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10 Ridiculously Cute Holiday Pet Photo Ideas

A handsome Golden Retreiver poses for a photo while wearing a large red Christmas bow and sitting next to a pile of gifts wrapped in red and white patterned paper.

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. 

Inspired? Create and share by tagging @HallmarkStores.

A cocker spaniel in a Santa hat laying in front of a pile of gifts wrapped in red and white wrapping paper, and a downshift of a golden retriever sitting on a red and green plaid blanket in front of a Christmas tree as he looks up at the camera.

Pro tips for taking Christmas pictures with pets  

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 behavior. 
  • 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.

A Chow-Chow and a Yorkie puppy, each with their paws on a wrapped Christmas present.

Dogs with presents  

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

Two white West Highland Terriers stare out from a large, green gift-wrapped box with a giant red bow on it; a white Chihuahua mix pops his head up out of a red gift box with a lit Christmas tree in the background.

Pets as presents  

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.

Three seal point Siamese kittens sitting in the center of an evergreen wreath that's been laid on the floor.

Cats in wreaths  

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

A golden doodle sitting amid a tangled string of multi-color Christmas lights; a Maltese puppy sitting next to a red and white pom-pom garland.

Pets with strings of things  

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.) 

A kitten sitting next to a plate of cookies and a glass of milk that have been placed on the floor.

Treats for who?  

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.

Two kittens playing with Christmas ornaments as they dangle from tree branches.

Pets staring at Christmas trees  

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

A white kitten in a Santa hat sleeping belly up in a cozy basket; another kitten is tucked under the covers with a small Santa plush.

Fur-babies in bed  

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

Three kittens at the bottom of a basket lined with a red and white plaid blanket stare up at the camera, and two bulldog puppies in a basket made of woven red felt.

Baskets of cuteness  

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? 

A Golden Doodle wearing a reindeer antler headband lays on a cream-colored, chunky knit blanket; a long-haired orange cat wearing a tiny red cape with white fur trim.

Outfits and pet-cessories  

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.
  • Premade 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 favorite 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.