Every other Christmas card I got back then from my friends featured a handsome fella, his pretty blonde wife and their adorable kids all decked out in holiday sweaters sitting in front of their fireplace, golden retriever at their side.

I couldn’t relate.

So I decided to show ‘em how Christmas was celebrated at Ken Shore’s house, by God. I emptied out a few bottles that just happened to be laying around and created a typical night there at 1218 Barnard Drive.

I had no idea what I’d started.

Favorite Captions:
+ Every night is the “Fifth” night of Christmas around here.
+ Sleeping it off in heavenly peace.


People had already started asking about a follow-up to the “Fifth” night of Christmas card. There was a tattoo parlor about a block from my office downtown. Who knows where the inspiration came from for this one.

My art director/partner Bill Verrill did the painting on my arm. Then we headed over to Las Vegas Tattoo Parlor where this guy “Doc” was cool enough to play along. Bill snapped the shot here.

Favorite Caption:
+ Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.


No doubt about it, the Shore Christmas Card came into its own with this entry. It was the first one that had a plot to it (and also the first one with a set and a professional photographer, Greg Cava). I’d gotten married in the off-season, which made it possible (actually made it necessary) to do more than a quick read, in-your-face take.

Here, poor ol’ Santa didn’t know what he was up against when playing strip poker with the Shores. I’m catching an ace under the table from Debi while Santa is completely bewildered by his inexplicable run of bad luck.

Note: check out that mullet!

Favorite Caption:
+ Welcome to Vegas, fat boy.


I refused to work with a net on this one and I paid the price. Moments after this shot was taken (again, by Greg Cava) the mechanism I devised to hang me upside down failed. My head hit the concrete from a height of about three feet and put some blood down on the sidewalk.

Favorite Captions:
+ Don’t do this.
+ Bad idea.


After almost 500 years, Raphael’s angels made a huge comeback in 1995. They were everywhere! They were a merchandising mega-hit, appearing on T-shirts, coffee mugs, watches, aprons, you name it. The post office even had holiday postage stamps featuring the 2-winged angel that year. We had to take a shot at that icon when Christmas rolled around.

Bill Verrill once again did amazing work on the card, painting both the wings and the backdrop for this one, which was yet again shot by Greg Cava in his studio.

Favorite Caption:
+ That sound you just heard was Raphael rolling over in his grave.


This one got away from us. Dave Bassett did a wonderful job taking the pictures (the tree, me in fisheye and Debi in fisheye) over at Studio West, but it went downhill from there. An art director at our agency who shall remain nameless charged us an arm and a leg to do a little Photoshop number on the images. Then a photo lab owner who shall remain nameless showed no holiday spirit when it came time to transferring that digital file to film for the cards to be made. It wound up costing more money than we had at the time. It wouldn’t be the most expensive card we ever did, but it certainly was in 1996 dollars.

Favorite Caption:
+ (None come to mind.)


After that very first card from 1991 (still and always my sentimental favorite) this one may be at the top of my list. I remember seeing a photo on a Michelle Shocked album where she was getting arrested and roughed up a bit by the police. I loved the frozen action and raw truth of that shot. Our friend Wes Isbutt captured that same feel perfectly here, I think.

I went up to the Mt. Charleston ranger station to recruit someone to play the part of the ranger. I took all the previous Christmas cards up to show them the twisted tradition of the cards. This Nevada Division of Forestry ranger (whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten) said he’d be glad to help. So much help, in fact, that he actually pilfered this sign we used in the picture from the U.S. Department of Forestry. What a guy!

Wes shot 3 rolls (108 pictures) that day. In 107 of them, either Debi or the ranger was laughing his/her head off. This was the only usable one. But what a great one!

Favorite Caption:
+ (None come to mind. Besides, what could you write that would add to this picture?)


Debi and I divorced during the summer of ’98, leaving me once again to my twisted devices. I borrowed the bear trap from a funky downtown store called the Beaver Pelt, Mike Lawrence dummied up the “Zeke’s Reindeer Bait” box (their slogan at the bottom of the box: “A Taste of the Tundra”) and Wes Isbutt took the shot as well as providing the fake snow.

Favorite Caption:
+ Donner for Dinner
+ ’twas the Night before Christmas, and up on the roof, poor little Blitzen was gnawing his hoof.


Not since the very first card was one so patently wrong and undeniably disturbing as this one featuring a grotesque man in his underwear running off a group of young carolers with a .12 gauge. Who would even think of such an ugly thing?

The Ellis children were excellent terrified carolers, and their mom Pat was a wonderful sport. Happily the kids spent only a minimum of weeks in counseling after this shoot. Once again, Wes Isbutt did the honors.

