Monday, November 19, 2018

The easy ins + outs of making a Holiday video--I got you.

This weekend we began decorating for Christmas (don't even @ me- guys, I know-I know...) and right before Declan picked Lucy up to put the star on the tree I yelled, "WAIT!!!!! I NEED TO GET MY CAMERA!!!!!" It was time to start the holiday footage.

See, for years I've captured little snippets of video during the holiday season and then mashed them up into a little montage to a sweet song. They hold some of our sweetest memories and honestly? It takes very little effort to do. Every year when I post it to instagram or facebook I feel like I get a sea of "I wish I did this!" and so I am here to remind you, NOW IS THE TIME TO START.

Honestly-it's easy to remember these things in hindsight, and then feel regret. Gah! All the memories are just in my brain but video? Reliving each holiday with our little 3 minute video makes it feel more than just a tiny blip on the radar. It reminds us that we lived it. It reminds us of the retirement home we sung carols at, the gift exchange with cousins, the tree we decorated, the dresses the girls wore to the Christmas Eve service, and uhh---just how tiny and cute and squishy they were. It reminds us of each home we celebrated Christmas in (since we tend to move so often, it seems), and it gives us all a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I want you to know--IT IS EASY and IF you want to do this, YOU CAN. I'm basically writing this to remind you to start capturing the footage now. Because decorating the tree, visiting the Holiday Zoo, school concerts, trips to the nutcracker, etc, all video worthy.

Here are my tips.

If you don't have a camera with a video setting--then a good phone should work just fine! TAKE YOUR VIDEO WITH YOUR PHONE SIDEWAYS. Horizontal video looks way cuter edited together than vertical footage-- trust me! THIS IS KEY. I take a mix of both. I use my Canon7D on video setting when we're home, and when we're out it's pretty much all iPhone because the truth is I don't lug my camera around anywhere anymore. Note: it may be helpful to make an album of your videos on your phone you can send them to, to keep them separate. OR if you are running out of storage, email them to yourself and delete them. Just make sure when it comes time to find the videos, you know where to get them! Make it easy on yourself :)

Take short clips. First of all, to do this-you do not have to commit to being behind a camera all holiday season, it's MINIMAL EFFORT, promise. Plus it's cute to edit small snippets together versus spend 45 solid seconds on, say, a holiday concert clip. Besides, we all know how painful(ly cute) holiday concerts are. 5-10 seconds, max. Promise. 

Vary your footage. Baking holiday cookies? Perfect! Zoom in on their little hands putting sprinkles on the cookies, or licking their fingers. Everyone ice skating? Awesome--get low to the ground and take a little clip of the fam skating by. Opening presents? Perfect-set up a timelapse--that way you can be phone-free and add a little variation to your video. 

Get the reactions. One good video clip of the kids reacting to Santa bringing the guitar they asked for? GOLD.  Set your kids up to take a "picture" by the tree when they're all dressed up--but ask them to hug it out instead. Get this on video--they'll never know anddd it will likely end in giggles or someone falling to the floor. :)

Insert an interview or two. This isn't totally necessary, but I usually ask the kids each year what they want for Christmas. You could also ask them what they're most excited about...what the season is about...etc--get creative. The answers will usually be really cute. 

Nothing is too Mundane. Going to walk around the block and look at christmas lights? That's a moment. Starbucks date for hot chocolate? Grab a 3 second clip of them licking the whipped cream or holding that cute holiday cup. Christmas parade? Get their reaction to their favorite firetruck. Stringing the lights on the tree? Perfect. 

