50 Christmas designs to inspire your 2015 holiday message

With Christmas just around the corner, many of us are purchasing the perfect gifts for our loved ones, staying up late decorating, and baking for holiday get togethers.

One of the last things many of us remember to do is send out Christmas cards, and we often find ourselves scrambling at the last minute to pull something together.

To save you the time and energy, we’ve curated 50 modern holiday designs to help inspire your holiday message, whether it be a corporate send out or a personal one. Using any of the holiday cards as reference will make your card sure to be a hit with all its recipients.

Let’s have a look.

01. Don’t Be Predictable

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Behance / Yiwen Lu

This holiday card is somewhat unconventional. It doesn’t stick with the standard Christmas color palette of red and green, but instead utilizes blue and pink. It’s not overly holiday themed either, since there are only a few holiday accents, which is refreshing and not expected.

02. Play With Illustrations

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Behance / Cherry Bomb Design Studio / Gemma Román

Elegant hand lettered typography pairs nicely alongside the cute illustration of children. The children are decorating the holiday message, which not only enforces the message but also creates more of a relationship between the characters and the type.

03. Keep it Simple

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Behance / Carli Alexander

Postcards, like the ones shown here, can be a nice break from the standard holiday greeting card set up. The illustrations and hand lettered quotes use the same color palette, which makes the cards feel connected and like a series. Everyone can receive their own unique post card, which is a great way to make people feel special and appreciated.

04. Be Graphic

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Behance / Lilly Marfy

The simple yet unique graphics of this holiday card give it an interesting, retro vibe. The layering of the red and blue ink produces interesting contrast, and helps to break up the repetitiveness of the pattern. This card is created using riso printing, an environmentally friendly printing technique that utilizes soy-based inks. So not only are you doing something nice for your fellow man by sending them a lovely card, but you’re doing something good for the earth as well.

05. Utilize Paper Sleeves

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Behance / Stevanus Kurniawan

This holiday card has an interactive element that is brought to life by the use of a paper sleeve with a circular cut out. When you see the card, you see a holiday themed graphic, and as you remove it from the sleeve the holiday message is revealed. It’s a fun and unique way to present a private, sentimental message.

06. Don’t Shy Away from Stylization

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Behance / Bryan Gallardo BS13

A detailed illustration of a festive reindeer graces the front of this card. The intricate detailing in the illustration gives a lovely, textured feel, and the subtle white dots resembling snow helps to balance the illustration and the colored background. The gradient in the background adds dimension, and also brings the color palette of the reindeer full circle.

07. Use Photography

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Behance / Anna Jarmolowicz / Justas Cekauskas

This card is something truly unique. Each figure is actually a photograph, but the way they are all paired together makes them appear more pattern-like and illustrative. All of the characters are the same two people, and it adds a very personal touch to the card. The way the type is laid in doesn’t feel forced, and it looks as though it is actually meant to be there.

08. Have an Elegant Touch

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Behance / Uma Brand Studio

This holiday card is extremely elegant. The subtle patterning is used not only on the card, but on its envelope as well. The contrast between the black card and white envelope is nice, and the subtleties between the illustration and background in the black card is wonderfully understated. It truly gives off a high-class, luxe feel.

09. Create Simple Illustrations

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Behance / Vintage Vectors Studio

To wow your card recipients you don’t have to create an incredibly detailed illustration. Quick and simple graphics can do just as great of a job, like in this holiday card. The simple graphic of Santa’s hat stands out against the background, and the strong shadow help make it feel more dimensional. The simplicity of the graphic pairs nicely with the slightly more detailed lettering, and helps achieve balance.

10. Add Sparkle

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Behance /Jen Rowland

Who doesn’t love a little sparkle and shine during the holiday season? This card incorporates a beautiful yellow gold foil into its illustration of a pine tree and pinecones. The foil stands out against the muted background and adds in an extra element that makes the otherwise simple illustration stand out.

11. Use Metaphors

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Behance / Yee Von Chan

This holiday card depicts an animal inspired Santa Claus with his notorious red bag full of presents. The bag is labeled ‘holiday cheer’, and relays the idea that inside this ruby red bag is just that. Not only is the cheer inside the bag, but also inside the card, which is metaphorically symbolized with the bag.

