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Family Christmas Card – 2012

2012 December 19
by Becky

Christmas is my favorite time of year for many reasons, one of which is the never-ending current of beautiful holiday cards streaming through our mail slot.

Every day I can’t wait to go through the mail, laughing and exclaiming over each adorable family, how big the kids have gotten, an incredible trip someone took. We get some traditional cards with lovely notes inscribed in them, but the majority are photos…my favorite. I LOVE seeing my friend’s faces, especially the ones I hardly ever get to see.

This year we are going with a clothes pin and striped string display.

holiday card display, hanging holiday cards, clothes pins


We are going to need more string…this one is full and it’s only Dec. 19!

Last year was my all-time favorite holiday card…it was candid and absolutely us to a “T”. (Though I got a little crazy on the script-y font…oops.)

family holiday card, family photo card, fall family photo

This year I wanted something totally different yet just as heart-felt this year.

While we had some nice pictures taken by friends, we wanted something less posed, more casual, more us. And since I recently purchased a tripod and remote shutter release, I couldn’t wait to give them a try. So we ran out on a Sunday afternoon, drove down toward Mount Vernon, and stopped at the first bright red tree we found.

family photos, fall family photos, fall leaves photos, DIY family photo

We had a LOT of outtakes from this little session. But we just kept snapping away until we had something to work with. The one above was a contendor…it perfectly depicts a two year old Ethan, always running away from us.

I’m sure you notice my kinky hair, Stu’s just wearing a fleece jacket, Ethan’s in random layers. We purposely spent about 10 minutes getting ready. It may not be “perfect”, but it’s perfectly us. That’s how we like it.

fall family photo, family photo, fall photo, fall leaves photo

This is the one we ended up using. Natural, happy, easy. Totally us. You can kind of tell Stu has the remote in his hand, but a) I photoshopped it slightly so you can’t really tell and b) who cares? It’s a great shot.

A good trick for a photo like this is to get out a little in front of your background, don’t sit directly under the tree or whatever you want to feature. We’re at least 10 feet in front of the beautiful red tree in the picture above. Plus, we waited until afternoon to take these shots—less shadowing and great light. I quickly learned that I will need a better remote soon, as the one I own (that cost under $10) has to be pointing EXACTLY at the camera…not ideal.

So, picture taken, now to make a card.

DIY holiday card, DIY christmas card, family holiday card, family photo

There are so many different ways to do holiday photo cards…my method is of course just one. It’s also one you need a little software for, namely Photoshop. InDesign comes in handy too.

I opt for the design-your-own card every year. I can’t ever seem to find exactly what I want from the photo card sites—we like things super simple—plus I love how much money it saves me. I’ve used Winkflash for the past three years with excellent results. I lay out my photo and text, upload the .jpg to Winkflash, and order custom 5×7 cards on photo paper. They come with plenty of white envelopes (including extras, just in case) for no extra charge.

UPDATE 10/7/13: I used to print these cards but they’ve since stopped offering the custom image 5×7 card option.

family holiday card, fall family picture, taking your own family photo, using a tripod, fall leaves family photo, fall leaves pictures, family christmas card, old town alexandria, mount vernon trees

Since we send out SO many cards every year (over 100) I really try to keep the cost down. This year I spent right around $50 for 100 cards, including envelops and shipping. Not bad! I used a coupon code too…never order anything online without one! It saved me 40%…nice. (If you are getting ready to order from Winkflash, the coupon code is CARDS40…it’s right on their website, no big secret)

Winkflash doesn’t offer shipping options, but whatever method they use is FAST. Like 3-4 days.


In addition to our photo, actually had the great honor of taking several of the family photos hanging in our lovely holiday card display! My dream of becoming a photographer was indulged a little this year. :)

As I mentioned above, we try to swap photo-taking with friends, so here is the shot of Lauren and Bret on the famous Prince Street in Old Town…they are so adorable. And Lauren even fit their happy dog Jessie in to the card design! (See the “O” in joy? Their dog is really wearing the antlers…she loves them)

Holiday card, old town alexandria, fall family photo, winkflash holiday card

My friend Elena (mama to Ethan’s buddy Lukas) was having trouble scheduling a photographer for their family pictures this year…busy schedules plus a sick kid makes for tough planning. So once Lukas was feeling better we popped out on a Saturday afternoon to take some shots. I’m convinced that weekend was the last beautiful fall leaves opportunity in Old Town. This one was taken at the Carlyle House.

You can’t take a bad shot of this sweet family.

Holiday card, fall leave family photo, fall leaves, paper culture, old town alexandria

After a tripod-less attempt at taking their own family picture didn’t pan out, my friend Kristan (mom to Ethan’s pal Quinn) zoomed her family over to Old Town for a lightening-speed-last-minute photo shoot. I was ready and waiting to run out the door before our light was gone—we literally had minutes before the darkness would take over. We jogged the short distance from our house to the Lee Street Tunnel (and Old Town monument) and started snapping. 

Again, dealing with a happy, loving family makes taking a great picture incredibly easy. They got ready in less than an hour and look how amazingly cute they are! I swear, natural and off-the-cuff is the best.

holiday card, tiny prints, family photo, fall family photo, old town alexandria, lee stree tunnel

And, finally, I snapped this picture of my parents back in October during our trip to St. Louis for my cousin’s wedding. The leaves in Lafyette Square Park were heaped everywhere…I took out the iPhone (my new 5 with a great camera) and started shooting. It’s casual, natural, and fun. I just love Ethan’s long hair in this pic and have been kicking myself ever since for cutting it right after we got home.

Lafayette square park, st. louis fall photo, fall photography, family photo, family holiday card, grandparents holiday card


I’m never cutting The Peanut’s hair again. Ever.

So that’s our 2012 holiday card! Simple but the photo makes it great. And I even got it out before Christmas! Whew.

Do you take your own family picture? A friend? Professional? Share some tips!

8 Responses
  1. December 19, 2012

    I love the card. but I think it’s your 2012 card! (not 2013. although that will be here soon!)
    Dara recently posted..Project LifeMy Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      December 19, 2012

      Thanks Dara!! I guess I’m ready for the new year!

  2. Sandy Schon permalink
    December 20, 2012

    You’ve found yet another calling! Just add photography to your long list of awesome accomplishments.

  3. Kristan permalink
    December 20, 2012

    I agree, you definitely have a calling as a photographer! I’m not kidding! Our last minute shots turned out fabulous.

  4. December 23, 2012

    Great card, and I love the Lafayette Park shot. We got good family photos there to in October!

    • Becky permalink*
      December 23, 2012

      Thank you! I miss the parks in St. Louis! Yes, the ones here are great, but it’s hard to beat Tower Grove, Lafayette, and Forest Park. Especially in the spring.

      • December 23, 2012

        And I meant “too” in that comment, not “to “. Nothing worse than typos in comments.

        Have a great holiday… A good friend of mine is visiting D.C. this week.
        Kristin recently message 2012My Profile

        • Becky permalink*
          December 23, 2012

          HA! No problem! And if you friend needs any suggestions for fun things to do, please send her my way! It’s an exciting time to visit DC.

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