Dreaming of Christmas

Ready to get into the holiday spirit?  If the answer is yes, then you are in the right place!

Holiday mini-sessions are a great way to introduce prospective new clients to your business, and to strengthen the connections you have with existing clients to make them come back to you year after year.

Many photographers opt to design a single background and prop setup, and then simply rotate the clients through this one set. This approach works especially well when your mini-session clients are mainly new to you, as they know exactly what it is that they are going to get.

However, as you build your client base over a few years, and you have repeat clients who know, love and trust your work, you will have the opportunity to get more creative with your holiday mini-sessions.  I am truly lucky that my clients trust me to create storytelling sessions that not only evoke the traditional Christmas feelings of peace, love, and joy, but are also filled with magic, humour and whimsy.

Holiday Mini Session Ideas for Photographers - from The Milky Way

By using a variety of props and backgrounds, you can mix and match them to create unique images that feels fresh for each client, but has a cohesive feel across all your sessions.

If you want to learn exactly how I run my sessions, I’ve created a brand new class that does exactly that!
>> NEW!  Holiday Mini-Session Masterclass <<

And now on to some holiday mini-session inspiration!
First-off, you can never go wrong with the basics of a beautiful tree, gifts, and kids in pajamas!

holiday mini-sessions

Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Owl Be Home For Christmas)

christmas pajamas trees and gifts

Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Cozy Cabin (8×8 fabric))

h toys and Santa
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Warm Wishes Deluxe)

kids playing with toys under Christmas tree
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Cuddle Up for Christmas (Dark Mantel))

boy playing with toy plane under Christmas treeBackdrop: Baby Dream Backdrop (Santa Experience)

Another theme to delve into is to think about all the activities associated with the holidays – baking, gift wrapping, hot chocolate, letters to Santa, and the like. Then incorporate those activities into your setup!

kids doing Christmas baking
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrop (Cabin Kitchen (8×10))

Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrop (Cabin Kitchen (8×10))

writing letter to Santa
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Dreamer with Wall (8×10))

Don’t be scared of incorporating humour into your sets! It embraces the joyful spirit of Christmas, and will be a hit for families who likes a giggle with their holiday cards! Bring out the lumps of coal!

kids putting whoopie cushion under Santa
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Owl Be Home For Christmas)

Santa’s Workshop, with all his little elves hard at work making toys, is an adorable but easy theme to explore. A few elf hats and a bunch of toys are all you need to create this magical environment!

kids dressed as elves in Santa's workshop
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Santas Workshop)

Just because holiday mini-sessions are short, doesn’t mean you can’t cater to the personalities and interests of your clients, and create a session that reflects who they really are.

What better way to have them come back year after year!

Use a pre-session questionnaire to ask about their passions and interests, and you may just find a way to incorporate that into your setup.

kids with ice skates and Canadian flag

When you have a specific vision for a setup, especially if it involves something old-timey and nostalgic, it is probably worth investing in a few outfits for your clients to use.

Not many kids will have vintage nightgowns, suspenders and bowler hats in their regular clothing rotation! Etsy and your local thrift store are great resources!

kids with pointettias
Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrop (Holiday Toy Shoppe)

Backdrop: Baby Dream Backdrops (Country Winter View (8×8 fabric))

What about your littlest clients – the newborns and little babies that can’t sit up yet?

Be sure to have a setup that accommodates them, but most importantly, is safe.

Stay with simple, baby-led poses for the youngest ones, and double check that your props are sturdy and splinter-free. Having a spotter within arms reach is a non-negotiable, and if you have to do some Photoshop magic with composites, it is worth knowing that you never put any baby at risk of injury.

Not all holiday mini-session setups have to be elaborate! There is something to be said for creating stunning, classic portraits with a simple backdrop, and just a touch of decoration that make it festive.

For a fresh, clean and airy look to your holiday mini-sessions (which may fit your overall style better), consider choosing a lighter backdrop. The reds will totally pop!

holiday mini-sessions with light backdrop
Backdrop: Photo Prop Floors & Backdrops (Wood floor 607)

kids on bed at Christmas time
Backdrop: Photo Props Floors  and Backdrops (Vintage Headboard)

Some links to vendors used in the setups above:


Striped PJ’s for boys – search Etsy for “French pajamas”
Hunters plaid pajamas – Grammies Attic
Red small checked pajamasGrammies Attic
Plaid girls dressesGrammies Attic
Plain Girls’ NightgownsJoyful By Design For Kids on Etsy and Grammies Attic
Girls nightgowns (with red edge) – OLODesigns on Etsy
Striped knit onesies – Gap (few years ago)
Santa suit
– Amazon
Santa boots – Amazon
Red cape: Halloween costume
Cream knit romperGinger & Pickles Knits
Newborn Christmas outfitThe Knitting Bitty


Candle: Brass candle holder from second hand store with a ‘light bulb’ candle from Michaels (I then add in light using Photoshop)
Red lantern – home decor store
Assortment of tins: antique shops + home decor stores
Snow: Cotton batting, pulled apart (from craft section of department stores)
Flokati RugRugs USA in natural
Oil lamp – Antique store
Bowler hats – Amazon
Elf outfit – Halloween costume store
Burlap sack – Winners/Home Sense
Merry Christmas banner – Winners/Home Sense
String of lights – Canadian Tire
Brown wood floorIntuition Backgrounds (Nebraska)
Flower crowns – Michaels
“Ice”  – Clear Plexiglass with blue paper underneath
Leg lamp – Bed Bath & Beyond

Looking for even MORE holiday inspiration?
Get my FREE holiday inspiration guide!

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