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Everything you need to know about creating the perfect family holiday card

Every year, right around this time, a creeping feeling of dread starts to wash over me. Because it's time for... the family Christmas card.

Everything you need to know about creating the perfect family holiday card

I really, really love the holidays. I love Christmas trees. I love Christmas cookies. I love presents, and decorating my house and watching Christmas movies snuggled up on the couch with my family. I love Christmas music. (Like, reeeeeally love. It's sort of an issue.)

But, mamas, I have a confession to make.

Every year, right around this time, a creeping feeling of dread starts to wash over me. Because it's time for... the family Christmas card.

And so begin my questions. So. Many. Questions.

Will we use a photo with just my son, or will the whole family be in it?

What is everyone going to wear?

Should we take the photo outside, or would inside look better?

Should we go with something staged, or more candid?

How do you even take a decent photo of a never-stops-moving three-year-old?

Where am I going to order the cards from—eek there are so many choices—and how will I even find the time to send them out, anyway?

Take a deep breath, mamas, and stress no more.

It's Christmas Cards 101, and we're here to answer your questions, share our time-saving ideas, and take the stress out of this year's holiday card. You've got this, mama!

How to snap the perfect Christmas card picture

Location, location, location... when choosing a spot for the perfect family photo, make sure to pick a place you know your family either loves, or will feel super comfortable in. This will help everyone look—and feel—completely in their element.

Outdoor locations are perfect for natural light and beautiful settings. Whether you're indoors or outdoors, you'll want to pay attention to light—it's the most important part of getting a good photo. Remember:

  • If you're taking a picture outside, it's best to do when the light is low—so sunrise or sunset are ideal times to catch that golden glow.
  • An overcast day is also perfect for photos; you can snap a good one pretty much any time of day.
  • For indoor photos, try taking them close to a window or any other natural light source you might have.

Capturing kids on the move can be another challenge. Here are our top tips:

  • More is more! When it comes to photos, the more you take, the better chance you have of snapping that gem.
  • If you're taking photos yourself, we recommend using a tripod and putting your camera on the continuous shot setting. This will take multiple shots so you have a better chance of catching your kiddos in action!
  • Use a camera remote hidden in your hand (or even give it to a child—they'll be enthralled!) to take multiple photos.

If all of this is just too much for you to think about this holiday season, check out local photographers in your area. Many offer mini sessions around the holidays that are short, sweet and less expensive.

What to wear (and what not to) for Christmas card pictures

Deciding what to wear can be a major stressor when it comes to family photos. Here are some basic rules to follow to help you figure it all out:

  • For family photos, it's always best to coordinate, not match.
  • Plan your outfits ahead of time and lay them out next to each other so you can see how they all work together.
  • Keep it classic and simple; too much pattern can be distracting in a photo. If you do want to include some pattern, it's best to have the majority of the people in the photo in solids and the minority in pattern.
  • Stay away from anything with thin stripes, as they tend to photograph strangely.

If you're looking for a more formal pic, we love these pieces from Janie and Jack. It features coordinating looks for mamas and kiddos, and all the pieces play perfectly off each other without looking overly matching.

You can mix and match formal styles, too

Or opt for pajama sets for a more cozy photo

Holiday cards we adore

There are so many templates to choose from, so we've narrowed down our favorite sites for ordering your cards.

If you're looking to save time (because, duh), lots of sites offer the option to upload an address spreadsheet for pre-printed envelopes. It's a bit of a splurge, but we can't recommend this enough. Take the time this year to create a master spreadsheet, then quickly update and upload it each year and let your site of choice address your cards. When they arrive, all you'll need to do is pop a stamp on them and send them on their way.

Minted


Minted is one of our favorites for its huge ranges of designs and gorgeous foil options for a little sparkle.

SHOP CARDS


Go forth and snap those beautiful family pics, mamas! We can't wait to see what you create this season.

Many thanks and a special Motherly shout-out to Anne Hill, Motherly's very own Creative Editor, supermom and master photographer, for the photo tips!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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