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50 DIY Holiday Nail Art Ideas To Get You Feeling Festive

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When it comes to the holidays, there are two camps of people: Those who nonchalantly put a tree up sometime in December and those who have Love, Actually queued up and ready to play at precisely 12:01 a.m. on November 1st (if Christmas is your holiday, of course). But after another year of spending more time at home or adjusting to new norms, it seems like more of us are down to embrace the holiday spirit a bit earlier in the season—and TBH, we all deserve to experience a little extra joy this year. What better place to kickstart all things holly and jolly than with epic holiday and Christmas nail art ideas?

If you’re here, we’re assuming you’re ready to swap out that sensible nude nail polish in favor of something festive, so we’ve gathered a slew of holiday manicures to try. Plus, we’ve tapped a team of pro nail artists (celeb manicurists Miss Pop and Hannah Lee) to give you step-by-step tutorials on a few of their faves — so you can kick your DIY game up a notch. So whether your vibe is Santa-approved hues, wintery glitter, or cozy plaids, these 50 holiday nail designs are ready to rock straight into the new year.

1. Popping Fireworks

Image of a model's hand with a black, fireworks themed nail art mani

Midnight black base, shimmery gold flashes, and a sprinkle of glitter confetti—it’s an ideal mani for ringing in a much-needed new year. Not sure where to start? We get it—intricate designs can be intimidating, but there are plenty of options that are totally doable for a nail art newb. “This design is super easy and great for beginners,” Lee assures us. But before you get going, you’ll need to gather your essentials.

Polishes you’ll need: Clear base coat and top coat, glitter polish (any kind will work), gold, and black.

Tools you’ll need: Striper or liner brush

Begin by priming your nails with a base coat (giving it a few minutes to dry) before adding on your base black color. You may need to add two coats to get a solid background, depending on the pigmentation of your polish. Then, paint on a layer of your glittery polish to give your nails that starry night look. Once dry, grab your striper brush and a bit of gold polish (we recommend putting a few drops on some tin foil)—and paint small lines coming from one corner of the nail. To create that burst-like line effect, Lee explains why she prefers using a striper brush: “They tend to be a little longer which makes for an easier time, but if you can’t find one, it's okay! A smaller brush will work too.” Add your clear top coat and you’re all done.

2. Cozy Snowflakes

Image of a model's hand with a red and white snowflakes and sweater themed nail art mani

Sweater weather = Best weather. Don’t @ us. Whether it’s a full-on snow situation outside or a southern 60 degree “winter,” this manicure will complement your cozy couch plans perfectly.

Polishes you’ll need: Clear base coat, matte top coat, white, and COLOR CLUB Nail Polish in shades Get a Mauve On It and Regatta Red.

Tools you’ll need: Small brush, dotting tool.

After applying your base coat, paint your red shade on the thumb, index finger, and pinky nails. Mauve will go on your middle and ring fingernails (these will be your main nails for artwork). On your ring fingernail, you’ll grab that red shade again and apply it on half of the nail—from base to tip. Then on your middle fingernail, you’ll create a red stripe along the base and along the tip. Essentially, you’re leaving the mauve shade peeking out in the center of the nail. Now that the base of the nails are set, it’s time for some details!

While Lee specifically uses a small brush and dotting tool, it’s NBD if you don’t have them on hand. In fact, you probably already have alternatives that work just as well! “You actually don’t need any special tools for nail art! You can use household items like an old eyeliner brush, bobby pin for dots, or scotch tape,” says Lee.

To create the snowflake...

Starting on your ring finger with a white polish and small brush, draw a line down the center and across the middle—creating a “plus sign” shape. Add smaller, angled lines along each of the longer lines. Finish with four dots in between each branch to bring the snowflake look together.

To create the sweater pattern…

On the middle finger, paint three white lines: One at the top of the mauve center section, one along the bottom, and one in the center. Then, create zigzags between the two white lines closest to the base of your nail. In the mauve section above that, you’ll paint small, criss-cross lines to create tiny starbursts. Add a row of dots to your red stripes, let it all dry for 3-5 minutes, then apply your matte top coat!

