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9 Ways To Take A Better Family Christmas Photo This Year

2013 is the year to avoid an Awkward Family Photo submission. So use these tips to take a picture that you'll actually want to share.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

In the past you've had this:

Awkward Family Photos /

Or this:

Awkward Family Photos /

But this year you want cute photos like these:

Nikki James Photography / Maria Woodall /
J. Elizabeth Photography /
Emmy Pickering / Dr. Jillian Murphy /
Olive Juice Photography /
Jon Arnold /

Well, here are some tips!

1. Embrace the art of shaped bokeh.

Make your own pretty and blurred image without the help of Instagram. Instructions here.

2. But, smartphones can give you some excellent holiday snaps.

Lisa Bettany / Lifehacker /

Smartphones can be the key to some of your better holiday photos. To get rid of the awful combination of poor lighting and a shaky hand, use your headphones to click the photo. See why and check out other phone tips here.

3. Or just use Photoshop.

Lisa Edoff /
Lisa Edoff /

Directions here.

4. Incorporate a visible message.

Nikki James Photography / Maria Woodall /

Blogger Maria Woodall purchased these letters from Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft, and they double as holiday decoration in her home. More ideas here.

5. Pick a palette.

Kelly Crawford /

Keep the coordination without the matchy-matchy. More photo styling tips here.

6. Take the perfect picture with the Christmas tree.

Photo By Emilie /
Photo By Emilie /

Shutter speed is important to capturing a bright tree without blur. Learn more about it here.

7. DIY the backdrop.

Nicole Kavanaugh /
Nicole Kavanaugh /

If you don't want to do another Christmas tree photo this year, get creative with your own background. Ideas and tutorial here.

One Claire Day /

Chalkboard backgrounds are great personalized alternatives as well. Chalkboard paint tutorial here.

8. Use online tools for cool formatting.

Snapfish /
Snapfish /

Sites like Snapfish and Shutterfly are great for sharing photos online and through snail mail. In addition, these sites have templates that will bump up your presentation points.

9. Get some photobooth essentials.

Party Yep /
Oh Happy Day /

If you're going for a more silly approach, then get some color and props into the frame. Check out this tutorial for DIY props and here for printable versions.