Oh Joy

how to choose outfits for family photos... 18 Nov 2015

how to choose outfits for family photos

Every year, I have friends frantically texting me as they prep for their family photos asking about the outfits they have chosen and what their kids or husband should wear. It’s the one time a year that people might spend a bit more time choosing that special outfit for the whole family. Picking out outfits for my family is actually really fun for me because to me it’s like a design challenge that involves a lot of the same components of color, texture, and balance that I keep in mind when putting together any other image (that's the art school part of me coming out). Whether you’re taking photos of you and your partner, you and your pup, or you and your family of 15, I've partnered with Artifact Uprising to share my tips for choosing outfits for family photos with some outtakes from this year's holiday card to demonstrate…

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

1. Dressing for the environment. The first thing to think about is how casual or dressy you want to be. I say you should wear something more special than your average casual Saturday because...why not? If you’re spending time to take these family photos, you should use it as a chance to wear something a little extra special. That doesn’t mean you need to go black tie and wear a ball gown to the park, but dress so you feel excited about what you’re wearing and so your kids are excited, too. Also, think about where you’re shooting the photos. If you’re going to the beach, then soft flowy pieces look great in the wind. Or if it’s a snowy/winter scene then cozy on up so that the scene feels like a moment out of your real life. This year, we chose a modern, urban setting outside the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

2. Color and texture. When outfitting a the whole family, I compose a set of outfits the way I would a full scene—balance, texture, and color come into play. If you have a certain stand-out color or pattern, you want to see that pop of color/pattern in a couple places so that it doesn’t stand out in only one spot. In our case, we have a couple hits of neon yellow, a couple hits of black, a few neutral stripes, and some blush throughout. Men and boys can be the hardest to dress because there are far less options in male clothing (poor guys). But if you love color and want to incorporate it in their outfits as well, find smaller areas like a cool belt, a bow tie, hat, or shoes where they can wear a pop of color and feel comfortable in that shade (check out Bob's blush shoes!). Also, think about textures. If you’re taking your photos in a very modern setting that has strong lines and not a lot of color, it could be nice to balance that out with some clothing that has some softness or texture to it (hence our soft skirts and dresses). Also, across the board, I typically avoid wearing all white, all black, or anything with bold logos or typography.

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

3. Complement without being too matchy matchy. Unless you are going for the Ugly Christmas Sweater look, I like to have some elements of the family outfits that match or complement without anyone wearing the same exact outfit. For example, if you have multiple kids, they can wear similar colors or patterns. Or, they can wear the same style of dress or shirt but in different colors or patterns. That way there are parts of the outfits that are the same without the full head-to-toe outfit being the same. Ruby and Coco are two slightly different dresses in the same pattern, but to avoid them looking too matchy, I gave them different tops to wear over the dresses. Same goes for the grown-ups, try to have part of your outfit link back to one other person in the photos even with a touch of the same color or pattern. 

How to Choose Outfits for a Family Photo

4. Try on the clothes before you take photos. Especially if kids are involved, make sure they've tried on the full outfit ahead of time. I can't even keep track of the number of times I've put on a new pair of shoes or a new dress and Ruby doesn’t want to wear it cause they hurt her feet or something itches. Or sometimes you’ve been saving a super special piece of clothing for a few months and then your kid outgrows it before they go to wear it. So do a test run in the full outfit beforehand so you and your kids are in comfortable clothes that fit! (For example, the outfits above were what I had planned for the kids this year. But Ruby would not wearing the stockings because she felt too hot in them, she outgrew the shoes I planned for her, and we decided not to have Coco wear the headband in fear of it constantly falling off during shooting). So we simply took out some of the unnecessary accessories and switched out Ruby’s shoes for a bigger pair we already had.

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

5. Be comfortable to look comfortable. You might see this as a chance to step outside your box and wear something more risqué, more glamorous, or more colorful. But don’t wear something you wouldn’t normally wear. Bob and I both wore clothes we already owned and have worn before this day. These photos should look like you and your family—just a bit more special. And if you don't feel like you or you’re uncomfortable in any way, it will show in the photos. Oh, if you have kids, don't forget to take a photo of you and your partner without the kids. I know it can be hectic to take family photos, but if someone can entertain your kids for a few minutes so you can snap a shot together, it's well worth it.

how to choose outfits for family photos

And, now here's a peek at our holiday card for this year! I hope these tips help you for your holiday photo, future family photos, or for any other special occasion coming up!

P.S. Two fun things...

