20 Non-Traditional Holiday Moments to Capture

Article By Candy Spiegel

Each year, we seem to take the same photos for the holiday season, like the kids on Santa’s lap, the neighborhood’s holiday lights, or the tree with all the presents piled underneath.

This year, we are challenging you to take some less-traditional photos to capture those holiday memories. We have compiled a list of 20 unique photos you might take, along with some sample layouts of the ones our designers have taken in the past. Check them out and get inspired to make this season different from all the previous ones.

Include the Pets

"Santa Charlie" by Candy Spiegel - Pattern #587

Consider the pets. Many farm- or pet-supply stores offer the opportunity to get a photo of your pet with Santa. Or, you may choose to pick up a Santa hat or elf costume for your dog, cat, horse or chicken. You will likely need help with this one, with one person placing the hat on the animal’s head while the other snaps the photo immediately. It will most likely take several attempts and you will probably have to crop out an arm, but the finished photo will be priceless!

Photograph the Process

"Neighbor Gifts" by Jodi Benson - Pattern #186

Take a photo of the kids, or yourself, making Christmas cards, ornaments or gifts for the neighbors. Be sure to include one of the finished project, as well. And, you might also take one of the kids putting the letters in the mailbox, delivering the gifts to their teachers, or hanging the ornament on the tree. You might even add one of the neighbor opening the present, or opening the door to see the gift on their porch.

Detail the Ornaments

"Shiny Brite" by Candy Spiegel - Pattern #598

Include pictures decorating the tree in addition to the finished Christmas tree. You might get pictures of the mess made when all of the boxes are brought in, a child hanging a special ornament, the tangled lights, someone peeking through the tree branches with a silly look on their face, someone putting the star or angel on top of the tree, or a close-up of the garland.

You might also take the time to explain an ornament collection, one made by a special person, or one purchased during a vacation.

Photograph Movie Night

"Holiday Movie Night" by Jodi Benson - Pattern #397

Remember to take pictures during holiday movie night. Include photos of the family squished together on the sofa or laying on pillows on the floor. Snap pictures of the movie titles (or download them online), the snacks, and everyone in their pajamas. If there is a sad part in the movie, or a particularly funny spot, be prepared to sneak a picture of someone with their eyes filled with tears or laughing hysterically.

Don't Forget the Cocoa

"PJs & Cocoa" by Candy Spiegel - Pattern #494

When it’s time to wind down and enjoy a cup of holiday tea or cocoa by the fire, take the time to snap a selfie. Or, get one of the kids making the cocoa and adding marshmallows or candy canes. Can you imagine how cute it would be to see a smile with a cocoa mustache?

Record Cookie Moments

"Christmas Cookies" by Lauren Jones - Pattern #125 (adjusted)

While making holiday cookies, snap a picture of the kids trying the frosting, eating the cookies fresh out of the oven, or swiping a few sprinkles. You might also get a photo of them plating the cookies for Santa or setting it out on the table.

Include Yourself on the Light Tour

"Blow-Up Display" by Candy Spiegel - Pattern #542

When getting photos of the neighborhood lights, take a selfie of yourselves in the car, or a picture of the kids in the backseat to include with the lights. We love the top left photo on this layout where you can see the driver looking at the lights and you can see more lights in the car mirror.

Take a Pic After Dinner

After Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, take pictures of the family playing games together, planning their Black Friday shopping trip, or trying out their new gifts.

Include the Outakes

"Holiday Stress?" by Paije Potter - Pattern #177

If you take a holiday photo each year, include some of the outtakes. You might get the baby crying, the kids fighting, or the cat running away. Or, you could plan some outtakes by having everyone make silly faces, swap hats or sweaters, or even have a snowball fight after you get the perfect Christmas card photo. Who knows … you might even like the outtakes better.

Try Photographing Books

Take photos of some of the holiday books you read each year. If reading to children, get a picture of both the reader and the children or snap a picture of a young child sitting on grandpa’s lap as he reads a picture book. You might also take pictures of someone reading the Christmas story from the Bible, including a close-up of the open Bible. Or, make a layout of the holiday novels you read, or plan to read, this year. Covers of the books can easily be downloaded from the Internet if you read e-books.

Record the Play

"Holy Night" by Jodi Benson - Pattern #132

If allowed, take pictures of the children singing in the church choir or performing in a holiday skit. Include close-ups of them in costume before or after the performance, during rehearsal and while they are getting ready. If you have to make the costume, include a photo of you making it, as well.

Wrap it Up

Snap a picture while wrapping presents or picking them out at the store. A close-up photo of the wrapping paper or pile of ribbons will make a great accent on your layout.

Picture the Break

"Winter Wonderland" by Jodi Benson - Pattern #137

Record some of the memories of the activities during the holiday break. Maybe take a photo of the kids still asleep with a picture of a clock showing them sleeping in. Or get a photo of them playing video games in their pajamas, having leftover pizza for breakfast, having a snowball fight, or racing their bikes outdoors, playing with their new toys, or other things they do while off of school.

Include the Disasters

Record any holiday mishaps, including a burnt turkey, the dog eating the wrapped chocolates under the tree, someone opening the wrong gift or walking into the room while the present is being wrapped, a power outage or the furnace going out, forgetting to put the sugar in the pie, any sprained ankles or broken arms, an airport delay or storm that makes travel difficult, or even spilled wine on the tablecloth. Yes, these are disastrous at the time, but will be remembered for years to come, so be sure to grab a photo or two.

Picture Santa with a Twist

"Santa's Workshop" by Jodi Benson - Pattern #598

When taking the kids to see Santa, take pictures of them waiting in line and photos of the décor around Santa’s seat to add to the final picture. If there is a really long line, snap a photo of the line from either the end of the line or the front of the line, showing it wrapping around the ques.

Include the Letter, too

Take pictures of the kids writing, or typing, their letters to Santa. Snap a photo of the finished letter and include it on your layout.

Picture the Food

"Holiday Meal Prep" by Jodi Benson - Pattern #600

Get pictures of the holiday dinner prep. These might include setting the table, baking pies, carving the turkey, peeling potatoes or placing the serving spoon in the cranberry sauce. While you are at it, get photos of the table décor, place cards, holiday oven mitts and everyone seated around the table piled with food before anyone digs in. When they see your completed layouts, they won’t mind waiting 30 seconds to eat.

Teach them to Donate

"Operation Christmas Child" by Paije Potter - Pattern #500

If you choose a gift off a wish tree to donate, take photos of the entire process – picking out the wish, shopping for the gift, wrapping it and dropping it off. Or, gather photos of the kids selecting used toys to donate from their room or choosing new toys for Toys for Tots.

Explore the Neighborhood

"Bordine's For Christmas" by Candy Spiegel - Pattern #528 (rotated)

Take a walk around the neighborhood during the day and take photos of holiday décor. Many people put up greenery, wreaths, blow-up displays, signs and other decorations that can actually be seen better during the day.

You might also visit the local nursery or a nearby holiday store. Take photos of the displays and yourselves enjoying them. It's a fun, free holiday outing.

Include Photos of Nature

"Snow Day" by Candy Spiegel - Pattern #103

Include pictures of nature. Cardinals at the bird feeder, a pine tree covered in snow, the holly bush, or even photos of deer, squirrels and other wildlife will make great accents to your holiday photos – or even a page all their own.