1. Gear up. Make sure you have looked at your gear and have everything you’ll need for the big day. I prefer to work with a single lens with a wide zoom range. Make sure to have plenty of charged batteries and pre-formatted digital media (CF, SD cards, etc.)
2. Relax. There shouldn’t be any pressure associated with this task. Photography should be fun. Make sure you keep that in mind.
3. Try to let the action flow naturally. Avoid taking lots of posed pictures. Encourage your family to just act naturally and ignore the camera.
4. Sequence. Try to tell a story. Don’t just photograph the opening of the gifts. Photograph the process of wrapping the gifts, etc.
5. Vary the angle. If you’re photographing children or pets, be sure to get down on the ground and shoot at eye level. Don’t shoot down on them.
6. Keep the light behind you. This will make sure that your subjects are well-lit. If you’re a more advanced shooter and have a reason to backlight, sidelight, etc., go for it. Beginners should keep it simple.
7. Remember to get your picture made too! All too often, the photographer is completely left out of the family photo book. My uncle was our family photographer. When he died in Viet Nam we were only able to find three photos of him to display at his service. Don’t forget to make yourself part of the memory.
These are basic tips intended to get you going. Feel free to experiment and have fun. After all, it’s called a holiday for a reason!