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We started a tradition of sending out Funny Family Holiday Cards each year.
It is a challenge to come up with a fun idea, but some how we make it happen. Eventually we will run out of ideas, but for now I will enjoy the fact that my kids used to hate the process and now look forward to it!
If you’ve never seen our family’s holiday cards, allow me to give you a little history. This is our 14th year doing funny holiday cards. Each year is different, but they are always a 5×7 folded card and have a funny photo on the front cover with our real family photo on the inside spread.
Our kids weren’t thrilled about participating for the first couple of years, but with appropriate bribery they turned into willing participants.
Now, they get a kick out of not only taking the funny photos, but love seeing people’s reactions when the cards are opened.
2010: the beginning
- This was our very first year doing a funny card. We had no idea it would turn into an annual tradition.
- My poor teenage stepson was not thrilled about wearing his festive holiday shirt.
- The kids were a little too young to take direction but we knew we wanted them to have very stoic expressions while looking in the same direction. How did we do it? We played Dora the Explorer on the laptop. They were completely oblivious to the fact that we were taking a photo.
- Our good friend took the (not weird) inside photo with his 200 mm f/2 lens. If you’re not familiar with photography equipment, this is the kind of lens that will make any photographer drool. See how creamy the background is? We took this photo in the field across the street from our house. The kids refused to look at the camera and smile so we resorted to tickling. Its one of my favorite photos and hangs as a 24×36 canvas off of my kitchen.
- Some people didn’t realize we were trying to be funny. They thought the cover photo was real. That made it extra funny.
After the first card went out, we got so many great responses that we decided we would do something funny every year. Then the real challenge began – trying to come up with a new idea each year!
2011: Matching outfits and selective color
- This was the year that I was VERY busy with portrait photography. The running theme in the photography community was that you could spot a “wannabe” photographer by their use of selective color. I’m guilty of that very same Photoshop hack myself from my very early days. I desaturated the outside photo and boosted the saturation of the blues.
- I also boosted the red saturation and colored back in the color of our lips.
- Matching white button down shirts were purchased from, and then returned to, Gap. I didn’t just say that, did I?
- The glasses enlarged my husband’s eyes, but I made them even bigger in photoshop to increase the “awkwardly creepy” factor.
- I actually paid a professional photographer money to take my photo back in the late ’90s. I was wearing jeans and socks in those photos and they were sadly similar to this photo.
2012: Floating heads
For this following year, we were lucky enough to have my stepson back in our family photo. You’ll notice the lighting on his face was completely different from ours. That’s because I took his picture outside in the open daylight on a summer day. Ours were taken months later in the garage with directional light. Oh well… at least we got him in this year’s photo!
- Just days before we took our funny photos, my daughter decided to cut her own bangs. Yeah. She cut them down to the scalp. Turns out it just made our card all that more funny.
- Yes, I photoshop’d a unibrow on my forehead.
- This is the only version of the card so far where our “good” photo was taken during the summer. I’m very anti-summer-photo in holiday cards, but my husband can’t stand it when I “wait til the last minute” to get the photo. Next year, we might just dress up like its cold outside when in fact its a 100 degree day in the middle of August.
- I could not stop laughing when I was taking the photos of my kids and my husband. The kids were only 4 and 5-years-old at the time and their expressions are priceless.
- If you’re completely creeped out by my husband’s floating head, we consider the card a success.
2013: White trash
This was our most memorable (in my opinion) and my most favorite card. I love both photos equally, but for completely different reasons.
- I borrowed my friend’s baby for the photo and I wasn’t really pregnant.
- We were technically trespassing and had to be super quick with the shot. I could tell the neighbors nearby wanted to tell us we were trespassing, but at the same time they were afraid to talk to us.
- This was taken on a clear day in December. I’m pretty sure the temperature was right around freezing.
- The cigarette hanging out of my mouth is real, however the lit up ash was photoshop’d. The merry xmas sign was completely digital and photoshop’d as well. You thought it was real, didn’t you? The shadow fooled you.
- I plan on turning our “white trash” photo into a big canvas that I will proudly hang on our wall. I’m especially proud of my daughter who has the unique skill of relaxing her eyes and letting them go lazy, or opposite-cross-eyed. Good girl. My son was super unhappy about having to put on those clothes I picked up from the Good Will, so his expression is genuine. Good boy.
2014: Snow globe
- Another photography trend was to take a cute styled photo of your kids and put them in a snowglobe. I just took it to the next level.
