If you have not yet sent your holiday card, don’t worry. In this age of the digital image you can get a picture for it in no time flat.

If you have not yet sent your holiday card, don’t worry. In this age of the digital image you can get a picture for it in no time flat.


Herewith accordingly, six tips for getting the perfect snapshot:


Tip One, Three Parts:


a)      If babies and toddlers are involved, schedule the picture-taking before they get so tired they begin corkscrewing in your arms and turning their heads clear around on their necks like little owls.


b)     Watch too  for that melting-like-wax trick where they slide clean off your lap and onto the floor. Small children can go boneless at will, making it impossible to get them into a shoe or a snowsuit; impossible even to pick them up without enlisting the aid of a giant spatula.


c)       Also note that  babies and toddlers know how to make faces that can really sabotage your Holly-Jolly photo. Ask yourself: do you really want your little one giving the raspberry to 75 of your closest friends?


Tip Two: If your kids are anywhere under the age of seven, put mittens on them to keep their fingers from their nostrils.


We’re serious here. Just think how many school assemblies you have witnessed where the little ones at the edge of the stage began these digital explorations the minute the curtain goes up. Think how few plays and pageants you have attended where a tiny girl didn’t lift her skirt up over her head. 


Tip Three: Do include any family pets in the picture-taking session, even though at first this may seem like a recipe for mayhem.  Trust us when we say that your pets will bring a unique and zesty quality to your photo.


Why?


Because if it’s a canine, you’ll be patting it and holding it, causing it to offer a big old doggy grin that will lift the spirits of everyone who receives your card.


If it’s a feline, it will be making one of those dead-pan faces cats make where they seem to be saying,  “What happened to the good old days in Ancient Egypt, when we were looked on as divinities?“ 


Cats also wear an expression you often see in works by the Old Masters. Think of that one guy often seen in a painting who isn’t looking at the chief object of interest at all, but rather straight out at you, the viewer.


“This won’t end well,” his look says, which is exactly the look the cat has in the family picture. Hilarious!


The cat is  right too. Things probably won’t end well with your photo shoot, but that’s OK, that’s fine, because this  way you can pretend that your goal ALL ALONG was to send a madcap card.  


You might even consider putting jokey headgear on everyone, to perpetuate this fiction.


Antlers are a popular choice.


Tip Five: Examine the foreground. Soft drink cans and bottles: not so nice in the holiday picture. This is isn’t a young guy’s Facebook page, after all.  In the author’s  family the mother-figure insisted that even the ketchup be decanted. “No labels on the table!” she would boom. It's a good rule for the holiday card too.


Tip Six, even more crucial than Tip Five: Keep beer cans especially out of the picture. NO DRINKING BEER BEFORE TAKING THE HOLIDAY PICTURE.


Our advice, as professionals, in fact? Go right to the hard stuff, have everyone yell “Whiskey!” so they at least look like they’re smiling, pick a pose, order up the cards, send them off to the 75 friends and you are DONE for another year!


Contact Terry at terrymarotta@verizon.net or c/o Ravenscroft Press, P.O. Box 270 Winchester MA 01890, or by leaving a comment on her blog Exit Only at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com.