P.S. Don’t have white polish? Lee lets us in on an (easy!) alternative: “You can actually use white acrylic crafting paint for the details. This can be a lot better for beginners, due to the formula of the paint being thinner and easier to work with.”

3. Ornamental Stars

Close-up image of a model's hand with red mani embellished with rhinestones and studs against a green background with silver lace ribbons

Something about three dimensional decorations (like rhinestones or studs) makes any mani feel 100x more ~luxurious~ and these glossy red nails with light-catching stars from Miss Pop will make you feel like a million bucks.

Polishes you’ll need: Clear base and top coat, red, and gold.

Tools you’ll need: Tiny rhinestones and/or studs, striper brush, tweezers or wax pencil.

To start your look, you’ll want to begin with a base coat and a layer or two of red polish. Our fave red for this is COLOR CLUB Nail Polish in Regatta Red—and in fact, it might be our favorite holiday red period. Then with your striper brush, paint a diagonal line across the corner of your nail with your gold polish. This should section off a triangle of color on your nail. “To bisect that line, paint two lines on a diagonal so they meet at a point. These two lines should essentially make a skinny triangle,” Miss Pop adds. We know this might sound a bit confusing, but Miss Pop’s tutorial video above will help it make sense. Finally, fill in each of the star corners with your gold polish.

Phew! Now that the hard part is over, it’s time for the fun. Pour out your rhinestones and studs and set them close by. Dab a bit of your top coat over one of the gold stars (this will act as the adhesive), then lift and apply your gems one-by-one using a tweezer or wax pencil. “To pick up rhinestones and studs, I like a cheap wax pencil. It lifts them effortlessly,” says Miss Pop. Continue these steps on the rest of your stars ‘til you’re straight up bedazzled.

You might be noticing we didn’t call for a top coat to finish the look and Miss Pop gives a compelling argument for why you should skip it. “A top coat over your stones (especially if they’re plastic, not crystal) might cause them to look glassy or foggy,” she explains. But if you’re dead-set on using one, you still totally can—the end result just might not be as sparkly.

4. Candy Cane Party

Close-up image of a model's hand with a peppermint, candy cane, and Christmas tree themed nail art mani holding a shiny rainbow colored ribbon

This mani is over-the-top in the best way ever. Since this one requires quite a bit of line work, Miss Pop gives us a quick 101 on best practices: “So much of nail art is about how much pressure you apply to the brush. Be gentle! Let the brush do the work. To polish your nails, get a good bead of polish on the tip. To create a line, wipe the brush until the polish is smoothed into the shape of the brush.” With those words of advice, it’s time to start painting.

Polishes you’ll need: Clear base and top coat, pink, white, red, green, green glitter, brown.

Tools you’ll need: Striper brush, small nail art brush, dotting tool or toothpick.

Starting with a layer of clear base coat, designate the nails you want which designs on. Your pink nails will be your party nails—aka candy cane nails and glittery Christmas tree nails—while your white nails will be your peppermints. Once your base colors are painted and dry, you’ll be ready for the fancy bits.

To create the peppermints...

Beginning on your white nails, paint stripes using a striper brush dipped in a red polish. Alternate between three thin lines and one thick line to create a peppermint-like pattern.

To create the “party” designs...

Moving over to your pink nails, paint a few little white hooks to create the beginning of your candy canes. Add in a few Christmas trees by painting a stack of three triangles with your green polish—complete with little trunks painted with a striper brush dipped in brown polish. Now, clean your striper brush (or grab a new one) and dip into your red shade to paint short red stripes on each candy cane hook. “Don’t worry if you paint outside the white lines, you can use your pink polish to perfect the edges afterwards,” says Miss Pop.

Once those little details have had time to dry, add on the finishing touches. Grab your green glitter polish to add a bit of sparkle to your trees—then using your dotting tool dipped in white polish, create little white snowballs to fill in empty space. Now, give your hard work lots of time to dry before adding your top coat.

Feeling a little overwhelmed? That’s okay! If you are a beginner, Miss Pop recommends simplifying the design with polka dots in a mix of all of the different colors. Festive and easy!


