Family Traditions at Christmas and 10 tips for holiday photos
Tell Your Story: The Family Photo
So much has changed since my childhood. We used to have distinct holidays and they didn’t begin following Back-to-School sales and continue through New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure if some of the joy and excitement isn’t lost in this long drawn out time of holiday preparations. I’m sure everyone has their Christmas Traditions, maybe started long ago by grandparents in another country. Some will have deeply held religious traditions that bring much joy to your celebrations. How many have you documented in a photo or story? Today, I’ll share one of our family’s photo traditions and a few tips for holiday photos.
As I’ve shared before in posts here, my dad was the shutterbug that got me started taking photos at a young age. One thing he would try to do is have an annual family photograph to include with Christmas cards to our family around the world. Some years there would be a professional photo of my brother and I other years he’d get out the tripod and set the timer then quickly jump into the frame before it went off to get a photo of the family together. It’s a tradition I’ve continued to most of those same family members and now to my cousins as aunts and uncles have passed on in many cases.
The days of digital have made getting a good photo so much easier and not as much guess work is involved. Sometimes corralling the group and getting them to behave is still an issue.
I have two pages and Then and Now. Then includes three photos of my dad’s, their first Christmas in America (1954) my last Christmas as an only child (1958) and 1966 the whole family including the dog, that actually you don’t see much of as mother clutches her collar to keep her still.
On the Now page I’ve share two photos I’ve taken of my kids that I really like the best, first, one before anyone was married and the second, when two spouses and one grandchild (plus one on the way) joined the family. I then included this year’s photo of the ones who made it to the official family “photo shoot” and another one with all the grandkids at my mum’s house.
For this layout I began with an ivory MM Grid Paper, cardstock in muted red and greens with Husk Paper Tiles for a nice retro feel to the page. Embellishments included buttons and strings of lights with cornerstones using the Carpenter’s Star die and Mittens Border Die Set.
I’ve used patterns #189 a puzzle pattern and #212 a row pattern. I have modified the pattern #212 to fit my photos and to relate to the pattern chosen for the first page.
Both of my 2016 photos are printed at 4×6 so to accommodate them both. On the top row I reduced the 2×4 block to a 1×4 and on the bottom row eliminating the vertical 1×4 and reducing the 4×4 block to a 3×4 with a horizontal 1×4 below it. This allows me to use the photos I have within this pattern and make the two patterns mesh together a bit better. Looking at them side by side you’ll notice the step down progression in page one with the 1×4 strips to the second page. I placed my strings of lights on each of these sections unifying it more. I drew a fine line border around each of these blocks to be able to tie the ends of the lights to anchor them.
I have used an embossing folder with the “Merry Christmas” greeting on the dark green tiles and topped them with buttons. I alternated 2×2 tiles with Red and Husk Carpenter’s Stars on both pages to keep with the retro feel.
Finally a vertical 1×4 is cut in red and backed with husk using the carpenter’s star border. The die is sized to cut a 1×5 strip, but all I needed was 1×4 so I trimmed the last inch away.
On each matted photo where a border was slightly wider than the other three I wrote in gold (Sharpie metallic paint pen-extra fine point) the dates or names for the photos.
A 4×4 block on page one is reserved for the journaling explaining the family tradition. It is double matted and handwritten.
I’m sure you’ve thought of some traditions that you could highlight in a layout…do you add a new ornament each year, change the theme of your Christmas Tree, maybe even have a special creative gift you receive you’d like to remember years to come?
Do you collect nativities, star or angel ornaments? Do you drive around town to see the Christmas lights all lit up or take in a production of Messiah? Years from now your family may still be doing all those things, so why not tell them in a layout how they all began?
Now hopefully in time for your holiday photos I’ve included a few tips on what to take to include in your Christmas layouts. I honestly do not take as many on “the” day as I used to. Trying to capture everyone opening gifts always meant someone was being missed and I wasn’t seeing what was going on, I was missing out on the whole memory by trying to capture a single moment. Plus the lighting was never right! So I began to change my focus a bit by remembering there is more going on the whole season as we prepare and enjoy all the events on our holiday calendars.
Many of these tips you may have done before but it never hurts to refresh your memory!
10 Tips for Holiday Photos:
- The Tree. Do you cut your own tree? Take your camera along for the ride, the choosing and cutting. Do they have a hayride out to the lot? Serve Hot Chocolate in the shop? Take Photos.
- Assembling the tree. Fitting pieces together on your artificial tree and fluffing the branches out can take on some comical scenes. Take Photos.
- Decorating. Do you have a designated designer that likes to do it all by their self? Whether trimming the tree or decking the halls, displaying the Christmas cards that have been received or setting out the Advent wreath. Take Photos.
- The Children’s program at church, school or pre-school? Take Photos. Get them in costume, reciting their parts, singing their songs or afterward when the cookies appear in the fellowship hall. Take Photos.
- Are you apart of a group that sings to those in nursing homes? Take Photos.
- Does your group make up baskets or boxes to give away at Christmas, why not take photos of the baskets and those who helped to assemble them before they are delivered? There’s so much care involved in doing this, why not remember those who make them up? This year Auntie Hannah and Emmi will be putting a box together for Operation Christmas Child and they are so excited, the photos ought to be great! I’m taking photos!
- Parades? We’ve got one in town with marching bands, floats and even visitors from the North Pole that make a run through town before the big day. Take Photos.
- Ornaments. Get close-ups of all your favorites on the tree, take photos of them all lined up in the box, side by side or all alone. Take Photos.
- Do you serve a special holiday meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner? Get photos of the strata, the turkey, the pie, the set table or buffet line with all the goodies lined up just waiting to be eaten. Or even the cooks and servers can be remembered if you Take Photos.
- After all the gifts are opened gather your group around the tree for a family photo to remember this moment with those you love, because at least for this moment, you are still all together and blessed. Take photos.
Wishing you all a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas