3 Secrets to Designing Awesome Holiday Packaging

Published on August 10, 2022
Written by
Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 6 Minutes

You’ve literally put your blood and sweat and tears into curating every product in your store. (Well maybe not literally — I’m pretty sure your customers would rather not have your blood or sweat or tears on their shipment.)

So doesn’t it seem silly to just throw an order in a plain brown box or boring white envelope and send it out the door? Especially during the holidays, when it’s bizarre not to be over-the-top?

If you want your holiday packaging to make your competitors jealous, take note of the three secrets below.

Design an Original, Un-Boring Exterior

Considering Americans spend an average of $3.2 billion on wrapping paper every year, shoppers are clearly concerned with the outside of the package in addition to what’s inside. In fact, in a survey by Dotcom Distribution, nearly half of the respondents said branded packaging made them more excited about opening the box. And in that same survey, 40% of participants said they were more likely to order from an online retailer again if their package came in a premium package.

So even if we’ve been taught since grade school to “not judge a book by its cover,” we’re still going to (sorry, Mrs. Kopec.)

The shipping box is the last thing shoppers see before they get to enjoy the items they purchased. And since shoppers are (hopefully) already stoked about receiving their order, you can make them even more excited to break into the package with a super cool design on the outside and inside of the box.

Real-World Example

MeUndies — an ecommerce store that sells underwear, socks, and casual clothing — usually keeps its packages discreet. But for the holidays, the online merchant of unmentionables spruced up its packaging with colorful lights and the tagline, “Light Up the Holidays”:

MeUndies Holiday Packaging

The envelope still has the standard black background and large logo MeUndies sports on its regular packages. But the lights and tagline help give the package a little more pizzazz.

Take Care of Gift Wrapping

Holiday shopping is exhausting. And as much fun as picking out wrapping paper is, the actual process of wrapping presents is kind of a drag.

But what if a present ordered online came pre-wrapped? What if all the shopper had to do was hand the item(s) over to the recipient, without even opening the box? Personally, if a brand eliminated the need for me to wrap presents (even though, to be honest, I’m a really talented gift wrapper), I would definitely order from them again.

Real-World Example

Love with Food Holiday Packaging

Love with Food is a monthly subscription service that delivers organic and all-natural snacks. The retailer’s colors are already red and white, so it didn’t have to make major changes to its shipping boxes. All it took was a simple graphic of a gift bow and boom — the box is holiday-themed and ready to be gifted:

The easier you can make the process of gift-giving, the better. It’s the reason big brands offer holiday gift guides and simplify checkout as much as possible.

Don’t Forget the Inside of the Box

The inside of a shipping box is prime real estate for holiday messaging. And whether you decorate the interior or include small goodies, discovering these little extras is a nice surprise for shoppers.

Here are a few ideas of what you can include in your holiday shipping boxes:

  • Announcements about upcoming sales
  • Coupons
  • Customer service contact information
  • Personalized and/or handwritten thank you notes
  • Product samples
  • Small thank you gifts (e.g. Branded swag)

If you choose to decorate the inside of the box, use it as an opportunity to say hello. Showcase your brand’s personality and express your gratitude to the shopper. If the shopper is a first-time customer, it makes a great first impression. And if they’re repeat purchasers, it reinforces their decision to continue shopping with you.

Real-World Example

Obey Holiday Packaging

Obey Clothing sells apparel featuring designs from Frank Shepard Fairey, a contemporary street artist. Obey’s holiday boxes not only have a bow on the outside, but they also have a friendly message on the inside:

Similar to Love with Food’s packages, Obey’s holiday packaging changes were small, but they were definitely still impactful.

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ShipStation Gear
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SUPER IMPORTANT: In each of these examples, the holiday packaging updates were on-brand. Recipients would still recognize the boxes, even with the changes — which is something that must be said for your holiday packaging. You can (and should) be clever. But don’t sacrifice brand consistency (or for that matter, box durability) for the sake of standing out.

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Written by

James Messer

James Messer is a copywriter specializing in shipping, logistics, and ecommerce.

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