Capturing the Perfect (ahem!) Toddler Christmas Card Photo

If there is one thing that is bound to add more stress to Christmas at Lighty HQ, it’s capturing the annual Christmas card photo. Yet every year, we still go ahead and take another one. Why? Well, before I was even pregnant, I always imagined that once I got my little baby, I’d want to send out cards with a photo of my precious bundle on. And I have to say, we did make a cutie, so why not?! (Yes, yes, I know I am biased!) So every year, we persist, and attempt to create another Christmas card photo.

I guess in a way, it actually started the year that I was pregnant, with our pregnancy announcement photo. Although we didn’t have this photo made into Christmas cards, I did send it out within our Christmas cards to friends and family who wouldn’t have seen our announcement on Facebook. I love this photo so much! It’s probably the only photo that I’ve ever had in my head, and been able to recreate in real life, exactly as I imagined!

Capturing the perfect toddler Christmas card photo

Our Christmas pregnancy announcement!

But of course, creating a pregnancy announcement for your first child is easy. Why? Well, there are no other children – especially toddlers – involved! Once you start adding little people into the mix, things are not quite as straightforward! We discovered this the very first time we tried to capture our Christmas card photo. Baby Lighty was only six months at his first Christmas. He’d only just learnt to sit up. And this did not bode well with getting him balanced, in front of a Christmas tree, and trying to stop him from falling backwards every now and again onto the hard metal tree holder! All this, and then we had to try to get our little elf to smile, too…!

Capturing the perfect Toddler Christmas Card Photo

Our little elf!

But capture it we eventually did. The photo was a little dark, and, being the blogger that I am now, I now realise that I probably should have brightened it a bit. But hey! As Christmas card photos go, it was a good first attempt!

Then year two came around. Baby Lighty was now 18 months old. Quite a difficult age, in any respect. And so, of course, we decided to make things worse, and capture our Christmas card photo, right at this critical time. We decided last year to recreate a classic Christmas scene: bringing the Christmas tree home…strapped to the top of his Cozy Coupe car, of course! Surely this would be a doddle?! After all, we’d managed it with a tiny baby last year, how card, I mean, hard, could this year be?!

Bloody hard. That’s how hard this could be! I kid you not when I say it took two attempts, a professional camera, a husband trained in photography, lots of singing and dancing in the garden, our neighbours looking on and laughing and, eventually, an abandoned attempt because of a meltdown from the toddler!

Capturing the perfect toddler Christmas card photo

Driving home for Christmas!

But. But! We did, eventually get the shot we were after. It was definitely more fluke than skill, but we did it. We got the Christmas card photo for the second year running. And the outtake may have even made the back of the card.

Capturing the perfect toddler Christmas card photo

Driving home for Christmas: the outtake!

So, year three. Here we go. Our third Christmas as parents. We have this Christmas card photo thing down now, right?!

Well, actually, kind of…yes! This year was actually probably the easiest of the three! Maybe it’s because Baby Lighty can communicate so much better this year, that he could actually understand what we were trying to do. Or maybe it’s just because he understands the concept of Christmas. Either way, somehow, this year, our Christmas card photo took all of about 15 minutes to take! No tears, no tantrums…no threats of divorce!

So what was this magical Christmas card photo this year?! Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until after our cards have been sent out, and then all will be revealed!

Top Tips for Taking a Toddler Christmas Card Photo:

We are far, far from experts in taking toddler Christmas card photos, but these are the things we’ve learnt over the years:

  • Do your research: have a clear idea in mind of what your want the finished photo to vaguely look like.
  • But don’t be disappointed: don’t be disheartened if the photo doesn’t come out quite as planned. It may be different, but it’s probably not worse than what you were trying to achieve (most of the time, anyway!).
  • Choose your time carefully: pick a time when your toddler is likely to be cooperative. For us, this was just after his afternoon nap.
  • Prepare in advance: make sure you have all of your props ready to go. If your toddler has to wait for you to prepare, they’re likely to get bored and tire of what you’re trying to do. Similarly, them setting eyes on your props for the first time may actually make them willing to cooperate, because they have these new, shiny things in front of them to play with!
  • Time is of the essence: be quick! Your toddler is unlikely to have patience with a long photoshoot. It may be that you have to be quick, and then work with what you’ve got.
  • Don’t force your toddler to do anything they don’t want to do: a pretty good rule for life in general, really. Even a comedy Christmas card photo isn’t worth the parental guilt. If they don’t want to play bauble, give up, and try again another time. And if they still don’t want to play bauble?! Accept that you might have to forgo the photo Christmas cards this year.

What would you add to these tips? Any little gems I’ve missed when taking toddler Christmas card photos? I’d love to know in the comments below!

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30 thoughts on “Capturing the Perfect (ahem!) Toddler Christmas Card Photo”

  1. Oh my goodness that is such an utterly adorable card and you did it!!!! You should totally sell these you know hon – super cute! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely xoxo

  2. The driving home for Christmas card is great – what a nice idea! I’m not sure I’ll ever manage to get my strong-willed toddler to pose for a nice Christmas photo no matter how hard I try – but hopefully we’ll manage to capture a few nice candid snaps while decorating the tree. #dreamteam

  3. It’s always difficult to take photos of toddlers and kids as they are always on the go. Even with my kids that are 11 and turning 8 – they now get frustrated if I want to take pics of them. Great tips and thanks for sharing.#Dreamteam

  4. That is totally cute! I remember doing these cards when mine were younger but we have stopped now although I’m tempted to recreate my teenagers first few! That could be a real laugh!
    Sorry I forgot to tag you in as guest host….I didn’t read the rules! (hangs head in shame!!)

  5. Your photos for your Christmas cards are fab Nic. I love them all and can’t wait to see your new design for this year. We’ve never tried this. Though the other year Little Button drew and painted the design for our Christmas cards. It took some people a while to get that she had done it as they turned out so well once printed! Thanks for being a fab #DreamTeam host xx

  6. Last year was our first year of personalised Christmas cards and to be honest I’ve not even thought about it this year!! Right now he’s a misery guts when the camera comes out so I’m gonna have to get creative!! #dreamteam
    p.s LOVED the outtake photo!!

  7. Really great tips. I love your pregnancy one by the way. Oh and I have a picture of my two older brothers as toddlers but I think it was taken professionally as very good and from the Fifties

  8. These are so cute!! Well done for getting those perfect shots eventually, adorable. I did this last year, my first year with 2, and it was chaotic to say the least, not braved it yet this year xx #dreamteam

  9. Aaaww you’re so creative….. I so love your Christmas pregnancy announcement pic too!!!! I’m currently trying to make a photo calendar for grandparents but with 3 far from enthusiastic teens on board it’s not so easy!! DreamTeam

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