As AWeber’s Brand Designer, there is nothing I hate more than seeing holiday emails plastered with red and green, and images of holly, Christmas trees, and presents. These messages are often garish and difficult to read. And after your subscribers have seen dozens of similar holiday messages, they’re likely to ignore yours. But that doesn’t need to be the case! To help you design beautiful, stand-out emails this holiday season, I’ve compiled my best holiday design tips. No graphic designer needed!

Think outside of the (in)box

One of the easiest and best ways to gain inspiration for your design is to see how other successful companies design their emails. A great resource for email design inspiration is Really Good Emails, a database of emails from various companies. But instead of (just) searching for terms like “Christmas,” “Holiday,” or “Black Friday” for email examples, try brainstorming some unique keywords that make you think of the holiday season. For example, you could try one of the following search terms:

  • winter
  • gift wrap
  • greenery
  • hot chocolate
  • cookies

I found this email by Prezi in my search for “winter.” It’s a great example of an email with subtle, yet effective, holiday design.

holiday email design example Prezi combines their brand palette of blues and white with a splash of red and gold, to add some holiday cheer. By doing so, The email still feels “on brand” and recognizable to their customers. They also use snowflakes in their header image to add to the festive feel.

Be true to your brand

What colors represent your brand? If you’re not sure, take a look at your logo, website, previous emails, or social media images. What colors are most prominent? For example, AWeber’s logo uses a royal blue and light gray. Our website features a larger palette of green, light blue, and white. AWeber home page Instead of just using red and green as our main colors for a holiday email, I would first pull from the selection on our homepage and use supporting images to give it some holiday sparkle. If your branding colors don’t remotely remind you of the holidays, still use 2 to 3 of your most prominent colors. Then, add pops of gold, red, green, or silver in very small amounts. Because AWeber’s colors have a winter feel with blues and grays, I’ll play up that feeling with snowy graphics. I still want to add an additional pop of holiday red and brand green that will support my identified color palette. Holiday email color palette

Use unique and eye-catching imagery

One of the best ways to spice up your holiday emails is with themed images. And you don’t need a graphic designer or a custom photo budget to do so. There are many free resources you can take advantage of, like stock photos. Stock photos are images that anyone can use creatively. They’re often a quick, professional, and inexpensive (or even free!) option. For free stock photos, search and Use the list of unique holiday words you brainstormed or a different word that aligns with your theme as keywords in your photo search. Once you find the perfect image, think about ways you can customize it to match your brand. If you need some tips, this post has easy ways to brand your images for free. Another fun and attention-grabbing option is to use animated GIFs within your email. If you have no idea how to make a GIF, we did the work for you! Our 2018 Holiday GIF package has the latest and greatest seasonal GIFs. Simply download one of our free GIFs and upload it to your next holiday email. Here’s an email I designed that’s simple but still has a recognizable holiday twist.

Spruce up your own emails.

Remember, the best-designed emails are simple and easy to read. The less color the better when it comes to your email. Limit your colors to 3 to 5 choices, and only 1 (maybe 2) images. Try out one of AWeber’s holiday email templates today for free. You can start your 30-day free trial here.