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Holiday Packaging 101: Why Last-Mile Enhancements Matter

The holidays are mixed with stress and joy — and you can expect similar emotions for both retailers and consumers as we shop online during a global pandemic. But, if you’re looking for ways to add more joy and eliminate stress focus on giving your customers the gift of convenience.

Focus on the unboxing experience. It’s your only guaranteed 100% open rate.

Holiday packaging isn’t just about fulfilling orders or offering gift wrap services. As a brand, you always have to aim to delight your customers — and keep in mind that the unboxing experience can also serve as an easy organic marketing win.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You may be thinking, “do my customers care about sustainability in the middle of a global pandemic?” The answer is yes. Consumers today, especially Millennials and Gen Z, buy more than just a product – they are investing in a brand mission. Offering sustainable packaging can help you stand out from competition in a year where there have never been more brands selling online during the holidays. Added bonus: you’ll feel good about helping the planet.

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. 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.

Discarded packaging, such as plasticized wrapping paper, gift bags, cellophane and boxes are responsible for much of this increase.

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.

Plus, consumers engage more with a brand’s content when they use user-generated content. Add the thrill of the holidays and an eco-friendly holiday design to your packaging and you’ll have a winning strategy for free online promotion.

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 design tips that will have you thinking both inside and outside the box.

1. Keep it on brand.

Many consumers are open to shopping with new brands during the holidays, but to turn them into a repeat customer, you will need to build brand recognition that lasts beyond the holiday period.

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.

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 many 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, and work out your business’ own timeline for production and use.


When you’re creating your holiday packaging, don’t think about only acquiring new customers. Rather, think about what you can do to retain your customers for the long run. Before you settle on any designs or materials, consider what your customers value and what would delight them most.