You'll need less than you think. When it comes down to it, you actually won't need THAT much. I try to get the most variety, and smaller clips. I feel it makes the videos all a bit more interesting to be bopping around versus spending too long on present-opening, for example. There's more that goes into Christmas morning than just opening gifts, right? What about the cinnamon rolls you eat? Or the Christmas story you read? All of those are sweet moments. What about the hug they run and give daddy after he gives them that special gift? Find those moments

Grab some B-Roll. Videos are a little bit more interesting with some extra video thrown in there that all lend to the holiday feel. Don't go crazy on this-but, grab some video clips of the tree with gifts the night before--maybe of the cookies they left for Santa, a candle flickering, the lights on the christmas tree or a zoom in/out of your favorite ornaments--or maybe some video of your house all lit up. It doesn't have to be ALL THE KIDS, every second. Make sense?

Get in the video. You. Yes you. Figure out how to get yourself in the video at least once. At least. Sure the holidays feel a whole lot about your kiddos, but they LOVE to see their parents in there too. So set the camera up, or hand it to a big kid--you need to be in the video--you're part of the family after all. The kids will watch these for years to come (mine totally do) and it's just as special for them to see you in the memories, too.


Ok, you've got the footage--now it's time to put it together. 

I work on a Mac and I use iMovie which is a program installed on all Macs. I believe for Windows, there's a program called Windows Movie Maker that's free. There are also lots of apps for your phone if you have ALL phone footage. I am a self-taught, non-professional, trial-by-error kinda video editor. The thing is, this video is FOR YOU--so do not get hung up on this step or making it perfect. 

You can find a TON of tutorials and videos on how to edit. 

But here is my VERY FIRST TIP:

I always pick my song first. (I usually purchase one off iTunes that has been on an album this season I've been loving-always changes!)

And no matter how much good video I have, I limit my recap to the length of that song. 

This is SUPER important to me. You have to be selective with the clips you end up choosing and how much of those you include.  I find that if you do want to share it on social media, no one is really all that interested in your kids/family as much as you are, so 8 minutes of recap is--well, a lot. But anyone can last for a 3 minute song filled with cute faces and precious moments that seems curated well. You get me?

So stick to one song--for real. 

Then once I know how long that song is, I start editing my clips together. I mute the sound out of MOST videos (which you can figure out how to do, pretty easy!), so don't worry about a super sweet clip but a baby wailing in the background. Just mute it and let the music override it. I also try to mostly put my clips in the order they're taken because it gives a little timeline-glimpse of the season.

When you have interviews or some sweet parts you want to actually hear, you can lower the music volume so that the clip can be heard. You'll see I did this a lot in my video from 2017. 


A few recaps from the past:

(this one has a lot more voice in it than usual-but there were things I really wanted to remember, like the girls Spanish reading, or the sweetness of the things they said about certain gifts, etc)
(In this one I started the music later, after the voice part-and pretty much muted most other tracks after that except the part where the kids found out we were taking them to Disney Land)
(This one is one of my very favorites because we did an early xmas in San Diego and then traveled to PA. My sister also told us she was having a GIRL and you can hear my completely unregulated happy scream--so, volume was necessary for some clips :) 

***Can we just appreciate for a moment that NONE of this is even semi-professional and that doesn't matter--at ALL. You still completely get the feel of each holiday and the special things we've done. So don't let any of that hold you back from doing this if it's something you've wanted to do. 

Also, one last thing to note. By consciously doing video each year I do focus LESS on photos. I actually find for us that the value in a video montage is much higher than a whole album of photos opening presents on Christmas morning. I'm just much more about seeing reactions, or how their little eyes light up at each age, versus a frozen image, especially around this season. Don't get me wrong, I love me some beautiful photography, but a video is just different. It evokes a feel that I don't think all images can. But I make sure each year I get my few favorites in a still image, like everyone dressed up before Christmas Eve Service, or messy-bed heads holding their stockings, etc. Other than those few? Pressure off in the photo-taking department. 

Alright, I think that's it.

So who's in for this year? Can't wait to see how they turn out.


  1. So helpful!!!! I’m gonna attempt it this year!

  2. I need to be better with videos...for real. Yours are always great and make me wish I took the time! Maybe I will this year. :)

  3. Me!!!
    Also just watched all your videos and am totally crying! Beautiful!