The winter holidays feature lots of family time, which means it’s a great opportunity to snag some quality snaps of reunited cousins, grandchildren on grandparent laps and sibling bonding. To make sure your photos are blog-worthy beauties, here are some tips and tricks for great holiday photos:

bokeh-961596_6401. Add some movement to make holiday lights look alive

Forget the tripod and instead purposefully move your camera when capturing a twinkling scene. Slow down your shutter speed and create a unique shot that turns the lights into art.

christmas-cookies-553457_6402. Don’t wait for the finished product

There’s plenty of preparations that go into making the holidays special, from decorating the Christmas tree to baking family favorite recipes. Keep your camera handy to capture these moments as well, especially if they’re not posed shots. It often makes for some classic pictures of family and friends acting naturally.

christmas-trees-1042542_6403. Get Bokeh crazy with the Christmas tree

That evergreen makes a fantastic background for this photo technique, which can add a whole new dimension to your holiday photo repertoire. By using some scissors and tape, you can turn those Christmas lights into a dazzling, shape-shifting background for your subject.

laughter-775062_6404. Don’t let backlighting be a grinch

Particularly for those of you shooting with a smartphone, backlighting can ruin an otherwise an Instagram-worthy masterpiece by creating a silhouette effect. Make sure you turn off unnecessary lights and pull the shades before you shoot.

baby-314746_6405. Don’t wait until nap time for baby pics

It’s so exciting when the latest bundle of joy arrives for the holidays that you might forget to take pictures right away, but those little people don’t stay perky for long. If you want to capture a smiling member of the family making their holiday debut, make sure you start shooting before they get cranky.

santa-claus-84713_6406. Avoid white outs

Snow and Santa are frequent holiday visitors, but all of that white can wreak havoc on your shots. Increase your exposure by one stop to keep things sharp.

christmas-ornament-1042544_6407. Focus in on a specific ornament

Yes, there are dozens of gorgeous, eye-catching ornaments dripping with sentimental value on that tree, but trying to capture a bunch of them in one shot means none of them will stand out. Instead, move in close and make the shot about one ornament in particular.

dog-659870_6408. Don’t miss a moment

With surprise guests and presents being unwrapped, people’s expressions can change in a heartbeat. Switch your camera to burst or continuous mode to grab the microseconds on either side of your shot to capture the perfect pic.

portrait-709185_6409. Avoid the awkward pose

Making everyone look natural and happy isn’t always easy, but cramming everyone onto a couch isn’t likely to generate any authentic smiles. Get creative with positioning and change up the locations, you might even start a new family tradition!