1) Artifact Uprising has kindly offered 10% off holiday card printing with code OHJOYTEN valid through December 2, 2015. AND...

2) You can enter your email address in the box below to enter to win $250 credit towards printing your cards with Artifact Uprising. Entries close on December 2, 2015.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Artifact Uprising—a brand I've been using and loving for years. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and original content like this for Oh Joy.

{Photos from this year's family photo by Morgan Pansing. Past family photos from card's past: Max Wanger and Jesse Chamberlin (sparkly streamers card), Katherine and Luke Griffin (bougainvillea running and family montage). Still life photos of the cards by Casey Brodley, styling by Ariel Fulmer. Outfit details: Joy's sweater from J.Crew, skirt from Darccy, shoes from Target, necklace from Lou Lou Lollipop Finery. Bob's shirt from Apolis, pants by Betabrand, shoes from Greats. Ruby's dress by Two Els, cardigan from Crew Cuts, shoes by Zuzii. Coco's dress by Two Els, top by Crew & Lushoes by Zuzii, hair pin by Homako.}

apple pie adventures... 12 Nov 2015


It's finally feeling like fall here in LA in the last couple weeks, and I'm just loving it. As a child of immigrant parents, we never did seasonal things like apple picking (my parents just weren't aware of it because it wasn't a part of their culture). So it's been fun starting new traditions like this with my own family. Since we all love apple pie so very much, a few weeks ago, we took the kids apple picking so that we could show them what goes into (eventually) making an apple pie. Click on the video below to see our Apple Pie Adventures and subscribe to the Oh Joy channel for more videos!

And if you want to recreate my favorite apple pie, see more below!


on being different... 9 Nov 2015

Teaching Kids About Being Different

A few months ago, Ruby went through a phase where she kept saying, "I just want to be normal." She didn't like it when we said she was funny or cute or entertaining. She would get upset, stop whatever she was doing, shrug her shoulders and proceed to tell us she just wanted to be normal. Of course, that upset me a lot because she doesn't yet realize that not "being normal" is what most people strive to be. The most successful and creative people in the world are those who think outside the box and who defy what's considered "normal".

While my husband and I knew it was a phase and tried not to worry about it too much, I knew that it was my job as her parent to keep telling her in small ways how we are all different and special and how really there is no "normal". Most of Ruby's friends come from mixed families and so we talk to her all the time about how every family is different and special.

To make it easier for her to visualize, we've been using these animals (leftover from Coco's birthday party). I asked her what they look like and what makes them each special. We talked about the different colors they had and also what sounds they make, how strong they are, and things they can do that no other animal can do. Then, when I asked her which one was the "normal" one. She said that none of them were normal and they were all special. Finally, we talked about what made her different and special. Now she's much more okay with not being normal and is more aware of trying to think about what makes her...well, her. 

(Now, let's queue the music that comes on at the end of every episode of Full House right about now...)

I know we'll struggle with this issue throughout her life as she grows and changes and strives to fit in and be accepted by her peers (I spent a good chunk of my tween years wishing I looked like the other girls in my class). But for now, I feel a small bit of relief that we're helping her become more aware of everyone's differences and enjoying the beauty of that.

I'd love to hear what you guys think and any things that have helped you with this type of thing in the past.

{Photo by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

Ranch Broccoli Mini Frittatas 29 Oct 2015

Ranch Broccoli Mini Frittatas

I definitely don't eat enough vegetables. And because I don't eat enough vegetables, I tend to forget to include a lot of vegetables in meals I cook for my kids (and clearly kids need vegetables for their little growing bodies). It's something I've really been working on and trying to get better about. 

In addition to fresh vegetables that I get at the farmers market, I always have frozen vegetables on hand because they are easy to add to a meal in a pinch and they still have as much of the nutritional value packed inside. Today, I've partnered with Birds Eye—a brand I use regularly—to create a recipe using their Flavor Full line that I know my kids (and hopefully other kids) will love. We recently made a mini version of the classic frittata which is an easy and delicious way to add veggies into a meal. And, with this mini version, both kids and adults will have fun eating them!

See how below...


dressing the babe / my wild animal... 28 Oct 2015

Dressing the Babe / Baby and Mama Style

Dressing the Babe / Baby and Mama Style

Dressing the Babe / Baby Style

Did I tell you guys I'm in a blue phase right now? There are a few pieces I have on heavy rotation right now that are all blue. So I took my little wild animal, Coco, out for a stroll to this awesome blue painted staircase in our neighborhood.

