64 [Non-Cliche!] Holiday Copywriting Ideas, Examples, & Prompts
A phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
This is the definition of cliche.
Ever used cliches in your copywriting?
Don't worry, I have too and they're not altogether bad. It's neither possible nor necessary for every word you write to be original. Plus, the human brain is drawn to familiarity. But familiar doesn't stand out. And the consumer brain is already trained to tune out that annual barrage of generic holiday marketing messages. So how do you actually stand out?
At the crux of authentic copywriting is emotion. So in this post, I'm going to give you over 64 examples, ideas, and prompts to write cliche-free, emotion-filled marketing copy this season. Even better, I'm providing the 10 tactics I used to come up with these ideas. They include:
- Holiday greeting cards
- Slogan generators
- Your heart
- Forgotten song lyrics
- The seven principles of Kwanzaa
- Non "holiday" idea searches.
- Eye-opening stats.
- The thesaurus
So get ready to expand your creative copywriting toolkit for ideas all year round!
1. Use Tweets
What makes Twitter such a great resource for cliche-free copywriting is that [good] tweets are relatable and satisfyingly succinct. And isn't that how all copy should be? Some tweets will give you ideas for your own relatable ad copy while others you'll need to include right in your content for context (like in a gift guide).
Just be sure to get permission and give credit where it's due. And also, check the user's account to make sure other tweets they post are appropriate. To find holiday tweets:
- Search hashtags or keywords on Twitter itself.
- Do a Google search for funniest tweets about the holidays, relatable tweets about winter, etc.
- Do a Twitter site search on Google site:twitter.com [word or phrase]
This tweet reads: “For a Hanukkah gift, I'm gonna assemble my son's birthday present from July.”
- This holiday gift guide is full of gadgets your loved ones can enjoy right away.
- Your Company Name: For gifts you can enjoy, too.
- For gifts you can enjoy now.
- Assembly so easy, you get the best gift of all.
This tweet reads: “Have kids so that instead of real gifts you can give friends and family novelty photo items with pictures of your children they saw on social media 6 months ago.”
- That's one way to save money...or you could browse our collection of [products], all 30% off!
- Don’t have kids? We’ve got you covered.
- We don’t like boring frames either. Check out our array of interactive digital frames that never get stale.
This tweet reads: “Getting so many great bargains on holiday decorations I won't remember I bought next Christmas.”
- Sign up for our holiday rewards program. We’ll keep track of your deals.
- Why wait for post-holiday clearance when you can get great bargains now?
- Deals so good you'll think you're in the holiday clearance section.
2. Look at holiday greeting cards
I have a special place in my heart for the cards in the bottom row of the card aisle. There is no good way to browse these cards without having to hold a squat for several minutes. And who's going to do that? Indeed, this row is the greeting card page two of search results and something needs to be done.
Plus, from an accessibility standpoint, bottom and top rows aren't accessible. Ergo, browsing through cards online is a luxury, and lucky for you, they are fantastic for getting creative holiday marketing ideas.
This card reads: "May your heart be full..and your inbox empty."
- May your heart be full...and your wallet, too.
- May your heart be full, and your ads clicked too.
- May your heart be full, but not your head! Use these X sanity-saving holiday tips.
Perhaps one of the quintessential pain points of the holidays. A picture of tangled Christmas lights and the word "nope."
- Use images like this to talk about how easy your product or service can be.
- Juxtapose an image like this and "NOPE" with an image of your product or your audience's desired outcome and "YUP."
- Again, you don't need to use this exact image, just an image that encapsulates a classic holiday pain point.
This card has different mittens to represent different cultures and says "happy everything."
This card shows how simple and easy it can be to make your holiday messaging more inclusive and diverse. Think about the icons, colors, and examples you use in your designs and content. The smallest details can send big messages—so make sure yours is positive.
This card is a menorah with a word for each candle: peace, happiness, laughter, home, friendship, spirit, lights, holiday, family.
You could model after this image in a blog post or guide containing eight or nine components. The main topic would be the center candle and the eight strategies/tips/values would be the remaining ones.
3. Use a slogan generator
First, I plugged “Hanukkah” into Shopify’s slogan generator. Like I said, prepare for a lot of hilariously unusable taglines, but I was able to extract some copywriting potential.
