Email marketing can be one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to promote your business during the holidays. After all, as we’ve called out before, email marketing yields a staggering 4,300 percent ROI! And just as a lovely star atop the tree can transform your Tannenbaum, a sparkling subject line can be just what you need to make your holiday emails merry and bright.

Copy guidelines for creative seasonal writing

Creating compelling subject lines isn’t easy, especially when you’re also dealing with the time demands of holiday busyness. Here are ideas for seven types of holiday subject lines that will cut through the holiday chaos, tickle your customers’ sense of ho-ho-ho, and make recipients as eager to open your email as they will be to tear into the biggest box under the tree:

Make merry with puns

Alfred Hitchcock once said, “Puns are the highest form of literature.” Although he was probably joking, there’s no doubt that a good holiday pun can grab attention and tickle recipients’ sense of humor. Some of our favorites:

  • Season’s Eatings!
  • Yule adore our buyer’s wrapping tips
  • Happy Challah-days!
  • Fleece Navidad
  • Cheeses are the reason for the season

Dazzle with discounts

Your customers are probably spending like crazy this holiday season, and they’re looking for a deal. Catch their attention with subject lines that promise discounts:

  • We’re feeling very merry. Get 50 percent off your order.
  • Get up to 20% off before the ball drops tonight!

Give them a gift

It’s the season of giving, but also of getting. Who doesn’t like to get something for themselves when they’re being so generous to others? Recipients may feel the holiday spirit when they see subject lines like these in their inbox:

  • Goody gumdrops! FREE SHIPPING.
  • Be thankful, get a coupon.

Share season’s greetings

Here’s a novel idea — a subject line that says you’re reaching out “just because it’s the holidays.” And by the way, here’s your discount/great deal/free shipping, etc. Some winning examples:

  • Jingle, Jingle! Our Christmas Shop is Open.
  • New Year Savings to Renew You!

Give them useful info

Finding gifts for those hard-to-shop-for friends, preparing a holiday meal when you tend to burn water, trying to wrap presents so they look better than what your toddler could do — the holidays have a lot of stressors. Your customers would really appreciate some help, tips, guidance, and empathy.

  • 10 DIY fall wreaths that are way better than a welcome mat
  • 3 perfect holiday gifts

Hit them in the feels

Anyone who hasn’t noticed that the holidays are an emotion-filled time needs to sit down and watch a few old holiday TV specials. There’s a lot of giving, goodwill to others, and charitable donating going on, and your customers want to feel good about the good they do. Help them out with holiday email subject lines that tug on their heart strings, like:

  • We would have had room in our inn.
  • Give them the gift they really deserve.

Spark their holiday spirit

What is it about the holidays? No, really… what is it? Almost everyone loves at least something about the season, whether it’s the solemnity of religious observations, tearing into the gifts on Christmas morning, kicking up their heels on New Year’s Eve, or just spending quality time with loved ones. Of course, it can be easy to forget the things we love when we’re all so busy with holiday chaos. Use your email lines to remind readers what they love about the season with gems like these:

  • It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
  • Up to 50% bonus — ’tis better to give AND receive!

Successful holiday email subject lines

Need more holiday subject line inspiration? Here are 25 of our favorite holiday email subject lines that have stood out in our inboxes over the years. Draw on them for inspiration as you plan your winter campaigns:

  1. WillCall: Hey, we made you something for the holidays!
  2. Chasing Fireflies: Our Magical Holiday Gift Shop is open + Save up to 80% in our Halloween Blowout Sale!
  3. Shutterfly: We’re feeling very merry. Get 50% off your order.
  4. Fabletics: Let’s get cozy.
  5. Omaha Steaks: Wanna get the REALLY good holiday deals this year?
  6. theSkimm: Winter is (officially) coming.
  7. BloomThat: It’s all for YOU.
  8. BevMo!: NEW for November! Delicious Wines for the Fall Season.
  9. Workshop: FALL STEAM AHEAD: Over 80 classes up & posted, Oktoberfest weekend workshops & CAMP DIY.
  10. Kabuki Springs & Spa: 3 Tips to Boost Your Immune System this Fall.
  11. Alternative: First look | Alternative Gift Guide.
  12. Old Navy: Merry? — We got you a gift…
  13. Finish Line: The Holiday Gift Guide is here. Game on for gift giving.
  14. Kayak: Waiting for lower Thanksgiving flight prices? Stop and book.
  15. UberEATS: Brr — warm up with some free hot chocolate.
  16. Paper Culture: Need Holiday Photo Card Ideas?
  17. American Airlines: Holiday deals and steals: Warm up with these vacation savings.
  18. Tory Burch: Presenting: Tory’s Gift Guide.
  19. Zazzle Inc: Early Birds Save 50% On All Ornaments & Mugs + 20% Off Everything Else.
  20. Turntable Kitchen: get ready for holiday entertaining: recipes, cocktails, music recommendations.
  21. Pottery Barn Kids: ? The BEST gift: 20% OFF anything (TODAY ONLY!)
  22. World Market: Ho-Ho-WHOA! 50% off Wine Gift Baskets + Holiday Food and Decor. LAST DAY for two HUGE coupons.
  23. JetBlue Airways: A sale to escape the winter weather!
  24. Bing Webmaster Team: It’s not too late: Reach more holiday shoppers with your $100 coupon.
  25. Harry & David: Kim, get a jump on holiday shopping with your Gift History and enjoy free shipping.

As you can see, many of the email subject lines target early bird shoppers looking for gift ideas (gift guides) and getting prepped for the holidays. Focus your holiday email subject lines not only on offering deals and promotions like free shipping and discounts, but also on solving your customers’ problems through gift guides, tips, ideas, extended or special shopping hours, etc.

Whatever kind of holiday email subject line you use, always keep your communications with customers upbeat and easily consumable.

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Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in November 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2016 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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