Chapter 2 Holiday Packaging 101: Why Last-Mile Enhancements Matter

Beth Owens / 7 min read


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The holiday season is the busiest time of year for most retail merchants. But it’s important to remember that this applies to consumers too! As well as the stress of travel plans and social events, there is the not-so-little matter of buying gifts for loved ones.

So, what do consumers want most from the brands they shop with during the holidays? The answer is simple: Convenience.

Gift wrapping in particular is a real pain point for consumers. According to a survey by Virgin Trains, 67% of people feel negatively about wrapping presents for the holidays. Another study shows the two leading reasons are because it ‘takes too long’ and that it’s easy to forget to buy important elements such as ribbon or gift tags.

By offering your customers a valuable service as well as helping them to fulfill their gifting obligations, a holiday packaging design is a powerful way to attract customers over competitors.

5 Ways to Customize Your Holiday Packaging

We think of the holiday season as a special time of year, and consumers will expect the same from your packaging.

According to Pregis, premium packaging increases the value perception of a product by 45% compared with regular packaging. So, customizing your holiday-themed packaging is a great way to build brand perception and channel a seasonal-themed unboxing experience for your customers.

1. Holiday-themed packing tape.

Boxes are one of the most expensive custom packaging elements, especially during the holidays when you might only want a small run of your seasonal design.

Holiday-themed packing tape is a creative way to liven up plain boxes or mailers. Considering that packing tape needs to be in your toolkit for order fulfillment, it’s an easy investment to lift your holiday packaging game.


Source: Noissue

2. Custom stickers.

Stickers provide a nice focal point for any packaging design.

If you are going for a more traditional holiday-themed design for your wrapping paper or gift boxes, customized stickers are a great place to add important branding elements such as your logo or brand name. This allows you to channel a seasonal vibe while still putting your brand front and center in your holiday packaging.


Source: Noissue

3. Handwritten notes.

Handwritten notes are a fantastic addition to online orders at any time of the year, but are especially fitting during the holidays. It shows that even at such a busy time of year, you are still making the effort to make customers feel valued.

This can be quite a time investment depending on your order volumes, but there are few better customer relations tactics in ecommerce than such a personalized interaction with your brand.

4. Die-cut inserts.

Die-cut inserts are great for adding some visual interest to the exterior of your boxes, especially if you have chosen a more plain design. It’s an innovative way to add in some holiday imagery; symbols such as stars, trees, and snowflakes make good inserts because they have easily recognizable silhouettes.

For the interior of your box, you can use die-cut inserts to help you better display your products and prevent them from moving around in transit.


Source: Noissue

5. Custom tissue paper.

Customized tissue paper is one of the most versatile packaging elements available for holiday order fulfillment. You can use it as wrapping paper for products, to line the inside of boxes, or even as a gift with purchase for your customers’ own wrapping duties. Due to its large surface area, tissue is a great place to print larger or more complex designs.

Packaging & Sustainability: Why Does it Matter?

Environmental concerns haven’t traditionally factored into packaging design, but that’s changing fast as both consumers and brands grow more conscious of sustainability. As a result, more eco-friendly packaging solutions are hitting the market to support increased efforts by businesses to go plastic-free.

At noissue, we consider sustainable packaging to be our forte. Here are a few reasons why sustainability should factor into your holiday packaging design.

1. Gen Z loves sustainability.

Although consumer preference for sustainable brands is becoming more widespread across age groups, Generation Z is by far the most dedicated. According to a 2015 study by Nielsen, almost three-quarters of Gen Z consumers are willing to spend more for sustainable products, compared with 51% of Baby Boomers.

With Gen Z set to be the world’s biggest consumer market by 2020, their purchasing decisions have never mattered more. For any brand wanting to appeal to this market, an eco-conscious holiday packaging design is an excellent branding tool.

2. It helps the environment.

Packaging waste is a particularly salient issue during the holiday period. On average, an extra one million tons of waste are thrown away every year between Thanksgiving and January 1, a 25% increase on the rest of the year.

Discarded packaging, such as plasticized wrapping paper, gift bags, cellophane and boxes are responsible for much of this increase. There is a staggering 38,000 miles of ribbon discarded each year alone — enough to tie a bow around the entire planet!

By making the effort to incorporate the ‘3 Rs’  (reduce, reuse, recycle) into your packaging design, your business is doing its bit to protect the environment.

3. It serves as free marketing.

When sustainability is increasingly in demand by consumers, it becomes a far more tangible brand asset. It’s already been shown that consumers are more likely to share images and videos of products with attractive packaging than those without.

According to Dotcom Distribution, 39% of consumers would share an image on social media if it came in “gift-like” packaging. Add in the thrill of the holidays and an eco-friendly holiday design, and you have a winning strategy for free online promotion.

3 Brands with Great Holiday Packaging Strategies in 2018

Holiday-themed packaging doesn’t have to involve stereotypical imagery for it to strike a chord with consumers. In fact, going for a non-traditional design can help your brand to stand out by demonstrating creativity.

These three brands have all taken a seasonal but still on-brand approach to their holiday packaging, with excellent results.

