by choosing from the different shape and color options offered.

But at this point in the process, I just wanted to get a sense of what was available and see which designs appealed to me.  Then I could keep these designs in mind when selecting photos.

Getting A Great Photo

Of course it’s always a good idea to hire a professional photographer for your holiday card photos.

But unless you are a celebrity, you really can’t bring your photographer to every family outing that might net a good photo.

So a few suggestions for taking your own photos:

The Essentials.  Before starting your photo shoot, make sure that everyone is comfortable and happy with what they are wearing – and that no one is hungry, tired, or cranky.

For the best quality photo, use your best camera.  Use a tripod if you can, and take your time framing the shot.  Save your photos in high resolution, large file sizes.

Photographing Outdoors.  When photographing outdoors, try to do so early-to-mid morning or late afternoon, which is when the natural light is at its kindest.

Photographing outdoors opens up a whole world of possibilities.  Is there a location that helps tell the story of what you love to do?  You might feature your family in the beautiful spot where you go hiking, biking, or swimming.  Choosing a familiar location that the kids associate with fun is a great way to get them to relax for the camera.

Showing Action.  A portrait-style photo is always a classic, but for a photo that really draws the viewer in, consider photographing people in motion.

I just love this photo of my brother and sister-in-law on a stroll.

Holiday card photo showing motion

They are sharing a lighthearted moment in an interesting setting.  The short wall brings pattern and texture to the photo.

Photographing pets.  Before starting, make sure your beloved puppy is not hungry and that he has had a good walk and some potty time.  It’s fun to try different costumes, but don’t stress your pet out with too many wardrobe changes.  Just be patient and let his goofy personality shine through.

My mom’s dog, Gracie, is always going a mile a minute.  We let her hold onto her most prized possession so she would sit still for this photo.

Holiday photo: Photographing pets

Finding the Right Card for the Photo

Gracie is now the star of this cute snowflake ornament card.  It came with a ribbon for hanging as an ornament.

Holiday photo card

The background of the Gracie photo was a bit bright, but that actually works well with this card.

I collaborated with my brother and sister-in-law to turn their photo into a holiday card.  First we drained most of the color to get a soft wintry look.

Holiday photo

Since they are on the right side in the frame, we did a search for cards with a left-side text placement.  Minted’s Find it Fast feature, used in conjunction with their filters, made it easy to find appropriate card designs and immediately see what the photo would look like in each design.

We shared various drafts of this card using the Share feature.  Taking our time and testing the photo with various designs really paid off.

Holiday photo card

My Own Not-So-Perfect Photo

Leave it to me to wind up with an imperfect photo for my own holiday card.

This year, I wanted a photo of my husband, Chris, and me with our 1966 Airstream trailer (the “June Bug”).  And of course it hadn’t occurred to me to take such a photo during any of our road trips.  But recently Chris had the June Bug parked briefly in front of our house.  My last chance to get a photo in time!

I hastily set up a tripod in the middle of the street – with the good camera but on all the wrong settings – and got only three shots in before Chris, who had a bad cold, asked that we wrap up the photo shoot.

1966 Airstream Caravel trailer

So I had to work with what I had, which wasn’t much.  A wiser and more patient person would have shelved the idea until next year.

Luckily I found a card design (Very Merry Ink) that had a little sprinkling of holiday magic. It gave the card a retro, dreamy quality that worked with the out-of-focus photo.  A card shape option called Curved Frame highlights the June Bug’s curves and softens the look.

Minted holiday photo card

Since I had a not-so-great photo, I just kept my expectations realistic and made sure to carefully review the digital proof that minted sent me.  And I am very pleased with the results.

All The Fun Choices

In creating my cards, I had all sorts of fun decisions to make:  Backing color and design, envelope color and inserts, and recipient addressing to name a few.  Paper quality options range from the luxurious to the even more luxurious.

I’m now starting to get a feel for the work of some of the various artists and am looking forward to seeking out my favorites next time I visit.

This post was sponsored by minted.  All opinions and photographic misadventures are my own.

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