There are so many ways to communicate, but when it comes to connecting with friends and family for the holidays, mail remains the simplest and most special method. Whether they arrive in a mailbox or an inbox, holiday cards can create a sense of warmth and tradition needed now more than ever. From Christmas trees to Santa cards to simple cards with a wreath, find holiday card ideas that are sure to make your season’s greetings stand out and earn their proper place on the mantle.
The holidays always seem to sneak up on us, but you can make this year’s card one to remember with a little planning. Not only are these Christmas card design ideas from Paperless Post fun and festive, but they’re also customizable, so you can use them to show off your personal style and to celebrate moments from the past year, big and small.
What do you write inside a holiday card
Look for a card with a message that resonates with you, whether it’s geared specifically toward Christmas or New Year’s or more general for the entire season. “Happy Holidays,” “Very Best Wishes,” and “Season’s Greetings” put it simply and succinctly, but you can also look back with a “Year in Review” or incorporate a hopeful wish for the future, like “Peace on Earth.” From there, customize your card with details about your family’s experiences, accomplishments, goals, and photos. Looking for more inspiration? Head to our guide to holiday greetings.
Should you send printed or digital holiday cards?
If you have the time and the budget, consider printed notes to let everyone know you’re thinking about them. You could even have the kids help (as a bonus, they’ll get some handwriting practice). Go for digital to quickly and inexpensively reach more people—a great option if you’re short on time or if many of your friends and family relocated this year. There is no need to update your mailing list with digital cards.
Printable holiday card ideas
“Happy Holidays Wreath” by Paperless Post.
Looking for paper invitations? Find our stylish collection of classic wedding designs, stationery, and holidays photo cards available in print exclusively at Paper Source.
“Fa Lalala La” by Paperless Post: The two-sided “Fa Lalala La” card nods to the popular Christmas song, available in shimmering gold or cheery red. It offers three spaces for black-and-white photos and a customizable message on the backside.
“Scalloped Border Photo Card” by kate spade new york: The name of this holiday photo card says it all: A scalloped border surrounds the photo of your choice in your choice colors. We love that it’s evergreen enough to stay up all year long.
“Gold Heart Holiday Photo” by The Indigo Bunting: This modern grid style is a familiar format for the Instagram crowd. Curate a collection of your eight best shots, which will hug a heart-shaped message.
“Holiday Potpourri” by Rifle Paper Co.: Oh, by gosh by golly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly—so why not layer those very seasonal symbols over your favorite family photo? This printable card is particularly jolly.
Holiday photo card ideas
“Tis the Season to be Holly” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post.
Some holiday cards offer space for snapshots that help illustrate your year. It is a great opportunity to show off those wedding photos or introduce a new bundle of joy—two-legged or four-legged. If you moved in the past 12 months, perhaps a picture on the front porch or cozied up in the living room.
Get candid. Plan an amateur shoot at home or at a park where you can socially distance or capture some candids from day-to-day life, embracing life’s imperfection and this unprecedented time. After all, if fashion magazines can run photos shot by husbands and children, it’s fair game for Christmas cards. Take lots of options so you’ll have plenty to work with: Try different angles (up close, from above, and below) and both landscape and portrait orientations.
Get creative. Matching holiday PJs or ugly Christmas sweaters are an adorable approach (you can even involve the pup!), or maybe you have a good family photo from the annual summer trip to the beach or lake (the clean, modern Season’s Signature card showcases shots like this simply and beautifully).
Show the signs of the Christmas season—posing by the big flowering tree in your front yard last spring, or playing outside in the fall leaves or winter snow (opt for the “Classic Cutouts” design for a full-bleed photo featuring a gold foil “Merry Everything” message, or “White Stars” which adds shimmer with a scattering of snowflake stars).
You can even take a Christmas photo beside your own Christmas tree. Don’t have a Christmas photo with everyone in it? Use photo cards with multiple photos such as the sweet and playful “Tis the Season to be Holly.”
Evergreen holiday card ideas
“Holly Branch Holiday” by Paperless Post: The deep colors of this holiday card and envelope liner do justice to the evergreens that winter is known for. The snow-white text cuts through the rich hues for a design that feels as crisp as the air outside.