1. The Foxes Den.


Source: Noissue

A minimalist black and white design works wonders at any time of the year. It’s classy, understated, and an easy way to make your brand look more high-end. During the holidays, this minimalist look provides a nice respite from the saturation of bright colors and metallics.

Add on a gift tag and some ribbon as The Foxes Den have done, and you have a tasteful packaging design that can also be used into the new year and beyond.

2. Cookie Time.


Source: Noissue

For ecommerce merchants in the Southern Hemisphere with a summer holiday season, a wintery snowflake design could be off-brand and less likely to resonate with customers.

New Zealand biscuit brand Cookie Time used this as inspiration for their 2018 design, which features imagery of the native pōhutukawa tree. It flowers during December, and so is traditionally associated with Christmas.

For merchants anywhere in the world, it’s always worth considering whether you can channel some national or regional symbolism into your holiday packaging. It’s a great way to capitalize on your status as a local brand!

3. Jo Malone.


Source: Noissue

Pairing your holiday-themed packaging with seasonal products or gift sets allows your brand to better capitalize on this busy retail period. Investing in a premium design will help you to channel a more luxurious image, and it incentivizes consumers to see greater value in your offering.

Fragrance brand Jo Malone stayed on-brand for the holidays by keeping their signature cream and black color palette for their 2018 holiday gift set. The house frontage design is an homage both to its range of home fragrance offerings and the family focus of the Christmas season.

By creating a seasonal packaging design that resonates with both of these themes, Jo Malone has mastered the essence of the modern holiday period.

5 Tips for Your Holiday Packaging Design

Now that we’ve established what a difference memorable packaging can have on your customer experience, here are a few tips for thinking both inside and outside the box.

1. Keep it on brand.

According to Deloitte, 75% of consumers are willing to purchase from new brands over the holidays. To turn them into a repeat customer, you will need to build brand recognition that lasts beyond the holiday period.

As the above examples demonstrate, it’s important to ensure that your seasonal packaging still reflects your brand identity. Using only generic holiday imagery runs the risk of diluting brand recognition.

With this in mind, make an effort to incorporate your brand name or logo into your design, or include seasonal imagery in your signature brand colors.

2. Don’t go overboard.

It’s always tempting to go all-out for the festive season. But the cost of custom elements quickly adds up. Couriers charge based on size as well as weight of a package, which can result in some hefty seasonal costs for your business.

More materials will also mean more packaging waste for your consumer to dispose of, so a less-is-more approach is beneficial on multiple fronts.

It’s still possible to create a memorable unboxing experience on a budget. Using mailers instead of boxes, for example, will help to reduce your costs because they are more streamlined and weigh less. Pairing this with some seasonal gift wrap will allow you to still wow your customer on delivery, even without a traditional box.

3. Ask shoppers to share photos of the packaging.

To maximize your investment in holiday packaging, you can make it the centerpiece of a seasonal marketing campaign.

Consider creating a dedicated hashtag for social media and running a giveaway to incentivize customers to share images or videos. In doing this, you can create some fantastic online buzz around the holidays at no extra cost!

4. Make it reusable.

The business benefits of reusable packaging are two-fold. You can limit the amount of packaging waste you create, while providing customers with a value-added extra that keeps your brand in their sights.

Source: Noissue

Lush Cosmetics is a great example of a brand that seeks to lower its impact and educate its customers on sustainability. Instead of traditional gift wrapping over the holidays, Lush wraps their products in patterned knot wraps made from recycled plastic bottles. These can be reused as hair accessories or room decor, and so add extra value on top of the purchased product.

For packaging elements that aren’t usually considered reusable, such as ribbon or tissue paper, you can enclose a packaging insert asking people to consider saving these items for their future gift wrapping needs.

5. Research packaging suppliers.

The decision of who you decide to source your packaging from should never just be about cost; there are a lot of important factors to consider, such as MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities) for different packaging elements, turnaround times, and the sustainability of a supplier’s designs.

To help evaluate your options, create a checklist of requirements for your holiday packaging before you start scouting out suppliers. Set your budget, decide on the specifics of your design — for example, does it need to provide protection? — and work out your business’ own timeline for production and use.

You don’t just want consumers to shop with you during the holidays; you want to retain them over the rest of the year, too. Holiday-themed packaging is a marketing tool that leaves your customers with a lasting impression of your brand. So, it’s never too early to start thinking about your holiday packaging design and how to incorporate your brand into seasonal imagery.

The holidays are a stressful time for any retail merchant, so the best solution is always to be prepared!

Table of Contents

    Table of Contents

    IntroAchieving 2019 Holiday Success: Shipping, Packaging, and Fulfillment Guidelines for Ecommerce Brands
    Chapter 1 Automate and Optimize: How to Improve Your Fulfillment for the Holidays
    Chapter 2 Holiday Packaging 101: Why Last-Mile Enhancements Matter
    Chapter 3 How to Ease Holiday Shipping Anxiety for You and Your Customers & Holiday Shipping Deadlines for 2019


    Beth Owens

    Beth Owens

    Beth Owens is a digital marketing assistant and content writer at Her main topic areas include e-commerce, social media marketing and the art of excellent branding.

    View all posts by Beth Owens

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