2011 November 4

This is the time of year when parents start asking who is going to visit whom for Christmas. It’s a real snake pit: do you go to your own parents or instead stay with your boyfriend/girlfriend’s family? If you’re a senior, do you ask the kids to visit again, or admit that you’d rather stay with a friend/take a cruise/sit at home in your underwear and watch TV?

In any case, one feature of the holidays will be photos – the obligatory family picture that gets filed in the family album. What do you wear for the photo – and if you have little children, what should they wear?

1.    Begin by deciding on the basic theme of the photo – when it will be taken and does that mean it will be casual or dressy? If it’s over the dining table, take the photo at the beginning of the meal not the end, when gravy splashes and family bickering may have spoilt the tablecloth and the mood.
2.    Browse online to pick some colour themes: black and white look a bit like a funeral but festive red and green don’t suit everyone. If you can suggest a basic colour scheme to everybody who will be in the photo, it’s a nicer way of reminding them to dress up than just asking them to look smart! If your family are totally non-cooperative, ordering individually monogrammed Christmas polo shirts or hoodies for everyone can be one way to get them to look reasonable in the photo album!
3.    Remember that whether shopping or appearing in photos, children have short attention spans so get everything ready in advance, and rather than dragging them round the shops, put together some outfits online and then let them choose from the items you’ve already pre-selected: it’s a two minute job and nobody gets stressed.
4.    Get everybody to try on their clothes for the photo well in advance of the day, so that tears or stains, grubby collars or outgrown items can all be dealt with before they become a last-minute crisis.

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