Two years ago I gave you tips for your Christmas card photo — something that happens to be a passion of mine. Here, finally, is part two! This one’s not so much about how to stage your shot as about why.

For me, Christmas cards are more than a photo to send to family and friends. With all our digital images nowadays, photos aren’t always kept or printed. This makes Christmas cards a special opportunity to capture a moment in time, so in our house the same photo will be displayed on the wall or in a frame.

Just remember, it’s about the three Ms: moment, mood and message.


First, think about the moment you want to capture. As our 16-year-old daughter Nicki gets older, I’m looking for something different. Maybe you want to capture an occasion from the year or a shot from a family vacation.

Now for mood. What are you going for? Silly and fun? Bright and happy? Adventurous? Depending on what you want, you should determine setting — at home or on location? Also think about lighting — it’s easier to convey romance at twilight than at noon, for example.

An important part of capturing mood is movement. People will enjoy seeing your family sitting by a Christmas tree, but it’s even more interesting if you’re doing something. This sunset setting was serene, but dresses blowing in the wind add a dynamic sense, as do scenes of you and your loved ones walking, turning around, laughing or embracing.

Finally, message. Will you feature one word, a saying or a fun poem? Make sure the font you choose goes with your message.


For example, Darrell and I recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. That was the moment I wanted to preserve. It wasn’t important to see everyone’s faces, especially since inside the card I included scenes from our renewal ceremony and a close-up of Nicki.

The photo was backlit against a sunset and has an ethereal feel. I chose the message “Blessings” not only because that’s how we feel, but also because we wanted to send blessings to the people who receive this card. Inside is message from our celebration and on the back, a picture of our pet, which is always fun.

Remember, this once-a-year occasion is about more than the Christmas card you’ll be sending out. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your family.

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit And keep up with Cathy’s dream home makeover at her photo blog, Homefront.