“Juniper & Pine” by Paperless Post: Who says your card has to be red and green? Trade holly for juniper for a hint of blue Christmas. This elegant illustration is so pretty; friends will want to display it all winter long.
“Forsythia” by Paperless Post: Delicate forsythia branches adorn a vibrant background in this holiday card that’s at once modern and classic. Cheekily signed “Bailey’s Building and Loan,” the mockup proves this design is perfect for business and personal use. Choose from 25 different colors—it’s a wonderful life, indeed.
“Holly on the Banister” by Paperless Post: A frame-worthy photo warrants a festively framed design. Available in rectangular and square shapes, you can adjust based on your best shot. Again great for business use; there’s even a place on the back to upload your logo.
Folk tale holiday card ideas
“Reindeer Glades” by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post.
“Reindeer Topper” by Paperlesss Post: Cozily clad in a scarf, a reindeer puts the finishing touch on a snow-covered Tannenbaum in this one-sided, whimsically illustrated Christmas card.
“Reindeer Glades” by Rifle Paper Co.: Wish loved ones a Feliz Navidad from the bottom of your heart with this cute, colorful card by Rifle Paper Co.
“Partridge Family” by Rifle Paper Co.: One look at this gorgeous holiday invite, and “Twelve Days of Christmas” immediately comes to mind. Talk about setting the tone for a fabulous affair!
“Squirrel Power” by Meri Meri: Think outside the box with a card that doesn’t follow the usual rules. Beautiful brushstrokes bring to life a celebratory squirrel and pretty packages.
Cityscape holiday card ideas
“Holiday in the City” by Rifle Paper Co.: There’s nothing quite like Christmastime in the city, which is exactly what this delightful design depicts. Brownstones bespeckled in string lights and a taxi transporting a tree set a magical scene.
“San Francisco Skyline” by Paperless Post: Show hometown pride by setting your family photo behind a sketched skyline. Choose from major cities, including San Francisco, Paris, London, Los Angeles, and more.
Gold holiday card ideas
“Covet” by Kelly Wearstler: What better way to invite guests to a holiday party than with some of the most famous Christmas lyrics set before a metallic background?
“Gold Confetti” by Paperless Post: Add a little shine to your family portrait. This holiday card was designed to look as if it’s been tossed with confetti.
“Wreath of Stars” by Paperless Post: Cards with wreaths are a popular choice for the holiday season, but they’re rarely made of stars. This square style is simple yet stellar.
“Starry Tree” by Paperless Post: The twinkling lights that make up this starry tree will conjure up nostalgic memories. Customize the message that will appear at the bottom of the one-sided card.
“Heart be Light” by The Indigo Bunting: After a year of heaviness, this peaceful message hits home more than ever. Your recipients will no doubt agree.
“Clover and Over” by kate spade new york: Gilded clovers are an unexpected but lovely touch this time of year. Change the image, text, backdrop, and more.
“Stellar Greeting” by Kelly Wearstler: Just try to resist the urge to sing Sam the Snowman’s “Silver and Gold” when you see this stylish holiday greeting card.
Typography holiday card ideas
“Merry and Bright Big Type” by The Indigo Bunting: Larger-than-life letters anchored with a full-bleed photo send a merry message. Customize the text and more for a one-sided holiday card that’s personal to you and yours.
“Peace on Earth Script” by Bernard Maisner: A sophisticated script sets a dreamy scene for a snapshot worth sharing.
“Ho Ho Ho Photo” by The Indigo Bunting: If you have young children, share their holiday wonderment through this favorite festive phrase. We love the idea of using photo-booth style frames to keep the design cohesive.
Citrus holiday card ideas
“Holiday Market” by Happy Menocal for Paperless Post.
“Holiday Market” by Happy Menocal: A crown of citrus encircles the front of this photo card and carries over onto the envelope liner. The design works whether you’re sending Christmas or New Year’s wishes.
“Citrus and Pine” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio: Punctuated with peppy oranges, this Christmas party invitation feels fresh and unexpected.
Snowy holiday card ideas
“Silhouette Snowflakes” by Linda and Harriet: No matter the image you choose, this snowflakes design immediately adds a festive feel.
“Snow Pine Valley” by Paperless Post: Gold foil takes the shape of trees and a log cabin before a snowy landscape on this pretty wintery holiday card. Float a custom message to friends and family in the center.
