Coming up with engaging holiday email subject lines on the spot is easier said than done. You have a lot on your plate, but you can't afford to let this important piece (arguably, the most important) fall through the cracks.
If you’re a marketer, you probably love the holidays as much as we do. After all, the holidays are a great opportunity to promote sales, tap into recipients’ festive cheer, and infuse emails with fun and creativity.
At the same time, email sending volumes skyrocket during the holiday season. In fact, in 2021, Twilio SendGrid processed 6.8 billion emails on Black Friday and 7 billion emails on Cyber Monday.
With numbers like these, you can see why it’s so important to stand out in a crowded inbox during the holidays. And a captivating holiday subject line is your first chance to do just that.
Need a little inspiration? Take a look at these holiday email subject line examples straight from our inboxes and the best practices these follow.
Short, pithy subject lines get the highest open rates. In fact, our Black Friday and Cyber Monday email data showed that subject lines with 4 or fewer words saw an open rate close to 14%, and the open rate dropped as the word count increased.
The following senders keep it short and sweet in these examples of catchy holiday email subject lines.
1. Boden – Thanksgiving outfits?
In addition to the short subject line, Boden gets creative with the preview text, “Consider them served,” to further entice recipients to open the email.
2. Morning Brew – ☕️ Boo
3. Lakewood Arts – Concerts and Halloween festivities!
4. Opentable – Cheers to another year!
5. LTK – Date Night Is Calling
6. Brewbike – Pumpkin Is Coming 🎃⏳
Brewbike delivers on the promise of this intriguing subject line with the announcement of its pumpkin spice brew coffee, reinforced with contrasting colors and a playful tone.
7. Pier 1 – Shop the Christmas Lookbook 🎄
8. Safeway – New year, new inspo! 🎉
Time flies during the holidays, and we often feel like we won’t have time to enjoy all the festivities or take advantage of all the deals. You can tap into this feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) with subject lines that promote time-sensitive deals and incentivize users to convert before it’s too late.
Additionally, shopping can get a little frantic this time of year, and as shipping difficulties become more commonplace, it’s important to communicate deadlines. You can do this in the subject line to ensure recipients know when to place an order so that it arrives in time for the holidays.
Let’s take a look at some examples.
9.Threadless – ☠️ EXPIRING SOON: $15 TEES ☠️
10. Walgreens Photo – Holiday PSA: 3 more days to order & get delivery by 12/25!
11. OpenTable – Two days left until 2022 - where are you eating?
12. Packlane – Holiday shipping dates reminder ⌛
13. DFTBA – Don't forget to do your holiday shopping early! 🎁
This email from DFTBA announces the shipping deadlines for the holidays to ensure that customers receive their orders by December 24.
While subject lines do a lot of heavy lifting, keep them lighthearted during the holidays to match the festive cheer. One way to do this is with emojis.
Check out these subject lines that make the most of emojis to drive home the holiday spirit. And since many brands use the same emojis for each holiday, try some unexpected emojis instead to make your email stand out.
14. Sprouts Farmers Market – 🎃 Have your pick of the patch!
Sprouts continues the pumpkin theme in the body of this email with whimsical imagery and gourd puns throughout the copy.
15. Target – Don't forget sweet stocking stuffers 🍬
16. VS PINK – Hey, Baddie 🦇 Spooky Styles Are Here
17. Sprouts Farmers Market – 👻🎃 Get ready for a spook-tacular Halloween!
18. Target – Bundle up with this deal of the day ❄️
19. Princess Polly – 🕊 New Year, New You, New Wardrobe 🌙
20. Bacardi – Your Perfect Match This Valentine's Day ❤️🌹🍹
21. Walgreens – 💍 Show them your love this Valentine's Day! 💍
22. HauteLook - ❤️ Valentine's Day gifts at every price are here ❤️
23. VS PINK – Them: Is It Too Early? 🎄 Us: NEVER
24. Target – 'Tis the season for a decor sale 🎄
25. Gymshark – Time for some heavy gifting 🏋️♂️🎁
A weightlifter is probably not the first emoji that comes to mind for a holiday email, but it’s eye-catching and works well with Gymshark’s fitness-themed gift guide.