- I was sporting another great unibrow paired with some heavy blue eye shadow.
- I hiked my jeans up as far as I could, but brought them up even higher and slightly enhanced the camel-toe effect in photoshop. Apologies if that was too much information.
- I waited until the last minute to get our “good” photo for the inside of the card and it was downright freezing outside. We had the camera on the tripod and all the while I thought my kids were smiling and looking cute, they were making faces in EVERY. SINGLE. PHOTO. I went with it and ended up loving the photo.
- Again, if you’re completely creeped out by my husband, we consider the card a success.
2015: Scout family
- None of us are involved in the scouts. Our attire was completely borrowed from friends.
- I happened to have the box of Samoas stashed away in my freezer. For the photo, we melted one in our hands and spread it all over my daughter’s face. She completed the look by doing her famous “lazy eye” expression.
- We had originally planned a much more inappropriate and offensive version of this photo but decided to go with the tamer version. If you’d like details, just message me. It had to do with the sausage-on-a-stick placement, if you were wondering.
- The fire and the tent are completely photoshop’d.
- The inside photo was taken at my favorite tree farm just a couple miles from our house. Reason #67 why I love living in Oregon.
2016: Presidential election
During this year, the cards went out two months early for a very special election edition!!! That means they were received before the 2016 presidential election vote.
I couldn’t help myself. I just couldn’t.
Don’t I look good? After the way I’ve looked on the cover of the 2010-2015 cards, I figured I deserved a proper Melania-makeover. And simply because I couldn’t resist, the back of the card had a very special tweet from the @realDonaldTrump, himself:
- Whether you’re incredibly passionate about politics or you don’t really care, and no matter who you voted for – you gotta admit this was funny. I had to get my holiday cards out by November 8th. My hope was that by Christmas the election would have been be purposefully purged from everyone’s mind. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
- I now know what I would look like if I lost 40 pounds. My biggest concern, however, would be falling over with legs that thin. I don’t now how skinny girls have the confidence to walk – in high heels nonetheless!
- The only new photo I took was of my daughter. My photo was from a series of photos I took a few years back. Its pretty much the photo I use for everything. My son’s photo was from the pumpkin patch and entire year ago. He was not interested in having his photo taken at the time, hence the expression. My husband’s face is from the series of photos we took from the 2012 card. I could have easily taken another picture of him for this card, but I avoid having to look at him with a mustache, thick glasses, and his lazy eye expression at all costs. The fact that I didn’t have to experience that again this year was a bonus!
- Donald – please don’t sue me.
- Yes – our card was based on an actual Trump family photo. I found that half the people I gave the card to didn’t realize my funny photo was adapted from an actual real photo. When my kids saw the original they asked three questions: 1. Why does that little boy look so sad? 2. Why is her dress blowing in the wind? 3. Are those toy limos? The original photo is below:
2017 – Baby Jesus
- I’m still in shock that my son was willing to lay on a bale of hay and be our baby jesus.
- Fortunately my stepson was in town so he made it into this year’s card along with all of our newly acquired chickens and goats. I’m a farm girl now, if you didn’t know.
- We took the photo in our barn. I tried to make it look like a painting. That warm ray of light shining on baby Jesus was created in Photoshop. Had it occurred naturally, our card would have been even more epic.
- We borrowed the clothes from our old Catholic school and they freakin’ loved the card.
- Of our four goats, Poopers made it onto the cover photo. Everyone loves Poopers.
2018: Napolean Dynamite
I really struggled to come up with an idea for this year’s card. My husband has threatened in the past to scrap the whole thing if the photos weren’t taken by September (he hates it when I procrastinate, and I ALWAYS procrastinate). Anyway, in true fashion I waited ’til the last minute but it all came together in the end.
- If you don’t understand this year’s card, please OH please watch… no… experience the movie.
- For all you die hard fans out there, I know “EAT THE FOOD TINA!” involves a brown llama, but our old-inherited-goat-who-will-live-forever is seriously named Tina after the movie. People ask how I got her to do that. The answer is easy. Place any kind of food in front of her and she’ll nearly strangle herself to get it. There was a banana peel in my ladel.
- They sell retro caboodles at Target. You want one now. I know it.
- My husband’s facial hair used to be black but now it’s grey, so I had to darken it with eye liner. Because he likes to be creepy, he wore it like that the rest of the day. Because my son takes after his father, he wore his mustache all day too.
- I really regret not holding a bag of tots.
