Growing up in the Philippines, you can quickly feel the Christmas spirit as soon as September hits. Everywhere you go feels like Christmas! I remember when I was younger, my mom and I would always fill our house with Christmas decorations as soon as September starts; we would always go out and get ourselves some delicacies that are only being sold during the Christmas season; and we would sing along to Christmas songs while they’re playing. These are the things I still dearly miss since I moved here in the U.S., Filipino Christmas traditions that I no longer get to do.
However, moving thousands of miles away from where I grew up and starting a family of my own have allowed me to start traditions of our own. Like reading one Christmas book a day on the days leading up to Christmas, or taking our family picture wearing our coordinating festive outfits every single year during Christmas and New year! But this year, I want to take it up a notch so I partnered with Sleepyheads to bring you tips on how to take your own Christmas family picture + a surprise for you at the end.
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Wear Matching Or Coordinating Festive Outfits
Outfits during the photo shoot really matter to make the Christmas family picture cohesive. While we’ve never really done matching outfits before (I’ve always gone for coordinating outfits – like this and this), I thought it might be fun to try it this year. Instead of getting everyone matching shirts & pants, we opted for matching pajamas from Sleepyheads instead.
Sleepyheads is your one stop pajama store. They offer something for everyone, from the newborn to the great-grandparent; taking into consideration, everyone’s budget too. We chose the matching Christmas Nordic Pajamas. We love that this matching pajama set has several different options, a nightgown, a button-up set, and a lounge set! They even have a matching pajama for your pet & child’s doll. How fun is that? You can read more about them here.
The quality of our Sleepyheads pajamas is amazing! The moment we took them out of their plastics, we felt how soft they are. They washed very well and the softness remained even after washing. They are so comfortable too! We wore our pajamas the entire day and I honestly didn’t want to take them off! And the kids didn’t complain one bit about their pajamas being itchy too, so that’s a win! Check out their amazing selection of matching pajamas here.
However, if wearing matching clothes is not your thing, you can absolutely do coordinating outfits instead. Look for pieces of clothing that have coordinating colors and go with those. Check out how we did red & black, fuchsia & blue, and leopard print & black the past couple of years.
Get Your Equipment Ready
To take our own Christmas family picture, the main things that you’re going to need are a tripod and a remote or a camera with self-timer. Or there are also those cameras that have mobile apps that allow you to use your phone as a remote.
For our photo shoot, I used the following:
- Sony Alpha a6000
- Sony 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens
- Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod
- Emart 600W Photography Photo Video Portrait Studio Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit
My camera has a phone app, PlayMemories Mobile, that allows me to use my phone as a remote, as well as send photos from my camera directly to my phone. So I used this app during our photo shoot. And since we did an indoor shoot, we had to use a lighting kit; but if you’re going to do it outdoors with lots of natural light, you won’t be needing one.
Choose Your Location & Visualize Your Decors
Since we are wearing matching pajamas, I opted for locations inside our house for our photo shoot. And because I don’t have my Christmas tree setup yet, we can’t easily shoot in front of our Christmas tree (just like what we’ve always done) for that “perfect” Christmas family picture. I had to think of rooms that I could easily decorate to make it look festive. The first rooms that came to my mind are our basement (where the fireplace is) and our bedroom. As soon as I had the locations covered, it was time to plan how I will make these rooms as festive as possible with very little effort.
For our photo shoot, I used the following props:
- Christmas Stockings
- Hydrangea with White Roses Garland
- Christmas lights
- Christmas ornaments (similar here)
I figured I could hang our Christmas stockings on the fireplace in the basement. Plus the character the brick wall adds to any picture is simply perfect! And then for our bedroom, I planned to hang our garland in the bed’s headboard. Lastly, I needed some items that the kids could play with that would also fit the theme; and the ornaments, and Christmas lights were simply perfect for that.
Test Your Setup & Be Prepared For The Unexpected
Since we are doing a photo shoot with 2 young kids, it is very important to do it as quickly as possible; because they tend to get bored very quickly. And when that happens, they would stop cooperating. So to make sure that we will be spending as very little time as possible doing the shoot, I had to do several lighting tests to find the best light we could possibly get in our basement. So for 3 straight days, after we get home from work, I had to test different setups to make sure that everything is ready during our photo shoot. And all we would be doing was turn on the lights, sit, and take our pictures. True enough, we only spent around 15 minutes on our first location.
Our second location was a totally different story. I was very confident that we will get a lot of natural light because we will be shooting in our bedroom so we won’t be using any of my lights. But boy, was I so wrong! It was cloudy the whole morning up to early afternoon during our shoot day, so we didn’t even bother trying to shoot then. But when the sun came out later that afternoon, I decided to shoot in the basement first because it was still “too bright” for what I like. Of course, the sun was starting to set right around the time we moved to our second location; and the sun was shining directly through our bedroom window creating unattractive rays of light in our bed. We ended up using my lighting kit and had to close the window. I was ready to call it quits and just be done with our first set of photos because it was just too dark for my liking; but then I remembered I can adjust the ISO setting of my camera. So make sure to play around with your camera settings even before the photo shoot.
Go With The Flow
I couldn’t stress this enough, but this one is very important. As a mom, I had a vision. I had a vision of how things would be set up; a vision of how our Christmas family pictures would turn out. The room would be perfectly lit, the decors would be perfectly hanging, and everyone would be smiling while looking at the camera. But of course, none of those visions came to life.
Having done some photo shoots with my kids for over a year has taught me that I should let them lead it. I still try to ask them to do some things during our shoots, but they always do things differently. It used to stress me out before; but when I learned to adjust and just follow their lead, photo shoots with them turned out to be so much more fun. If someone wants to stand when everyone should be sitting, just stand with them and click that shutter. It maybe unconventional, but it could work!
Have Some Snacks & Treats Handy
I don’t know about you but my kids seem to be hungry ALL.THE.TIME! People who know me personally would probably laugh really hard at this because they know I get hungry every 15 minutes! My husband would always tell me that my kids got that from me. LOL! Anyway, because of that, I always make sure we have snacks with us whatever it is we’re trying to do, and wherever it is we’re going.
And especially during photo shoots, snacks and treats would keep my little ones happy and satisfied. So when things would go out of hand during our shoots, I would promise them some treats after if they’d continue to cooperate for a few minutes more. And that has always worked out for me. These treats also saved my a** when I was trying to setup the lights in our second location.
And as much as possible, try not to let it get to you. Because sometimes, despite your best effort, mom life, just like your pictures, isn’t perfect. And that’s what makes it more interesting and fun anyway. Believe me, the most candid shots turn out to be the best ones; because they tell a story, and they bring your family’s character to life.
I’ve compiled some of our outtakes for you just because they’re so fun to look at!
If you love our matching pajamas from Sleepyheads, you’re going to love this! I’ve partnered with Sleepyheads to give one lucky winner’s entire family (max of 4) pajamas for free in the exact design that we are wearing. How amazing is that? You can probably do a fun photo shoot just like we did for your Christmas card this year! Enter below for a chance to win! And don’t forget to share this awesome giveaway with your friends!
This giveaway is open until November 2nd at 12AM EST and is open to U.S residents within the 48 contiguous states only. The winner will be notified through email within 24 hours after the giveaway closes. Please make sure to add email@example.com to your contacts to make sure you will receive the notification. If the prize is unclaimed after 48 hours, we will choose another winner.
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This post was published in collaboration with Sleepyheads. As always, thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own.
What did you think of this post? Do you see your family wearing matching pajamas? Have you taken your own Christmas family picture before? What other tips would you like to add? Let me know in the comments. You know I always love to hear from you.