The trees were out, the in-laws visited your neck of this woods this year, and you had more presents to buy than your budget supports. However, there is an upside to all the Holiday madness. Should any of your clients require a stellar Christmas card—or even if you’d just like to have one to send the family—creating such a beast is an excellent opportunity to show off your talents as a graphic artist. However, Christmas cards aren’t quite as cut and dry as you might think. With only a few missteps, you run the risk of being corny, cheesy, or boring. Fear not though, our little Adobe-sized elves: We’ve compiled a few of our choice thoughts below on how to improve and best your Christmas card designs from the tree up! Starting with:

  1. Kill the Cliche Colors: First out of the wrapping, avoid cliche color schemes wherever you can. Obviously, the choice options here are red, green, and white. However, that doesn’t mean these are the only colors you should be using in your cards! No, there’s plenty of room to stretch out if you think about it. Why not add some dark purples, mixed with some even darker blues? How about a more subdued pastel set of retro Holiday colors, rather than the traditional brighter offerings? The possibilities are endless, and as long as you play your cards right, just about any hue will do.
  2. Don’t Bloat it Like Christmas Dinner: Another point we’d like to make is that minimalism is key, here. The tendency with ye olden Christmas cards is to load them down with as much tinsel and gold as possible, creating an ungodly amalgam of everything glittering and putrid. Instead, focus on creating simple, geometric portraits of Holiday classics. Don’t illustrate an ungainly Correl masterpiece of a tree: Instead, try out some basic triangles mixed with some of the color ideas mentioned above. How about simplifying those stockings to represent in as few shapes as possible the people they’re heading to? The combinations never end, but if you want to stand out with your Christmas card this year, be sure to start thinking outside the Coca-Cola box.
  3. Santa’s Got a New Bag: Lastly, as a fun exercise, try giving Santa a unique look! See what you can come up with, and as always, have fun with it: This isn’t work, after all, but pure candy-cane joy we’re talking about.