The Ultimate Thanksgiving Photo List

Since Thanksgiving was at my Mother-In-Laws house last year, I thought it would be fun to create a Thanksgiving photo book for her. Just one small problem. As I looked through my Thanksgiving photos, I realized I didn’t have enough good pictures to capture the story of our Thanksgiving traditions. But I can fix that! Being a huge list maker, I’ve put together a list for the photos I want to take at Thanksgiving this year. If I can capture all of these images, I’ll have the photos I need to make her the perfect Photo Book, just in time for Christmas giving! Want to join me? This is my list of shots, which may help jog your memory about your own special traditions. Here we go…

The “Before” Pictures

  • The Guests Arrive – the hugs, and hands holding casserole dishes
  • The Holiday Atmosphere – outside the home or gathering place, fall leaves, seasonal décor, picture of the table(s) set for the meal, stacks of plates and silverware
  • The Kitchen – the cook and/or host, carving of the turkey, making the mashed potatoes, the traditional “specialty” dish that everyone loves, prep pictures of everyone working and chatting

The “During” Pictures

  • Getting Ready to Eat  – saying Grace, serving the turkey, passing the potatoes, the food line if you have one (who goes first?!), close-up of a “full” plate and a child’s plate (for years, my youngest daughter Jaden would try to get away with having just home-made rolls with butter on them)
  • The Seating Chart – who’s sitting at the head of the table? Is there a “Kids’ Table? (When I was growing up, Uncle Jerry would often ‘volunteer’ to be the only adult at the Kids’ Table. Maybe it was to keep us all in line, or maybe he knew we had more fun!)
  • The Dessert Table – who serves the pie?  Is there a dessert line?  (Snap a photo before everyone digs in!)  What do the kids have for dessert?  At our Thanksgivings growing up, sometimes Grandma, Aunt Tudy and Aunt Rita would make everyone’s favorite dessert –  Grandma’s cinnamon rolls.  I really wish I had photos of some of those!
  • The (Endless) Dishes – folks clearing the table, the dishes stacked in the sink, loading the dishwasher, doing the dishes by hand, putting away the leftovers.  (If there’s a photo of you doing dishes this year, maybe you can get out of it next year)

The “After” Pictures

  • TV and Naps – (usually the guys! I’m just sayin’!) Pictures of everyone watching football, shots of people sleep on the floor or in the lounge chair. The baby asleep on the bed or in someone’s arms
  • Fun and Games – often at family get-togethers, we play Dominoes. There’s also playing football outdoors, the kids watching videos or looking at scrapbooks
  • Special Entertainment – last year, my Mother-in-Law baked Christmas cookies before we arrived, and we all decorated them after the meal. I hope we do that again, it was fun and made for some great photos
  • The Ladies Table – is it just our family, or do the ladies at your house tend to sit off away from the football game on TV and just chat? Grab a shot!
  • Drawing Names for the Christmas Gift Exchange – we do this every year at my Mother-In-Law’s house, but I’ve never photographed it!

The “Miscellaneous” Shots

  • ‘Turkey-head’ and silly shots – I have one of those turkey headbands and love grabbing shots each year with whomever will be a good sport and wear it – always a fun picture. Pictures of the kids clowning around being kids
  • New baby, new family members, new friends attending – this will be Jeremy and Jessy’s son Jase’s first Thanksgiving with our family this year. Definitely need a picture of that. At my Mom’s Thanksgiving’s, she would always invite folks who were away from their families, or people who didn’t have anyone to enjoy the holiday with. Take pictures of those special guests so you can invite them again next year.
  • Exciting News – Warfield and Shannon were recently engaged in our family. I’ll need a shot of them. Who has news in your family?  The newly married couple, a birthday, an anniversary?  Click, click

The Departure

  • Prepping to leave – getting the winter coats and hats on, hauling out the “to go” care packages of turkey, the hugs. It’s all about the hugs
  • Waving good-bye – when we left Grandma’s house, Aunt Rita would always stand out on the porch and wave to the cars as each family left. My husband’s family does this too. Love this tradition, but I’ve never grabbed a photo. It’s on my list this year

Whew. I’m going to be busy! I can’t wait to take all of these shots and make a Photo Book with them this year. I’ve got my eye on a couple of the new page designs Shutterfly just put out there for us. I’ll be back after the Holidays to share my Photo Book with you – can’t wait to see yours in the Shutterfly Gallery!


  1. says

    That’s wild I was thinking about Christmas pictures, how I have so many fun ones with the tree and decorations but I don’t have any with all the harvest colors of Thanksgiving, the autumn colors dishes and the turkey. I think I will be putting this very list together for myself this year, thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Joey says

    Wow Stacey, what a great list. We always gather at my parents and they insist on cooking. I make sure to get a photo of everything – my brother always makes fun of me for taking food pictures. This would make another great book – oooooo I love the inspiration!! Last year we went to my sisters in Minneapolis, it was a change but it was nice. I tried to capture the food and everything. One thing I like is when people do a toast, that makes for a fun photo.
    Thanks for the great blog article. Can’t wait to see your book!!

  3. says

    These are such great ideas!! I love them!!
    I’m going to have a house full this year…and the main cook….how am I going to get those shots? hmmmm
    Thank you Stacey for putting such a great list together!

  4. says

    Ooohhhh Stacey…. How about picture of the “shoppers” going though all of the Black Friday ads for the next day. That is one of our Thanksgiving traditions.

  5. angies5 says

    Wow! This is an amazing list. You thought of so many things I would never have. You are right, all of these together would make for an incredible story book. Can’t wait to see what you put together.

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