Miriam Jenson, contributing writer, Miriam Jenson Photography

If you haven’t already, you are likely trying to plan for a family photo to go along with your Christmas card.

The most-asked question I get before family photo sessions is, “What should we wear?” Some families put off photos for years because “figuring out” what to wear seems too daunting.

Here is system I like to use to help clients decide what to wear:

Step 1: Think about where you will display the photos (hopefully not just on your Christmas card if you are investing in a full photo session). I am a big proponent of printing and displaying your photos. Not only do personal photos make your house feel like a home, they also reinforce family-first values.

So, where will you hang your photos? The clothing you choose to wear (and the location you choose to be photographed in) should look good in the area you want to display them in. Your enlarged prints don’t need to be “matchy” to your home décor, but, perhaps you could choose clothing that matches with a pop of color in the pillows on your sofa, or a vase you have in the room — or you may consider keeping your clothing neutral to blend in with any décor scheme.

Step 2: Choose your location. The setting will largely guide the style of clothing you should wear.

Step 3: Start with one person. If you think of it as putting together a puzzle, it is much easier to visualize the final image when you know what one piece looks like. I usually suggest starting with mom’s clothing because, if we are being honest, most women won’t display a photo they don’t feel beautiful in. Also, mom is, after all, the heart of the family, so make yourself look special and go from there.

Step 4: Choose your color scheme. Look at the outfit you chose for yourself and choose three or four colors to work with. Remember you want to coordinate, not match. I like to look through my kids’ closets to see what we already have that matches the piece I chose. Often, we will have most everything, and only have to purchase two or three things. (Tip: Think classic. These photos will become family treasures. Classic clothing will give the photo a timeless feel.)

Step 5: Add interest. As a general rule, don’t keep everything solid. You may want to include one or two (but not too many) patterned pieces to bring the scheme together, or, add jackets, scarves, necklaces, bows, beads, or even fun shoes to add interest. I suggest avoiding clothing with characters or words written on them; they can be distracting.

Most important: Remember why you’re doing it. The people in the photo are far more important than the clothing they are wearing. As much as you prepare and want your photo session to go perfectly, things happen and kids don’t always cooperate, so take a deep breathe, relax, and have fun. That’s when the real magic happens.