The holiday season is full of Kodak moments. There’s the perfectly color-coordinated family card. Pics of the kids visiting winter wonderlands, holiday markets, extended relatives, and the Big Guy in red. Dozens where they’re tearing into presents, quickly followed by shots of them beaming alongside their haul. You stand behind the camera. Snap, snap, snap. Honestly, they should offer photography lessons as part of those what-to-expect baby classes (not to mention letting people know about the Tinybeans App for organizing and sharing all those sweet images).
But beyond the traditional photo ops, there are plenty more precious moments you should capture for your family album. I’m talking about the best images—the ones that show the quirks and real beauty of your family. One day you’ll see them and remember your kids as they were, not who people expected them to be. So this year, seek out the real holiday magic. Here’s a list to get you started!
1. Kids happily collapsed on the couch or in a car seat
After dinner, after presents, and after family parties, there are a few moments of magical stillness. The kids have eaten. The kids have run around. Excitement has drifted into quiet.
Yes, the high-octane moments are awesome. But there’s something extra special about this sudden, blissful hush. That feeling of: We did it, we’re tired, we packed a lot of life into a short time, and now we’re going to sleep it off. That’s what you want to remember right before the quiet explodes into an exhausted tantrum.
2. Siblings secretly getting along
It happens when you’re least expecting it. They’re baking cookies or opening presents or adding batteries to the newest blinking, shouting toy. Suddenly, your oldest is helping the youngest, or your toddler is excitedly explaining Santa to his woefully uneducated baby sister. They’re not teasing each other, shouting “mine!” or rolling their eyes. Snap it quickly: They’ll start battling over their new Furby in two minutes.
3. Action shots instead of finished products
The fun of cookies and crafting isn’t in the final designs, though we never turn down an unhinged-looking gingerbread man. It’s all about the doing—the tiny mountains of glitter all over your kitchen table, the flour caking your kid’s hands, the icing on their face. So go ahead and snap pics of those treats when they’re finished, but don’t forget the messy moments that got you there. One day (long after you’ve cleaned up the kidsplosion), you’ll love them.
4. Grandparents deep in discussion (or toys) with grandkids
Those posed photos of kids on Grandpa’s lap? They’re cute. But if your father-in-law is anything like mine, his forced grin is more terrifying than sweet. And if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be squirming to get away. Rather than make everyone stop what they’re doing to slap on a smile, keep a lookout for that moment when a grandparent leans in to make the kids giggle or plops down on the floor to play or holds out a forkful of pie. Capture that instead.
5. Kids giving gifts—not just opening them
We all love the tearing-into-gift photos. Wrapping paper flies. Grins can’t be contained. Bows are stuck on people’s heads. But there’s a slight variation you should add to your shot list for the family album: your kids giving presents instead of getting them. Remember waiting for your dad to open the gift you made just for him and how excited you were?! Even if your little one is just helping hand out presents to other family members, snap those generous gestures. The giftee(s) will be glad you did.
6. Family photo session outtakes
All those posed photos? Adorable. The ones of kids making faces or unintentionally being weirdos? Better, because they capture the silliness and imperfections of those we love most. My relatives all agree that our best Christmas card ever—which my mother puts up every year—is the one that reads “Ho-Ho-No!” and features our eldest son (back when he was a baby) losing it on Saint Nick. I still feel twinges of guilt about that one, but it’s real. I like it better than all those smiling portraits, because it’s us.
7. A photo with you in it
While we all love that jolly fellow, Santa isn’t the source of Christmas magic. Moms are the do-it-all elves who make the holidays happen. So hand over the camera phone to someone else for a change. You deserve pictures with your kids. One day, they’ll want them. One day, so will you.
So much of this season is a whirlwind—which is why it just makes sense to go with it. Rather than manufacture joy, capture the in-between times, the unplanned exchanges, and the laugh-so-hard-it-hurts moments. That beautiful mess? That’s the real spirit of the holidays.
Make sure to capture all these blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em moments—and share them with your family and friends near and far—with the Tinybeans app. The secure platform puts parents in total control of who sees and interacts with photos and videos of their kids and makes it easier than ever to turn them into a keepsake photo book.