Christmas Email Marketing Ideas and Examples

The Christmas period is one of the biggest spending periods of the year. Get your Christmas email marketing on point and make sure people get their gifts from you.

Explore all 196 Christmas emails

Sign-up for MailCharts to start planning campaign for Christmas with our curated examples.

Try for free

Pro tip: Scroll down for hand-picked emails.

Holiday spending for holidays ranging from St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 5), Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, and secular events (school, office, and social events) can account for 20% to 30% of the average retail company’s annual revenue, according to the National Retail Federation. So, it’s no surprise that email marketers focus so closely on this time of the year.

But how do you stand out among the many emails that land in your subscribers’ inboxes? What type of Christmas email subject lines will capture their attention and how can you create a fun Christmas email design without getting tacky?

The list below includes some great email marketing ideas for that special time of year. Based on some of the best Christmas email marketing campaigns you can find in our MailCharts database, you can use them as inspiration for your own holiday emails.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Email Examples and Subject Lines

Help them find a holiday gift

We love this Christmas email campaign from Jonathan Adler, and not just because we can’t wait to play with the gift finder. The “fast and fabulous” promise in this email’s pre-header makes us want to open it to see what’s going on inside, something the subject line already alludes to.

The body of the email contains an animation that shows us how the gift tool works and what the possible gift ideas you’ll get as a result of using it will look like. Showing your target audience that you can help them find the perfect gift for their loved ones is a great way to make them take action and click onward to your website.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Invite them to treat themselves

Let’s face it: some of the gifts you’ll get from loved ones this holiday season will be a little off and you might be left wanting. Dollar Shave Club knows this and so the brand sent this post-Christmas email campaign inviting subscribers to treat themselves.

The subject line (“Sometimes Santa gets it wrong”) alludes to the fact that the gifts they’ve gotten may not have been amazing, and the email copy states that after all the gift-giving they’ve done, it’s time for the recipient to get something nice too.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Wish them happy holidays

Clothing brand Boden uses this animated Christmas newsletter with an otherwise simple email design to wish its subscribers an amazing festive season. Sending your customers season’s greetings on or around Christmas Day is an easy way to show them you appreciate their business and bring some extra holiday cheer to their lives.

You can write a heartfelt letter – perhaps signed by your CEO – or go all out. Warm words fit with the Christmas spirit and their effect will be bigger when you don’t try to combine them with a Christmas sale. You’ll probably already be sending more than enough promotional Christmas emails.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Show them how it's done

This pre-Christmas email by clothing brand Tory Burch is a perfect example of a great explanatory holiday email. As it’s sent on December 23, the Christmas email subject line “The right present, right on time” speaks both to the sense of urgency subscribers may feel if they still need to buy some last-minute gifts, and to the stress some people experience around finding the right Christmas gifts.

When opening the email, the copy explains step-by-step how the SmartGift program works. With just one simple CTA, it’s a no-brainer for the recipient to take action.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Help them organize their holiday parties

If you’re planning to amp up your marketing efforts during the holiday season, make sure to not only send salesy Christmas emails. As we already saw, you could include a Christmas newsletter that simply wishes your audience a Merry Christmas, or you can follow this email example by Inmod and offer them some kind of guide that helps them navigate the holidays. A good seating plan may be more effective in preventing family arguments than hoping for a Christmas miracle.

And if you add a “read more” button like Inmod does, you can guide your subscribers to a dedicated landing page from where they can still go shopping on your site.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with a Christmas sale

Yellow Box alludes to the “12 Days of Christmas” song with its 12-day Christmas sale. Every day, its subscribers receive a different offer presented as a gift. It’s like the brand’s own mini version of the advent calendar.

By telling subscribers upfront what they can expect, Yellowbox both creates anticipation and lets them know that they won’t receive an email every single day – just for 12 days. As these Christmas emails are promoting special offers for different products throughout those 12 days, chances are high that their subscribers will see something they like.

And for the extra little extra push to purchase, Yellowbox offers free shipping on orders over $75. Offering free shipping above a certain purchase amount is always a great incentive, as it doesn’t just convince people to buy, but also makes them buy a little more as they want to take advantage of the offer. It’s a great way to increase the average value of your Christmas orders.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Treat your rewards members

The holidays are a great time to thank rewards members for their loyalty. Make loyal customers feel like the VIPs they are by offering them an exclusive Christmas discount like Hayneedle does in this festive email. First, the brand presents the discount on selected Christmas trees and then it helps loyalty members pick a tree by linking to a Christmas tree buying guide on its website. Smart!

Note also how loyalty members don’t need to use a weird-looking coupon code. They can simply log in and their discount will automatically be applied once they add a Christmas tree to their card.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Have a relevant post-Christmas sale

Have you ever organized a Christmas party and thought: “This is the last year I’m using these plates”? You wouldn’t be the first. Nice tableware adds to a festive mood.

Pfaltzgraff knows its subscribers might want to switch things up next year and so the brand is doing a sale right after Christmas. This way, those broken cups, old dessert plats, and mismatched silverware are still fresh in the recipient’s mind and they might just stock up on a whole new table set for next Christmas.

Sign up free for 196 curated examples

Christmas Email Marketing Strategy

The Christmas email marketing examples discussed above offer inspiration to build and improve your own Christmas email marketing campaign.

The best way to go about that is to create a Christmas email template based on what’s been working for you so far, and then run A/B tests for the new ideas you’ve gotten. You can also build different Christmas email templates for the various emails within your holiday email campaign, and/or for various segments within your email list.

Each time you’ve run a test, update your Christmas email templates with the winning variation so you can start off stronger when you create next year’s Christmas emails.