2019: Goth Family
- The whole Gothic/Punk family photo had been in my head as a potential funny card idea for quite some time, but it took a few years to pull the trigger. Of course, dad had to be his same dorky creepy self.
- My son wasn’t thrilled about wearing his long underwear in the photo, but like every year, he played along.
- We didn’t own black shoes for the kids, so photoshop helped.
- We had some photos where dad was standing or sitting next to Santa, but ultimately the lap photo made the cut.
- It’s hard to tell in the photo, but there were lots of (fake) facial piercings involved. I wasn’t a fan of seeing my daughter so grown up and naturally wild looking.
- We were able to take the photo at the Santa House. If you live in NW Oregon and there’s not a raging pandemic, this place is the absolute best! This guy used to be a mall Santa and has taken the highest levels of Santa training. They now open up their home, well actually Santa’s workshop on their property, and have the most amazing set up for kids to visit Santa. The experience, complete with Mrs. Clause and elves (usually volunteer HS kids looking for volunteer credit and to spread holiday cheer) is completely free but they do ask for food drive donations. They even have special accommodations for kids with sensory challenges as well as pet night – yes, we did ask if chickens were approved.
- We were fortunate enough to have my stepson visit in May of that year, so our good family photos were taken pretty early in the year.
2020: The Year That Was
How could we not do a 2020 themed card? By midyear, I knew our card had to encompass as much as I could fit in a 5×7″ space. I started keeping an excel sheet as things happened.
I was able to squeeze 15 nods to 2020 in that first image. Can you spot them all? Before you scroll down, take a look again and see if you can count all 15.
I’ll list them in what I think is the most to least obvious:
- Tiger King – Ah, it seems like a lifetime ago, but so many of us got sucked into the Tiger King mayhem right around first lockdown time. I had a hard time finding a full sized tiger and a sequence leopard print top, so I photoshopped one of my husband’s old creepy face pictures (circa 2012 Floating Heads card) onto the Tiger King’s body.
- RBG – how could I not portray my fabulous daughter as the Notorious RBG?
- Black Lives Matter – This was such an important movement and shift in our country’s culture, awareness, and beliefs that happened this year.
- I Voted – did you?
- USPS mailbox – Because the postal service was yet another story that rightfully dominated our news cycle.
- Toilet Paper – The Costco sized packs, at that? Raise your hand if you went to the store in March and you couldn’t find a single roll of TP? Well, I wanted to buy a big pack of Costco’s Kirkland brand for this photo but I happened to hit the store at the beginning of this third Covid wave and they only had Charmin!
- Clorox and Lysol – Anyone try to get your hands of some of this antibacterial antiviral liquid gold at the end of March? And when you finally saw it in the store it felt like you won the lottery?
- Face Mask – Not only have these been such a hot debate in our country, but they were super hard to find at first. Now every single online retailer has them. I’m fortunate enough to have a talented and generous neighbor who sewed a whole bunch and left them outside for people to take. It’s still my favorite mask. Who woulda thought we’d all have our favorite masks?!?
- Murder Hornet – Okay, they’re called Giant Asian Hornets and I hate referring to them as Murder Hornets, but that’s the term the public knows them as. Since I’m a beekeeper and these could potentially have a serious impact on the honeybee population, I have been closely watching the WA State Agriculture Scientists in their pursuit of these nasty little insects. #science
- Wine – This extra full glass is a nod to all of my fellow moms out there. You know who you are.
- Chromebook – If you’re familiar with online school, chances are you have one of these. It breaks my heart that my kids haven’t been in school with their friends and teachers since the middle of March. On the bright side, my kids can now type like 85 wpm, can figure out how to run a zoom meeting with breakout rooms, and are figuring out html code on their own by inspecting and modifying different websites. Has our year of Covid bred a whole new generation of programmers and/or hackers?
- “It Is What It Is” – the phrase made famous first by Trump, then Michelle Obama, then by every mom around the country when they had to say it over and over to their kids when trying to explain why they couldn’t do anything normal this year.
- Wildfires – Some people don’t see it right away, but the background on this card is a photo of the San Francisco Bay area during the devastating wild fires this year. If you live anywhere from Colorado to the West Coast, the extreme fires and hazardous smoke added a whole new level of 2020 to this never ending year.
- Fly on Head – It’s really hard to see, but the Tiger King, I mean my husband, has a fly on his head. This was in reference to Mike Pence during the Vice Presidential debate. How could I not?
