Photography Tips – Kids Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot

I love sending Valentine’s Day cards. And I love taking photos. So, we decided to have an office Valentine’s Day photo shoot with our own kids. Fun day in the office, right? Then, we decided it’d be fun to make a video to share the results with you—not just our cute Valentine’s Day photos, but also a few photography tips on achieving some of those big smiles we all love. For added fun, we threw in some behind-the-scenes video footage because, as a photographer, I always wonder what the real ‘set’ looks like! So check out the video and the tips below to make your Valentine’s Day cards sparkle. 🙂

Now here are some photography tips and ideas to help you achieve the actual photos you saw in the video.

Valentine's Day Photo IdeasFor our main background, we painted a 4×4 section of plywood with chalkboard paint. Chalkboard paint wasn’t entirely necessary since we didn’t write on it, we just liked the black background against our garland. And speaking of the garland, you can get it as a free printable! It’s easy to cut out and a fun activity to do with your kids.

Photography Tip: Try placing something on your head and asking the child to blow it off. Just about anything works. I used a paper heart. It should either be something the child will physically be able to blow off, or that with a slight tilt of your head, they’ll think they did! Also setting the child on a box or a crate typically keeps them in one spot, long enough at least for a few quick photos!

Valentine's Day Photo IdeasFor this background, we used two sets of gold metallic curtains, right on top of each other. Inexpensive, and they come in many colors!

Photography Tip: Giving kids a prop like sunglasses allows them to interact and play with something, which keeps them occupied long enough for photos. And even the motions of taking off the glasses can be really cute!

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Pinkalicious birthday party

My best friend, Angie, is as obsessed about planning good parties as I am, so it’s a no brainer that we team up when considering kids birthday party ideas. Angie knows to plan well in advance. We even did a little mini photo shoot with her daughter, Kate, so she’d have the perfect photo on her birthday party invitation. I’ll let Angie herself tell you all of her girl birthday party ideas and planning this adorable Pinkalicious birthday party—she did a fabulous job!

Pinkalicious birthday party

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Mermaid Birthday Party Ideas

Mermaid Birthday Party IdeasMy niece recently turned four, and I was ecstatic to hear that she and my sister-in-law were looking for mermaid birthday party ideas. I had recently seen this Mermaid Birthday post from The Tomkat Studio, and being the mother of two boys, I was drooling over all the girliness.

When I’m involved in a party, it starts with the invitation. Pear Tree has a pool party invitation that tied in perfectly with our mermaid birthday party ideas. Continue reading

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Yellow and Gray Baby Shower

Recently I had the opportunity to help plan and host a baby shower for my good friend, Jess. The two other hostesses and I decided to follow the theme of her nursery, yellow and gray, and do everything we could to make her shower extra special.

This meant starting to plan the party not the night before…but actually two nights before 🙂 (Kidding. Many emails were exchanged and we even had a lunch date in there to get the planning started and to discuss all our baby shower ideas.)

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Kid’s Monster Birthday Party

Kid's Monster Birthday Party
I started thinking about kids’ birthday party ideas shortly after I discovered Pinterest — so, essentially, last Fall. My two sons’ birthdays are relatively close, March 15th and April 10th, so I thought I’d do everyone a favor, myself included, and throw a joint party. I knew our product design team was going to be creating a Monster Birthday Party Invitation and after some initial searches for monster party ideas, the theme was set. One would think that since I had the theme picked out nearly six months in advance, I’d have plenty of time to scrap, craft, create, make, etc., right? When did I actually start? That crazy lady running around on lunch break the day before the party starting to purchase supplies? Yep, that was me. 🙂
Kid's Monster Birthday Party
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Invite the girls for Movie Night

Movie Night with the GirlsThe kids are back in school. Life is falling back into a routine. At last there is time for me! I know a lot of moms who lose touch with their friends over the summer and in the fall are looking for ways to reconnect with fun girls’ night out ideas. We’ve all tried the book club. But how about a movie night?

Once a month, for the past year and a half, I have been getting together with three of my best friends for a Movie Night. Maybe that doesn’t sound too exciting, but to us, it’s heaven. Every month we choose a date that works for all of us, we vote on which movie we should watch and then divvy out the meal.

We rotate houses and meal assignments, so someone brings the main dish, someone a side of bread, someone a salad, someone dessert. But the best part is, it’s come as you are. We don’t even wear makeup. It is meant to be a stress-free, kid-free, night to relax. We talk, we watch our movie, we talk some more. We absolutely LOVE our movie nights. In March, three out of the four of us had babies. But we didn’t miss movie night.

Lately we’ve started trying to incorporate more ideas into our nights, like trying a new recipe, or making a dish that we know one person in the group has never tried. Next month they’re going to make me try quinoa. Last month, we incorporated a craft that we could all make. (Note to self: we may be getting a little too ambitious.)

Of course, we always lose track of time and end up getting home pretty late. That’s why we try and plan it for a Thursday night, so that we go into it knowing ‘it’s Friday tomorrow.’ Movie night is fun, easy, and the one commitment in our busy lives that we have never regretted making.

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Save the Date Etiquette

proposalCongratulations on your engagement! A few of my newly engaged friends have asked me about save the date etiquette, so I thought I would share the advice I was given when planning my wedding.

