Family Sessions, Christmas Mini Sessions

December 15, 2022

Studio Christmas Minis: The Vision & The Design

If there’s one thing I pour my heart and soul into each year, it’s my Christmas minis. And in this case, specifically my Studio Christmas Minis- From the Beginning. Creating life size sets is my jam. This story begins 13 years ago when my daughter was a baby. I would sew costumes for her to wear for every holiday. I set up backgrounds that I would make by hand and then photograph the scenes with her in them. The sets became more elaborate over time. My niece, nephew, and friends’ babies joined in for some of my photos.

This was long before I ever considered opening my own photography business. I just did it for fun. One of my favorites was a manger scene where “Mary” and “Joseph” were eating peppermint patties. Sometimes that was the only way to get toddlers to cooperate. Ha ha! And did you know that my mom’s tiny 10lb (real) toy poodle named, Alex, made a great reindeer pretending to pull Santa’s sleigh full of baby elves?

Creating Studio Christmas Minis for my clients

Fast forward to 2017, it was getting serious ;). I began to create bigger and more thoughtful sets that would work well for photography. I get so excited by all of the possibilities I can create each year for my clients, that I start the planning phase with sketches a year before building the sets. So while I’m editing photos for Christmas minis one year, I’ve probably already starting illustrating my design for the following year. I have to do it when the muse is upon me, and of course, that is usually amidst the Christmas season. When the ideas start entering my brain, I write them down. Then I will bookmark pages online that sell the items I will need to purchase.

I love receiving Holiday cards from my clients! It brings me joy to create unique scenes that I think look amazing on their cards. 🙂

Materials for Studio Christmas Minis: Where and when I purchase

A quick tip about purchasing items for Christmas: do it right after Christmas. That is another reason why I like to plan my designs a year in advance. I can take advantage of the 70% off sales on the days following Christmas and save quite a bit, which is very helpful when designing sets that can cost $1k+ for the materials, even with the sales.

Another note about the materials; I am always thinking outside the box. Sure, I buy Christmas items for my sets, but many of the objects are not related to Christmas. For example, in 2018 I bought a garden tomato cage to cover with plastered gauze to make a tree. In 2019, I used shiplap wallpaper as part of my wall and then saved it to use again in 2021 as floors in my Christmas fireplace set. In spring of 2022, I knew once giant Easter eggs became available, I would need to buy them so that I’d have them to make custom glittered gumdrops months later. I also used pool noodles and ribbons to make giant candy canes. If I can’t find something in the store, then I make it myself.

I also repurpose things. In 2022, I needed marshmallow seats, so I just didn’t attach the metal legs when I bought them. I wanted to make a cake, so I used a collapsible ottoman sturdy enough to hold 2 adults, and covered it with yarn and fabric “icing”. When I’m done, I can remove those details and either use the ottoman during my regular sessions throughout the year, or easily fold it up out of the way.

I like to be resourceful, so when I purchase something, not only do I look at price, but also whether or not I can reuse the item in my business. It is always nice when items don’t sit on a shelf forever. I definitely like to bring small items back into future sets in a different way. It works quite well.

Christmas Minis From the Beginning – Sets from 2017-2022

Let’s take a look at the sets I’ve created for Rebecca Leigh Photography. And then tell me in the comments, which one is your favorite. There are only 5 scenes because I didn’t host studio sessions in 2020. I’ve just finished photographing Christmas minis for 2022 and next Halloween, when you’re busy decorating with ghosts and pumpkins, I’m fully delved into Christmas again. I just skip Halloween every year and go straight to Christmas since I spend so much time on my Christmas sets!

2017 Winter Wonderland

Two boys sitting on a little sled with snowflakes falling from the ceiling and bokeh Christmas lights in the background. And a girl in a white tulle gown smiling

2018 Champagne Christmas

girl sitting in burgundy color dress in front of gold glitter cone trees and brown kraft paper gift boxes adorned with beautiful ribbons
A brother and sister sitting on a white velvet chaise lounge chair holding gifts wrapped in gold ribbon and a wall of champagne colored wreaths hanging by decorative ribbon

2019 Pajamas & Cookies

Three children making salt dough Christmas cookies in a room with shelves and a window with snow outside
Three children adding sprinkles to Christmas cookies and one boy using a gingerbread man shaped cookie cutter
boy and girl holding pretend Christmas cookies on a bed with windows on the wall and Santa's reindeer flying outside
Three children sitting on a white bedspread with a gingerbread man pillow

2021 Home for the Holidays

Three children sitting on a bench in front of a window and next to a Christmas tree
boy sitting on white armchair in front of beautiful white fireplace decorated with a garland and white stockings
And 3 children sitting on furry white rug in front of fireplace

2022 A Sweet Christmas

Boy looking at reflection in icy lake in the land of sweets
Sweet Christmas Minis 2022 boy on rocking horse and standing on gumdrop lane with candy canes
Sweet Christmas Minis 2022 boy on marshmallow holding a gift
Girl sitting in long tutu skirt on a cake bench
two boys sitting on marshmallow seats

2023 – What will I design next? That’s my secret for now, but join my email list if you want in next year! I love creating beautiful photos for my amazing clients, so that they can send unique Holiday cards to their family and friends each year. Update: Want to find out what the 2023 set looked like? Click here to find out!

Here are a few more Highlights from each year of Christmas Minis.

baby in gray overalls on small sled in snow
2 girls in plaid dresses on a sled with snow
baby boy sitting on white chair with gold pillow
baby girl holding pinecone
baby boy holding a red ornament
baby girl wearing a pink and mint dress and sitting on a white chair
Family of 4 wearing gold dresses and suits
Family of four wearing dressy clothing
Brother and sister sitting on a white bench in front of champagne color wreaths
And a family of 5 dressed up
Little girl in pink flannel pajamas with Christmas pattern sitting on a bed
Family of 3 wearing red and white striped pajamas
3 children holding pretend Christmas cookies
A sister and brother rolling out salt dough
Studio Christmas Minis - From the Beginning - christmasminis 0017
Studio Christmas Minis - From the Beginning - christmasminis 0020
sisters sitting on a bed
brother and sister sitting on a bed
Family of 4 making cookies
3 siblings in matching pajamas
Family of 4 rolling dough
2 children holding spatulas
2 siblings smiling
boy smiling on Christmas bed
sisters hugging next to gingerbread pillow
baby girl wearing read dress with white snowflakes
3 siblings sitting on a bench
Girl sitting on a white chair
Family of 3 sitting next to a Christmas tree
2 siblings smiling
baby girl wearing a red dress and sitting in front of a fireplace
Family of 4 sitting on a bench in front of a window
Baby girl wearing a pink, white and gray decorative dress
Baby girl wearing a pink, white and gray decorative dress
Baby girl wearing a pink, white and gray decorative dress
Baby girl wearing a pink, white and gray decorative dress
Baby girl wearing a pink, white and gray decorative dress
Baby girl wearing a pink, white and gray decorative dress
Girl in pink sparkly dress in a land full of candy
Girl in pink sparkly dress in a land full of candy
Girl in pink sparkly dress in a land full of candy
Girl in pink sparkly dress in a land full of candy
Girl in pink sparkly dress in a land full of candy