45 Christmas Nail Designs That Are Surprisingly Understated

christmas nails


The holidays are finally here, and festive decorations abound. 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 30 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! Visions of the following Christmas nail designs are currently dancing in our heads.

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Festive Poinsettias

This wintery, floral-inspired nail reminds us of endless bouquets of rich, red poinsettias.

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Gold and Red 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

Get glowing with neutral nails bedazzled in Christmas lights.

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Festive Gold Accents

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

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Burgundy and Glitter

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

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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Flannel Nails

Channel cozy winter cabin vibes with these plaid buffalo check nails. For variation, use both a sheer and opaque black polish to weave against a solid red background.

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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

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

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

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Glitter Snowflakes

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

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Candy Red

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 with which we loved to decorate our gingerbread men. 

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Minimalist Gold Dots

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

This wouldn't be a true Christmas-inspired nail roundup if we didn't include at least one actual snowflake, right? So here's our pick! Intricate and accented by a sparkly hue of champagne, this snowflake design stays classy (not cheesy). 

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Gold Foil

Foiled ribbons of silver and gold not only reminds us of one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time (rewatch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer circa 1964 if you need a reminder) but glittering wrapping paper as well. 

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Metallic Red and Gold

This burning metallic red is a festive treat for the holidays, while the gold detailing is glam enough to pair with your best party dress when it comes to NYE.

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Abstract Red

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

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Gold Glitter Stripe

For a truly minimalist holiday 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

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

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Gold French Manicure

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

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Let It Snow

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

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All Glitter Everything

Nothing wrong with a little (or a lot of) glitter.

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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 as inspo to your next nail appointment.

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Subtle and Seasonal

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

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Inverted French Manicure

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

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Silver Sparkle and Red Lines

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

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Green and Red French Manicure

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

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Hand Painted Ornaments

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

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

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Negative Space Nutcracker

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

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's colors is just as merry as any other Christmas mani out there.

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Abstract Christmas Tree

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

These wavy, peppermint-inspired swirls are sure to make a statement this holiday.

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Candy Cane Edges

Those of us who are into #allblackeverything no matter what time of the year will appreciate this holiday manicure option.

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Pointed Plaid

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

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Slanted Red French

While these nails work all year 'round, we particularly love this red slanted French manicure for the holidays.

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

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Peppermint Twist

The elevated way to wear candy cane nails.

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Mistletoe Nails

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

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

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Red Glitter Ombre

Nothing says Christmas quite like a bright red glitter ombre.

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Holiday Lights

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

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