The holiday season is one of the most fun times to take photos of food. It’s the time where everyone is in the kitchen baking and cooking up family favorites. There’s gingerbread decorating, soup stewing, and sugar with spice and everything nice.
This post is all about different food styling props that are great additions to your holiday photos. Hopefully you find these items inspiring to help tell the story and convey the holiday spirit through your photos.
1. String Lights
If there is anything more Christmasy than string lights I don’t know what it is. I absolutely love using string lights in my photos, especially when using my favorite 50mm f/1.8G lens. The lights in the background will create that fabulous bokeh look and feel so festive and magical.
Where to get string lights?
String lights are fairly straight forward to purchase. You can buy them online or in most any large store near the holiday season, and many stores carry them year-round.
2. Pine Branches & Pine Cones
Pine branches make the perfect prop for Christmas time. They’ll give you the look and feel of having a Christmas tree right in the photo, without actually having to cram a tree into your background. If you can find pine branches with pine cones still attached that’s great. Pine cones on their own are also great. They can go well in Autumn and Winter scenes.
Where to get pine branches and pine cones?
Well, if you live near the mountains like I do it’s a pretty easy task. Simply walk to the woods and clip some branches off a pine tree and gather some cones. If you don’t live near any type of evergreen tree, there are craft stores and décor shops that sell faux pine branches online or in store.
Christmas ornaments are a must have as well. You can use intricate and unique antique ornaments or your generic ball style. Have fun with it and create that warm fuzzy feeling by placing small ornaments discretely within your scene.
Where to get Christmas ornaments?
I love finding Christmas ornaments in small artisan shops that only sell Christmas things. I have a place like this in my town and they sell everything from nutcrackers to ballerinas. Of course, Christmas ornaments can be purchased online and in stores near Christmas time. Another great option is to DIY your Christmas ornaments.
Ribbon can add that little magical sense of motion in your photos. Try sparkly kind that will catch the light and make your photos come alive. I try and avoid adding too much ribbon but a little goes a long way.
Where to get ribbon?
It is easy to find ribbon at craft stores, online, and in large retailers. Holiday stores sell many varieties to choose from.
5. Cookie Cutters
Cookie cutters are great for getting creative. You can use them to make shapes out of powdered sugar and flour, or to make a cocoa shape on top of a latte. Add a few cookie cutters into holiday cookie photos to make your photos feel inviting, like you’re sharing the story of making the cookies.
Where to get cookie cutters?
Cookie cutters are usually found near the cake decorating things in stores. You can find them at craft stores, grocery stores, big box stores, and online.
6. Cinnamon Sticks & Whole Spices
These are probably one of my most used props for food styling. I especially love cinnamon sticks. You can place them in the foreground or background and help the viewer of your photo know that there are delicious spices in the item being pictured. You can’t taste or smell a photo, but this certainly helps.
Where to get whole spices?
Many stores will sell whole spices in the spice section. Middle Eastern stores are actually a great place to find any hard-to-find ones. You can order them online as well. Try looking for whole cloves, allspice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cardamom, and peppercorns.
7. Pumpkins & Jack-o-Lanterns
Give your Halloween food photos a spooky feel with a lit up jack-o-lantern in the background. For Thanksgiving or Fall, small sugar pumpkins are a fun addition to throw in, even white ones.
Where to get pumpkins?
Well, assuming it’s near harvest time when you’re looking for pumpkins, you can go to a local pumpkin patch. If you are taking holiday photos months in advance then you may need to choose the fake kind. You can order a lot of different kinds online or find them in craft stores. They look quite real so you shouldn’t have any problems using fake ones in your photos.
Much like the lit jack-o-lantern, a lit candle can really do wonders to create a mood for your food pictures. Use some darker tones and make a creepy feel to your photos. It doesn’t just have to be creepy however. A candle also works very well in Christmas food photography. They can add a more natural touch of light in the background and give a very traditional feel.
Where to get candles?
Candles are easy to find in small gift shops, home stores, bath and body shops, online, and many other places. If you’re a very crafty person, maybe you make them at home.
9. Autumn Leaves
Autumn leaves are a beautiful way to tell the story of a pumpkin bread or an apple pie photo shoot in the Fall. Add them to a photoshoot for pumpkin spice lattes or maple cookies. You can use real or fake leaves to create that festive look.
Where to get leaves?
Aside from the obvious place to get leaves, outside during Autumn, try craft stores. Haha, I love getting unique items for props in craft stores apparently. You can order faux leaves online as well.
10. Holly Leaves
Nothing says jolly like holly. All winter long you can use holly leaves to bring in some natural feel and color to your pictures. Be careful if using real ones, they are quite poky.
Where to get Holly?
Basically the same as above with autumn leaves. Find faux holly leaves in stores or online, unless you have a holly bush nearby.
11. Cookie Tins
Cookie tins are so great for dramatic dark holiday cookie shots. They feel very vintage and make your photos look like they came right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Line the cookie tin with different kinds of parchment or tissue paper to give some dimension to your final pics.
Where to get cookie tins?
Antique stores and thrift stores are great for finding these if you don’t already have some lying around. Try asking you grandma or a friends grandma as she likely has many of them. If you can’t find any this way then there’s always online.
12. Spools of Yarn or Thread
A little spool of yarn can make the photos feel like you’re about to wrap things up into a present. You can arrange the thread into artful swirls to add some character to the scene.
Where to get yarn spools?
You guessed it, craft stores. The yarn spools in the photos are actually old thread spools that I wrapped some neutral colored yarn around. I’m not sure if you can buy yearn on spools like this. Try searching online for both yarn and thread.
13. Candy Canes
One of the most festive on this list, candy canes are quite fun to add. Tuck them into ribbons on presents, hang them on branches, or place them near the photo subject. They make things feel a bit like a child’s I Spy book I think.
Where to get candy canes?
Candy canes can be purchased at candy stores and grocery stores near the holiday season and sometimes during the rest of the year. If you cannot find them locally you can likely order them easily online.
14. Wrapped Presents
Make the photo feel very holiday-like and throw some wrapped up presents into the background or edge of the frame. It gives the feel of a party with friends and family. So festive! Tie some string or ribbons on them and you’ve got a perfect Christmas prop.
Where to get wrapped presents?
The easiest way? Wrap them up yourself. I love using brown crate paper or white tissue paper to avoid distracting from the food in my photos. If you’d like to use more colorful Christmas wrapping paper you can, just go for less patterns.
The presents in these photos are empty boxes. I believe you can find faux wrapped presents sometimes in the holiday decorations at some stores.