The Christmas Card Debate: Pleasure or Pain

The Christmas Card Send-Out: a key element on the To Do List of the Mom-Holiday-Season-Madness! There are outfits to select, photographers to book, weather to watch for, (children to coerce … and husbands), card layouts to select, and mailing lists to prep. It can all be a LOT to handle, coordinate, and achieve in the midst of all of the December chaos. Let’s face it: even the most cooperative Dads do very little to help pull-off this enormous feat. My husband (moderately cooperative) still makes this low grunting sound as he stands there smiling. Every single time. Every single year. As if the process is painful for him…. seriously?! He appreciates the photos later, of course, but the “during” part is not so fun.

Holiday card display courtesy of The Today Show

The Debate is On

Pleasure or Pain? Do you despise the holiday card catastrophe or revel in all its holiday magic? For some, holiday cards can be painful. Lost loved ones or sad holiday memories can make simple things like just ordering a card so difficult. Others thoroughly enjoy the process and can’t wait to select this year’s layout – four photos or two? Collage style or just one big photo?

The Method to My Madness

Holiday card display styled by

I actually enjoy most (not all) of the Christmas card process. Selecting outfits is by far not the most enjoyable part. Read Clothing & Themes below for some tips. Then, finding a photographer for a mini session or photo shoot can be hard to coordinate. Stay tuned in late Fall for photographers in your area who offer various themed or un-themed shoots in your area. My preference is an outdoor mini session earlier in the season (October-November time frame). December is sometimes chilly, too hectic, and hard to plan. I love to just get the photograph out of the way, and a short time frame (15-30 minutes) is great for little ones (and husbands). Selecting the actual card company: There are tons of options but I like to stay up on my coupon codes! Around Black Friday and up until mid December you can receive emails with coupon codes from all the card companies: Shutterfly, Minted, Walgreens, Simply to Impress, and more. I enjoy flipping through the options and selecting a layout that works with the image I want to include. If this isn’t your jam, ask a friend to pitch in to design your card for you! Order early so you have enough time to address and send. I keep an old-fashioned address book with all of my friends and family members’ addresses. This addressing time is sacred: glass of wine and my return address stamp in hand, it provides some “me-time” as I address away.

The Display

I think the reason I really enjoy sending Christmas cards each year is that I really love getting them back. Displaying the cards in your home can be really fun. We have a wire rack hanging year-round in our kitchen, similar to this Pottery Barn version. I like getting them in the mail, hanging them, then seeing all the families of my loved ones from all over the country. After the holidays, I box up our cards from the year and use the rack to hang invitations and other special papers where I can see them.

Clothing and Themes

Obviously there are some themed photo shoots like “Cookies with Santa” that require cute pajamas or something of that nature. We typically do outdoor photos that can work all year round if I decide to frame any in my home. I like to have a color scheme of sorts but not be overly matchy-matchy. There are six of us so selecting outfits that look decent and that my kids won’t complain about is a challenge. Here’s my clothing selection advice:

  1. Mom goes first. For real. Pick something that you have worn before and look nice in, feel great in, and don’t have issues with bra straps showing, skirts riding up, or movement/bunching that will look strange in a photo later. Take a picture of yourself in the mirror and determine if you like the way you look in it. Casual wear like jeans and a nice top can be great in a photo. What’s important is that you like how you feel in it. Then plan the rest of the family around your outfit.
  2. Don’t pick white. White bounces light in strange ways and can blow out in photos. Avoid white if you can. Cream and light colors are fine.
  3. Solid colors always photograph well. Avoiding very fine stripes or plaids is a good idea because they can create that optical illusion effect on camera. Best to just avoid.
  4. Choose clothing that won’t cause World War III. My youngest daughter despises zippers and buttons (it’s a thing) so we just avoid those closures for her outfit selection so that we don’t have to argue on picture day. There is some negotiating to be done, but I try to make it as easy as possible to entice cooperation.
  5. Bribery is a Parenting Method. Don’t judge. Every year our kids get something – a trip to the Dollar Store (yes, this one is one of their favorites), an over-the-top ice cream dessert, their favorite restaurant fir dinner, a prize of some sort. I do what it takes. Here’s the deal: Listen to the photographer, don’t do the weird smile, and no whining. Then, you get the prize. It’s remarkable how well this works.
  6. Here are a few color combos I’ve used or seen in other family photos that look really nice:
  • Burgundy, cream, camel/tan
  • Gold, cream, light pink, rose/mauve
  • Light blue, navy, purple
  • Casual denim with pops of red and green
  • Brown, cream, sage green
  • Red and black with a mix of a holiday plaid (larger print)

For some more ideas head over to Pinterest and search “christmas card outfit ideas family” for great sample schemes.

So, what’s your take on Christmas / Holiday cards? Do you send them faithfully year after year or do you get queasy just thinking about it? Share your best Mom-hacks for accomplishing your favorite (and least favorite) holiday tasks!

Rachel Harris Ledet
A New Orleans native and entrepreneur, Rachel is a mom of four with an active schedule. Rachel maintains a daily balance of running her own marketing firm, 30|90 Marketing, managing her kids’ schedules, and maintaining extracurriculars including coaching dance, volunteering, and occasionally teaching courses. Rachel lives in Mandeville with her best friend and husband Lenny, daughters Addison and Amelia, stepson Luke, and son Tucker. With a family of six and a million balls in the air, Rachel keeps things light by continuously learning, spending time with amazing friends, blogging, finding any route to a concert or outdoor festival, and planning her next getaway with her husband. A sense of humor can get you through almost anything, so she tends to surround herself with fabulous and very funny people.


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