As a father of three, Jonathan Stanley knows that getting the perfect family photo is near impossible. Even when their oldest son, 7-year-old Jackson, was a baby, the family struggled to capture that endearing Kodak moment. Rather than stress, Jonathan and his wife opted to send the bloopers out, and they've never looked back. Now that their family has grown to include Elijah, 5, and Evelyn, 1, the Stanleys have taken their Christmas cards to new heights - quite literally, in some cases.
"The idea for our Christmas cards actually came by accident," Jonathan told POPSUGAR. "After we had our first child, we tried to capture a typical 'picture-perfect' Christmas card, but it was a total disaster. If one of us looked good, the other blinked. If we had our eyes open, the baby cried. Or the wind whipped hair in our face. The photo shoot went so poorly that we decided to instead send the outtakes as our Christmas card, and people loved it! From there the idea was born - rather than trying to portray a picture-perfect family, let's embrace the chaos and show what it really feels like to be a parent."
"I think it's important that parents everywhere remember that it's OK to not always have it all together."
Though there's certainly a ton of planning that goes into each each card, it takes Jonathan about an hour to get the the perfect shot once the ball starts rolling. "I observe the kids throughout the year to help formulate the idea itself," he explained. "For example, they absolutely love it when I fly the drone, which led to the idea for this year's card. And putting the star on the top of the tree is a big moment for our boys, so naturally I imagined a world where they would try to find a way to do it themselves if we weren't watching. I usually spend about an hour shooting the cards. The first 30 minutes I set up the background, and then we shoot each person (and the dog!) individually, and I stitch it altogether at the end. We have to shoot it quick before the lighting changes, otherwise it won't look right."
As you can imagine, the Stanleys' relatives look forward to receiving their latest creation every holiday season. And quite frankly, I'm trying to get on their mailing list.
"Our friends and family absolutely love getting them in the mail. A few have even told us they leave it on their coffee table year-round as a conversation starter!" said Jonathan. "At this point, I don't think we'll ever be able to go back to a normal card, and it's because our friends loved them so much that we decided to start sharing them publicly. I think it's important that parents everywhere remember that it's OK to not always have it all together, and my hope is that our cards will give parents a chuckle and remind them that we're all a mess in one way or another."
Read through to get a peek at the Stanley family's hilarious Christmas cards throughout the years.