The Art Of The Family Christmas Card

The Joaquins’ 2012 Christmas card | Christiaan Phleger photo

The Joaquins’ 2012 Christmas card | Christiaan Phleger photo

I don’t know who gets credit for turning the Christmas card into the ultimate family portrait, but I relish receiving photo cards every year from old friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers and business colleagues.

It’s a great way to see what they’ve been up to the past 12 months and how their family has grown or grown up. Granted, social media now keeps us connected year round with status updates and pictures. I’m still a huge fan of family photo cards, because I like seeing the various approaches to this holiday tradition.

Will they go with cute posed pictures of their children? Maybe a family photo in front of the Christmas tree? There’s always the collage option of places they’ve been and things they’ve done, or maybe a mix of milestone moments.

Last year, we got a jump by doing a shoot at the beach with our wedding photographer. Nevertheless, I still procrastinated the actual printing. Somehow I thought Santa’s elves would do it while I was sleeping or something because I waited until the hectic holidays were in full swing before getting it done.

In the past, we’ve enlisted the help of a friend and even snapped a picture in front of their tree, asked the waitress at our favorite waterfront restaurant to take a picture, grabbed a warm body who happened to be near enough to point and shoot, or relied on the trusty photo timer-and-run option.

There is an art to the photo card. Former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle always delivered a hilarious take on this holiday tradition. And you can count on the Kardashians, the epitome of excess, to deliver an over-the-top card.

Then there’s the infamous 2011 viral greeting from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayor Jorge Santini and his family. You may remember they chose to pose smiling behind a stuffed leopard attacking an antelope. Awkward!

Looking through past Christmas cards is like walking down Santa Claus Lane. I see one pre-children in front of our tree with our “first son,” our dog Pronto. Followed by our firstborn Kai’s first time in the snow. With the addition of our daughter Hana, our 2011 and 2012 cards were our first attempts to color coordinate the family wardrobe without looking too “matchy matchy.”

Maybe I’m making too much of this card. Or maybe I’m just defensive because I’m usually the one who blinks and blows the family photo. Now my children are at that stage when they rebel by making funny faces, so it’s even tougher to get it picture perfect. True, it’s the thought that counts, but now that I’ve dissected this tradition, I’ve upped the ante.

Don’t worry though. No antelopes will be harmed in the making of our card.