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These unconventional holiday cards have 3 year-round design lessons

Utilize web design best practices from these designers to create holiday cards that are anything but expected.

An illustration of a card that reads "Jingle all the way" over a colorful gradient background.

Illustration by Vered Bloch.

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We’re all familiar with the typical holiday cards that 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 Editor X design team to offer up some holiday card reinventions that stand out from the clichés. The results are anything but ordinary, featuring clickable interactives, modern 3D elements, and entrancing animated features—with the added bonus of web design best practices you can apply all year long.

1. Break form

This holiday e-card is actually a microsite—and that gives you a lot more design control than your typical e-card would. Consider this interactive example, by Editor X designer Linor Pinto.

The horizontal grid of different Christmas icons utilize a hover interaction so each card reveals “Ho ho ho!” as a user scrolls, making the delight of 20th century pop-up cards into a 21st century web design moment. No matter what time of year, microinteractions keep users engaged. Here’s how to make the Christmas hover effect.

Hover interactions bring surprise cheer to this microsite turned holiday card.

2. Create unexpected contrasts

These two cards are built to stand out. While both cards nod to traditional holiday symbols and motifs, like the Hanukkah dreidel and Christmas bells, they’re rendered as 3D elements to give the cards a contrasting modern feel.

The copy is also traditional and nostalgic, but the letterforms aren’t. Editor X lead designer Vered Bloch says she used non-conventional, expressive fonts and fun, atypical colors like lavender and cobalt blue to modernize the compositions.

In an ever-more mobile-first world, the vertical orientation of these cards fully utilizes mobile screen space, so it catches recipients’ attention whether they read it in their inbox on their way to holiday festivities, or in a close friends Instagram story.

These vivid, lavender and cobalt blue holiday cards make the case for breaking with default color choices.

3. Add eye-catching animated elements