- Hanukkahize me.
- Hanukkah-ize your home
- You know when it’s Hanukkah
- You know it’s Hanukkah when...
- The lighter way to enjoy Hanukkah
- This is just a nice little double-meaning phrase you can use for marketing healthy foods, bright apparel, and more.
Then I put “holidays” into said slogan generator.
- You can’t stop holidays
- You can’t stop the holidays from coming, but you can [solve a painpoint] with [business/product].
- Better ingredients. Better holidays.
- Better back health, better holidays.
- Happier kids, happier holidays.
- Stronger tips, better gifts.
- Built holidays tough.
- Holiday-proof your home (or brain) with [product/service].
- Strong enough to withstand the holidays.
- Build your holiday [cooking/shopping/etc] endurance with...
Last, I plugged “gifts” into the generator.
- Gifts when nothing else will do
- The perfect gift when nothing else will do.
- Anyone can handle gifts
- For a gift they won’t be able to handle.
- Anyone can handle a gift. Not everyone can handle [your product].
- See the USA in your gifts
- See the handmade in our gifts.
- See world impact in our gifts.
- See the [country you are supporting] in our gifts.
- Two gifts are better than one
- Use for referral offers, sales promotion copy, BOGO sales, or free gift included with purchase.
- Get back your ‘ooo’ with gifts
- You could have fun with a visual here of "ooo"ing a gift out of marvel next to "ooo"ing it with a cringe. Then something like "For the right kind of ooo."
4. Think compassionately
Queue in "There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”.
Now there is no doubt that the holiday season is associated with warm home and family vibes, and there is nothing wrong with using that in your emotional ad copy.
But if you’re looking to achieve that sense of comfort in your emotional marketing this holiday season, perhaps take a different approach and cater to those who don’t have family to come home to or family coming home to them.
Here’s an email Dock & Bay sent out in May, giving subscribers the opportunity to unsubscribe from Mother's Day emails.
- We know that the holidays can be a sensitive time for some of us. If you’d rather not receive holiday-related emails from us, just let us know by opting out. It’s important to make sure you’re only seeing things that put a smile on your face. Don’t worry, if you opt out, you’ll still receive all of the other emails, like normal.
5. Use forgotten song lyrics
Cliche holiday song lyrics are the cliches of holiday marketing. But there's no escaping the positive emotions these songs bring out in us. If you want to use songs to market with emotion, but want to stay authentic, how about using those same songs, but the other lyrics that don’t get beaten down to a pulp? Or holiday songs that use words and phrases you can connect back to your value proposition?
Let’s take Bing Crosby’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”
- Let’s say your audience includes parents.
- "Where the treetops glisten, and children listen...." Use these tips and your kids will actually hear you out.
- Or maybe you're an ecard company:
- “With every Christmas card I write...”
- Spare yourself the carpal tunnel...try [Company Name] for ecards with handmade feel.
Don't forget Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song."
There are two phrases you could have fun with in your holiday copy:
- "It's been said, many times, many ways"
Use it in an email subject line to lead into your value prop.
- "And so I'm offering this simple phrase"
Also subject line material, as well as a fun way to provide the key takeaways in a holiday-themed blog post.
Or let’s take Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
- “I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree.”
- Sure you don't, but your credit card does!
- Neither do we... but we DO care about [and off you go].
- Let's face it, you do...lead into great gift ideas from your business.
This is a tweet that says: “The twelve days of christmas is completely unrealistic there is no way that you’re still accepting gifts from someone after four days of birds.”
You may also be able to come up with some funny or compelling marketing copy by looking more closely at popular song lyrics. Like
- For fashion businesses: 5 Outfits to Nail the "New Old Fashioned Way"
- For a food or restaurant business: 10 Actually Delicious Figgy Pudding Recipes
6. Get inspired by Kwanzaa
Many great holiday marketing campaigns are focused on giving and gratitude. There is nothing wrong with these values! The thing is, there are so many more points of emphasis when viewed from other cultural perspectives.
Take Kwanzaa, for example.
- Collective work and responsibility
- Cooperative economics
7. Look at someecards
This is another strategy to come up with super-relatable content. Big disclaimer: someecards content can be offensive and insensitive, so be sure to only choose memes that don’t even come close to risking it.
