10 Ridiculously Cute Holiday Pet Photo Ideas

By Trish Berrong on October 4th, 2022
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So you’re getting ready to send some holiday cards (we hope!). And of course pets are family. And of course you want to include the cutest possible pet pictures in your Christmas cards. And of course they stop being adorable the second you point a camera at their furry little faces.

But hey! It turns out Hallmark has photographers who spend entire days (weeks, even) taking pictures of puppies, kittens, bunnies—seriously, these folks can make a full-grown chicken look snuggly.

So we asked for some help, and they came through with inspiration and some holiday pet photo ideas as sweet as your furry friends.

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Pro tips for taking Christmas pictures with pets

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A few pet photography hints from our photo stylists (and even more here):

  • Avoid surprises. Let your pets get comfortable with camera equipment, props and festive outfits before you take the pictures.
  • There is no shame in bribery. Equip yourself with treats, squeaky things, wand toys—whatever it takes to get your pets to look at you and the camera. Offer rewards for good behaviour.
  • There is no shame, period. Be ready to make goofy noises that get your pet to do that “barrroooo?” thing with its head.
  • Settle in. Know that you may have to take approximately a gazillion and six photos to get the perfect one. Shoot in bursts or set your camera phone to “live” to capture every moment.
  • Get a helper. Have one person focus on the model and the other on the camera.

With those tips in mind, let’s get to the cute ideas.


Dogs with presents

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Wrap a “present”—really, just a box with good-smelling treats—in front of your best pal and see what happens.


Pets as presents

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Get a big box, wrap it with festive gift wrap and add an oversized bow. Then put your pet in the box. For dogs, this works best if they’re really young, really sleepy or reeeeally good at “sit…stay.” For cats, well, we all know how they feel about boxes.


Cats in wreaths

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Do cats really like to sit in circles? Time to add a holiday twist to this important scientific experiment.


Pets with strings of things

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Add a garland or light string for a little visual interest. (We know you know to keep an eye on them so nothing gets eaten/entangled/destroyed.)


Treats for who?

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Let your well-behaved pets get a whiff of the cookies and milk for Santa. (No drinking, though—unless you’re ready for the shoot to take a decidedly un-photogenic turn.) Better still, use cookies made for pets.


Pets staring at Christmas trees

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Put your pet on the floor and wiggle some off-camera branches or bells.


Fur-babies in bed

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If you can make this Christmas pet photo miracle happen, there is nothing cuter. Works best with sleepy puppies and kittens.


Baskets of cuteness

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Let your puppies and kittens get comfy in a basket. And don’t feel like they have to fit perfectly: Who doesn’t love a big dog in a tiny basket or a giant cat in an itty-bitty box?

Pro tip for getting pets to cooperate with props

It may help to let the real rulers of your household claim ownership of a box, blanket or basket a few days before your holiday pet photo shoot. Try putting something that already carries their special scent—a favourite blanket, pillow or toy—in, on or around your desired spot. Also: Be prepared for it to become a new favourite fixture.


Outfits and pet-cessories

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If you can get your pet to wear an outfit, you owe it to the planet to take a picture.


Cute Christmas combos

Of course, please feel free to mix and match these holiday pet photo ideas, like “Dog Wearing Hat in Basket” and “Accessorized Cat with Gift.”


Pro tips for using outfits in holiday pics with pets

We get it: Part of the joy of a Christmas card photo is the matching outfits. So let us give you a few pointers specific to playing dress up.

  • Safety first, always. Don’t limit your pet’s mobility, obstruct their vision or leave them unattended with costumes, accessories or props.
  • Pre-made is your pal. Store-bought Santa hats, antlers and sweaters have already been fitted and tested on pets. If you’re going to DIY an outfit, use soft materials that make noise.
  • Get everybody comfy. Try the costume on your pet repeatedly for short amounts of time. Praise them with treats so they associate wearing an elf costume with their favourite snack.
  • Don’t force it. If your sweet doggo or precious kitty isn’t into full-body costumes, try a festive collar or bandana for your holiday dog picture or let the props do the work for your Christmas kitten card pic.

One final pro-tip: Don’t forget the outtakes.

A super-adorable or sweetly awkward photo of furry family members in your Christmas card or shared on social is one of the best ways to remember the holiday season. We wish you the best luck in capturing the perfect moment.

Credits: Photography by Hallmark New Media Studio, with tips from stylist and expert dog rescuer Nicole C.