Smile! It’s December
If you’re the type of lady who concepts her annual holiday family photo card in August, impeccably times a photo shoot to correspond with peek foliage in October and orders her cards on Cyber Monday to arrive in my mailbox by December 1 - here's a Christmas cookie. Thank you Momma, every year, for reminding me of your address.
This post is for the rest of us.
For most moms, it's not ordering the holiday card that's tricky - it’s the staging, styling and snapping that renders us frozen. Our very value as a post millennial mother is at stake! This annual picture is an indicator of our organizational skills, ability to schedule and execute and the aesthetic value we place on foil overlay and card stock.
Oh and don't forget - IT HAS TO BE CUTE.
Here's a pro tip from a #busyAF working mom - if the outside looks put together, no one questions what's going on behind the scenes. I give you permission to tell your kids the shelf elf retired, buy all their presents on Christmas Even and wrap them in birthday paper.
Just promise me you’ll use this easy to execute photo styling formula to take an actual holiday picture, K?
Your Cutest Holiday Card Ever in 5 Steps
The best part of this 5 step photo styling formula is that it works with any type of family photo, regardless of season. Only one key element is critical - like everything else in the house - the entire look is hinged on mom.
Step 1: Print Dress for Mom
First things first, pick a dress with an interesting seasonal print to act as the focal point. I chose this amazing floral brocade Alice & Olivia dress I found on ThredUp.com for only $85 (new with tags!).
Step 2: Extract a Palette
Isolate 3-4 colors from your dress design to inform the overall look. Don’t think too hard about matching each color EXACTLY. You’ll drive yourself crazy, trust me.
Step 3: Solid Sweater for Dad
For the man of the house, find a solid sweater in a color from your palette. To add visual texture, layer the sweater over a collared dress shirt in a micro print (in a color from the palette) like gingham or stripes. Pair with dark denim, corduroy or a dress pant in a neutral color like stone or navy blue.
Step 4: Pick a 2nd Print for Kid #1
Next up - kids! For the sake of order, start with your eldest and then alternate between Step 4 and Step 5 depending on number of children.
Put Kid #1 in a 2nd print in a color from your palette that harmonizes with the print of your dress.
Print mixing is notoriously challenging so play it safe - a Fair Isle print sweater for boy or sweater dress for girl is fool proof and a holiday classic. After I landed on my dress, I searched ThredUp.com for “Boys print sweater, red, size 8” and landed on this zip cardigan by Peek for only $18! Also, new with tags. To anchor AJ’s look and coordinate with his dad, I bought them matching navy blue cords.
Step 5: Go Solid for Kid #2
For kid #2 (and #4, #6...) go with a solid garment in the same dominate color as the print on kid #1. In this case, Ashby is wearing a sweet little Children’s Place ruffle hem jumper I found on ThredUp.com for only $12. If you look really closely you’ll see there are very tiny white polka dots on the dress. Notice how you can’t really see the dots in the picture? Remember that when you overthink this step. Keep it simple with a solid.
All Together Now
After you’ve selected the main wardrobe have fun with texture and accessories. Details like Ashby’s star print headband, furry vest (H&M, also from ThredUp.com for $18) and red velvet bow shoes and my metallic Kendra Scott earrings add depth and visual interest.
Good luck getting your kids to look at the camera at the same time!
Second Hand Clothes, First Hand Fun
For my third annual Tiny Closet Holiday Inspiration Guide it was very important to me that I partner with a fashion retailer that shared my Tiny Closet values - you don’t need ALL THE CLOTHES to be very, very stylish. You need a well considered assortment of the right clothes - clothes that fit your body, your look and your lifestyle. The rest must go.
I ruthlessly edit the closets of high earning professional women for a living. I know firsthand the retail value and condition of the garments we purge. Most are in perfect condition and many still have tags. These are great clothes - expensive clothes! They just aren’t great for her.
I am also intimately aware of the value of the time it takes me to donate, consign or re-home those perfectly good clothes. It doesn’t add up. That’s why I love both ends of the ThredUp.com business model. It’s ridiculously simple to order and fill up one of their signature CleanOut Kits. After you fill up the pre-paid shipping bag with your perfectly good clothes, leave it on your doorstep for your mail carrier or drop it off at the post office or FedEx. Once your items sell you’ll earn cash or credit towards the purchase of other women’s perfectly good purged clothes - for a fraction of the retail price.
ThredUp.com was generous enough to extend a credit which I used for nearly all of the garments featured in this photo and in my annual Tiny Closet Holiday Inspiration Guide. I was floored by their selection of new or barely worn designer clothes - for pennies! Before you consider buying anything at retail (especially for kids!) search for something similar on ThredUp.com first and use my code JENNMAPP25 for 25% off your first purchase on any garment up to $50.
Be the Bright and Happy Holidays
PS: If you want me to style your family photo - or help you conquer closet chaos a curate a forever wardrobe you can rely on for decades - schedule a free :30 Tiny Closet consult call with me.