40 In Alyson's Gift Guides/ LIFE

Holiday Cards, How to Take Family Photos + Minted Giveaway (3 winners!)

Holiday Family Photos

Sending and receiving holiday cards are among my favorite holiday traditions. I absolutely love seeing the beautiful cards we get throughout December (and hey, getting mail is nearly as good as a package arriving at my doorstep!)… from the cool outfits, gorgeous backdrops, and sweet sentiments, it’s a beautiful way to connect with so many loved ones.

As a parent, I also now see how impossible it is to get a good family photo, so doing a professional photography session each November has become an informal/mandatory fam tradition. We missed it last year and I was so, so sad. A local photographer, Stephanie Smith, has been taking our photos for four or five years now. Evan and Sarah’s birthdays are in November, so for us, it’s also way to mark each year and have the professional photos for our house, for holiday gifts (you know, the grandparents eat this stuff up!), and for our holiday cards.

We do New Year’s cards because well, this mama needs a few extra days to get that stuff together. 😉 Who doesn’t, right? I’ve used Minted on my own for two years — actually ordering the first time after seeing them on a bloggers post! — and I’m so happy with the quality. From the range of cards (traditional to elaborate), and the option for so many special touches — this is my second time doing the gold glitter envelope insert and I’m obsessed! — it all comes together for such a professional look.

Actually, my favorite part: Minted for free will label all of your envelopes! BAM. Hello, most genius/appreciated thing ever. No handwriting or using crummy labels.

TIP: If you don’t have all your contacts stored in one place, do this: create an excel file (I literally have a file called Contacts.xls in my Dropbox that I keep current… usually). The first time getting it together is a little painful but after that… incredible. On Minted, I uploaded my list and they printed; check it out below… I blocked out my friend’s address but you can get the sense below the “Deliver to:” on the envelope. Super profesh!

Holiday Family Photos

Assembling clearly takes time… wine is necessary!

Message on the back: “We feel blessed and thankful for each of you — our family and friends who love and support use. As we look to 2017, we’re ready for even more laughter, kitchen dance parties, adventure, kindness, hugs, afternoons by the pool and time with each of you.”

Holiday Family Photos

By the way, debating family outfit attire? Try these tips:

  • Avoid the matchy matchy: it’s cute if the kids coordinate or have matching but no need to do all white tees and jeans, or something similar anymore. Show everyone’s personality, and your personality as a family.
  • Use one person’s outfit as the anchor. For us, it’s always Sarah! (no surprise there!). After she selected her cherry print dress from J. Crew, we luckily had that cute plaid for Evan that integrated all the same colors. I picked a black blouse from my closet, and Adam wore a neutral button down.
  • Consider your backdrop. We decided with Stephanie we wanted a more woodsy vibe, and we knew she also had that gorgeous cream and gold couch. Avoid greens and yellows that might might blend into the scene.
  • Make sure everyone’s comfortable. There’s nothing worse than a too-low blouse, a kid miserable in their outfit or layering someone up when it’s 80 degrees outside. That discomfort is always evident and doesn’t make for happy campers.
  • Go with the flow and remember: candid moments are often the best moments. Evan wouldn’t sit still the entire time, Adam was getting hot and the weather was more humid than expected when we photographed this. So, instead of getting insanely stressed, we focused less on the posed photos and tried to make everyone laugh. A good photographer will get the best moments captured.
  • Plan for dessert and wine. Yup, we totally bribed the kids a little (and ourselves!). You earned it.

how to take family photos

Holiday Family Photoshow to take family photosHoliday Family Photoshow to take family photos  Holiday Family PhotosHoliday Family Photos

NOW: the extra fun part: I’m so excited to be teaming up with Minted this holiday season to give 3 lucky readers $100 to spend on anything they want, including holiday and New Year cards (I also love their art… and pillows!). PLUS, head to my Instagram today (@avggirlsguide) where I’m doing an additional drawing for $150 to Minted.com. YAY! Feel free to enter both giveaways. A total of four winners will be selected.
To enter:
1.)  Click here and enter your name and email address.
2.)  Leave me a comment below to say hi… and anything else you’d like to share. 🙂 That’s it! Happy holidays, and good luck!
Contest closes on Dec. 9, 2016. A heads up here of when you need to place your orders in order to receive before the holidays.
Photo credit: South Moon Photography // Family Photos: Stephanie Smith Photography

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  • Reply
    December 9, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    Great job!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    Oh my gosh, you’re holiday cards are adorable! What a beautiful family you have. Thanks for sharing and for offering the giveaway! 🙂

  • Reply
    Christina Huber
    December 8, 2016 at 8:55 PM

    I’ve used Minted before and was very satisfied with their product!

