The Holiday Family Portrait

family portrait

I miss The Cosby Show. It was funny, relevant, and presented fatherhood in a positive light. I looked forward to the holiday episodes because the Huxtables were always dressed impeccably  and prone to break out into a choreographed lip synch routine.

Although we rarely break out into song and dance during the holidays (except for an occasional Just Dance or karaoke challenge), my family likes to dress up for the holidays. Let me clarify that statement – I’m the one who likes my family to dress up.

Since I’ve had my own family, I’ve been trying to recreate the Huxtables’ holiday style. This year, I think I may have finally nailed it.

I managed to convince my family that our annual holiday family portrait needed to be a little more elegant than previous portraits. They all groaned and begged me not to make them dress like dorks. I assured them that they would not end up on the Awkward Family Photos website.

Last summer, I bought my daughter a nice denim dress and I recommended that she wear it for the photo.

“Do I have to?” she whined.

“Yes,” I said politely. “You have to.”

“Fine,” she said, “But I’m wearing my combat boots with it.”

“Whatevs,” I said.

“Stop talking like a teenager,” she said. “That’s not cool.”

I was smart enough to allow my wife to choose her own outfit. Although, I did buy my wife an outfit for Mother’s Day, I know my limitations when it comes to selecting women’s wear.

Selecting clothes for my sons was much easier. I ordered two cool outfits from Chasing Fireflies that matched their personalities.

My six year old son likes to wear athletic attire. I decided to get him a casual outfit – black & red argyle vest, white shirt, and jeans. My 10-year old son usually doesn’t mind dressing up so I bought him a mod suit and tie. However, getting him to wear the outfit was not an easy sell.

My wife had planned for him to wear the suit to church since we would be talking the photo immediately afterwards.

“No fair,” he said to my wife when he saw her outfit. “Why do you get to wear a T-shirt to church and I have to wear a suit?’

“First of all, I’m not wearing a T-shirt,” said my wife indignantly. “Secondly, you’re wearing a suit because your dad wants you to look nice for our family picture.”

He sighed and proceeded upstairs to change into his suit. However, I gave him a little reprieve from his perceived torture by allowing him to wear jeans and a rugby shirt to church because I didn’t want him to ruin his suit before photo time.

family portrait

Although I encountered some resistance, selecting the outfits was the easy part. Getting a decent photograph of the whole family was much more difficult.

Last year, we had our family portrait made at a professional studio because my in-laws wanted a portrait with our whole family. I thought it was a good idea plus they paid for it. Win-Win!

This year, I went the cheapskate route and decided to take the photo myself. I scouted a nice location by our front door which is beautifully adorned by a wreath my wife made, placed the camera on a tripod, and arranged my family in position.

After setting the timer and pressing the shutter, I only had 10 seconds to run to my spot and make sure that everyone else was ready for the photo. I lost count of the number of times I ran back and forth before I finally had a decent photo. My six year old son wouldn’t stop making funny faces and my 10 year old son kept saying poop to make his brother laugh. I’m sure Cliff Huxtable never had to deal with this.

Eventually, we finished our photo shoot. Everyone was worn out and ready to go inside to relax. Before my 10 year old son left, I showed him one of the photos I took of him.

“I look pretty cool,” he said. “You were right, Daddy. It is good to look fancy sometimes.”

Cliff would be proud.

Stay Strong,

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Join the conversation: Do you take an annual holiday family portrait? Share your experiences.

Disclosure: Chasing Fireflies provided the outfits for this articles. All opinions are my own.


About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at