13 Christmas and holiday card design trends we love for 2023

A dark green card surrounded by gold pinecones, nuts, fir branches, and a gold-lined envelope, features a Christmas wreath with white dots on it and the words “season’s greetings” in gold script.
Paperless Post BlogHolidays > 13 Christmas and holiday card design trends we love for 2023

If you’re the type of person whose stockings are already hung by the chimney with care, it’s only natural that you’d give equal attention to the graphic design of your holiday or Christmas cards. As a team of creative types, we can relate. Each year, while Santa is making his list and checking it twice, our design team makes its own list of holiday card inspirations. After all, they know a thing or two about graphic design trends. 

So, what can you expect from our newest class of holiday cards? Creative Director Cat Chi describes our 2023 holiday card collection as “both a celebration and a reinterpretation of traditional holiday décor. Our designs embrace optimism and a cheeky holiday spirit with unconventional color schemes, witty hand lettering, and lush greenery.”

No matter what you’re searching for, Cat’s team has created something we know you’ll love. Read on for the top 13 Christmas graphic design trends of 2023, and from where our designers have drawn inspiration for our most-talked-about online Cards of the season.

 

1. Gold foil

Burl Ives was spot on when he sang “Silver and gold, everyone wishes for silver and gold” in the holiday claymation classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Nothing makes our spirits brighter than a metallic sheen on everything we see at Christmastime, from our tree decorations to our holiday cards. That’s why this year’s gold foil trend fills us with warm memories of Christmas cheer. 

During the process, Art Director Mariya Pilipenko was especially inspired by antique books. “I’m drawn to their ornate details,” she says. “I tried to emulate gold foil printing to evoke their romantic covers.” To browse the gold foil trend, seek out holiday cards like “Dickens” and “Golden Spruce.”

 

Meet the expert
Cat Chi is the VP Creative Director at Paperless Post.

 

2. Embossing

LEFT: A gold-leafed book cover with interlocked thistle patterns. RIGHT: A green holiday card with gold borders and illustrated floral details and a pattern of interlocked white fir branches.
“The Days of Auld Lang Syne” by Ian Mclaren book cover via archive.org; Camelotby Paperless Post.

 

Because our Cards are stationery-inspired, it’s only fitting for our designers to look to classic stationery techniques like embossing—the process of creating raised designs on paper. Though our invites are digital, our designers meticulously apply 3-D effects to our “embossed” Cards to harken back to the days of yore without all the hassle that comes with it (like hunting down stamps or waiting in line at the post office). You, too, can *rise* to the occasion with embossed holiday designs likeCamelot.”

 

3. Vintage ephemera

A green holiday card with simplistic-looking tree ornaments on pine boughs, the middle one is gold with a photo of a family in the middle, and a red envelope. RIGHT: A vintage catalog page with colorful glass tree ornaments.
Christmas Bulbs Photo” by Paperless Post; Image via Pinterest.

 

When we dream of the Christmases we used to know, they’re often steeped in vintage ephemera. Sleigh bells ringing, eggnog in crystal glasses, roasted chestnuts making the house smell unreal. Traditional Christmas celebrations are what this time of the year is all about. If you’re feeling a little extra nostalgic this year (like we are!), try a vintage-inspired holiday card like “Bonhommes de Neige” by Nathalie Lété, or “Christmas Bulbs Photo,” designed in-house.

 

4. Midcentury illustration

While tapping into holiday nostalgia, our design team was drawn to the confident linework and jaunty typography of the midcentury. Art Director Allyson Peck admits to loving vintage holiday décor, as evidenced in her “Merry Mixer” design. “I love sparkle and non-traditional Christmas colors (like pink and lime green). This was my nod to mercury glass ornaments that you might find on eBay or in the back of your grandma’s closet.”

Give a nod to MCM with Cards like “Blitzened” or “Merry Mixer.” It’s the new old-fashioned way.

 

5. Painterly winter scenes

LEFT: A whimsical blue watercolor painting of Central Park with the New York City skyline behind it and clouds in the sky. RIGHT: A white holiday card with blue watercolor paintings around the border of evergreen trees.
“Central Park” watercolor by Bella Foster; “Winter Watercolorby Paperless Post.

 

Snowy scenes just hit differently when they’re lovingly painted by hand. That’s why this year our in-house artists reached for their most delicate brushes to evoke winter landscapes with dabs and strokes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite frosty precipitation. Their mark-making is inspired by 40s illustrators, such as Cecil Beaton, and their technique is loose, stylish, and gestural with washes in blue tones.

For peak holiday dreaminess, they channeled beloved holiday pastimes. “I love walking on the streets during the holiday season,” says Jin. “The town becomes a winter wonderland with all the lights, decor, and snowflakes.” Embrace the snowy scenes yourself with designs like Holiday Warmth” and “Winter Watercolor.”

 

6. Christmas greenery

LEFT: A green holiday card with holly leaves, berries, and fir around a cream rectangle that reads “JOYFUL HOLIDAY SEASON.” RIGHT: A holiday card with sprigs of evergreen branches.
Berry Merry” by Paperless Post; “Fir Ever” by John Derian for Paperless Post.

 

The halls aren’t the only things getting decked with boughs of our favorite greenery. This classic-for-a-reason trend fills our noses with scents of pine and our hearts with holiday cheer. For an extra-special touch, try a design flecked in gold foil or choose a photo Card to display a family photo.

