This post is sponsored by, all opinions are my own.

Since 2005, sending Christmas cards to family and friends has been an annual tradition of mine. I truly enjoy sitting down with my favorite pen and handwriting names and addresses on envelopes! Every year, around the first of November, I start looking at designs and purchase a roll of stamps. In the past, I’ve selected a card design that supports a specific charity. Last year, I was too busy (and a little overwhelmed) with Kamden’s birth and did not send a single Christmas card. In January, however, I mailed his birth announcements to everyone who would have normally received our Christmas card. This year, I’m pulling out all the stops. For our first “official” Christmas as a family of three, I’ve hired a photographer and scheduled a portrait session. Let me just tell you, Husband is so excited. (Yeah right.) But we’re making memories and starting our own holiday traditions!

There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to send Christmas cards:

one. // choose the right photographer

Finding a photographer is pretty easy, but choosing one that fits your style, budget, and personality can be a challenge. Fortunately, I have Becky (The Java Mama) in my life. She’s taken pictures for me in the past and does an incredible job. I met Becky through a local bloggers’ network and we instantly became friends. As a mother, she works well with children. As a wife, she is incredibly patient when someone (cough-Husband-cough) doesn’t like having their picture taken. Basically, Becky is a saint with a camera! It’s important to remember that photographers are really busy this time of year. It’s best to schedule your family’s portrait session well in advance to avoid the holiday rush.

two. // choose a color scheme 

I am NOT a fashion expert, but I know what I like when it comes to clothes. For portrait sessions, I tell my own subjects to coordinate their outfits but avoid matching. Gone are the days where everybody has to wear khaki pants and a white top or all denim. Thank goodness! It’s also important to dress comfortably. When you’re comfortable, you’re relaxed. And when you’re relaxed, your pictures are better. Comfortable for Husband means jeans and boots. Since he agreed to a portrait session, I agreed he could wear his jeans and boots. (Pick your battles, people!)

three. // choose a location

I don’t know about your significant other, but Husband is NOT looking forward to our portrait session but he’s doing it because he knows it’s important to me and family pictures are on my birthday and Christmas list. (Okay, fine, I might have bribed him with a little something later, but that’s beside the point.) To make Husband as comfortable as possible, and to ensure our pictures are natural-looking, our session will take place outdoors and near our home. Outdoor photography provides more options than a studio and, if you time your session properly, the light can be amazing. Choose a location that fits your family’s personality and style. If urban cityscapes are your thing, find a favorite spot (i.e. city park, favorite restaurant with outdoor patio, water garden, playground, train station, etc.) in your town. If you live near the ocean (lucky you!), take pictures on the beach. If rural landscapes are more your style, pick an open field, fence row, or tree-lined path. If you have specific props or personal items you want to include, discuss with your photographer and plan accordingly. If you have pets, include them in your family picture too. Make it fun but, most importantly, make it about you and your family!

four. // choose the perfect card

Thanks to, designing Christmas and holiday greeting cards is easy. But, if you’re like me, choosing just one design is really difficult! There are hundreds (thousands!) of cards for every holiday, celebration, and life event imaginable. Every card option can be customized to fit your needs and budget. Whether you prefer a flat or folded card, one picture on the front or six, fancy paper or decorative edges, there are lots of options to choose from and you can add or edit most text on the card as well. Here are some of my favorite designs from the 2014 Christmas card collection:

bookofisaiahBook of Isaiah // source
This is one of my favorite Scriptures and it really incorporates the spirit and meaning of Christmas. This is also a wonderful pose idea for the kids, I love the use of a little red wagon!

aquarelleAquarelle No.2 // source
Sometimes, simplicity is best.

santaslittlehelpersSanta’s Little Helpers // source
What a fun and festive way to send holiday cheer to your friends and loved ones! This pose reminds me that pictures used on Christmas cards don’t necessarily have to be taken around the holidays. If your family goes on vacation every year and there is a spectacular photo where everyone looks great, use it on your Christmas or holiday card. This is also a cheaper alternative to hiring a photographer too!

brightchristmasBrightest Year Christmas // source
Awwww, what an adorable picture! I love the typography and bright colors too.

dottedborderDotted Border // source
Here is another example of using a photograph you already have and incorporating it on your Christmas or holiday card. By adding a greeting statement and decorative border, you have a unique card to send to family and friends. Small touches really add to the overall look and theme of your card.

silverliningSilver Linings // source
If you can’t decide which picture to put on the front of your holiday card, use them all! This is a great way to share multiple photos of your family, especially if you’ve invested in a portrait session with a professional photographer. You want to get your money’s worth!

FamilyYearInReviewFamily Year In Review // source
As a blogger, I love review-type posts and this card is perfect for sharing big (and small) events that have happened in the past year.

What are some of your family traditions during the holidays? Do you mail cards or have pictures taken as a family every year? Leave a comment below!