If you haven’t yet done your holiday card, it’s still not too late. In this age of the digital image you can get a picture for it in no time flat. Here’s all there is to it:
Tip One, if babies and toddlers are involved, schedule the picture-taking before they get so tired they begin corkscrewing in your arms and turning their heads clear around on their necks like little owls. (Watch for that melting-like-wax trick where they slide clean off your lap too. Small children can go boneless at will, making it impossible to get them into a shoe or a snowsuit or get them up off the floor without the aid of a giant spatula.
They also know how to make faces that can really sabotage your Holly-Jolly photo. Ask yourself: do you really want your little one giving the raspberry to 100 of your closest friends?
Tip Two: If your kids are anywhere under the age of seven, put mittens on them to keep their fingers from their nostrils. Think how many plays and pageants you’ve witnessed where the little ones at the edge of the stage began these digital explorations the minute the curtain goes up! Think how few you’ve been to where a tiny girl didn’t lift her skirt up over her head. See what I’m sayin’?
Tip Three: Do include your family pet in the picture-taking session, even though this may seem like a recipe for mayhem. It is not. Because if the pet is canine, you’ll be patting it and holding it, causing it to offer a big old doggy grin that will lift the spirits of everyone who receives your card. And if it’s feline, it is bound to be making one of those dead-pan faces cats make where they’re obviously saying, ‘Uh, what happened to the good old days when we were looked on as gods?’ Cats also wear an expression you often see in works by the Old Masters. Think of that one guy often seen in a painting who isn’t looking at the chief object of interest at all, but rather straight out at you, the viewer. ‘This won’t end well,’ his look says, which is exactly the look the cat has in the family picture. Hilarious!
Tip Four: the cat is right: Things won’t end well with your photo shoot, but that’s OK, that’s fine, because this way you can pretend that your goal ALL ALONG was to send a madcap card. You might even consider putting jokey headgear on everyone, to perpetuate this fiction. Antlers are a popular choice.
Tip Five: Examine the foreground of your picture. Soft drink can aren’t great in the holiday picture, friend; this isn’t a young guy’s Facebook page. In my family there was this rule that even ketchup and relish had to be decanted. “No labels on the table!” my mother would boom. It’s a good rule for the holiday card too.
Tip Six, even more crucial than Tip Five: Keep beer cans especially out of the picture and also NO DRINKING BEER BEFORE TAKING THE HOLIDAY PICTURE. My advice: go right to the hard stuff, have everyone yell “Whiskey!” so they at least look like they’re smiling, pick a pose, order up the cards, send them off to the 100 friends and you are done for another year!