Most families are trying hard to make the festive season picture-perfect, where everyone is happy, nobody talks politics, and the children don’t complain about their gifts. But the idyllic world is better left to Coca-Cola commercials, since the real-life festive season is often very different.

And one family from North Carolina is celebrating precisely the imperfection of family Christmas. For the past 7 years, the Stanleys have been making Christmas cards where every family member participates.

The result is both cute and hilarious since the little ones are pictured wreaking havoc in the house and things get messy, and oh boy, it does feel out of control. But isn’t that the whole beauty of winter holidays?

“The very first time we tried to take a ‘traditional’ Christmas card photo we had hilariously bad results. From there the tradition was born—instead of trying to send perfect cards, we would send something that represented the chaos of parenting,” the Stanleys told Bored Panda previously. So let’s take a look at what the buzz is all about!

More info: Instagram (Jonathan Stanley)

The Stanley family from North Carolina has been capturing the essence of raising their kids in Christmas cards for the past 7 years

Bored Panda reached out to the creative dad Jonathan Stanley who has been doing these real-life Christmas cards with his family every year since 2014. Jonathan previously told us that the idea came when the traditional photo didn’t go according to plan.

“We were new parents with a one-year-old and everything went wrong—baby cried the whole time, it was windy, the lighting kept changing, you name it. If 2 of us looked okay, the third one blinked. We laughed so hard at how bad the photos were that we decided just to send them out as is and our family loved it.”

Thus, the Stanleys’ annual Christmas cards turned into a cute family tradition that perfectly sums up how the year has been. Jonathan told us that the biggest change during the past years has been kids. “As they grow older, it opens up more possibilities of what we can shoot. After all, it’s a lot easier to get an 8-year-old to pose with a nail gun than a 2-year-old.”

When it comes to inspiration for their annual shoot, the Stanleys look at their kids’ behavior throughout the year. “For example,” dad explained, “in 2019, they were very interested in flying the drone with me, so I simply built on that natural interest and imagined what they might do if we weren’t watching.”

Most importantly, as the kids have grown older, they love the annual shoots even more now than when they were young. Dad believes it’s because they now “actually understand it and I can explain what we’re doing. My son got to present the cards to his kindergarten class this year, and he seemed very proud of them.”

And here is this year’s Christmas card

And as for the 2020 Christmas card, Jonathan said that his boys became interested in nailing boards together and using hammers. “So naturally a nail gun is very cool to them and provided inspiration for this year’s card.”

“Also, we can’t go to the rock climbing wall because of COVID, so they’ve started climbing the moulding/trim around the door frames instead. The pic of my son climbing on the far right… that’s 100% real. No Photoshop needed!”

And this is what people had to say about them