They’re here whether you’re ready or not — it’s the holiday season and photos will be a big part of the next couple of months.

We all love the photos with Santa be it of you, your children or your pets, but let’s take a look at some other options for preserving your holiday memories.

Food

This is a good time to practice and work on your food photography. Whether you’re hosting a big feast at home or heading out to a local restaurant, take your camera with you. Hotels and restaurants will be decorated and you’ll be able to incorporate the lights and colors into your food photos making them more festive. Think fun bokeh and backgrounds.

For those at home feasts and traditions, be sure to get shots of those long-time family favorites. How about making a project out of it to share with the family next year? Aunt Jane’s famous cookies? Mom’s special green bean casserole? Uncle Pete’s delicious roast? Cousin Mike’s holiday cocktail? Photograph them, get the recipes (if they’re not top-secret) and create a family cookbook.

Decorations

We all have them, those decorations we made as kids, or that our own kids made when they were five. What sort of shape are they in? Will they last another holiday season? Photograph them. Use those images to create next year’s holiday card. Add these images to the family cookbook you’re creating. It’s a great way to preserve memories and keepsakes that don’t always make it through all the years of wear and tear.

Local events

There are always so many holiday events going on, look for markets, tree lightings, decorated home tours, winter wonderlands, madrigal dinners, caroling, events at museums to spotlight the holidays around the world and the list goes on. Any of these can be fun to attend and make for some great photographic opportunities.

Head out to a local ice rink and get photos of the skaters. The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, if you live in the Northern U.S. or Southern Canada, is a fantastic event to get out and shoot. Another event that seems to be all over is a Santa Run or Santa Hustle, 5k runs/walks with hundreds of people dressed up as Santa.

People

Of course, the people. Your friends and relatives. Get creative though, and do something different this year instead of everyone posing in front of the tree or with Santa.

Head outside with lights, use the lights as human decorations. If you have snow, get a snowball fight started, take some fun action shots. If it’s possible, head to your town’s local holiday display, take photos there. Don’t forget to get the candid shots of the day’s events also. People opening gifts, laughing, sharing stories, Uncle George falling asleep in the recliner after dinner and all the other moments that tell the story of the day.

Include yourself

Don’t forget to be in the photos too. Because we are always the one taking the pictures we tend to not be in the photos very often. Set up your tripod, use a remote and click away. Be sure to get in the group shots when you can. Hand the camera over to someone else for a while. Better yet, buy instant or throwaway cameras, let everyone record their own version of the holidays and set up an online gallery so everyone can share their images.

Have fun

Don’t forget the most important thing, relax and enjoy the holidays. These photos are memories, they don’t have to be perfect. You want to join in and participate in the holiday goings-on (or you could use the camera to hide behind if you’re a scrooge like me).

Here are a couple of other ideas: Macro Holiday Photos and 5 Tips for Holiday Photos

Happy Holidays!