5. Fresh Fallen Snow

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No matter your feelings on frozen precipitation, we can all agree the first blanket of snow is something special. Mimic that winter wonderland magic on your mani with this glittery ombré design.

6. Classic Red French

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Simple, elegant, and surprisingly versatile. Swap out traditional French tips with a fiery red hue for a touch of glam that’ll work with any outfit.

7. Metallic Micro Tips

Teeny tiny tips? We’re obsessed. Opt for multicolored metallics, keep ‘em uniform, or pick any colors your heart desires.

8. Gold Leaf

High shine and so chic—a sprinkling of gold leaf over a sheer base coat makes for one seriously luxurious manicure design. Plus, it’s surprisingly easy if you choose to DIY!

9. Holiday Plaid

With a palette of sage green, creamy white, and deep burgundy, these plaid accent nails offer a gentler take on traditional Christmas colors.

10. Retro Color-Blocking

For those with dinner parties on the horizon, this mani (inspired by mid century wrapping paper motifs) will make you feel like you’re at a ‘60s-era soirée. Perfect for indulging in all the amuse-bouches you can eat!

11. Green & Gold Marble

This color combo is a match made in heaven. The rich green marbling gets an extra kick of dimension with a bit of high-shine yellow gold.

12. Dainty Mistletoe

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Thinly painted branches, berry-colored dots, and a touch of (our fave) gold leaf. With this wintery botanical design, you’ll always have a little mistletoe on hand.

13. Peppermint Half Moons

Want a subtle holiday-themed manicure? Look no further. Get a lowkey (but still statement-worthy) take on the iconic candy cane design with peppermint half moons peeking out from the base of your nail.

14. Gingerbread Mani

Whether you’re known for architecting epic houses or just there to snack on the decorations, get in on the sweet-and-spicy fun with gingerbread nails. A bronze base like CONTEXT SKIN Nail Lacquer in Shake Me will kick it up an extra notch.

15. Winter Blues

Monochromatic blue swoops as cute as these are guaranteed to chase away any cold weather melancholy.

16. Sweater Texture

Since we’re all living in chunky knits 24/7 these days, these warm and cozy sweater nails will complement every soft layer you’re wrapped in.

17. Coffee Swirl

Still drinking iced coffee in winter? Recreate that mesmerizing moment you pour cream into your coffee (and watch the colors swirl together) with a café au lait-inspired mani.

18. Christmas Tree Confetti

This glittery green base with multi-colored confetti is like an ornament-filled tree—with a shining star on top, obviously.

19. Gemstone Bands

Feel like the royalty you are this holiday season with gemstones and rich gold tones. Pair with chunky acrylic rings and gold stacking bands for an over-the-top, glitzy aesthetic.

20. Eclectic Christmas

Can’t decide on a holiday theme? This holiday nail art look features bows, holly, mistletoe, candy canes, and bands of ornaments—proof you really can have it all.

21. Sugarcoated 

Finally, a manicure that truly represents our never ending cravings for candy. The glitter-as-a-top coat creates a sugar-like effect that is both sweet and chic.

22. Negative Space Crimson

Not only is this negative space spin on a holiday red mani insanely good looking, but the swoopy half-nail design is so easy to achieve—no fancy tools required!

23. Glitter Tips 

Burgundy base and gold glitter French tips? You can’t name a better holiday duo. Get the look with LAW BEAUTY ESSENTIALS Nail Polish in 2PM Wine.

24. Multicolored Neutrals

This one’s for the minimalists at heart. Each nail gets a fave shade and is topped with a little dot of gold polish for extra flair.

25. Starry Night

Yes, the sun now sets at 4 p.m., but that just leaves more time for stargazing! Show off your love of the celestial with these shimmery stars against a night-like dark polish.

26. Grinch-Approved

With this mani, you’ll have the snazziest nails in Whoville and your heart may or may not grow three times its size.

27. Northern Lights

It’s mood-ring-meets-aurora-borealis. Thermal polish creates an out-of-this-world effect that will shift colors every time you grab a warm cup of coffee...or forget your gloves on a cold day.