12. Use Literal Imagery

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Behance / Eglė Čiučiulkaitė / Ieva Stasevičiūtė

A message of warm wishes is paired with detailed illustrations of cozy stitched yarn in this simple holiday card. The use of the illustration is somewhat unorthodox and not quite expected, but when it’s paired with this particular message it brings forth visions of warm scarves and sweaters.

13. Illustrate Holiday Characters

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Behance / Josh Cleland

A message of warm wishes is paired with detailed illustrations of cozy stitched yarn in this simple holiday card. The use of the illustration is somewhat unorthodox and not quite expected, but when it’s paired with this particular message it brings forth visions of warm scarves and sweaters.

14. Break Tradition

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Behance / Ema Rogobete

At first glance, this card doesn’t look incredibly holiday like. The color scheme isn’t red and green, and the symbols don’t quite relay the holiday spirit either. That’s what makes this card unique. Simply adding in the message ‘Merry Christmas’ makes it holiday themed without having to be traditional with it.

15. Use Symbols

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Behance / Ema Rogobete

Graphic circles are used on this holiday card to represent the ornaments we so often decorate our trees with. They are unique and not quite so obvious, but when paired with the ‘seasons greetings’ banner, you feel the holiday spirit.

16. Have A Retro Twist

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Behance / Vintage Vectors Studio

This holiday card looks incredibly classic. The beige with red detailing, the subtle texture, and the scripted font really bring forward a retro, vintage feeling. The nostalgia makes the message seem truly genuine, and you can’t help but feel cheerful looking at it.

17. Use Interactivity

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Behance / Joseph Veazey

This card is fun, quirky, and unexpected. The colors, besides the green, aren’t holiday themed, and the illustration inside isn’t either. But, when you pull the tongue, ‘happy holidays’ appears, and suddenly it’s a holiday card. This card is great for people or businesses that don’t typically do things the ‘traditional’ way.

18. Use Illustrations As A Backdrop

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Behance / Salome NJ

This card could have simply used the black color on its own for the backdrop and still been nice to look at. Adding in the winter themed illustration really sets it over the top. The texture of the branches and the snow adds in nice dimension without detracting too much from the text.

19. Utilize Negative Space

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Dribbble / Adam Grason

White and light blue are used together to create interesting effects with negative space on this holiday card. The white of the snow seeps into the chilly blue of the hills, while also wrapping around the snow covered trees as tinsel. The simplicity of the illustration is beautiful, and really relays the spirit of Christmas.

20. Relate To Your Industry

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Dribbble / Tyler Anthony

This card uses its industry to its advantage. It takes a common phrase and spins it on its end and turns it into a joke. The illustration in the background has the overall shape of a Christmas tree, yet is actually a printer topped off with a star. It is simple, yet incredibly funny and effective.

21. Use Silhouettes

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Behance / Yuliana Selina

Soft yet vibrant colors are centrally focused on this card, drawing your attention inward and to the middle. A silhouette of white melts into a soft, fuzzy blue, and turns into wispy feathers and snowflakes. The beautiful blocks of color work together to create dimension and shape, and make the ornament really look three dimensional.

22. Let Others Fill In The Blanks

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Behance / Yuliana Selina

Similar to the last card, organic washes of color create a nice backdrop in the center of this card. Different from the last is the background color that breaks it up, and forms the year 2016. The ‘2’ and the ‘6’ aren’t super legible, which allows the reader to discover the message on their own.

23. Create Something Out of Something Else

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Behance / Taka Kusakari

Holiday themed icons come together to form the iconic Christmas character, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You can clearly see each icon that makes up the character, and it makes the message of the holiday quite clear. To balance the icon heavy image, round dots of snow surround it and help to ground it.

24. Merge Typography and Illustration

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Behance / Sebastián Andaur

This holiday card drops decorative ornaments from its message. The ornaments are simple shapes, yet really capture a bright, festive spirit. The incorporation of the triangular shapes and snowflakes adds nice ornamentation, and really makes this card dazzle.

