The 2020 Holiday Lookbook: Images for the Holiday Season

Whether you’re looking to spice up your social media or in search of a festive background, Shutterstock is here to deliver.

The holiday season approaches faster than a reindeer dashing through the snow. With Black Friday (November 27th), Small Business Saturday (November 28th), Cyber Monday (November 30th), and Free Shipping Day (December 14th) all just around the corner, now is the time to prepare your sleigh, and marketing campaign.

Shutterstock’s library of holiday imagery is here to help inspire the heartwarming feelings associated with the holidays: coziness and comfort, love and connection. So, whether you’re a small business owner looking to spice up your social media, a content creator in need of images to pair with copy, or an individual in search of a festive background for your device, Shutterstock knows what’s on your Wish List and is here to deliver with our 2020 Holiday Lookbook of festive lifestyle images.


The 2020 Holiday Lookbook

From festive handicrafts to beloved memories of tree decorating with family, you’ll find all of our favorite seasonal images all in one place. Plus, keep scrolling to learn more on how to use these essential holiday images in your social posts and promotions.


1. Festive Gatherings

Convey Togetherness
Convey a sense of togetherness. Image via TijanaM.

Best for: Email reminders of virtual gatherings and meetings, e-commerce websites.

Whether laughing by a fire with friends or breaking bread with family, nothing quite says, Happy holidays! like quality time spent with quality people. Want to convey a sense of togetherness to your audience? Opt for images of friends gathered around a festive table of holiday treats or walking arm-in-arm through the snow. These photos can act as helpful visual aids in email reminders of upcoming virtual meetings, as well.

Capture Festive Images
Capture festive images of quality time with friends. Image via Syda Productions.

If you intend to reach a parental audience, go for images that include children reveling in the magic of the season. Best used as part of an advertisement or visual on an e-commerce website, images of children delightedly unwrapping gifts with Mom or Dad nearby are a great way to encourage consumers to don their secret Santa hats and purchase gifts for loved ones.


2. Technology

The Helpful Role of Technology
Create images of technology in a positive light. Image via bbernard.

Best for: Ads, e-commerce websites, notifications of sales and discounts.

By utilizing images that focus on the helpful role technology can play in our increasingly connected world, you acknowledge that your brand is contemporary and well aware of the times we live in. Photos of people using technology with smiles on their faces and fairy lights tinkling in the background reminds viewers that they can easily connect with loved ones this season, whether by watching a movie together on the same screen or FaceTiming a distant relative.

E-Commerce Sites
This season, shoppers will be keeping their eyes on e-commerce sites. Image via Tatiana in the garden.

These images are the perfect accompaniment for ads and e-commerce sites. In 2019, Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, hitting a record 9.4 billion U.S. dollars in online sales. This year’s Cyber Monday results remain to be seen, but current market trends imply that many shoppers will be skipping brick-and-mortar retailers in favor of e-commerce sites. Instead of the frenzy often found in stores during the holidays — a stressful mental image (to say the least) — you can use calm, peaceful images of people cozied up at home with their technology as a reminder that shopping this season can be entirely pleasant.


3. Intimate Moments

Intimate Moments
Nothing displays the holiday season better than intimacy between friends. Image via RossHelen.

Best for: Ads, luxury brands, social media content.

Want to convey that love is in the frosty air? Select images with rich reds, soft lights, and two people cozied up together for what is one of the most easily recognizable icons of romance: a happy couple. Use these photos in your ads to remind consumers that giving to loved ones is a gift in itself. When searching for the perfect picture to pair with your copy, utilize Shutterstock’s specific filters for age, ethnicity, and gender to get just the look you’re searching for.

Cozy Atmosphere
Fireside images are perfect for that cozy, winter atmosphere. Image via Alena Ozerova.

You can also use the above search options to find images of couples engaged in activities or using products similar to your own. Studies have shown that people respond more positively to images of people than to shots of any other subject. It’s easier for a viewer to picture herself in the photo if there’s a person there to project herself onto. Use photos such as these to quickly connect with consumers and get them excited to engage with your product.

