So, the Monday after Halloween, my email inbox was full of Christmas shopping ads. And I thought, really?

Kind of ironic since I’ve been preparing for Christmas since July.

The reality is, Christmas is coming. And with November arrived and in full swing (yes, we’re five days in already!), it’s approaching much more quickly than I’d like. A quick glance at my calendar shows several things per week scheduled between now and Christmas. And I’m not talking about regular work or dentist appointment kind of things – we’re talking dinners, winter sports evaluations, and houseguest kind of things. It’s going to get really busy really fast.

If you’ve been with me composing your Christmas since July or September, you are already ahead of the upcoming rush and can laugh at the future (Proverbs 31:25) because you’ve robbed it of the harried rush and are already preparing to enjoy the Christmas season.

Today it is time to take one more step on the path to a Composed Christmas.

Christmas Pictures.

If you are one of those families who likes to include a picture of your growing family (growing in number or maturity), this week is a great time to snap those shots.

I know, you probably don’t have your Christmas tree up, or red and green matching pj’s purchases, or sparkly bows for the girls coordinated with plaid ties for the boys yet, but if we can break out of the need for red and green in the photo, we can take a huge chunk out of our Christmas preparations by taking non-Christmassy photos now.

You’ll have plenty of time to order the pictures and pick them up or have them delivered. Shutterfly has great offers from time to time, so take advantage of that! Right now they are offering 30 free photos (30FREEPRINTS) or free shipping on orders over $39 (SHIP39). I am not affiliated with Shutterfly in any way, I just like getting free pictures every year by using their coupons. And they are not the only online retailer who offers free photos. Google “free online photo coupons” and you’ll get quite a list. The point is, if you snap those pictures now, you’ll have time to order them at a discount and have them arrive in plenty of time for your Christmas Letter/Card mailing – which for us is the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Some ideas for non-Christmassy Christmas Photos:

Gather the kids in whatever they are wearing right now and keep it real – “This is how we look on Wednesdays!”

How We Look on Wednesdays

Next Sunday, in the rush to get out the door to church, grab a camera and have your kids pause by the rock wall in the driveway, or that bench under the tree, or in the church yard, and get a picture in their Sunday Best. If you do it at church, you can probably get some kind soul there to snap the picture so your whole family can be in the picture this year.

Sunday at the Rock Wall

Have each child dress in their sport uniform from this year – any sport they’ve played or danced – and get together for a “things we love to do” shot.

Dress everyone in gear from your family’s favorite pro- or college-ball team.

We take a picture every summer of our whole family in US Flag shirts. If you have a similar tradition, you can always use that photo. Boom! Done!

Flag Shirt Photo

Let each kid get one of their favorite things (car, stuffed bear, doll, football, tennis racket, guitar, swords…) and take a picture that reflects their current interests.

SMILE!

You could always go with a “candid camera” approach – just snap a picture sometime when all your kids are playing together. You know, in that moment right before a squabble breaks out at the Lego table? Pop into the playroom, focus the camera, and shout, “SMILE!” and see what you get! 🙂

Candid

Go through your photos from the last year and create a collage of moments for each child/family member. This allows you to include the piano recital, the team photo, that cute moment when your toddler was caught shoving the eighth gingerbread man in his mouth… maybe it’s not a group photo but a group-of-photos that best captures your family this year.

Collage

You can also schedule your family photo shoot with a professional photographer this week if that’s your preferred method. Just make sure you can get the pictures taken soon, before their rush begins, and that the pictures can be returned before Thanksgiving.

However you do it, grab camera and capture life – or at least preserve a moment you’d like to share. Then as life happens over the next several weeks, you aren’t looking for the “perfect moment,” you can enjoy the moments perfectly.

So grab a camera and get creative! I’d love to hear your ideas for Christmas Photos taken early.