25. Overlay Texture for Dimension

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Behance / Vintage Vectors Studio

Texture is used in this holiday card to make it not appear too flat. It is subtle, yet very effective. The texture is applied in two colors, the brown and cream, so it contributes to the color palette and ties everything together nicely.

26. Display Common Holiday Items

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Behance / Hilli Kushnir

This card is Hanukkah specific, and displays cute little illustrations of common things found during Hanukkah. Without even trying, this card is informational and educational, and could be sent out to people who don’t necessarily celebrate this particular holiday, but can appreciate it all the same.

27. Have A Sense Of Humor

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Behance / Hilli Kushnir

A cute illustration of a kitten relates to the message of this card, and gives the reader a nice chuckle. The kitten is tangled in Christmas lights, and the message encourages the recipient to have a light-filled holiday. The image on its own is humorous, but when paired with the subtle ‘I can explain’ next to the kitten, it becomes even funnier.

28. Use Flat Icons

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Behance / Imago Creata

Flat Christmas-themed icons grace the front of this holiday card. From presents to Santa’s hat, and from cookies to holiday punch, this card covers it all. The icons are relatively flat, but their slanty-ness and energy more than compensate.This card really displays some true icons of Christmas in a fun and cheery way.

29. Add Shine

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Behance / Joanna Jao

This card fills its text with a nice, shiny silver. It reflects in the light and looks hopeful, really bringing the message of good wishes to reality. The contrast of the yellowish gold paper offsets the silver nicely, and can be representative of good fortune in the new year.

30. Write Your Own Message

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Behance / Pauline Goan

A handwritten message graces the back of this card. The unique and personal touch really gives this card its own personality. The structured type on the front of the card offsets the tone of the type on the back, and provides a much needed contrast.

31. Hand-Draw Your Card

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Behance / Madelyn DiPasquale

This card for the College of Fine Arts & Design is unique because of its hand drawn quality. Everything from the type to the imagery was drawn out by hand, and really has personality. While you could certainly draw a unique card for everyone in your address book, it’s more efficient to draw one, then have it printed. It still retains the hand made feeling, yet you’ll have time to attend holiday parties.

32. Break Things Up

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Behance / Stevanus Kurniawan

The mismatched-ness of this card gives it a mathematical, scientific appearance. It’s a nice refresher from more run of the mill types of holiday cards, yet still relays a joyful message.

33. Manipulate Imagery

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Behance / Jon Rodriguez

This card for Buffalo Wild Wings takes a photograph of two beer glasses clanking together and turns it into something festive. The swirls of beer are manipulated to look like a Christmas tree, and the message inside solidifies the tongue in cheekiness of the brand.

34. Add Dimension to Your Text

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Behance / Reg Silva

The illustration of this bright and cheerful snowman stands out against the patterned background due to the many details it has within it. If the white text didn’t have the red accents, it would ‘melt’ into the background and not be quite so apparent. The red helps it to stand out, and also draws the color throughout the center of the card.

35. Make A Joke

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Behance / Kamho Yung

This holiday card will be appreciated by many a designer. To non-designers, this card just looks like a simple graphic of a Christmas tree. To those in the know, it’s actually the pen tool decorated as a Christmas tree. It is a wonderful way to send out well wishes while still having some fun.

36. Force People to Get Creative

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Behance / Fizz / Jasen Melnick / Katie Major

An insert inside this card allows people to make their own reindeer and trees. The interior of the holiday card serves as a backdrop, while the back of the card displays the actual holiday message. This card isn’t only fun to set up, but can serve as decor once completed.

37. Ditch the Card

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Behance / William Morgan-Harrold

In today’s technological age, paper cards could fall a little flat – pun intended. Instead of sending out a physical card, create a custom e-card. It not only allows you to send it to as many people as you want without costing a fortune in postage, but also saves precious paper and is environmentally friendly.

38. Illustrate Traditions

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Behance / Nick Matej

This card illustrates the American tradition of the Christmas Pickle, which is a pickle-shaped ornament hidden on the Christmas tree. When someone finds the pickle on Christmas morning, they are rewarded with an extra gift or good fortune for the year. It is somewhat unorthodox, yet makes for a great and humorous illustration for a card.

39. Combine Different Typfaces

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Behance / Nick Matej

The combination of the thin, scripted font with the staggered, sans serif font provides nice contrast. If only one typeface was used, it would either be overwhelming or too understated. Combining a decorative font with a simple font is always a good rule of thumb to follow, and is no exception for holiday cards.

40. Include Everyone

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Behance / Andrea Maisenbacher

Christmas is a holiday celebrated in one form or another all over the globe. This card includes a number of different languages all relaying the message of Christmas. The type is in a simple stripe, and is beautifully interrupted by a reindeer. The inclusion of the graphic breaks up the type and adds in a central focal point.

41. Create Your Own Typefaceection title

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Behance / Tyler + Jessie Thiessen

A typeface consisting of solid bands and striped sections relays the message of a happy holiday on this card. The custom typeface adds in a personal touch, and makes the recipient feel special. Any typeface could have been placed in in a second, but the fact that the time was taken to create something special really sets it apart.

42. Use Geometric Shapes

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Behance / Tara Tsang

Geometric shapes are used in this card to create a Christmas tree. It is incredibly simple, yet still stands out. The stripes of green used to make up the nettles of the tree are a great solution, as a solid triangle would be too overwhelming. It is perfectly balanced, and has just enough holiday flair.

43. Have A Use For Your Card

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Behance / Cake Mix

This holiday card gives an entirely new meaning to warm wishes. The card itself is made of a thin sheet of wood, and you are encouraged to actually burn it. It is wonderfully transparent, and gives an actual purpose to sending it out.

44. Get Creative With Food

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Behance / Laima Marija Kamarauskaite

This particular holiday card uses cookies to create the scene of this message along with a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s a fun twist to what could have otherwise been simple graphics, and could be achieved with a number of holiday themed foods and items.

45. Have A Handlettered Message

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Behance / Kylen Hogan

The handlettered appearance of this card gives it an organic and joyous appearance. The type works together to fill the space, and is decorative enough to stand on its own and feel like an illustration.

46. Let The Message Speak For Itself

let_it_snow
Behance / Nick Matej

The phrase ‘let it snow’ stands out against the bluish green backdrop nicely, and the red and tan accents help make it more dimensional. The size of the message may be large, but it isn’t too overwhelming, and the texture at the bottom of the background helps to ground it and adds volume.

47. Show Characters in A Unique Way

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Behance / Katerina Stepanenko

Santa Claus is shown on this card in a very fun, interesting way. Instead of showing the red of his suit, it blends into the background and only his features are visible. Even though you can’t see where he ends and the background begins, your eye fills in the space and connects the dots.

48. Have Fun With It

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Behance / Anaïs Hoornaert

Just because you’re sending out a holiday card doesn’t mean it needs to be serious. This card has some fun and shows a sheep on its front paired with the message to have a merry Christmas. The way ‘merry’ is spelled out encourages you to drag out its pronunciation, in turn making you sound like a sheep baa-ing.

49. Drop Typography

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Behance / Jennifer Rash

This card doesn’t use any typography on the front, and it doesn’t need to. The pattern of holiday ornaments is intricate and detailed, and can hold its own. The subtle silver foil accents helps add a nice flair, and the color scheme makes it appropriate for any winter holiday.

50. Blur Boundaries

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Behance / Vigg illustration

This card puts a nice spin on handlettering and illustration by combining the two. The words ‘joy’, ‘love’, and ‘peace’ all intertwine to make a Christmas tree. The dot of the ‘j’ is made of a star, and subtle dotted accents act as decorative bulbs. The illustrative parts marry well with the type, and it makes the card something special.

Your Turn

Have these holiday cards inspired you to send out something special this year? If so, click here to create your own designs with Canva! Utilize a large collection of graphics and beautiful typefaces to make your own unique and festive holiday cards and messages. Don’t forget to share your designs in the comment section!

Caitlin Jordan is a graphic designer and copywriter from Columbus, OH. Apart from design and writing, she loves all things beauty. She combines her passion for both in a beauty blog and beauty channel on YouTube.