- Coronavirus – Not everyone sees it at first because it’s such a festive decorative border, but if you couldn’t see it before, you can see it now.
2021: Hunting Family
- Not gonna lie. I hate hunting pictures. That’s why we had to do one.
- I am all for responsible hunting. I’m just not a fan of seeing people pose with the animal they just killed as I’m mindlessly scrolling through Facebook while drinking my morning coffee. You all know we’re not vegetarian, but if I had to kill my next meal I’m afraid I would have to be.
- If we had to kill an animal for our Christmas card, it had to be Rudolph, right? I even stole the red glowing nose from that creepy 1964 Christmas stop motion animated television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
- It was either going to be the flag print behind the text or something that said Merry Xmas, ‘Murica! I couldn’t resist.
- Those are all real guns but the ones the kids are holding are pellet guns. Did you notice I had one in my boot and my husband also had one in a holster? You can’t bag Santa’s main reindeer without a proper aresenal.
- The expression on my daughter’s face is genuine. She couldn’t stop cracking up at her dad.
- We took the nice photos on the inside in our neighbor’s backyard. It’s a place where we’ve created a lot of good memories over the past couple of years. Isn’t it gorgeous?
- I put the cover together by photographing my husband and daughter together in front of a white background; then we photographed me and my son separately. I put everything together in photoshop by using photos I found after searching “snowy background”, “Santa with reindeer”, “wavy American flag”, and “dead reindeer real”. I hope no one ever audits my internet search history.
- I felt completely validated after the cards were already printed and mailed when SNL did a skit about people’s Christmas Cards. “Merry Christmas from me and this animal I killed!”
2022: Chicken Lovers
- This isn’t too far from reality. We love our chickens. A lot.
- We have 27 chickens, but only featured the ones we could catch. They range from under a year to 6.5 years old.
- I wanted to be crazy cat people but we don’t have any cats. I thought about trying it out at a friend’s house who had a few cats where we could borrow more, but that neither sounded fun nor possible.
- Some of our chickens were in the actual photo with us, and some had their photos taken individually and photoshopped in later. Can you tell how many were in the actual photo? Featured in the picture (from left to right) are Lacey, Honey (or maybe that’s Wow-Wow), Cocoa, Gemma, #3, Cracker, Cracker again, Emma, Cheeks, Summer, Kylie, Coho, Emma again, Ella, and Coho again.
- Chickens poop. So much poop. Like, all the time. So we weren’t about to attempt this photo in the house. We moved a bench outside and took the photo with a blank wall behind us. We enlisted the help of chicken-wrangler friends. Then I magically transformed us in to a warm, cozy, Christmas setting that is not our actual house.
- My daughter has mastered the mascara-unibrow and my son has mastered the weird smile.
- “Merry Clucking Christmas” is funnier when said out loud.
2023: AI is scary AF
This year’s card is weird and must be explained.
2023 was the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It was the year we were introduced to ChatGPT. It was the year that, for a few bucks, you could put an app on your phone that transformed your photo into an entire array of 80s high school yearbook photos. It was the year that photoshop updated with some truly amazing AI advances.
So, my goal was to take our good family photo (the one on the inside of the card) and “enhance” it using Photoshop Generative AI.
What happened next scared (and shocked) the crap out of me. Little did I know how warped the results would be. It’s like it tapped into my deepest fears and nightmares. This, combined with all of AI’s dangerous potential, made me realize Artificial Intelligence is scary AF.
Here are a few examples of the prompts I gave photoshop and the result it gave me:
- “airplane pulling banner that says merry christmas” – Why is it spelled that way on the card? I spelled it correctly in my prompt. And did you notice the creepy little hand holding the banner? Nightmare.
- “troll” – I typed that in and that nightmare bunny is what showed up. Scary AF.
- “dwarf” – That deer with the three legs in front and one in the back. Nightmare.
- It completely missed the mark when I told it to change our appearance. “Add a big white afro” turned my son bald, “remove facial hair” on my husband just made his chin bigger, “add thick red long curly hair” gave my husband wispy thin blonde hair, and “pants” made my daughter’s legs disturbingly skinny. Why, AI, must you distort her legs like that? Can’t you just change the skirt to pants?
The front of this card turned out so warped that my daughter doesn’t even like to look at it.
My only regret, however, is that we didn’t get my husband in his signature creepy glasses with the goofy eyes.
What will be our funny holiday card next year?!?
Leave me a comment with some ideas! If it’s a good one, I’ll see it but probably won’t publish it to keep it private.