Have a Pawsitively Happy Holiday: Make Your Pet the Star of Your Christmas Card

Approximately three-quarters of all households in the U.S. own at least one pet. These pets become part of the family, so it's no surprise that many people decide to feature their pets on their annual Christmas cards. Even though Christmas is still several months away, the time to plan an eye-catching holiday photo is now, especially if you intend to order and mail paper cards. To get the best shot of your pet for this year's card, follow the tips below.

Jingle dog

Photo by Flickr user nightthree

1. Dress your pet in a costume.

Whether you are photographing a dog, cat or bird, plenty of adorable pet costumes are available to give your Christmas card a special touch. You can find costumes at pet stores, such as PetSmart, as well as from specialty costume retailers, such as Party City. Make sure that the costume you choose fits your pet well and matches the background you will use for the photograph. To add whimsy to the card, consider making your pet part of a Christmas scene, such as a Santa Claus delivering presents or a snowman in the yard. However, try to limit the scene to only a few props, as pets are likely to destroy elaborate scenes before you can get a decent picture.

2. Prepare your pet before the photo.

To get the best possible picture of your pet, make sure he is in a good mood before you take the photo. Try to schedule the photo for a time when your pet is usually awake and active. Feed him at his usual time, and take him to do his business shortly before the shot. Spend some time playing with him before you begin so that he won't be too restless while you're trying to take the picture.

3. Get a good shot.

Before the photo shoot, practice taking pictures of your pet at home, and give him a treat each time he sits still for a photo. If you will be traveling to a studio or department store on the day of the actual photo shoot, take your pet to the location a few days in advance to get him used to the sights, sounds and smells. On the day of the shoot, encourage your pet to look at the camera by making noises that usually get his attention, such as squeaking a toy or imitating a dog bark. However, avoid calling the pet's name, as this may cause him to come to you instead. Be sure to bring plenty of treats for your pet in case he needs an extra incentive.

4. Use high quality card materials.

If you are sending paper cards, be sure to use materials that do your pet's photo justice. One of the easiest ways to ensure that your cards are printed properly is to order from a professional service. For example, you can order Christmas cards from minted.com that are specifically designed to feature photos.

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