“Holidays on Ice” by Cheree Berry: What at first seems like a simple scene soon jumps off the page as you get to know each character on the ice. Footprints in the snow spell out a merry message on the envelope liner as a clever touch.
Colorful holiday card ideas
“Feliz” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post.
“Feliz” by kate spade new york: Happy, happy, happy! That’s how we’d describe—and translate—this multilingual message.
“Merry and Bright” by Mr. Boddington Studio: Deck your loved ones’ mailboxes with a merry and bright note bordered by miniature ornaments.
“Glow Strings Attached” by Rifle Paper Co.: Christmas lights spell out a special message atop this jovial Christmas card. Arrange a few favorite family photos and customize the well wishes.
“Tartan” by Oscar de la Renta: Whether you are Scottish or simply appreciate a good plaid, this tartan-printed card and envelope feel warm and festive. We recommend a black and white photograph that contrasts the colored pattern.
“Merry and Bright Pink” by Paperless Post: Send a little warmth—in more ways than one—with this tropical take on the holiday card. Flamingos and palm trees replace partridges and evergreens.
Modern holiday card ideas
“Placard” by Paperless Post: A placard in your choice of gold, rose gold, or silver layers over a portrait. We love the minimalism of this greeting card, which contains only one image and a few words.
“Classic Cutouts” by Paperless Post: Once again, very few words communicate a clear message on this modern card. A full-bleed image can go either horizontally or vertically.
“Holiday Ascender” by Paperless Post: Contemporary lettering underlines a straightforward sentiment. Plenty of white space allows the picture to pop.
Religious Christmas card ideas
“Felt Noel” by Rifle Paper Co.: Remember the reason for the season with this sweet, soft design depicting the scene of the very first Christmas.
“Joyful World” by Rifle Paper Co.: Encourage unity, joy, and peace this holiday season. This dimensional design from Rifle Paper Co. is an artful way to do just that.
Cute Christmas card ideas
“O Tannenbear” by Paperless Post: On the front of this adorable holiday card, cold-weather creatures put a spin on the traditional tree-trimming. The reverse side provides a perfect place for a personalized holiday card message.
“Ho Ho Ho Santa Belt” by kate spade new york: Santa’s suit is basic but instantly recognizable. Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays!
“Reindeer Gala” by Paperless Post: Santa’s reindeer take a break from sleigh-pulling to bust a move on this silly card that wishes both a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
“Mr. Rudolph” by Paperless Post: Kids and kids at heart will get a kick out of this cute kraft paper card. Rudolph’s nose even sparkles—no crafting required.
“Tall Trimmer” by Felix Doolittle: Let your imagination run wild this Christmas. A giraffe trims the tree in this cheerful illustration fit for party animals.
“Kitty Carols” by Red Cap Cards: Calling all cat ladies and gentlemen! What could be cuter than kittens singing carols? Meowy Christmas!
“Lump of Coal” by Hello!Lucky: Make merry and make them laugh. Naughty and nice alike will love this funny Christmas card idea.
“Sweater Party Animals” by Hello!Lucky: A playful take on the popular “Ugly Sweater Party,” this invitation stars furry friends who know how to have fun—making it a great choice for wintertime entertaining.
Pandemic holiday card ideas
“Season’s Signature” by Linda and Harriet for Paperless Post.
The end of the year is the ideal time to look back on significant events and update loved ones who may not have been able to be a part of them. There’s always something to celebrate, whether a promotion, a new hobby, or a recent road trip. Celebrate the small joys in life with Covid Christmas cards.
Need Covid holiday card ideas? Maybe you got married or had a new baby; use your holiday card as a marriage or birth announcement. Same if your child (or you) graduated from college or grad school. Use your holiday card as a college graduation announcement. A new home calls for details so that recipients can stay up to speed and update their address books. We have the perfect holiday moving announcement card for you too.
Is it your first time sending Christmas cards? We have a post full of tips for Christmas card etiquette to keep you on the nice list.
Browse our collection of holiday cards to find the perfect design for everyone on your Christmas list. Feeling inspired to host a holiday party? We’ve created the ultimate guide holiday planning guide and thirty holiday party ideas your guests will love with over ten years of favorite party ideas.