Favorite Captions:
+ Silent night, my ass!
+ You better try RUNNING through a winter wonderland!
+ Chestnuts roasting on a what? Did someone say "open fire?"
+ I got your “boughs of holly” right here.


Big, big disappointment. I had a great idea, but it fell apart in production. Imagine a scene on Christmas morning. Slightly out of focus in the background is a Christmas tree with lights afire. Maybe some early morning light is creeping through the living room blinds. There would also be a few already unwrapped presents lying in front of the tree. And there in the foreground of it all is one of those inflatable punching clowns people my age remember well from our childhood. It was roughly bowling pin shaped with a weighted bottom. You’d hit the clown in the face and it would stand back up. But instead of a clown, it was a perfect caricature of me.

My art director, Mike Lawrence was going to do the artistic honors. But the vinyl that these things are made of wouldn’t accept the paint, so the idea had to be scrapped. And it was the last minute.

I thought about hiring a beautiful, big-haired blond and two adorable kids to pose with me on my fireplace hearth in front of stockings hanging from the mantel. All of us would be wearing saccharinely sweet holiday sweaters. It would be a knock-off of those Christmas cards I was originally mocking in that very first card in 1991. Only in my version, there’d be no explanation of who these people were or why they were with me. I don’t remember why I never pulled the trigger on that one, but I wish I had.

I also thought of another concept in which I was absent. In this one, the camera is looking at the backs of my two labs, Moose and Basco, who are looking up at the mantel where their own stockings hang. Inside each of their stockings would be a tiny kitten. It would be left up to the viewer’s imagination as to what would become of the kittens. But, Wes, my photographer insisted that short of stapling the kitties into the stockings, there would be no way to keep them still long enough to get a shot off.

In the end, I didn’t send anything out at all that year. I got lots of phone calls and emails from people who assumed I took them off the list. They wondered what they did to make me mad that year and what could they do to get back on the Christmas card list.


Most people think I’m responsible for the twisted ideas behind these cards. And up to this year, they would have been right. But my sweet-as-pie, Catholic-as-the-Pope wife came up with this one. “Here’s what I’m thinking,” she said to me one night in late November. “The card has you and your friends all watching a stripper in our house. Then I come in unexpectedly early from an evening of Christmas shopping and surprise you all.” If the first words out of my mouth that very second weren’t, “Woman, I love you!” they should have been.

Once again, Wes came through on this one, providing the photography, the lighting and the stripper.

For some reason, the thing came together so fast that I wound up calling everyone at the last minute. Ordinarily, I couldn’t have gotten these guys to help me do anything more than, maybe, drain a bottle of whiskey. But when I explained what I needed help with (staring at a naked woman in my living room with my wife’s blessing) they all showed up without hesitation, no matter what they already had going on that night. Mike Lawrence (second row, showing titty of his own) for instance, had just had his wisdom teeth pulled that very day. He shows up, pain and all. Chris Weir (second row, blue sweater, white boa) was celebrating his birthday that day. He told his wife that birthday dinner plans had changed. Similarly, Jesse Leeds (front row, cigar in hand) had a babysitter that night and he and his wife were going to have the first quiet romantic dinner out together since the kids were born. “Sorry, baby, my man Ken needs me.” Jim Snyder (front row, red bow, dollar in mouth) even brought his wife along. As for Bill George (front row center…best seat in the house) and Tom Hawley (back row, hiding his boner), when I called each of them on the phone, I think they appeared at my front door before I even got the word “stripper” out of my mouth.

On a tragic note, take a look at where everyone is looking. All my boys (and even my wife) get to stare at the stripper’s bare chest. Who’s the only person in the room who doesn’t get to feast eyes on the boobs? Pity. I heard they were fantastic.

Favorite Captions:
+ Uh-oh!
+ D-I-V-O-R-C-E


We finally got around to doing this idea, which I’d had in my head for years. I could never come up with the right gift to be bringing the newborn King. I’m not sure the pogo stick was the best gift, but that’s what we settled on. The production value made up for it. Wes and I built the manger in his studio and garbed out friends Mike Wardle, Sonny Mathias and Mike McDuffie to be Caspar, Balthasar and Melchior.

Favorite Captions:
+ Really. What do you get the kid who has everything?
+ Enough with the adoration already, we’ve got another party to go to.


Another Holly concept here. (I don’t know how she ever came up with the idea of me having a car wreck.) In this one, Bill Verrill reprises his 1993 role as Santa Claus, and our friend Gordy McGhie (a real Metro officer) is the cop.

This one still haunts me to this day. The shot Wes insisted we use had me cowering, as Gordy held back the irate Santa from kicking my butt. I looked so much like a craven sissy that I refused to use it. But Wes was right. I was wrong. It was a much better shot than the one we actually used, and my vanity kept you all from seeing it. Until now. The shot below is what should have gone out.

