42 Christmas Nail Designs That Are Surprisingly Understated

christmas nails


The holidays are approaching faster than we know it, and we can't wait for festive decorations abound. This time of year, everything is aglow with colorful lights, wintry accents, and jovial décor that exemplifies the seasonal spirit. As we ready our beauty looks to get on board with the holly jolly sentiment, it's the perfect opportunity to experiment with some festive nail art. After all, what better time than the doldrums of winter to liven up your tips with some unexpected Christmas-inspired pops of color, texture, and design?

To make sure you're perfectly outfitted for the season, we've rounded up 42 Christmas nail designs that are surprisingly understated. So whether you're topping off a glitzy holiday party look or keeping things more laid-back while cozying up fireside, your nails will look wonderful and in step with the most wonderful time of the year. Keep scrolling for visions of Christmas nail designs that are currently dancing in our heads.

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Festive Poinsettias

Silver nails with red pointsettia designs


This winter floral set of nails reminds us of endless bouquets of rich, red poinsettias.

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Gold and Red Stripes

Negative space manicure with gold and red diagonal corner stripes


The diagonal positioning of this dual-striped nail art reminds us of festive packaging and ribbon. Consider this mani a gift wrapped in a bow.

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Christmas Lights

Peachy nude manicure with multicolored holiday light design


Get glowing with neutral nails bedazzled in Christmas lights.

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Festive Gold Accents

Red manicure with flecked gold accent


Top off a classic red manicure with gold accents for festive flair.

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Burgundy and Glitter

Burgundy gloss and gold glitter nail design


This festive look is easy to pull off at home with a little Scotch tape (to use as a stencil), burgundy lacquer, and gold glitter polish.

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Shimmering Cranberry

Nails with red glitter polish


Your favorite shimmering red polish is an instant holiday hit, we promise.

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Red Accents

Pops of red make for a pretty accent color during the holidays—or any time of year.

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Candy Cane Inspired

What's better for a Christmas mani than candy cane–esque stripes of white and red? 

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Pastel Ornaments

Adorned in pretty pastels, an elegant display of ornaments feels right on point for the season and still feels fresh and understated thanks to the comparably tame color scheme. 

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Diamonds and Pearls

Clear manicure with gems and pearls attached


A sporadic sprinkle of pearls and diamonds set against a crystal-clear background feels one part snow globe, one part snowfall, and one part ornamental in nature. 

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Abstract Plaid

Half-red tartan plaid, half-light neutral manicure


The wavy pockets of plaid on this manicure take tradition and make it funky.

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Glitter Snowflakes

Blue velvet manicure with pink accent nails with white snowflakes


For a manicure that will stay in style well beyond the holiday season, opt for something with wintry vibes, like snowflakes.

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Candy Red

Translucent red acrylic almond manicure


Jelly nails are still very much a thing for the holiday season, and we're very much into this red-hot take on the trend. In fact, it reminds us of the spicy candies that come in handy when decorating gingerbread men. 

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Minimalist Gold Dots

Pale pink manicure with small gold and silver dotted lines


Go for gold foil appliques over polish to create a sleek, clean-looking finish without the fuss of trying to paint perfect circles.

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Champagne Snowflake

Champagne glitter manicure with snowflake designs


This wouldn't be a true Christmas-inspired nail roundup without plenty of snowflakes, right? Intricate and accented by a sparkly hue of champagne, this wintry design stays classy (not cheesy). 

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Gold Foil

Manicure with multiple gold and silver foil horizontal stripes


Foiled ribbons of silver and gold not only remind us of one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time (rewatch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer if you need a reminder) but glittering wrapping paper as well. 

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Abstract Red

Red and white abstract manicure


Neutral polish, red polish, and a blotting tool are all you need to recreate this look by @imarninails.

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Gold Glitter Stripe

Clear nails with gold glitter central stripes


For a truly minimalist Christmas nail design, we suggest going for something simple that will handily catch the light ever so slightly, like this stripe of glittering gold against a neutral nail. 

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Sparkles Galore

Hand with silver sparkly manicure holding white feathers


This super sparkly look will have you set from now through New Year's Eve.

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Gold French Manicure

Neutral manicure with gold double French tip


This double French manicure is understated yet holiday-ready with delicate gold detailing.

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Let It Snow

Red manicure with gold snowflake and polka dot designs


This festive take on a classic snowflake manicure is sure to complement the presents under the tree.