Dressing the Babe / Mama Style

Mama Outfit / Ok, so I had a bit of a #bloggerfail here and I wore different jeans than what we shot in these flats, so I'm gonna tell you about both which are two of my go-to jeans. 1. Spanx jeans (that help tuck in that not-so-flat post-baby stomach) and Madewell high-waisted jeans (worn in the live photos), 2. Target blouse (which is nice and blouse-y and looks great with a front tuck), 3. Loeffler Randall booties (which have been a staple for multiple years now), 4. En Soie bag.

Dressing the Babe / Baby Style

Babe Outfit / For my wild animal, a very special 5. Peacock dress by Mini Rodini (a good splurge dress for the holidays), 6. Mini Dressing fox knee socks, and 7. this pair of Freshly Picked moccs that lasts forever.

Dressing the Babe / Baby and Mama Style

Dressing the Babe / Baby and Mama Style

I used to hate LA as a tourist—I never got the appeal of this city. It wasn't until I moved here and lived here and got to know the real neighborhoods that I really started to love it and discover what it has to offer. This wall couldn't have expressed my love and (now) feelings for Los Angeles more... 

{Photos by Casey Brodley, flat styling by Ariel Fulmer, outfit styling by Joy Cho, mural by Evelyn Leigh. Coco is 12 months and starting to learn some sass from her big sister.}

four cool kid's rooms... 15 Oct 2015

Room by Project M+

One of my favorite spaces to see and be inspired by (in real life, on the Internet, or in magazines) are kid's rooms. They are always more fun, more whimsical, and have less limitations design-wise than a grown-ups bedroom. Why don't I have animal wallpaper in my bedroom or a giant mobile hanging over my bed? So, today I wanted to share a few of my favorite kid's room design by the Emily Henderson

If I had to turn to anyone to help me decorate and style my house, it would be Emily (and it has been her). We met five years ago when I auditioned to have our house made over on her Secrets of a Stylist show. We quickly became real life friends thanks to a mutual love of design, The Bachelor, and Ryan Gosling. I've been lucky to have her help me with many rooms of my home and my studio as well. She has an impeccable eye, she's funny, and she's having an amazing year with so much success both in her professional and her personal life (her 2nd baby is due any day now!).  

Ok, so back to these rooms that Emily design...what I love about all of them is that the nurseries don't feel too baby. Like you could see a kid growing and getting bigger in these rooms for years until they become a tween and have a lot more opinions on what they want in their room. Here are some of my faves...


ruby's 4th birthday party! 12 Oct 2015

Oh Joy / Ruby's 4th Birthday

Today, my sassy and spunky Ruby turns four. Over the weekend, we celebrated with a small party at a local dance school where the kids learned some fun hip hop ballet moves and shook their booties to T.Swift, Justin Bieber, and Meghan Trainor. It was pretty cute to watch...


ruby's 4th birthday prep! 7 Oct 2015

A Fruity Dance Party

You guys, Ruby turns FOUR on Monday! This weekend we are celebrating her birthday with a small party with a handful of her four-year-old friends with a hip-hop/ballet party at her dance school. I usually share photos of our parties after they take place but I thought it would be a fun change to show you what I am setting up, too. So you can see how it all comes together afterwards.

Here are some of the things I've prepped for the party...

01. Decor - When you're having a party in a space that is not your home, I'm all about getting things that are easy to set-up on the fly. Often, you only have 30 minutes to get everything together so anything that pops-up and stands up easily is very helpful. I'll be using a bunch of these fruit poufs to decorate the little tables that the dance school os providing.

02. Outfits - Since it's a fruit theme, Ruby and Coco will be decked out in their fruity gear. Ruby's pairing her favorite strawberry tank with this crazy, amazing pom-pom skirt we got just for her birthday and some gold ballet flats for dancing. Although Coco can't quite dance yet, she'll be crawling around in her orange romper and moccasins.

03. Table - Paper plates are one of my favorite things ever because it makes clean-up so easy and they come in the best colors and patterns. I got a ton of fruity paper plates, cups, and trays. Her cake will be chocolate and fruit-filled and topped with this glittery cake topper.

04. Balloons - We won't have too many balloons, but just a giant watermelon to hang outside which I'm planning to combine with some hanging fruit poufs that I'll have leftover from the table decor.

05. Favors - For favors, we made fruity wands that the kids will get to dance and play with. And we're giving them a fun fruit tattoo and these cool kaleidoscope cameras.

