9 holiday marketing ideas to drive sales this season

Stand out from the crowd with these fun marketing campaigns.

For many businesses, the holiday season is the best time of year for sales. Whether you sell giftable crafts or a business course, December is a time when people are opening their wallets and making purchases. 

It’s important to run promotions to encourage your customers and potential customers to spend at your business. And around the holidays, you can make your marketing really fun!


Don’t just send another email telling people to buy your products. Instead, try one of our nine ideas for eye-catching and engaging holiday marketing.

Jump ahead to your favorite of our holiday marketing ideas:

  1. Create a holiday gift guide
  2. Throw a themed party
  3. Offer gift card specials
  4. Cross-promote holiday specials
  5. Celebrate the 8 days of Hanukkah
  6. Create a bingo card
  7. Engage daily with an advent calendar
  8. Donate to charity
  9. Run a holiday referral contest
A snow globe with the 9 holiday marketing ideas.

1. Create a holiday gift guide

Buying gifts for other people is much harder than buying for yourself. Coming up with gift ideas for partners, children, parents, and friends is a struggle for everyone around the holiday shopping season.

So create a gift guide for the holiday shoppers most likely to buy your products. This AWeber customer has a creative “cozy” gift guide for feminine-oriented products.

A holiday gift guide email called "Gifts to keep her warm" with scarf, slippers, and more.

Include products across the range of prices, so customers know what you have to offer, from stocking stuffers to that one big holiday gift. 

Make sure you send multiple emails and post all over social media, too. Once the guide is created, you want to drive as much attention to it as possible.

2. Throw a themed party

A business holiday party with everyone waving at the computer screen.

Chances are, your target audience, customers, and prospects likely have a lot in common. They may want to meet each other — in person or on a live call.

So our first holiday marketing idea is to throw your customers a party. It could be coffee or champagne at your shop, an ugly sweater Zoom call, or a donation exchange. 

No matter what, a live event gets people in the holiday spirit and allows them to connect. 

There is no better way to grow a community than a get-together. To boost sales during the party, offer a discount alongside the event or make a game that involves your products (see the bingo card below).

3. Offer gift card specials

A Canva template for a gift certificate in holiday colors.

One of the best holiday promotion ideas to make more sales is to offer gift cards. Almost everyone is looking for gifts for their family, friends, and even co-workers or clients. Your business could have the perfect gift for them.

Keep in mind, gift cards aren’t just for brick and mortar businesses that sell t-shirts, toys, or food. You can create a “giftable” product, no matter what you sell.

For example, if you offer a course for $500, sell just the first or most popular video for $25. It could be the perfect gift, and the chance to get a new customer.

Or, if you’re a consultant, offer an in-depth consultation or first meeting as a stand-alone product. Your current customers can buy it for a friend or person in their network. Again, you could end up with a new customer.

Use Canva to create a digital and/or physical coupon so the person receiving the gift still has something to open.

4. Cross-promote holiday specials

Cross-promotions are an extremely popular marketing tactic, any time of the year. Everyone from small businesses to large corporations use partnerships to drive more sales.

Here’s how to get started: Find a company that sells to the same audience as you, but sells a different product. Offer their customers a special discount and have them offer yours a discount.

Then — and here’s the best part — send a cross-promotion email to both of your subscriber lists. This opens up the opportunity for you to market to an entirely new audience.

Check out this example of holiday marketing cross-promo between Starbucks and Uber Eats. I’m guessing they sold a lot of coffee and deliveries from these emails.

A Starbucks and Uber Eats crossover email that says "Deliver it Forward with Starbucks & Uber Eats."
Source: Really Good Emails

Cross-promotions can be as simple as a discount for anyone using a particular code. Or, you can pair it with the bingo holiday marketing campaign (add products from both companies to the bingo card).

Bring it all together with a party for everyone! There’s no downside to getting everyone together for some holiday cheer. And if you can associate it with your business to boost your online presence, all the better.

5. Celebrate the 8 days of Hanukkah

Not everyone knows about the traditions and celebrations surrounding Hanukkah. If you do, take the opportunity to educate your audience. Use the eight days to encourage people to be charitable and learn more about the Jewish faith.