Favorite captions:
+ We know who the cop is gonna believe.
+ I’m so totally screwed.


By this time, I think we were worn out coming up with new ideas. Each year, we’d start dreading the “what are we going to do to top last year” syndrome somewhere in mid-July and be uneasy until something came to us in mid-November. But we couldn’t quit doing the cards.

So as a way to kind of let everyone know that this chapter of scenario-based Christmas scenes was coming to an end, Holly came up with this genius idea of having everyone from all the previous cards show up for Christmas dinner at our house as a final coda to this 14-year run. The shoot was really a party/reunion atmosphere at Studio West.

Below are the cards that got reprised:
1991 – Me in the familiar position of facedown drunk.
1992 – We lost track of Doc from Las Vegas Tattoos (gee, what are the odds), so Rob Catalano filled in.
1993 – Bill “Santa Claus” Verrill is probably telling the cop how he got fleeced by a couple of poker cheats a few years earlier.
1995 – Debi came back and donned her cherub wing, and got the same Christmas tree tattoo that I got from the '92 card.
1997 – We couldn’t track down that original forest ranger, so Kerry Wilson donned the gear.
1999 – One of my carolers, Mary Ellis was in town and helped out.
2001 – Four of my six “strip club buddies” showed up but not the original stripper. The sub was brunette, so we Photoshopped her hair blond.
2002 – None of the original wise men were available, so Donald Petross filled in for Mike McDuffie and Dana Wagner took Sonny’s robe.
2003 – Sadie Belle is down at the far end of the table with Mary, while Gordy the cop and Bill “Santa” Verrill reminisce.

A terrifying moment happened after this shoot while we were all standing around chatting. Holly looked up and noticed that Sadie Belle—all of 20 months old—was nowhere to be seen. The studio is on the second floor and there were two separate steep stairs leading straight down. Everyone was in a panic, calling out her name and fearing the worst. Finally, true hero that he is, Gordy the cop came carrying our girl down the stairs from the roof(!) where she’d been sitting and eating a cookie some 30 feet above the pavement, oblivious to the chaos she’d created. We still get sick thinking about it.

Favorite caption:
+ We got the band back together for one last gig.


(Printed Caption Inside)
FRONT: While Holly, Sadie Belle and Baxter
all loved the sledding expedition, Kenny was
left questioning the wisdom of having
purchased an off-brand toupee adhesive.

For a couple of years, Holly had been wanting to do a Norman Rockwell treatment for a Christmas card. There were two problems keeping us from it, though. For one, we couldn’t come up with a great Rockwell-esque Christmas scene. Secondly, where could we find someone who could pull it off? We came up with both in 2005. Wes shot individual photos of each of us (including Michael Manfredi for the deep background), then handed them over to an incredible artist named Tanenbaum (great coincidence, eh?) who gave us this amazing Rockwellian portrait. This was, far and away, the costliest Christmas card we’ve produced, but we got a fantastic 26x20 framed, original canvas painting out of the deal. We hang it up every holiday season.


Somewhere in the late 1990s, we started getting Christmas cards that were reproductions of crayon drawings by the children of our friends. By 2006, that phenomenon had grown, and was begging for a little send-up. We kept coming up with unsatisfactory parodies until my sweet wife once again stepped up with a naughty solution. The drawing, purportedly by Sadie Belle, would feature a scene where Dad walks in on Mom and Santa Claus in the sack.

The idea was perfect, but the execution was a nightmare. We asked two different professional illustrators to draw such a picture the way a small child would in crayon. What could be easier, right? But neither could get it to look right, and they both wound up throwing their hands up. Finally, Holly took a hack at it and produced this great scene. Check out the tears shooting out of Dad’s eyes. Just wonderful!

Favorite captions:
+ Kenny told me to put out cookies and milk for Santa. I somehow missed the “cookies and milk” part.
+ I suppose next year’s mall photo is gonna be a bit awkward.
+ Well, it’s no longer a mystery where the giant plasma TV came from this year.
+ Can you believe some moms actually camped out for a Playstation 3? Amateurs


Another Holly concept. After two years away from the original one-shot photo story, we went back to it with this snow angel scene. It’s a beautifully self-evident shot: an instant “read” and one of our best-executed visuals. Simple idea. Excellent shots by Dave Bassett (this is actually a composite of four different shots) up at Mt. Charleston and some... well, heavenly Photoshop work by Steve Krall.


Mid-November rolled around without either of us having an idea for this year’s card. In the spirit of the very first card (spoofing the traditional “happy, pretty family” portrait), this seemed like a natural. The original idea was to have a nice portrait on the front of a card, with dozens of “outtakes” on the inside. But after fiddling with copy and layouts, we decided to go simple. Here's more of the chaos that took place in Jerry Metellus’ studio during that shoot.