I've personally requested a lot of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift songs, so there might be some mamas (aka me) dancing with the kiddos, too!

{Photos by Casey Brodley, styling by Joy Cho}

a kid's supper that gives back... 6 Oct 2015

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Every year for my kid’s birthdays, we ask our friends not to bring gifts, but donate to a charity instead. Or even to bring a gently used book they no longer need that we can collect and donate to other children. My kids are very lucky to have a decent life, and I want them to be aware of the fact that not all children have things like clothes, food, and a place to live. We started talking to Ruby about helping others in need when she was two years old and have her help bring toys and clothes to a local charity every year for the holidays.  

This year, I hosted a FEED Supper as part of a wonderful initiative that FEED Projects organizes every fall to help provide meals for children in need. Rather than limiting the dinner to just my friends for a fancy adult dinner party, I wanted to include our children in the supper and create a couple hours that would be enjoyable for both parents and kids, but also to expose the kids to the idea that they can help other children, too. And, we all had a great night in the process. Here are some details of the supper if you'd like to see...

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

We held the event in a small restaurant-like space called The Salon at Heirloom LA that our friends at Heirloom use for food tastings and small events which worked perfectly for our small dinner and ravioli-making demonstration for the kids. I love the casual non-fussy nature of floor seating, so we used a single long coffee table as a table for the kids to sit right on the floor for dinner. It was like a fancy picnic!

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Moon Canyon helped bring autumn to our dinner with florals. We kept any larger florals higher up where the kids couldn't reach and made sure anything within their reach weren't too fussy and could withstand being man handled by kids. I especially loves the leaves, apples, and persimmon on the tables that brought warmth without being too precious.

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Ruby loves helping to bake and cook and help make things whenever she can. When kids can see the result of something they have made, it gives them pride and makes them even more excited to make it. So I worked with Matt and Tara of Heirloom LA to come up with something the kids could enjoy for this FEED Supper. Matt (the chef) came up with the idea to make their own ravioli and then they’d boil them in the kitchen, add sauce, and let them enjoy the fruits of their labor for dinner!

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

You would think it might be hard to get 8 kids (from ages 2-11 to stay still and make ravioli, but they loved getting to be a part of the process. It was interactive, fun for both the kids and adults, and a really fun way for all of us to spend a couple hours together to raise awareness for a great cause. If making ravioli seems to complicated for your own supper, think of other types of foods kids can easily make or customize themselves (pizza, tacos, pancakes, etc.) I mean, LOOK at this pasta the kids made!

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Oh Joy Kid's FEED Supper

Young children don’t usually understand the words “charity” or “giving back”, so when talking to kids about helping and giving back, it helps to give them examples that they can understand. For example: How would you feel if you didn’t have shoes to wear to school? Or what if you didn’t have a warm, cozy bed? By having them imagine what that would be like, they are more likely to understand and empathize for the children you are hoping to help. By telling them the number of kids we were able to help feed, it helped them to understand the impact we were making together.

So far over 1 million meals have been provided by the FEED Supper held just in the last couple weeks. It's crazy to think that you can give 10 meals with just $1.10. I encourage you to host your own FEED Supper and collect donations however you see fit. Or, if you're not able to host one yourself and would like to donate, you can visit my page right here.

Thanks so much to all the families who joined us!


Creative direction: Joy Cho

Production and set-up: Ariel Fulmer and Casey Brodley

Catering and venue: Heirloom LA

Furniture and pillows: Circa Rentals

Florals: Moon Canyon

Photos: Casey Brodley for Oh Joy

party planning... 28 Sep 2015

10 Favorite Party Pieces / Oh Joy

With two kids born in October, next month is turning out to be a party-packed month for us! Ruby is having a Fruity Dance Party with just a handful of her closest friends while Coco is having a Confetti Wild Animal Party filled with mostly our friends (you know how 1st birthdays go). Since I've been all over the web looking for various party ideas and decor, I wanted to share some of my favorites I've come across recently...

1. Little Cat Design Co. cake toppers, 2. Poppies for Grace feather garland, 3. Fuji Instax dotty film, 4. Poppies for Grace honeycomb fancy, 5. assorted animals from Michael's, 6. fruit honeycomb from Oh Happy Day, 7. jumbo confetti from Urban Outfitters,  8. cake toppers from Anthropologie, 9. Poppies for Grace gold candles, 10. scalloped gold bowls from Oh Happy Day shop.

P.S. Ruby's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd birthday parties...


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