(From Janet Shamlian, NBC News Correspondent)
The first few will arrive next week, right after Thanksgiving. Those early birds make me feel so unorganized! Opening greeting cards is one of my favorite parts of the holidays, because I love seeing pictures of everyone's children. What I dread is the process of getting our own photo taken.
Unlike many families, we've never had a vacation photo that worked.. so for the past few years I've entrusted the job to a neighborhood mom who works out of her garage studio, photographer Leticia London (www.leticialondon.com).
With all that's involved in getting everyone ready, it's always a stressful day for me. This year, there was a little added pressure as a Today Show crew documented the process for a story on holiday photos. WATCH VIDEO
With seven of us, it's an annual challenge to get a shot where everyone's looking happy AND looking at the camera.
As many of you may be preparing for the same drill, I polled parents and photographers for advice: what's the secret to getting a good photo? Suggestions ranged from making sure the kids are well rested and fed to dressing them in comfortable clothes to the old standby, offering a bribe. The other adult in our home suggests ramping down the mommy stress level would go a long way towards keeping the kids happy.
This year, it was a numbers game. Leticia just keep shooting. When it was all said and done, there was ONE where five children and two parents looked sufficiently happy, despite being dressed in holiday clothes at 7:30 in the morning on a recent Friday before school---the only time everyone could make it. Even more than me, I know my family is thankful this exercise comes but once a year.