26. Thinx – 💌 You're invited: End-of-Year Sale
27. VS PINK – 🍂 Fall Deals Are Here
A little intrigue can be fun, but a holiday email subject line shouldn’t be a guessing game. An effective tactic to boost open rates is to tell recipients exactly what they’ll find within, like a specific discount or early access to your holiday collection.
28. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – Want a holiday sneak peek?
Just like the subject line states, this email from Jeni’s offers a sneak peek with early access to new holiday flavors, highlighted in an engaging GIF.
29. Anthropologie – You're Invited: Preview The Holiday Collection (!!)
30. Filevine – 👻 Summon Your FREE AirPods Today!
31. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – ONLINE EARLY ACCESS: Splendid Holiday🍦
32. Serena & Lily – Get ready for Thanksgiving with 20% off.
33. Target – Up to 50% off 100s of toys all week
Another way to capture recipients’ attention is with a subject line that offers solutions to their holidays problems or frustrations. The following subject line examples entice readers with suggestions on what to buy for their loved ones, what to wear, and what to cook during the holidays.
34. NYT Cooking – The Veggie: Gift Guide Edition
35. Homesick – Still looking for a Halloween costume?
In this email, the scented candle brand Homesick offers a creative pairing of its products and the seasonal theme of Halloween costumes.
36. Target – Holiday outfits to dress up or chill out in.
37. ShopRunner – Wrap It Up: 7 easy gifts to finish up your holiday shopping
38. NYT Cooking – Christmas Baking for Every Mood
39. Resy NY – Where to dine this holiday season.
40. Ally Invest – Make your money work harder in 2022
41. Target – NYE party ideas you'll want to stay awake for.
42. Walgreens Photo – Did you miss Black Friday? Don't worry, Cyber Week savings start now!
Holiday sales are a big part of the season for many businesses, but don’t limit your emails to just promotions. Highlight other important aspects of the holidays, like culinary traditions and spending time with loved ones.
You can also engage recipients with holiday-related messages that don’t immediately make a sales pitch but nurture your relationship with customers. This is especially true for newsletters, like the following examples.
43. NYT Cooking – Cooking for the Lunar New Year
44. Bon Appétit – It’s Not Christmas Without Hallacas
While this Bon Appétit newsletter ultimately leads readers to the call to action “Get the Recipe,” its main focus is sharing an interesting story about a Venezuelan holiday staple, engaging readers without being too pushy.
45. Asana – What are you grateful for?
46. Modern Fertility – New year, new fertility buddy! 🤝
47. NYT Cooking – Cook Yourself a Merry Christmas
Now you have a good idea of what a good holiday email subject line looks like. Next, let's cover best practices to keep in mind as you craft your own unique subject lines:
The subject line is just one of a few key elements to send successful holiday emails. But once you’ve crafted creative subject lines for your holiday campaigns, what’s next?
One of the most important ways to prepare for the holidays is to ensure that the technical side of your email program is ready for Black Friday and beyond. So first, check out our 13 tips to get ready for the season.
Then, dive deeper into holiday email preparation with our complete holiday email packing list, which includes tips on preparing your email list, automating campaigns, and more. You’ll be ready to send holiday emails with spectacular subject lines in no time!
- Keep it short and sweet: Holiday subject lines should be concise and to the point, ideally under 50 characters. This ensures they are easily scannable and won't get cut off on mobile devices.
- Incorporate emojis: Emojis can add a festive and playful touch to your subject lines, making them more eye-catching. Use relevant emojis to enhance your messaging.
- Highlight the offer or benefit: Clearly communicate the value or special offer in your subject line. Whether it's a discount, free shipping, or exclusive access, let recipients know what's in it for them.
- Create a sense of urgency: Use words like "limited time," "today only," or "last chance" to create a sense of urgency that encourages recipients to open the email and take action.
- Personalization: Incorporate the recipient's name or other personalized details to make the email feel more tailored and relevant.
- Use power words: Utilize impactful words like "exclusive," "gift," "save," "holiday," and "celebrate" to convey the holiday spirit.
- Segmentation: Tailor your subject lines to different audience segments based on their preferences and behaviors.
- Avoid spam triggers: Steer clear of using excessive exclamation points, all capital letters, or spammy words that could trigger spam filters.
- Test different variations: A/B testing can help you determine which subject lines resonate the most with your audience. Test variations in wording, emojis, and offers.
Ready to start sending? Give Twilio SendGrid a try for free