For example, the headphones company AfterShokz sent this email wishing a happy Hanukkah to everyone who celebrates and suggesting eight ways to spread light this season.

An email from AfterShokz that shows a menorah and gives 8 ways to spread light this season.
Source: Really Good Emails

Not every holiday marketing email should be intended for sales. It’s a great opportunity to connect with your customers as people with families and traditions.

Important note: Always remember to be culturally sensitive in all of your holiday marketing. If you don’t know the right way to say something, don’t say it at all.

6. Create a bingo card

Cross-selling and upselling your customers is how to make the most sales around the holidays. A bingo card can be just the thing to encourage customers to make that extra purchase.

Here’s an example bingo card inspired by an AWeber customer’s Etsy store:

A holiday bingo card created in Canva with options for Journal, Stickers, and more.

Here’s how to create a holiday bingo card in Canva: 

  1. Create a bingo card with nine squares (like a tic-tac-toe game). 
  2. Add small, affordable upsell products or add-on services to each bingo square. You can make the center square free if you want, or add a particularly popular product.
  3. Offer a freebee or discount when someone makes a “bingo.” (They can draw a straight or diagonal line through the squares of products/services they’ve bought.)

You can create an eye-catching bingo card easily using Canva, and include it in your emails for a beautiful, fun, and engaging experience for your customers.

7. Engage daily with an advent calendar

When I was a kid, our advent calendar simply revealed a picture each day (simpler times). But nowadays advent calendars reveal chocolate, presents, food and wine, or even promotions each day.

To set up an advent calendar for your holiday marketing, you simply need to offer something new of value every day from December 1st until the 24th. Each day could contain a different discount percentage, a small giveaway, or promotions on particular products/services. 

This AWeber customer who sells packs of baseball cards offers an advent calendar with 24 mystery packs and an ornament for each day.

24 small Christmas-themed bags, filled and ready to be opened each day.

Be creative: You can collaborate with other companies to offer discounts on their products, too.

Mystery is the key to advent calendar’s success. If you do a digital advent calendar, your customers and prospects will keep coming back to your website every day to see what the new special is. (This is good for your SEO, too.)

An email that offers a Black Friday Sale and also says they'll double donations to the rainforest during the discount time period.
Source: Really Good Emails

Donating to charity (on #GivingTuesday or any other time) is a fantastic holiday marketing idea that shows off your altruism and paints your brand in the right light. 

In addition to being a feel-good marketing tactic, by donating you incentivize charity-conscious customers to choose to shop at your business over others.

There are a few of ways you can be creative with donations and also make more sales:

  1. Offer to donate a certain percentage of all sales on a specific day or week
  2. Match donations made to a charity you care about (or that’s related to your industry) on a specific day
  3. Offer $X to the charity you care about for every sale made on a specific day or week
  4. Donate your products or services to someone in need with every sale on a specific day

Donate, feel good, and tell everyone about it in your next holiday marketing email.

9. Run a holiday referral contest

Referrals can often be the absolute best way to get new customers, especially in a time when people are looking to social media for shopping recommendations. Convince your biggest fans to mention you — and reward them for it.

If you already have a referral program — e.g. $20 when you refer someone who makes a purchase — you can double it for the holidays to $40. Offer 10% off for the new customer’s first purchase, too (or more if you can).

Better yet, turn holiday referrals into a contest. Whoever sends you the most customers, social followers, or even simply new leads, can win one of your more valuable products or services.

Have fun with this contest. You can make badges or countdown graphics in Canva, and send them in your emails promoting the contest.

Announce your holiday marketing ideas with AWeber

Ready to start bragging about your successful holiday promotion? Send it in an email campaign using AWeber. Get started with a free account today.

2 Comments

  1. Johnathan Weberg

    11/19/2021 8:48 pm

    Heart warming and real ways to contribute are my favorite! Great article that I genuinely appreciate. Business is about making money, with the purpose of helping others change their lives for the better. Good stuff Kelsey, onward to read more from you and Aweber.

  2. Kelsey Johnson

    11/9/2022 10:37 am

    Thanks for your kind words Johnathan. I love a marketing campaign that embodies the spirit of the season and also helps small businesses earn more.