This idea was all Holly. I had a good idea for this year's card. She had a great one: Frosty cashes his last check. CSI Las Vegas investigates. You-know-who takes the rap.

We went to Wes again to shoot (for the 8th time). He provided the perfect framing, the perfect background (behind one of his downtown properties, grit and all) and even going so far as to provide his wife Debra as the CSI investigator.

Officer Gordy McGhie, one of Las Vegas' finest (in every sense of the word) made his third appearance in one of our cards. I guess that pretty much says it all about the Shores: a cop has been featured on three separate occasions in our Christmas greetings. How long, o Lord, how long?


For once the idea for the 2010 card wasn't a last-minute rabbit pulled out of our hat. It was hatched while shooting the 2009 card. Also for once, it didn't come from either of us. It was the brainchild of Debra Heiser, the CSI cop holding the hair dryer in the Frosty card who is also married to Wes, the photographer that year. She said, "You guys ought to do a police line-up with the kids and Santa."

Holly and I kind of winced when she came up with it, because A) we knew it was a great idea, and B) we couldn't take credit for it ourselves.

Still, we could never get away from it, so we said, "To heck with it...let's do it."

Scott Robertson shot this one, and is probably sorry he did now. He, and two of his merry men, Brad & Dan, spent hours upon hours on the computer building a composite of four shots from our made-up set. We had to build our own line-up because we found out that those police line-up rooms haven't really existed in years. We had asked three different friends of ours, a detective, a public defender an an assistant DA, for help in getting one of those rooms. The answer came back the same every time ("We pretty much use photos and computers these days...I don't know if we still even have one in Las Vegas.").

Once again Bill Verrill was our Santa Claus and my old partner David Squier filled in as the detective.


Parents, we've all been here, no?

A) It's late.
B) You're tired.
C) You're grouchy.
D) You know you're going to have to get up absurdly early the next morning when the kids do.

And what may or may not be simple instructions, become (due to A, B, C and/or D) incomprehensible, maddening gibberish. Dad curses some foreign manufacturer for its shoddy translation on the instruction booklet. ("Is there NOTHING made in this damn country anymore?")

Mom second-guesses her choice of a spouse. ("That guy I dated my senior year may not have been as fun, but I guarantee HE'D sure as hell know how to put a simple bicycle together.")

A lovely portrait of modern Christmas. Norman Rockwell might have painted this exact scene were he still alive.

Scott Robertson and Brad Blyzwick did the job again this year. And what a job! This is actually a composite of four photos.


This was another self-referential card. Apparently, we get reflective every election year (as we did in 2004 and 2008) and make a card about our cards. They seem to get more and more involved with each year. Bigger productions with bigger casts and expanding budgets. The kind of Christmas cards Cecil B. DeMille would have made. So we decided to parody that by creating a scene as if we were casting for the next Christmas card complete with all the usual absurdities. 

Our “cast of thousands” was Jeff Croshaw as the tall bunny, a showgirl who we rented and whose name I have no idea of, Holly’s mom Kim as Mary Poppins, Jonathan Sudbury as the tattooed inmate, John Eary ad texting Spiderman, Nick Ponzo as the Hasidic rock-paper-scissoring rabbai and Father Bill Kenny as, well, Father Bill Kenny.

Putting all this together was the amazing (both in talent and patience) Greg Anderson whose work you can see more of at http://gregandersonphoto.com.


December 20, 2013
Holly to Kenny: “Are you shittin' me? Didn't we just shoot a Christmas card?” 

And so the creative process begins anew each year. It just seems to happen a tad later each year. Which is why 2013 was the first year that our card didn't hit the mailboxes until after Christmas. 

But that lateness worked right into this year’s sendup of the nauseating cliché of a husband leading the little woman out to the driveway on Christmas morning and surprising her with the keys to a brand new giftwrapped car.

That whole scene is insulting to sensible men everywhere who would never dream of such a ridiculous gesture. Why show up every other man in the neighborhood? Any guy who would pull a stunt like that deserves to have it blow up in his face. Screw him.

Thanks to Lexus of Las Vegas for the car and the red bow, Jeff Croshaw and Andrea Gillman for rocking robes & PJs in our neighbor's driveway, and Steve Krall for the Photoshop magic. Finally, props to Baxter for coming up with the idea of hugging the car. It looks like this idiot tradition of ours may continue on to the next generation.


This is, without a doubt, the most realistic Christmas card we’ve ever done. It was two weeks before Christmas, and we had no concepts of what to do this year. Or we did have concepts, but hated every one of them. So we said, “Screw it. That’s the card right there. A tribute to our own creative bankruptcy.” 

And so this card came to be. Hopefully, we’ll get inspired again before next year. 

For the third consecutive year, Greg Anderson lent his tremendous talents and vision to the photo.