Photo Prop Ideas for Christmas and Winter (15 useful ideas)

Thanksgiving is over, so now is the time to start thinking about Christmas!  More specifically, Christmas photos!  This is a popular season for family portraits.  Families have time off so they can actually get some festive Christmas photos.  But what are some good photo prop ideas for Christmas and winter to use for these shoots? 

I ask myself that every year, so my list of prop ideas continues to grow.  I compiled a list of photo prop ideas for Christmas and winter for you to use this year. 

  1. Christmas Lights
  2. Ornaments
  3. Gift Bows
  4. Cookies
  5. Bells  
  6. Candy Canes
  7. Snowflakes
  8. Stars
  9. Nativity Set
  10. Candles
  11. Lanterns
  12. Gifts
  13. Christmas Trees
  14. Books
  15. Blankets

Let’s look at each one in more details.

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Christmas Lights

This is an all-time favorite prop to use!  Christmas lights can be used in a variety of ways.  They can be behind your subject to create a beautiful backdrop, or in front to give off a flair.  Sometime the lights can be all around your subject, so get creative!

A fun technique to try with Christmas lights is bokeh.  Bokeh is when the lights appear as bright circles instead of distinctive lights.  In order to achieve the bokeh effect, you need to make sure your F-stop is low, so the lights become blurry.  To get the bokeh effect can take some practice, but it is so fun once you get the hang of it!

Ornaments

Ornaments are a very versatile option for props.  Use them in the background or foreground.  You can have your subject hold them, or have them scattered around on the ground.  Depending on what kind of effect you are going for will determine where you want to place them. 

Gift Bows

Gift bows can work in a variety of ways, but generally work best when the subject is interacting with them in some way.  This could mean wearing the bow or holding it.   If you are feeling really ambitious, you can create a backdrop with them.  Get a solid backdrop or tablecloth and start sticking bows to it.  This might be something to try if you are already planning on using the bows on gifts and want to have some fun beforehand. 

If you have small children, consider having them lay under the Christmas tree and put the bows on their head.  You can caption it “my greatest gifts” or something similar to get a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Cookies

This is one delicious prop!  A popular setup with cookies is to do a “cookies for santa” shoot.  Just know that those props won’t last long if any of your subjects are hungry. 😊

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Bells 

Silver Bells – not only a beautiful song but a great photo prop!  Especially if you can get a larger sized bell that will stand out in pictures.  If you have children you are taking pictures of, they will most likely love ringing that bell, and you might get some smiles out of them as well!

You can also get small, round, gold bells as well.  These usually work better if they are coupled with another prop.  For example, getting a candy cane and tying the bells around it.

Candy Canes

Speaking of candy canes, they make a great prop by themselves!  You can have your subject hold small ones, or you can get larger ones designed to go in the yard.  If you are feeling crafty, you can make makeshift candy canes using pool noodles and white electrical tape (tutorial to hopefully come soon). 

Snowflakes

Snowflakes make for a good prop for overall winter shots as well as Christmas photos.  You can use a variety of materials to make them: Coffee filters, cardstock, cardboard, and more.  Depending on how you want your scene to look, you can have huge snowflakes in the background or make them just a few inches big.

If you want to try adding some dimension to your shot, you can try hanging snowflakes off of the ceiling.  This way the flakes are around the subject keeps the scene from looking two dimensional.   You can also have the subject gaze up at the snowflakes to give them a different pose to do.

Stars

Stars are popular at my house!  My toddler loves the star shape.  So incorporating it into a photo shoot helps with his participation.  You can either buy star ornaments, or buy poster board and start having fun with the scissors.  If you are cutting out your own stars, it does help to have a stencil so that they all look uniform (I am terrible at free-handing stars).

Nativity Set

A nativity set can add such a special feeling to your photo.  Usually nativity sets are small, so it works better if they are in the foreground of the picture.  You can have the subject looking at it, or even focus in on the nativity and blur the subject. 

Candles

If your subjects are small children, make sure that the candles are either electric or not lit.  You don’t want them to accidently hurt themselves or knock it over!  However, there are so many electric candles these days that finding one isn’t too hard.

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Lanterns

I listed lanterns as a prop idea for fall, but they also work really well for winter as well.  You can add to your lantern to give it a more Christmas feel: Garland, bells, pine leaves, ribbon, and more.  Depending on how you want your scene to look will help determine the accessories you use.

Gifts

You can use Christmas gifts in several contexts, but usually surrounding the subject works the best.  You can use the gifts you are actually going to give out (get your money’s worth out of them!) or wrap up empty boxes.

If you want your gifts to all have a uniform look, try wrapping tissue boxes.  This will give your presents a symmetrical feel.  Plus, you won’t have to worry about someone peeking at their gift early.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees make for a great prop on many levels.  You can have it just as a stand-alone prop, or have your subject interact with it.  You can bring it to the foreground and shoot through the branches to give your photo some dimension to it. 

You can also couple the Christmas tree with most of the other props on this list.  There is a world of opportunity when it comes to photography and Christmas trees, so make sure to try different things!

Books

Books are a popular prop choice all season long.  Depending on the feel of your photo, you have a variety of options.  If your setup is more nostalgic and dated, go for older books with the thick spine.  If you are taking pictures of children, looks for children’s books to have them hold.  If you are wanting to incorporate faith into your image, consider using a Bible in your shot.

Blankets

Winter means getting cozy, and one way to get cozy is to snuggle under a soft blanket.  Blankets can be used in a variety of ways for pictures.  You can wrap them around your subject, have the subject sit on it, or even hang it up and use it as a backdrop!

Look for blankets that convey the season.  Plaid blankets are an especially good choice.  Also blankets that are super fluffy or warm looking.  Avoid anything that has too busy of a print, because that can distract from your subject.

Conclusion

There are a variety of Christmas photo prop ideas out there, these are just scratching the surface.

To recap the list of photo prop ideas for Christmas and winter:

  1. Christmas Lights
  2. Ornaments
  3. Gift Bows
  4. Cookies
  5. Bells 
  6. Candy Canes
  7. Snowflakes
  8. Stars
  9. Nativity Set
  10. Candles
  11. Lanterns
  12. Gifts
  13. Christmas Trees
  14. Books
  15. Blankets

If you enjoyed this post, please check out some of my other articles:

Halloween-Themed Props for Photos (13 Spooky Ideas)

Fall-Themed Photo Props (15 Unique Ideas)

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