This someecard reads: “Sorry your company is performing well enough this year to have an office holiday party.”
- Event planners can use this meme to talk about throwing office people actually want to go to.
- B2B companies can focus their ad copy around saving enough money to have a four office holiday parties a year.
This someecard reads: “May all your regifting go undetected this year.”
- [Product name]: The world’s first regiftable gift that everyone wants.
- Finish the holidays with a clear conscious this year
- 10 Things to Do Before You Give In and Regift
This someecard reads: “This holiday season, in lieu of gifts, I’ve decided to give everyone my opinion.”
- Spare your family, check out our gift guide!
- Use this meme in an email asking for reviews.
We actually want your opinion!
8. Exclude “holiday” from your idea searches
One of the best ways to get jumpstart your copywriting creativity is to Google around for examples.
Given that 90% of people use Google, and that 90% of that 90% don't go past the first page (i.e. to the bottom row of the card aisle—head back to #2 if you don't know what I'm talking about), you can rest assured that any ideas you get are not going to be authentic.
Plus, top pages for “best holiday marketing campaigns” almost invariably include the same list of 10 or so YouTube videos of commercials from big brands. These are entertaining and inspiring, but hardly useful for copywriting, and often not adaptable for small businesses (but this list is!).
The trick is to just to omit "holidays" from your searches. So for example, instead of "holiday facebook ad examples," I Googled “facebook ad examples.” I then took a look through these examples. Here are some that stuck out to me.
This Facebook ad says: "Time travel. Talking babies. Old man yelling at clouds. Just another day in adult animation. See it on Hulu for $5.99/month."
- Capture what holiday chaos looks like for your audience with similar copy and creative.
- Gifts wrapped with duct tape. CVS receipts as tissue paper. Eliminate the last minute chaos with [your business].
- [A picture of] Whiskers tasting the tinsel. Lucky gnawing the garland. Spot sampling the gingerbread house. Save your decorations, treat your pets.
There are two things about this ad copy that I like. The first is “Diaper rash, meet your match,” and the second is the use of a review.
- See if you have any positive reviews you can use by someone who gave or received your product as a gift.
- Try rhyming like this ad did with "Diaper rash, meet your match." (Rhyming also works for creative newsletter names!)
- Post-holiday crash, meet your match.
- Dine and dash, meet your match.
9. Use fun (or sad) stats & facts
Feelings aren't facts, but facts DO provoke feelings. Go down the rabbit hole of statistic Googling and you can find your way to some impressive copywriting.
- Everything in the 12 Days of Christmas would cost $39,000.
- Or you could pay less than that for a [car make and model].
- US consumers spend 15 hours attending holiday parties each year.
- The go-to [dress, makeup, wine, etc.] that will last you through...
- 15 hours' worth of reasons to join the gym! Sign up for 30% off in December.
- 30% of Americans expect to take on debt this holiday season.
- What if you could actually get cash back this year?
10. Use the thesaurus
There's a right and a wrong way to use a thesaurus in your copywriting. In my tips on how to write copy that sells, I implore you to keep your language simple and relatable. So there will be NO using of the thesaurus for finding more intelligent-sounding words. But we will use it for escaping generic holiday phrases in our holiday advertising.
Let’s take a look at the most generic of the generics of the holiday season:
Ring in the new year.
There are alternatives!
- Set [year] in motion
- Break into
- Usher in
- Plow into
- Bust into
Follow these ideas & examples for *truly* authentic holiday copywriting
Using cliches in your copywriting is a holiday marketing mistake! May this be our gift to your holiday marketing strategy and perhaps the gift that keeps on giving—as you can apply these tips for other holidays and non-holiday copy all year round! And remember, cliche and common phrases aren't altogether bad, just not for content pieces you really want to shine! So to keep true authenticity this season, follow these 10 tips:
- Use Tweets for relatable and humorous copy.
- Browse holiday greeting cards for creative and inclusive ideas.
- Try a slogan generator for headlines and taglines.
- Cater your copy to those who find the holidays difficult.
- Use forgotten song lyrics to appeal to pain points.
- Get inspired by the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
- Use someecards for humor in your blog posts and emails.
- Omit "holiday" from your Google searches.
- Base your copy off of eye-opening stats.
- Use the thesaurus to steer clear of cliches.