Stephan Lee
November 19, 2011 AT 03:09 PM EST

Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, the creative minds behind Awkward Family Photos and Awkward Family Pet Photos, have some tips for capturing your holiday memories for eternity:

1. Show the world that your family has the most holiday spirit by forming a human Christmas tree, a wreathe, or a menorah.

2. Bring your pet to sit on Santa’s Lap. Not only will it freak out your pet, but it will also let your friends and family know that you have freaked out your pet.

3. Include a topless man in your photo … related or unrelated. Doesn’t matter who. Always awkward.

4. Pose in front of a fireplace wearing matching turtlenecks. It says we’re a family, we’re warm, and we want to make you uncomfortable.

To get yourself in the holiday spirit, check out these family — and pet! — photos from the most awkward time of the year:

SCARY SANTA

A kid can always detect an imposter.

NEXT: Attack of the Christmas sweaters …

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