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All Glitter Everything

Iridescent silver glitter manicure


There's nothing wrong with a little (or a lot of) glitter. We love how the iridescent nature of this silver set has a subtle rainbow effect.

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Cranberry Cravings

This cranberry-colored manicure is a slightly darker take on classic red Christmas nails. The white details on each nail instantly turn heads and radiate a cheerful holiday spirit. If you're worried you won't be able to neatly DIY, take this photo with you to your next nail appointment.

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Subtle and Seasonal

This delicate manicure conjures up the holidays with images that are less obvious but still distinctly Christmas-inspired, like fir boughs and clove-laden oranges.

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Inverted French Manicure

Red and gold manicure with negative space half-moon at base


A deeper red base than the traditional bright cherry gets the gold flake touch, making this inverted French manicure oh so holiday-appropriate.

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Silver Sparkle and Red Lines

Clear manicure with half-silver sparkle, half-red stripe tip


Wrapped up like a present, these half-sparkly nails come with festive red ribbons, too.

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Green and Red French Manicure

Hand with alternating green and red-tipped French manicure holding holiday Starbucks cup


Talk about a fun twist on a classic design. These red and green alternating French tips have us dreaming of Christmas morning.

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Hand Painted Ornaments

Neutral pink nails with hand-painted ornament design


Okay, so these aren't exactly simple, but we can't help but love these individually painted ornaments. Why not turn your fingers into a Christmas tree?

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Gold Dusted Nude Nails

Peachy nude nails with gold dust and star outline detailing


Amp up a nude manicure with golden flakes and star outlines for a winter wonderland look that will definitely complement your holiday party dress.

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Negative Space Nutcracker

Christmas nails with red, green, gold, and black Nutcracker design holding polish bottle


We're going nuts over these Nutcracker nails (can you blame us?). The minimalist design offers a maximal Christmas appeal with just five colors. If you're going to try to DIY the design, grab bottles of red, green, black, gold, and white polish, a toothpick for fine details, and a touch-up brush for clean-up.

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Minimalist Christmas

Clear nails with green sparkly diagonal corners and red dotted diagonal stripes


Who said Christmas nails had to be covered in candy canes and boughs of holly? These simple geometric nails prove that finding unique ways to show off the holiday color scheme is just as merry as any other Christmas mani out there.

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Abstract Christmas Tree

Clear nails with half-and-half green Christmas tree outline design


Ready for the most minimalist Christmas nail art? This manicure requires nothing but a metallic green polish, a toothpick to bring the design to life, and a clear top coat to seal it in place. If you're feeling extra festive, you might even consider dotting the points with red, white, and gold dots for an all-decked-out tree.

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Candy Cane-Inspired

Neutral nails with red and white abstract candy cane stripes


Are candy canes your favorite seasonal treat? These wavy, peppermint-inspired swirls are sure to make a statement this holiday.

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Candy Cane Edges

Charcoal and black manicure with holographic silver slice details


Those of us who are into all black everything, no matter what time of the year, can appreciate this holiday manicure option.

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Pointed Plaid

Red, green, and blue plaid almond acrylic manicure


Pointed tips are a great way to add a little edge to this festive look.

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Gold-plated French manicure with gold rings


Squared-off, gold-plated tips will always have a place in our hearts during this season.

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Peppermint Twist

Eclectic Christmas nails with muted red and green glitter peppermint spirals, stripes, and dots


The elevated way to wear candy cane nails, we love these muted shades of red and green glitter.

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Mistletoe Nails

Clear nails with silver and red mistletoe design


Nail artist @amyytran used the Shine & Bright collection from OPI to create this mistletoe-inspired manicure.

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Luxe Gold and Red Tips

Clear manicure with gold and red diagonal corner detail


These slanted gold and red tips remind us of endless holiday ribbon.

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Red Glitter Ombré

Manicure with red glitter ombre tips


Nothing says Christmas quite like a bright red glitter ombré.

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Holiday Lights

Red and silver Christmas manicure with holiday light design accent nails


To create a festive look, one accent nail with holiday lights is all you need (though we're certainly not opposed to extending this holiday design across all five nails).

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Hand with green, white, and silver evergreen nail design holding green Essie polish bottle


Nothing says winter quite like a few evergreen trees dappled with fresh snow.

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