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The Best Way to Save Your Christmas Morning Memories

Christmas morning is always full of surprises. The roaring fire, Christmas music playing in the background. The magic of your kids unwrapping something you just know they will love and immediately wanting to start playing with it. Eggnog (and maybe even a few cookies). That amazing rock, painted red and decorated with glitter that you know you will actually treasure for decades.

And you don’t want to miss any of it.

So your instinct is to grab your camera or phone, or maybe even your video camera. You start taking photos and video like this is the last Christmas ever, but honestly, what are you going to do with 200 photos from Christmas morning? Are you really ever going to get around to editing four hours of video down to the two minutes of video that people are going to actually want to watch?


That is where a Christmas morning time lapse videos come in. It’s the perfect way to remember the holiday, packaged in a format that is short enough that people will actually watch it.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, what is a time lapse video? Effectively, it’s a series of photographs, taken at consistent intervals (say, every 20 seconds) and output into a movie. You probably remember seeing them in school when you could watch a flower bloom, or a sunrise turn to a sunset over a city. And it’s that compression of time that lets you take your entire Christmas morning and turn it into a video that is a minute or two long.

Now that you know what a time lapse is, you are probably wondering how you make one. Good news is, if you have a smart phone you are 90% of the way there. In addition to your smart phone, you’ll need a charger (because you are going to be letting your phone take photos for four hours so you’ll want to plug it in) and a tripod or stand. I’m a huge fan of these adjustable stands, but anything that will hold it still will work. You are also going to want to turn your phone to airplane mode, because your time lapse will get ruined if you get calls or texts.

If you have an iPhone, you are ready to go! Go into your camera, swipe left and choose Time Lapse. Your phone will automatically adjust the number of photos it takes and output a great (although basic) time lapse. Do you want a little more control? Grab the Hyperlapse app and it will let you control how many photos your phone takes per second even after you have recorded your time lapse. You can get more info on using your iPhone and Hyperlapse (including step by step instructions) from this iPhone Photography School article.

Now, if you have a newer Samsung, HTC or LG Android phone, you are also in luck! All of those phones will also have a built in way for you to capture a time lapse video. If your phone doesn’t have built in time lapse support, there are some great app options, including Time Lapse Camera, Framelapse and Microsoft Hyperlapse. If you want just a little bit more help, check out this great article from Wondershare.

Finally, if you don’t want to miss those important Christmas morning texts and phone calls there are lots of other options! If you have a GoPro, you can not only use it to take time lapse videos, but they are also easy to mount in different locations to get a unique angle for your video. Many point-and-click cameras have a time lapse mode, so check your user manual. You can even use the webcam built into your PC or Mac to shoot a time lapse, a quick Google search will turn up a bunch of different software options.

So you are all ready to record your time lapse and Christmas morning is rapidly approaching? Here are a couple of tips to make the best video possible:

  • Move your phone every hour or so to get a different perspective.
  • Make sure the area you are recording is well lit. Turn on the lights and open the curtains, just make sure you don’t face your camera directly into an open window or the light will blow out your images.
  • Grab some royalty free music from YouTube’s Audio Library. You can add the music to your video after it’s done recording, and using royalty free music will make it so your video doesn’t get pulled down from YouTube or Facebook when you share it.
  • Try out the settings on your phone or camera ahead of time, so you can find a speed that works for you (and the length of time you are going to be recording). You don’t want to be messing around with settings while the kids are waiting to open presents.
  • Don’t setup your camera directly next to where someone is sitting. You don’t need an hour of time lapse video featuring the side of Aunt Mildred’s head.
  • Have fun! Let the kids make funny faces and mug for the camera. They will only last for a couple of frames and they can add a bit of excitement to the final video.

Now go out, have fun and make sure to tag us in the video when you post it to social media!

About Cliff Johnson

Cliff LOVES Christmas (but isn't a fan of snow). So he moved to from Utah to Seattle to work at Warm 106.9, the best Christmas station on the planet and now co-hosts their Christmas podcast 'We're So Xmas'! When he's not watching A Christmas Story or listening to his favorite Christmas album (Barenaked...For the Holidays) he's probably podcasting about video games (which TBH, make great holiday gifts!)