Aside from taking inspiration from competitor emails, you can also use the list of Christmas email marketing ideas and tips we’ve put together for you below.

Feature a collection of products in an email gift guide

Including a holiday gift guide in your Christmas campaign is not a new idea. Many marketers do it, but few do it well.

The Christmas season can be overwhelming and so your subscribers are looking for help everywhere. They’re more likely to see your products in an email before going to your website. Offering them a gift guide also allows you to spotlight items your Christmas shoppers might not find on their own.

Organize your guide by variables that make sense for your brand and guide shoppers without overwhelming them with too many unrelated choices. A few gift guide ideas for you to consider:

  • Price (low, medium and high)
  • Persona (young sporty girls, intellectual men, daredevil college students, bookworms)
  • Interests and ability level (books, games, specific sports, cooking, novice to expert)
  • Product types or categories that cover a cross-section of your merchandise line.

You can create a single email template for your Christmas gift guides and then adapt the content based on which segment of your email list you’re sending the guide to so you end up with different Christmas templates for the next year.

Lastly, take into account early shoppers as well as last-minute gift buyers and send a guide both well before Christmas and right pre-Christmas.

Send "white space" email campaigns

A “white space” email contains a message that isn’t overtly promotional and gives your subscribers a little break between all of the Christmas sales emails.

Promotional Christmas emails are as much a part of the holiday shopping season as long lines and fighting over the last $24 TV in the local discount store are. While they might hate it, subscribers have also come to expect them. “White space” emails give you a valid reason to be in your customers’ inboxes with something other than a “buy me” message, and buyer’s guides are an excellent vehicle for this.

Different from gift guides, buyer’s guides are set up to help shoppers who don’t know the ins and outs of tricky products. Your goal is to guide your customers during their online shopping, and helping them buy the right present is a great way to do that.

Create a gift card campaign for pre- and post-Christmas

Giving a gift card is often seen as a low-effort, last-minute gift option. The people who work with your customers on the front lines, whether at a cash register or computer terminal, will tell you differently. Having a salesperson promote gift cards at the right time can snatch a sale out of the jaws of defeat when a shopper just can’t decide or sees nothing else they want.

Devote at least one email earlier in the holiday season to an end-to-end promotion of your gift cards. Promote their flexibility and encourage their use with a step-by-step guide to buying and redeeming them. Be sure to highlight what they cannot be used for to avoid disappointing recipients.

It’s also worth noting that gift cards have been the most requested gift for 9 years in a row! Yet, surprisingly, the volume of emails promoting them drops on Christmas and the following days. This is your chance to stand out.

For example, many of your subscribers may have received a gift card (e.g. Visa, Amex) that they can use to purchase products online. With their Christmas gifts now unwrapped, it’s likely your subscribers didn’t receive that one item of yours they badly want. With their new gift cards lying around, now’s the time to email them!

Help customers succeed

Your holiday email marketing might focus mainly on extracting as much cash as possible from your customers’ wallets (don’t be embarrassed to admit this!). But, as we explained in Strategy #2, you’ll do better when you help your customers shop efficiently and effectively during this time of the year.

Emails devoted to customer service topics offer useful breaks in your promotional cycle. Some marketers include this information in an early-season message while most make it a regular section in their holiday season emails.

Topics to include:

  • How to buy, give and redeem gift cards
  • Shipping deadlines and policies
  • Contact info and policies for returns, problems and other inquiries
  • Store locator
  • Store hours and policies

Providing them with all of the practical information they need to buy their Christmas presents might just convince shoppers to buy them from you.

Say "thank you"

It’s a simple thing. But not enough email marketers do this. Even though some recipients didn’t buy, at least many of them opened your emails. After a year of saying “Buy this,” a message that says “Thank you” is appropriate and fits well with the holiday spirit. It might even prompt a lapsing customer to come back and check out your site again.

If you do send a thank you email newsletter for Christmas, consider upping your creative game to make the other thank you emails pale by comparison. Opt for an eye-catching design that holds on to that Christmas cheer a little longer. And if it works well, turn it into an email template so you can adapt it next year.

Thank subscribers for their patronage, for reading your emails, and visiting your website. This message can come in many ways – a general message, something over your CEO’s signature, a behind-the-scenes group photo, or whatever fits your company’s brand, voice, culture, or customer expectations.

It can be as simple or as complex as you want. However, it can also be a great way to turn your creative staff loose and experiment with things you’ve been curious about (emojis, animation, video, etc.).

Start early with sending your Christmas email campaigns

Similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many companies promote “Christmas in July” (and August, September, etc). Here’s an example Bluefly sent on July 18.

Starting in September, all of your Christmas-themed campaigns should focus on the holiday itself. If you send a “Christmas in September!” campaign, your audience probably won’t be as excited when you start running your real Christmas campaigns mere weeks later.

If you can’t wait to start talking about Christmas, send subscribers a sneak peek like Crate and Barrel did on September 21 with their email stating “Thanksgiving and Christmas arrivals are here.

The perfect time to start sending Christmas emails will be different for every brand, but you can always use MailCharts to learn when your competitors start sending their Christmas emails and start from there.

In a single year, MailCharts received 2,196 emails mentioning Christmas in the subject line.

Based on the our data we know that:

  • 8.15% of emails are sent on Christmas
  • 5% of emails are sent post-Christmas
  • 28% of emails are sent in the 7 days leading up to Christmas (12/18 through 12/24)

By timing your Christmas emails correctly and following the above email marketing strategies, your brand’s Christmas email campaigns can stand out from the pack.