The Great Big List of Christmas Prompts for Your Christmas Photo Shoots

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The Great Big List of Christmas Prompts for Your Christmas Photo Shoots

Christmas comes every year, and with it comes the fantastic opportunity for Christmas Photo Shoots.  Whether you’re a photographer taking clients or you’re shooting your own family or friends for your scrapbook, you’re probably looking for some Christmas card photo ideas.  You will love this great Christmas prompt list for your Christmas Shoot!

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Family prompts


The first and best place to begin your holiday photo shoot is at the family Christmas tree.  Of course, decorating the tree is a uniquely American tradition, and too few families have photos of their annual work of art with all of the details that go into it.  It seems that in my house, the holiday season is usually so busy, I have forgotten to take photos of some of the details over the years.

I’m a grandma now, so I hear lots of fun memories spilling out from my grown kids, but that’s no substitute for having photos of some of those small Christmas details. Capturing a series of images surrounding the family Christmas tree is one great way to commemorate the season and capture some of those details.  Try some of these prompts for your family or your next Christmas mini session.

  • Show me your favorite ornament!

Whether in the box or on the tree, capture tiny fingers pointing at a favorite ornament.  This shot will surely be a Christmas favorite in years to come.  These types of images are great for your Christmas card photo as well, especially if your kiddo isn’t cooperating for the Christmas family photo.  A montage of detailed pictures from your Christmas photoshoot makes a unique and memorable holiday card!

  • How High Can You Reach?

Have an adult or older sibling lift the smaller kids up to point at the highest ornament possible.

child pointing at tree for Christmas Photo Shoots

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  • Blow kisses to the Angel at the top of the tree

For many years we topped our Christmas tree with a Santa Clause who clung to the very highest spike of the tree.  He swung a light back and forth and was simply adorable.  Unfortunately, he stopped working several years ago and needed to be retired.  It was a sad day.  We never got a photo with that Santa, and I still regret that.  It is, after all, the small details of Christmas that we remember most.

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Making Your List

  • Write a letter to Santa

Next, give the kiddos some paper and crayons and ask them to write Santa a letter asking for their best gift or telling him their favorite Christmas treats.  You can give them a couple of writing prompts, such as:

  • How much do you love Santa?  Can you tell him that in your letter?
  • Draw Santa a picture of your family?
  • Tell Santa how you celebrate Christmas?
  • Can you write the words of your favorite Christmas Carol?

Be creative and enjoy allowing them the time to write their letter or story to Santa.  While the kids are busy doing some holiday writing, now is a great time to focus on some detail.  Be sure and get closeups of those tiny hands writing the note or coloring a picture for Santa.  Even better – watch for personal details like the kid with a small tongue poking out in concentration.  Be sure and take some shots from a low angle and take the picture from the kids’ eye level.

a Child in a Santa hat writing a letter to Santa in a Christmas shoot

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General Christmas Prompts for family Christmas Photo shoots

After getting specific shots of the family with the tree and writing letters to Santa, it’s time to get a few family group shots.  Get the family situated in front of the tree or on the sofa cuddled up in a cozy blanket, and ask some questions that will prompt some relaxed and natural smiles and laughter from the little ones.

  • How many elves do you think it will take to make your favorite toy?
  • How many times can you kiss your brother?
  • Can you tickle your sister and make her giggle?
  • What kind of cookies will you leave out for Santa?
  • What are you hoping Santa will bring you for Christmas?
  • Who can win the staring contest with Dad?

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Christmas Photo Ideas using Props

Another great tool that works great in holiday photo sessions is the use of props! Photography can be so much fun when adding a few props to your family session.  Think ahead by packing a few small props to use with your family session.  Or, if you’re taking photos of your family, look around your house for what you can use in your family photos.  These are fun ideas to get you thinking, but you can add some of your own prop ideas.  I would love to see what you use.  Be sure and share in my Facebook group.

PROP:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas book

What holiday season is complete without this book!?  Have mom and dad sit on the sofa or floor in front of the tree.  Place kids between them or on their laps, and have mom or dad read the book to everyone.  This pose works excellent for your own family pictures if you have a tripod and a remote trigger or an intervalometer.  Go ahead and take some photos in this pose, but then if the kids get wiggly, ask them:

  • Tell me how you’ll get Christmas back from The Grinch!
  • Are you having roast beast for your Christmas Dinner?  You’re NOT?  What are you eating?
  • What is the Grinch’s dog’s name?
  • Why do you think the Grinch is so grumpy?
Family reading a book together in front of a Christmas tree in a Christmas Photo Shoots

If you’d like to know a bit more about Dr. Seuss’s work, especially about the Grinch, check out Wikipedia’s page all about How the Grinch Stole Christmas HERE.

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PROP:  A ball of Christmas lights all tangled up.

Have a couple of people in the background decorating the tree.  Then place one person in front of the tree tangled up in some lights with the ball of lights next to them.  Next, you can have mom or dad hold up the lights and ask:

  • Who is going to untangle those lights to hang on your house (or tree)?
  • How long will it take dad to untangle those lights?