Enjoyable Activities
Display images of people engaging in positive, fun activities. Image via StockLite.

4. Self-Care

Buying for One's Self
Remind customers to treat themselves, as well. Image via Soloviova Liudmyla.

Best for: Social media posts and stories, ads.

Photos of individuals engaged in sweet self-care can be a good way to remind consumers to treat themselves to your products. Be sure to know your audience. According to Pinterest’s holiday marketing guide, “the self-gifter” is a shopper, usually in her 30s, who buys gifts not just for others, but for herself as well.

Hands holding a cup of cocoa or good book, or a person curled up on the couch with a sleeping pup at their feet, can signify to viewers that they deserve a little rest and relaxation themselves.

Encourage a Stress-free Environment
Images to get you through the day. Image via Soloviova Liudmyla.

Images that hum with hygge, the Danish word for a lifestyle that emphasizes comfort, coziness, and contentment, are great options for the background of your personal device. A photo of socked feet warming themselves by a fire may be just the soothing image you need to get through a stressful workday. Think of the picture as doctor’s orders, a reminder that not only is it okay to kick your feet up at the end of the day, it’s also encouraged.


5. Snow-time Fun

Seasonal Deals
Remind your customers that your deals are seasonal. Image via XiXinXing.

Best for: Limited-time-only deals, social media content, minimal website design.

Anyone who knows the story of Frosty the Snowman knows that “fun in the sun” is not his motto. After he melts, it takes magic to bring him back to life. By using snowy photos to accompany your ad campaigns, you can remind consumers that your great deals and special sales won’t last forever, either. They can frolic in the snow and get a great deal on your products for a limited time only.

Update Social Media Platforms
Regularly post new content to social media platforms. Image via Newman Studio.

Looking to attract new customers? Be sure to regularly post new content to your social media platforms. Snowy images are an easy, nondenominational way to inform viewers that you’re staying current as the seasons change. Write relevant copy that connects image-to-text by using snow-time verbiage such as, “Skate into the holiday season with us!”


6. Winter Getaways

A Seasonal Getaway
Images of people in winter’s glory, treating themselves. Image via Puzurin Mihail.

Best for: Travel-oriented companies, backgrounds for computers or mobile devices.

The holiday season is a time when many people in the workforce take, well, a much-needed holiday. It’s a time to step back from work and enjoy some uninterrupted rest. Images that show people in snowy cabins or dressed up in bright ski suits remind viewers of the possibility of treating themselves to a wintry getaway. Such images are ideal both for travel and accommodation companies, as well as brands that simply want to convey a sense of spaciousness and freedom.

Change the Background
For a little diversity, change the background of your device. Image via RossHelen.

You can also take a little vacation yourself just by changing the background of your devices. Whether you prefer images of a quiet path through the woods or an exotic city glittering with snow, Shutterstock has just the thing to help you get away from it all, without the hustle and bustle of holiday travel.


7. Handcrafted Goods

Show Authenticity
Show close-up shots of homemade activities. Image via TijanaM.

Best for: Social media, greeting cards, invitations.

Nothing quite says, “I care,” like a hand-crafted gift. By using photos of hands hard at work this holiday season, your company can say the same. Emphasize your brand’s personal touch with close-up shots of hands in the act of wrapping gifts, rolling out cookie dough, or holding up a glass of homemade spiced cider.

Hand-crafted Gifts
Capture images of hand-crafted gifts. Image via Tatiana Vorona.

Simple, natural images are inherently soothing, especially amidst the chaos and clutter that can inundate many of us in the frenzy of holiday shopping. Let your imagery be a much-needed break by sticking with clean lines and little background noise. The natural shapes of these shots make them ideal for ads in which your copy fits neatly inside the open space of the image. They also work well as the backgrounds of greeting cards and invitations.

Leave Room for Copy
Leave room for people to add a few words of holiday cheer. Image via Vitalii Matokha.

Cover image via Vitalii Matokha.

Discover more holiday images and tips for creating seasonal content here: