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Holiday card design is so cookie-cutter. Here are 3 ways to break the mold

Use these expert best practices to create digital, modern holiday card designs that are anything but expected.

Illustration by Vered Bloch.

Profile picture of Lilly Smith

11.29.2023

3 min read

We’re all familiar with the typical industry holiday cards sent out to client lists, which clutter our mantels, offices and inboxes this time of year: script fonts, red and green colorways, glittering snowflakes.


As a designer, visuals like these can all feel a bit expected. So, we asked the Wix Studio design team to offer up some holiday card design reinventions that stand out from the clichés. The results are anything but ordinary, featuring unexpected contrasts, rich design dimensionality and entrancing animated features—with the added bonus of web design best practices you can apply all year long.




01. Create unexpected contrasts


These two cards are built to stand out. While both cards nod to traditional holiday symbols, colors and motifs, like the Hanukkah dreidel and Christmas tree, they’re reinterpreted as flat design icons—in this case, old school rear view mirror air fresheners. Look closely, and they’re rendered ever so slightly as 3D elements, evoking the soft texture of the real deal.


The copy is also traditional and nostalgic, but the all-caps sans letterforms definitely aren’t. This interplay of styles gives the holiday cards a contrasting, modern feel. “The aim was to create visual imagery that relies on playful contrast with a bold and clear typographic message,” says Wix Studio designer Ashger Zamana. “The graphic twist of the holiday symbols adds depth and humor, and creates hints of joy.”


In an ever-more mobile-first world, the vertical orientation of these holiday card designs makes the most of a mobile screen’s available real estate, so it catches recipients’ full attention whether they read it in their inbox on their way to holiday festivities, or in a close friend’s Instagram story. (Leaning into vertical orientation is a gold standard for digital assets year-round, btw.)


These vivid holiday cards make the case for breaking with expected type choices.



2. Give your design some dimension


One clear way to make your e-card design stand out is to lean into digital design techniques that aren’t possible with their snail mail counterparts. This e-card design celebrates the Chinese New Year by doing just that, and adding a sense of dimensionality and contemporary newness to traditional motifs.


Here, the dragon illustration honors traditional visuals with a classic style, but uses a translucent effect that gives the illustration a sense of playfulness and newness. “Working with a classic representation of a dragon and more contemporary, eclectic letters creates a sense of depth and 3d illusion,” explains Zamana.


You’re an expert after all, so find ways to push your design and impress your client list in ways standard evite services can’t. Here, Zamana heightens the visual interest by making this static illustration more interactive with other design elements in the card: in this case, by using layering to weave the dragon through bold type.


Want to push this effect even further? Try animating it, as Zamana does with the next holiday card design.


A Chinese New Year card that reads "2024 year of the dragon" in all caps sans serif type over a robin's egg blue background. A classic dragon illustration weaves its way through the letters that spell dragon.

Heighten visual interest by designing elements to interact with each other within a composition.



3. Add eye-catching animated elements


If you’re going the e-card design route, why not go all in? This card features a flower as the primary motif, but with a twist: it blooms right before your eyes. “The design approach revolved around the idea of longings, and expressing that in a visual way,” says Zamana. To do that, he used “a soft, grainy animation with minimal colors to create a sense of breath and air.”


As for type, Zamana softens a more standard, low-contrast serif Grotesk font with slants and backslants on select letters. Great design visually translates your central idea across composition elements, and this design captures that well, whether for a holiday card design or anything else you create for a client in the future.


As a web designer, your tool chest isn’t limited to a static page, so don’t be afraid to keep things festive year-round with thoughtful animated elements, like lottie animations, that draw the eye in your next project.


A gif of a red flower in bloom in front of thin, serif tyoe that reads "Be Mine?"

Add animated elements for a fresh take on traditional motifs.




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