A save-the-date announcement is a great way to inform your guests of the date and location of your wedding, so that they can plan accordingly. It is especially nice if you are planning a destination wedding, or if a lot of your guests will be coming from out of town. There are a few rules of save the date etiquette to follow:

  • Send save-the-dates to everyone on your list, even if you already know whether or not they are attending.
  • Address the announcement only to those who are invited to the wedding. This will eliminate confusion about whether a boyfriend or girlfriend is invited, or whether they can bring the kids.
  • We recommend mailing save-the-date announcements as much as six months before the wedding. This will give your guests ample time to make travel plans.

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Creating New Year’s Traditions

Creating New Years Traditions with a family #peartreegreetings #newyears #cheers
My, how times have changed. Ten years ago, my boyfriend (now husband) and I wouldn’t have missed the New Year’s traditions of dressing up, going out with friends and popping the bubbly at midnight. These days, with 2 small children at home, I am embarrassed to admit that we are more likely to be asleep at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Lame? Yes. Regretful? Not really. Do you have any idea what babysitters charge these days?

The fact is, our priorities have changed. It is easier to stay home with the kids than to plan ahead and make all the arrangements to go out on New Year’s Eve. But as a couple, we still feel the need to acknowledge the New Year in some way. Should we create new New Year’s traditions that involve the kids? Let them stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square, like I did as a child? Do we have them write down thoughts or create artwork and keep a family “time capsule” to open in later years? Should we all make New Year’s resolutions? Or maybe we should dress up, but stay home and have a special New Year’s Eve family dinner? Well, it’s decided. My in-laws are going to be spending the weekend at our house, thrilled to get time with our kids alone. My husband and I are taking a little mini-vacation, staying at a great hotel for two nights. Now that I think about it, New Year’s Eve is a concept that is wasted on the young. Happy New Year to us!

Look for more New Year’s ideas on our blog!

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Choosing your perfect Christmas card

Family PictureI’m seriously excited. I just got a glimpse of the photos I hope to use on my family’s Christmas card, taken by my friend and colleague Michelle. I was worried the photos wouldn’t turn out, but she did such a wonderful job that now I am going to have a hard time deciding which one to use. And I was already conflicted about which card design to choose! There are so many holiday card ideas out there. Where to start?

Some people select the design and then try to take a photo that complements the design. If you are like me and are photographically challenged, you can’t even think about the design until you have a photo that is actually in focus and everyone is smiling (minimum requirements). This year, for the first time ever, I am actually considering a photo of our whole family, instead of just the kids.

Once I have the photo, I just go with my instinct on the design. I choose a few I like and put the photo in each one to see what it looks like, changing colors to match the photo if that’s an option. I always have fun tinkering with the text in the card, too. This year, I came up with the idea to use the lyrics to a Christmas song in my card, but I am also thinking about ways to incorporate my family’s culture in the text somehow. I don’t know which idea will be the winner. In the end, what really makes a photo Christmas card the perfect card is that it is a reflection of me and my family. My card will not look like anyone else’s, and that is what makes it perfect to me.

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You, Shared. A look behind the scenes.

Pear Tree ad in Real SimpleHello! You may have noticed Pear Tree Greetings’ full page ad in the December issues of Real Simple Magazine, Woman’s Day, O Magazine and Southern Living. Personally, I wonder about magazines ads, what went behind it, what was the thinking, why this particular message, etc. Maybe because I work in business, or maybe I’m just strange; the latter is a definite possibility. But if you are like me, sometimes you wonder. For a small company like Pear Tree Greetings, it was a big deal to run a campaign like this. Our team feels a bit like we are going to the Big-Time with a full page ad anywhere, particularly these well-known and loved magazines. So I thought I would share with you a few behind-the-scenes thoughts on the campaign and process.

First, it was really fun putting the campaign together! The whole team was involved in the feedback and development. Our creative agency, Minneapolis-based Knock, Inc. was wonderful to work with – creative, smart people that we are fortunate to have as partners, and they developed the initial concepts. We wanted it to be fun, fresh, and demonstrate the excitement and pride a person has with THEIR card. And we wanted to capture the idea of people connecting with each other through cards…that those cards are a reflection of them. It’s why we love our tagline, You, Shared. When you send a holiday card, we really believe you are really sharing a part of you. It’s one of the reasons we love our business – the idea of people connecting and sharing with each other through our greetings.

Once we decided on the concept, we proceeded with selecting cards to showcase, which was VERY hard. We are biased, but we love so many of our cards and it was difficult to choose which card was going to be showcased and held by each individual.

The photo shoot was energetic! We wanted people in the ad that looked like real people we knew (everyone in the ad is actually a person we know), and not models walking down the runway. We wanted people wearing clothes that everyday people wear, and reflect our real customers. Our cards are accessible and we wanted people to know that we are not a company that sells beautiful designs at super-expensive prices. Our team looks at every single card that is printed, so we see that our customers are real people, sharing all different messages and photos with people they love.

The adorable kids are kids we know, and they colored their kid’s coloring cards on set. The photographer was delightful – he was calm and made the day comfortable. I was amazed to watch the photographer’s skills in taking photos of children and picked up a few tips from him to use at home with my own kids. Note to self: make chocolate chip cookies readily available.

Following the photo shoot, we proceeded with putting it together, choosing cards, finalizing colors and copy, etc. That process was time consuming and I appreciated all the work that went into getting all the details right, including coordinating with the printers, the designers, and getting the final artwork to the magazines two months before the magazines come out. For the past 2 months we have been anxiously waiting to see it in actual print on the newsstands. It’s here!

What do you think of it? We would love to hear your feedback. Please email me at, and have a wonderful day!

President of Pear Tree Greetings

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