  • Reply
    Hayley Somerville
    December 8, 2016 at 5:58 PM

    You have a beautiful family and I love your photo perspectives – makes for a very fun and readable blog!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2016 at 2:51 PM

    Thank you for the opportunity!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2016 at 9:55 AM

    Love Minted’s art work!!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2016 at 9:40 AM

    I LOVE the cards! What a beautiful family! Happy Holidays and Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017~

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 9:40 PM

    This was my first year using Minted and they had me at free envelope addressing <3

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 5:44 PM

    Happy holidays!

  • Reply
    Lea Anna
    December 7, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    Cute cards!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 3:35 PM

    Adorable photos. Especially love Evan’s tie!!

  • Reply
    valerie sobus
    December 7, 2016 at 1:54 PM

    minted cards are not new to me… we have used them the last two christmases and for our son’s birth announcements…yet somehow i did not know you could add photos and text to the back of the card. i love that! (plus it is so worth saving me the time for writing out personalized messages on every card. i do like doing it but it takes SO long). and also, i am LOVING your nail polish color.

  • Reply
    Dana Lidfeldt
    December 7, 2016 at 12:49 PM

    Happy Holidays! Such great advice as usual!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 12:35 PM

    Happy holidays!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    Hi! Your cards (and your family!) are adorable!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 3:59 AM

    Happy Holidays!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2016 at 12:04 AM

    These look great!

  • Reply
    Sarah L
    December 6, 2016 at 11:24 PM

    Such great things to remember when trying to get everyone in the family in one picture that is usable!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 5:45 PM

    Love your photos!

  • Reply
    Susan Todd
    December 6, 2016 at 4:49 PM

    Your card looks fabulous! Merry Christmas ~

  • Reply
    Jessica Beard
    December 6, 2016 at 4:06 PM

    Your cards look great! I’d love to win.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 3:01 PM

    Love Minted and your holiday cards look amazing! What a beautiful family!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 1:48 PM

    I like the selection at Minted. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Casey h
    December 6, 2016 at 12:56 PM

    Love minted!

  • Reply
    Kenya F
    December 6, 2016 at 12:56 PM

    Hey Hey Hey! Your family is just so beautiful!! Hope you all have a wonder holiday and a the most fabulous 2017!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 11:39 AM

    These turned out amazing Alyson, you have such a beautiful family! Love these tips too. Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays!

    Heidi || Wishes & Reality

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    The cards look so cute! Minted is great!


  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Love your blog! Your family pics are great! Thank you for an amazing giveaway!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 9:30 AM

    Love Minted! Love your cards – beautiful family!

  • Reply
    Debby Gans
    December 6, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    Your cards look terrific! I love Minted…used them for my son’s Bar Mitzvah invitation!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 9:10 AM

    Happy Holidays! Hope it is filled with lots of joy!

  • Reply
    Michelle L.
    December 6, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    What a beautiful family … love your card! I’ve been really bad about getting our photos printed.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 9:07 AM

    Love ur pics! Minted is awesome!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    Awesome tips [as usual], Alyson! Beautiful photos to share the story of your cards and beautiful photos IN your card.

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 8:08 AM

    Love reading your blog – it’s often one of the highlights of my day. Plus those kiddos of yours are just adorable! Wishing you all the best in 2017! LML

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 7:42 AM

    The cards look great!! Happy Holidays!!

  • Reply
    Kerry Cavallo
    December 6, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    Your family is so beautiful Alyson! Happy Holidays to all of you!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 6:53 AM

    Your cards turned out so cute! I love these beautiful pictures of your family!!

    By Lauren M

  • Reply
    beth sarnoff
    December 6, 2016 at 6:30 AM

    Great post, and as always, the best tips! Love the pics, your family is beautiful!

  • Reply
    December 6, 2016 at 6:10 AM

    Sooo cute! These came out perfectly!

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