Say cheese! Before long everyone will be searching for a quick photography session to add a fresh photo to this year's Christmas card. Keep those family outfitting woes at bay with these five tips derived from my retail years of outfitting mannequins.

1. Ditch the matchy-matchy. Yes, I know matchy-matchy is so easy to gravitate towards. "Everyone wear a white top and jeans!" This year try taking it back to art class and picking a complementary color story or even a tonal one. I chose to do blues and oranges last year. It made our photo more dynamic and sophisticated. You could go for the tried and true red and green combo or opt for red orange and blue green or pick your own from below.

2. Pick a narrator piece. Not all outfits need to be equally show stopping in a family photo. Picking one person to wear the "it" outfit is enough. I call this piece the narrator. It tells the color story and sets the stage for the other outfits. Last year I purchased Ella Jane's buffalo check dress first and built the other outfits around it using items already in our closets. No need to buy all new outfits! To all my girl mamas, choosing dresses for the girls helps to cut down on the number of items to pair together, further simplifying the process.

3. Mix pattern and texture. When pulling together a grouping of outfits, take into consideration prints and textures. Putting all family members in a printed outfit can make your photo look busy, but ditching prints all together can make your photo feel one note. Strategically decide on who wears what print and texture. A good rule of thumb when print mixing is to think about scale and type of print. Ella Jane's buffalo check was a large print, so I chose a small check for Todd. Also, texture, such as lace or a chunky knitted sweater, reads as a print. Briar's dress had small eyelet lace details on the hem, so I picked a dress with a larger lace detail on the neck for myself.

4. Steam or Press. This one is easy as long as you do not wait until an hour before you leave. Get the wrinkles out of your clothes and opt to dress the kids on site. If you are near electricity, bring a travel steamer to touch up. Nothing ruins a professional photo like wrinkles! I sometimes even despise my crows feat, but unfortunately those do not iron or steam out.

5. Accessorize minimally. Accessories can add to the total photo, but they can also detract. Decide who wears what accessories. I went with small earrings for myself, no tie for Todd and opted for bows on my girls. Makeup can also act like an accessory, so make sure if you have a bold lip or eye shadow that it does not compete or take away from the overall shot.

Outfitting family photos is about finding the right balance. To me the tricky part is getting everyone to look at the camera and remain cheerful! All I can say about that is pick something silly and absurd to say. That usually makes my girls giggle. And when all else fails... CANDY or other types of bribery may work. At least you will know everyone will look put together even if they do not cooperate. In 20 years it will make for a great memory either way!

Christmas card design by Novel Paper

Photos by Capturing Dixie Photography


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