The holiday season is a colorful time of year that presents the perfect opportunity to explore color from a design perspective. This article explores five holiday color palettes that break the traditional mold and push the envelope for seasonal colors while still retaining the holiday spirit.

1. Thanksgiving


Most are familiar with the infamous Thanksgiving orange and brown. In the color palette shown above, rather than starting with orange and brown, the departure point becomes the feelings of Thanksgiving; warmth, comfort, togetherness, food, rosemary.

Observe how well a dark muted green can evoke warmth. The dark grey becomes a comforting anchor for the palette. When used sparsely, orange can actually become an exciting flare. As the palette opens up, note how non-traditional colors can now feel quite at home. A calm purple and desaturated green add atmosphere.

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2. Snow Fall


Along with the holiday season comes frigid temperatures (for some at least). In this color palette, you can craft a chillier feeling through value dissonance and desaturation.

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3. Hanukkah


Similar to the ideas explored in the Thanksgiving palette, note how the colors shown here can expand on traditional holiday characteristics. Hanukkah is known for its celestial blue, silver, the famous orange Hanukkah candles and chocolate gold coins.

All these elements are present yet the palette remains balanced, festive, and most importantly design-forward: it has a fresh look while staying true to the spirit.

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4. Christmas


In this example, note how the traditional Christmas red can be slightly shifted in hue towards orange. The red-orange color opens doors to a deep complementary blue, which then justifies pushing the hue on the other side of green, welcoming a strong and festive yellow. Use this palette for Christmas card designs, ads, packaging, flyers, ads and branding.

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5. New Years

New Year

Happy New Year! As Paul Rand has displayed effectively many times, bright colors pop on a black background. It could be said that this example is particularly effective in concept because black represents midnight and the bright colors represent festivities.


The color spectrum can be bent in ways that expose beautiful color relationships, while still being representational. This concept is especially valuable to designers interested in experimenting more with graphic design and pushing their creative ability.

This idea can also be liberating when clients simply ask you to include a color such as red. With practice, color selection can become a celebrated part of the creative workflow.

What’s your favorite color palette of the year? Share yours in the comments!