28. Midnight Gradient

Winter is the perfect time to bring out your moodiest polish shades. We can’t get enough of this deep blue ombré manicure.

29. NYE Bling

Need an eye-catching look for watching the ball drop? Crystal-like shards of holographic glitter make for majorly light reflecting nails that’ll definitely turn heads.

30. Tortoiseshell 

We love a tortie mani any time of year, but it feels like a no-brainer in winter. Stick with the classic palette of brown hues or switch it up and go for a mix of blue or green tones.

31. Icy Holographic

Glitter has become a welcome addition to the neutral crew, but now we’d like to offer up the holographic-as-a-neutral trend. This French “fade” design is on the top of our must-have list.

32. Gold Glitter Accent Nails

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Give your go-to manicure a festive twist with a swipe of gold glitter on each nail.

33. Quirky Santa

Rudolph and Santa get a cartoon twist with this quirky mani.

34. Subtle French Manicure

While the French manicure is chic all year round, there’s something even more fancy-looking about the smallest amount of white polish on otherwise bare nails. Add a swipe of glitter to really turn it up a notch.

35. Organic Shapes

Even if Christmas isn’t your holiday, there’s something about green nail polish that screams the winter holiday season. Just as the talented folks at Paintbox Nails.

36. Girl with the Pearly French

Manicurist Hang Nguyen, who goes by thehangedit on Instagram, creates next-level nail art designs that turn heads. This pearl-accented one she so accurately named Girl with the Pearly French feels especially festive for a holiday party. Follow her!

37. Christmas Light Nails

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There are an infinite number of Christmas nail designs to choose from but Christmas lights are up there among our favorites. You can mix up the colors to your liking, even trying neons and pastel hues.

38. Snowflake Nails

We love how this nail artist switched up simple snowflake nails and added glitter nails and glitter accents. All of a sudden, winter nails are perfect for New Year’s Eve, too.

39. Mixed Metals

Chanel nail artist Betina Goldstein doesn’t just follow nail trends, she creates them. We love how she used two nail colors instead of just one metallic for this eye-catching mani.

40. Bright Red Nails

Apple-red nails will always feel festive for the holiday season, even if you use just one color like this OPI one. Festive nails can actually be really simple.

41. Winter White

Upgrade basic white gel nails, like this one with ESSIE polish, by adding a textured top coat. Et Voilà! Festive.

42. Shades of Brown

Shades of cinnamon, almond, and chocolate feel so fresh for the cooler months.

43. Chanukah Nails

These Star of David nails are perfect for a holiday dinner—especially with the two different glitter shades.

44. Glazed Donut Nails

The pearly nail trend blew up this year, thanks in part to Hailey Bieber. It looks holiday-ready in both pearly white and brown shades.

45. Green French Mani

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Simple French manicure too simple for you? Add trendy and winter-ready green to the mix.

46. Cheetah Nails

Update your winter-y brown hues with Cheetah-print accents on the tips. How cool is that?!

47. Winter Scene

The intricate detail of these winter scene nails might take a professional—or some DIY nail decals or stickers. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

48. Gift Wrap Nails

Each holiday nail art design is basically its own present. What’s more festive than that?

49. Happy Chanukah Nails

The gold, silver, and blue nail polish shades ensure this manicure is holiday-ready.

50. Gingerbread Nails

What’s cuter than a gingerbread cookie?! Paint the little design on a few accent nails for a festive twist on the classics.

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About the author
Hannah Cassidy
Hannah is a beauty editor at IPSY and has been creating content for fashion, beauty, and wellness in Los Angeles for over five years. Outside of the beauty world, she’s an avid vintage collector and dog mom to Pumpkin and Turtle.
About the author
Elizabeth Denton
Elizabeth is a freelance beauty writer. Previously, she was a beauty & fashion editor at Time Out New York, Seventeen, & Allure. She has more than a decade of experience in the beauty and fashion world, writing for Nylon, StyleCaster, Cosmopolitan & more.
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Article Last Updated October 24, 2022 12:00 AM