Admire the lovely branches in designs like “Gold Pine,” “Holly Wreath,” and “Fir Ever” by John Derian.

 

7. Animal companions

This trend rides on the tails of our favorite Christmas tales, from Santa’s own misfit reindeer to The Grinch’s canine sidekick to the mice in “The Nutcracker.” Let’s be honest, there’s no cuter way to share your season’s greetings than with an elegantly illustrated animal companion. Depending on your preferred style, you can interpret this trend in so many ways, from the jaunty reindeer carrying “Cowboy Claus” to the whimsical “Delivery Boy” to the mischievous “Snowball Team” by Felix Doolittle.

 

8. Hand-lettering

The corner of a red envelope with a white stamp that reads “FALALALA” and a sprig of pine across it.
Painted “Falalalala” stamp by Paperless Post.

 

For this trend, our designers leaned into the unexpected with playful proportions, stylized silhouettes, gestural line work, and painterly planes of color. Ligatures on hand-drawn or custom lettering are playful and bold. While creating the stamp “Painted Falalalala,” Art Director Allyson Peck was inspired by 1970s lettering styles and classic sign painting. “The combination of these two ideas gave me room to experiment with the proportions of the characters as a nod to the joy of Christmas carols,” she says.

 

9. Bold Type

A card reads “OH WHAT FUN!” in large, curvy pink and red lettering. RIGHT: An abstract painting with various curvy shapes in pink and red.
Just for Fun” by Paperless Post; Image via Saatchi Art.

 

Give good tidings with expressively drawn lettering from our collection. Playful wishes of holiday cheer cascade across the Cards with hand-drawn letterforms that evoke a tactile quality. For “That’s a Wrap,” Graphic Designer Taryn Smith was inspired by vintage greeting cards. “I played with a chunky slab serif and then added a few flourishes to some of the letters to give it an intentional flair.” Opt for layouts in bright, unexpected colors like poppy red and bubblegum pink to remind your loved ones of technicolor candies bursting from stockings of yesteryear. 

Express yourself with Cards like “Greatest Gift” and “Just for Fun.”

 

10. Blue Christmas

This year, our designers embraced their winter blues with dreams of snowflakes twinkling in the chilly twilight. These Cards zero in on those below-zero meteorological phenomena with carefully crafted (and unique) crystallized snowflakes. They evoke styles from simple geographic strokes to intricate and glittery designs that will make you want to break out some safety scissors to make your own.

Frost your yuletide with Cards like “Snow Cap” and “Across the Globe,” designed in-house.

 

11. Country charm

Inspired by traditional trends in home décor, these designs focus on rich layers of formal patterns with a nod to charming country cottages nestled in the snow (it’s giving the cottage in “The Holiday,” right?). Ornate type faces, classic plaids, traditional crests, and touches of gold foil add opulence and formality to the designs, making them perfect for corporate holiday cards and cottagecore aesthetes alike. 

“I was inspired by some of my favorite interior designers and shops, like Matilda Goad, Faeger & Co, and Stella Weatherall. They do a beautiful job capturing that ‘English countryside’ feeling I was going for,” says Art Director Allyson Peck.

Layer up with Cards like “My Country Holiday Photo” and “Holiday Wrapping,” designed in-house.

 

12. Cheeky illustrations

LEFT: A pink holiday party invitation with a woman’s head wearing a Christmas tree as a hat reads “Merry Mixer.” RIGHT: Four images (photos and prints) depict kitschy Christmas activities, like women with ornaments in their hair, wearing a Christmas tree dress, etc.
Holiday Hat” by Paperless Post; Images via Libby Vander Ploeg, John Vaughan, Christoph Niemann, and Getty Images.

 

This one’s for Santa’s little helpers who delight in levity, those who want their Christmas deliveries to be right on time and delivered with a bit of cheek. At least that’s how our designers approached these humorous and festive Cards. They’ve found inspiration in playful forms, sumptuous details, and visual storytelling—like Slim Aarons’s famous Christmas-in-California photograph of his wife or Bettman’s Christmas-tree hairdos

Embrace your cheeky side with Cards like “Gold Garland” and “Holiday Hat,” designed in-house.

 

13. Customizable crests

When reminiscing about yuletides of yore, you may think of traditions, like décor, foods, and family heirlooms. But you’d be remiss not to think of the classical elements of traditional stationery when it comes to your holiday greetings, such as refined typefaces, monograms, and family crests. This year, our designs lean on that old stalwart to add formality and sentimentality to your good tidings. Plus, our designs can provide that little something extra—customization. Even if your family doesn’t already have a crest of its own, you can make one with our designers’ templates in just a few clicks. 

Add an air of sophistication to your winter solstice with Cards like “Good Tidings,” designed in-house.

 

Best-in-class Christmas designs

No matter the graphic design trend that speaks to you, Paperless Post has thousands of options to make your holiday card ideas for 2023 come true. You can opt for a design by one of our in-house artists or one of our design partners like Rifle Paper Co., kate spade new york, and so many more. Holiday cards have never looked better, or been easier to create and send.

Need help deciding what to write in your Christmas card or when to send it? We can help with that, too.

Now that you’re brimming with ideas and inspiration, find your perfect online holiday greeting card at Paperless Post.

 

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