Thanksgiving is next week in the U.S., and it’s one of the biggest, most-celebrated holidays of the year. Family and friends gather from all around the world to express their gratitude for all the good in their lives. It’s also your best opportunity each year to make iconic pictures of food and people gathered together in the perfect setting.

The most important thing is that your pictures turn out, well, picture-perfect. These steps will ensure that you get the perfect pics to boost your following on Instagram and Pinterest.

1. Perfect pictures require a perfect set

Honestly, how are you supposed to make fabulous photos if the kitchen is a mess with ingredients scattered around? Obviously, you need it spotless while you make photos from directly overhead of each recipe being prepared so you can make a cool video of the food coming together.

In fact, you’d better get your aunts together this weekend to start the preparation so the food pictures are ready for a scheduled release on Thursday morning. If people complain that the food isn’t served hot then it’s clear they have no creative vision.

Did you know they often use Elmer’s glue instead of milk for photoshoots? They should just be grateful the food is edible.

Simple pictures like this made next to a window won’t cut it.

Sure, you could just move a plateful of food to a spot with a window behind it and turn off the overhead lights to make a quick close-up, but it’s so much better if the whole kitchen and dining area is always spotless and ready for photos. In fact, you should probably rent an Airbnb that is much nicer than your own home, even if you don’t have any sentimental connection to it.

2. Perfect pictures require the perfect outfits

In years past your sister’s kids have always had the perfect outfits while your own kids could barely be persuaded to wear matching socks. Not this year! Your kids will be wearing matching sweaters and dresses and the hair bows will match the bow ties.

Of course, you’ll need to hogtie the kids and place them neatly on the couch for a few hours until it’s time to pose pictures of eating. Feel free to use encouraging phrases like, “If you spill on your clothes there will be no TV for a month,” and moderately shameful phrases like, “Why can’t you just sit still like the kids in other people’s pictures?”

Finally, coordinated outfits are nothing without the perfect expressions in the photos, too.

This may be one of the best pictures I’ve ever made during a Thanksgiving; too bad it doesn’t have overt holiday themes so it’ll get me a lot of followers.

3. Perfect pictures require perfect smiles

Norman Rockwell, that great documentary photographer who made the picture in the header, always seemed to catch the perfect moment in his pictures. The fact is, perfect pictures aren’t caught — they’re engineered. You’ve got the perfect setup of food and place, you’ve got your models children dressed in coordinated clothes. Now you just need everyone to look at each other lovingly while they pretend to eat the perfect bites of food over and over again until it’s right.

Sure, even though millions of weddings are photographed each year and no one has ever made a good picture of someone eating doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be the first!

So it’s imperative that you keep that camera right in your hand throughout the meal and photograph every step of the turkey carving through serving pies. Make sure that you tell everyone to smile every time you click the shutter, too, just in case they forget. Be sure to single out whoever isn’t smiling and chide them. Also, tell little children over and over again to give you a REAL smile — that always works.

Remember: Pictures first, actual memories second

Followers aren’t gained with subpar pictures and you won’t get a chance like this again until next year. Sure, you won’t get a chance to interact with all these loved ones again until next year, either, but you’ve got to have priorities. Don’t mess this up!

Disregard all the other stuff I’ve written about in this column for the last three years. The most important thing is getting perfect pictures, even if it ruins Thanksgiving for everyone else. So get out there and make pictures.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.