Last year for our family Christmas card we all wore Santa hats and beards. I doubt Sylvie would agree to wear a crazy hat this year so instead I bought a string of large retro Christmas lights, which I'll have the children wrap around their father. I might also throw in a few large plastic bulbs, so that it looks as if they're decorating him like a tree. I think I'll dress everyone simply, in white shirts and jeans. If the light's right, we'll try to get it done tomorrow. I'm sure I saw this concept on someone else's Christmas card a few years ago and I know Oprah and Ellen did it for the Christmas cover of O last year:
I'll post photos as soon as we get it done.
While looking for family Christmas card ideas, I came across a lot of fun ones so I thought I'd share them with you. I can't post the photos here but flickr member poppy smiles, a professional photographer in Australia, has done some really great cards with her family. My favourite -- and my backup idea for this year -- is this one, in which each member of her adorable family poses with a giant transparent red heart-shaped lollipop. The caption says "Have a sweet Christmas!" Of course you could use that caption with any photos of your family members chowing down on anything particularly yummy and Christmassy. And if the treat isn't a particularly tidy one, caption the photo with "Messy... we mean Merry Christmas!" Poppy smiles' family did the Santa hats one year too, and last year they got really inventive -- they made giant heads for themselves out of enormous photographs, unless I am wrong and it was all done by Photoshop. But I don't think it was. The caption for that one? "Have a seriously BIG Merry Christmas."
If you have an infant or toddler with sleep issues, you might try doing your own version of this one, featuring a wild-eyed newborn in a red cap under the caption "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good sleepless night!" Unless of course you're lucky and your newborn is a sleeper. Then just use a photo of him or her fast asleep and caption it "Peace on Earth." If you have little ones who are difficult to photograph -- and sometimes just taking a photo is a giant project in itself -- use one of them crying or fighting and caption it "Peace on Earth?" We had a moment like that earlier today, when Sylvie broke out into shrieks of terror when we tried to get her to sit on Santa's lap at the mall.
My second backup plan is to do something like this:
Sorry for the ridiculously small image -- that's a Martha Stewart idea and it consists of three photos of a child in red- striped pajamas spelling out the letters J O Y. I'd do this one in a heartbeat if Sylvie were more biddable. A variation of this one would be to have each family member hold one of those large wooden letters to spell out a holiday message like JOY, PEACE, etc. If you're a crafty bunch, why not spend the afternoon decorating those letters with paint or decoupage first? Or, if you happen to live in New York City or in another city with one of those iconic LOVE sculptures by Robert Indiana, why not take your family Christmas photo in front of it? There was one of those in Singapore, where we once lived, and apparently they can be found all over the world.
Both Martha Stewart and Family Fun magazine suggest helping your children to make decoupaged cards with cut-out photos of family members' faces glued onto cards and then given bodies and "dressed" in leftover wrapping paper or felt. I'm also fond of the idea of affixing your family members' heads to vintage paper dolls or into vintage-y Christmas card scenarios, such as Norman Rockwell images or the nativity scene. You can do this by hand or in Photoshop. You could insert your children's faces into Victorian Children Paper Dolls or the whole family's faces into American Family of the Colonial Era Paper Dolls (or into any one of the vast number of period family paper dolls from the pilgrims through to the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s.)
Family Fun provides instructions for a card that features a snowman whose face becomes the face of each member of the family as you pull out a photo strip. This could be adapted in many ways, of course -- your faces could replace Santa's, an elf's, or an angel's. Or your family could come popping out of a present (I'd do that one vertically instead of horizontally). You could also have your children design something like a gingerbread house and have each family member peeking out of windows, the door, the chimney. You could even include flaps for those among us, like my one-year-old Sylvie, who love lift-the-flap books.
If you'd like the cards to be handmade and to be personal to your family in some way but don't really want to bother with photos at all, consider making Christmas hand, foot, or thumb print cards with your kids. The Crafty Crow has a great round-up of these crafts that would make good cards: make Santa's beard out of a white handprint or an entire Christmas tree out of a number of green ones. A footprint can be turned into a snowman, a reindeer or a penguin. Brown thumbprints can become the faces of reindeer. White thumbprints can be made into snowmen. Two red ones, tilted toward each other at the bottom, make hearts. Green ones can make a wreath or a Christmas tree, adorned with yellow ones for lights or red ones for berries. The possibilities are almost endless.
For more inspiration, be sure to check out Merry Christmas From: 150 Christmas Cards You Wish You'd Received. It's a collection of really original Christmas cards and many could be adapted for family projects. Here is the author's flickr stream of her own family Christmas cards. And she has also chosen a large number of favourite Christmas cards from other flickr members.