PROP:  Candy Canes

Candy canes are inexpensive and so festive.  You can use them in a million different ways.  Try some of these prompts:

  • How long can dad keep this candy cane on his nose?
  • Have a sword fight with your candy canes.
  • What flavor is your candy cane?
  • Can you use your candy cane to stir the hot cocoa?
a couple prompted to holding candy canes in a heart shape

PROP:  Family Dog

If your family has a dog, place a great big bow on the dog’s collar and have the family gather around him for hugs.  Everyone loves photos with their beloved family pet!

A family with their dog lined up in front of the Christmas Tree in a Christmas Photo Shoot

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PROP:  Photo of loved ones

The holiday season is a time of reflection, so what time is better than now to remember a loved one?  If you’re shooting client photos, you may want to ask them in advance about using a photo of a loved one so the family isn’t caught off guard during your shoot.  Loss is especially difficult at the holidays, and even more difficult if a family has recently lost a loved one.

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However, the family you’re photographing may truly cherish some Christmas pictures showing someone who is no longer with them.  Think of grandparents or infant loss. If the family you’re shooting is on board with this idea, have them prepare a scrapbook or a framed photo in advance, so it’s ready for your session.  Of course, if these photos may cause tears, you will want to wait until the end of your session and handle these images with care.  Some photo shoot ideas for incorporating a photo into the session:

  • Have the family sit together, looking at the scrapbook.  Take your photo from above, and focus on the fingers pointing at pictures on the page
  • Can you hold the photo together in front of you?  (focus on the framed picture with the couple in the background)
  • Can you give (the person in the photo) a kiss?  Have kiddos kiss the picture with mom and dad looking on

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Christmas prompts that work great outside!

If you are shooting in an outside setting where it’s cold and blustery, consider some of these prompts to help get those smiles rolling.

  • Stick out your tongues to try and catch the snowflakes! (If it’s not snowing, you may have to use some Photoshop magic)
  • Look up in the sky and tell me which direction you think Santa’s sleigh will come from when he comes to your house!
  • Who wants hot chocolate?  You can have a thermos of hot cocoa ready and have an impromptu cup of cocoa in the snow.  Remember to have those candy canes handy to stir the cocoa.
Kids drinking hot cocoa shot from above - in a Christmas photo shoot
  • How many Christmas lights do you think you have on your house?
  • Which is your favorite color of Christmas light?
  • Have you ever built a snowman?  Now is a great time to have the family sing along with some of Elsa’s favorite tunes.  A family sing-along is sure to give you some fantastic smiles!

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a small boy catching snowflakes on his tongue in a Christmas photo shoot

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Group prompts for a Christmas Photo Shoot

If you’re taking photos at a Christmas gathering and you find yourself taking festive photos with a large group of people, try some of these fun group prompts.  One of my favorite prompts, and very effective when working with a group, is to draw everyone’s attention to one person in the group by getting all of the people gathered together and then ask them a series of questions.  You’ll love the results of people laughing and looking at the star of the moment!

  • Who’s the most ticklish person in your family?
  • Who can eat the most Christmas Cookies?
  • Everyone Point at the craziest person at the Christmas party?
  • Who gets their shopping done earliest?
  • Who waits until the last minute to do their shopping?
  • Everyone look at the person who spent the most this year?
  • Who is the Grinch at Christmas?
  • Everyone say “Mele Kalikimaka!” (Merry Christmas in Hawaiian)
  • Everyone take a glass of champagne and let’s toast!

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A group of friends wearing Christmas hats toasting champage in a Christmas Photo Shoot

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Many photographers are scheduling family mini sessions for the holiday season.  Imagine how much fun a series of couples mini sessions would be!  And what a great idea for Christmas Cards!  Once you get your couples situated in your setting, try some of these fun prompts.

  • Rub noses gently. No kissing!
  • Kiss her on the forehead.
  • Look into each other’s eyes and think back to the first Christmas you spent together
  • Snuggle up and stick out your tongues to try and catch the snowflakes! (this prompt works best outside, of course, and if there are no real snowflakes, you may need to add some Photoshop magic).
  • Can you make reindeer noises in her ear?
  • In your sexiest voice, whisper all the toppings you would put on your gingerbread house in her ear.
  • If you had to choose between coffee and kisses – what would you choose?
  • Hang this candy cane on his nose and see how long he can hold it there.
  • Form these two candy canes into a heart and hold them far in front of you (focus on the candy canes and hands with the couple in the background swathed in creamy bokeh).

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A couple rubbing noses in front of the Christmas Tree

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Pink background with "Hip Grandma Merch" available on front

Wrapping it all up!

See what I did there? Hahaha! Now you have a great list of ideas to get you started with your Christmas Photo Shoots.  As you know, I love prompts and making this Christmas Prompt list was so much fun! If you’re a new photographer, trust me when I tell you that learning prompts instead of stiff poses is the way to go! But this list is just the beginning!  I’d love to see your creativity.  Please share your amazing photos on our Facebook Group HERE.  I can’t wait to see how you used these suggestions and build on them!

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Pin image of kids hands holding cups of hot cocoa shown from above in a Christmas photo shoot

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