Blog Home Design Design Inspiration 10 Unexpected Color Palettes to Inspire Your Holiday Designs

The holidays are an excellent time to get creative, but the typical holiday color palettes can lack inspiration. When the usual red and green or blue and white colors begins to feel stale, look to winter imagery and holiday traditions for a boost of creativity. These color palettes will refresh your designs, whether you’re launching a holiday marketing campaign, designing thank you cards, or planning a tablescape for your holiday feast.

We turned to the Shutterstock collection (of course) for some holiday inspiration, and found 10 nontraditional color palettes that will add interest and character to your designs.

Explore the creative color palettes — and the images that inspired them — below!

1. Lift


The winter landscape is usually barren, but if you turn your eyes to the sky you’ll see beautiful displays of light. This palette takes advantage of winter’s low sun, which casts a golden glow over a mountain ski lift.

Hex: 8C485D / EFAFA3 / FFE997 C1F7F5

ski lift resort stock photo
ski resort by Galyna Andrushko

2. LED


While many choose to decorate their houses with subdued white lights during the holidays, colorful lights add a welcome touch of playfulness to a white winter. These saturated, almost neon, hues are an intense combination of primary colors, set off by a cool minty green.

Hex: F43425 / 2D7BF0 / F9C728 / 00F29B

christmas lights colorful stock photo
Christmas lights on a floor by mikecphoto

3. Snowdrop


Snowdrops are one of the few flowering winter plants, and their classic white bud is always a beautiful complement to the snowbed below. These earthy tones are subdued, making them cool and calming.

Hex: 422803 / 547564 / C3E2E2 / EAEFEF

snowdrops winter flower stock photo
Growing snowdrops in a forest by CoolR

4. Pointe


Many find themselves frequenting the theater during the holidays, whether it’s for a movie, a concert, the opera, or the ballet. This palette captures a ballerina’s view from backstage with dark shadows and warm bursts of pink and purple.

Hex: 1C1E1E / 164159 / AF515F / E5D1D9

ballerina backstage stock photo
Silhouette of ballerina on background of ballet performance, backstage by Anna Jurkovska

5. Wooly


Winter means sweater weather, and nothing says sweater weather like warm, scratchy wool. These pale tones are monochromatic, making them cozy and inviting, much like a wool sweater.

Hex: 64554A / B1A09C / D9CAB4 / E2DCDCxx

wool knitting stock photo
Skeins of wool yarn and knitting needles from bamboo on a wooden background by Nataliia Pyzhova

6. Evergreen


Not everyone shops for a tree during the holidays, but evergreens are a constant sight during the winter in many parts of the world. This palette pairs the season’s typical red and green hues with soft pastels, offsetting the saturation of the traditional holiday color scheme.

Hex: 1E3622 / F43D2F / 72DBDB / E3F7C4

boy christmas tree stock photo

7. Main St.

Holiday_Palettes_MAIN ST

Shopping is a big part of the holiday season, and storefronts are usually decked out with lights and decorations at this time of year. This market in Belgium looks like a row of gingerbread houses, making for a fun holiday palette.

Hex: 5F3A4B / 088FAF / F96864 / E0B89D

buildings decorated stock photo
Decorated and illuminated Market square in Bruges, Belgium by Nejron Photo

8. Brie


Parties, accompanied by spreads of irresistible appetizers, are a mainstay of the holiday season. This palette uses a cheese board as inspiration, contrasting the pale yellows of cheese with purple, blue, and green grapes.

Hex: 202B47 / 5D3B63 / 9DBE55 / EFD9AC

cheese board grapes stock photo
Wine appetizers set: French cheese selection, honeycomb, grapes, peach and walnuts on rustic wooden board over dark grunge metal background by Foxy’s Forest Manufacture

9. Mallard


A stunning winter sight is the V-pattern migration of birds as they travel south. This palette takes advantage of the Mallard’s iridescent feathers, creating a contiguous palette of stunning green, blue, and yellow.

Hex: 1C383D / 35885C / E5A81F / DACAA3

mallard ducks flying stock photo
Group of flying Mallards by Steve Oehlenschlager

10. Citrus


Citrus fruits are bursting with color and flavor in the wintertime. This palette turns the typically sunny tangerine into a sophisticated and moody fruit.

Hex: 554850 / 3E6D52 / DD5631 / E58435

Tangerines with leaves on rustic wooden background by Alena Haurylik
Tangerines with leaves on rustic wooden background by Alena Haurylik

Regardless of your holiday creative endeavors, these palettes offer a refreshing take on the season. It’s easy to default to red and green when you’re making something holiday-oriented, but these unique palettes might just change the course of your next design.

If you’re looking for more color inspiration, look to our previous set of color palettes. Or check out our curated collection of holiday and winter imagery — a great place to begin your holiday designs!