28 Christmas Nail Art Ideas to Try Before the Holidays

They'll be of good cheer.

dove nails


Christmas is right around the corner, and while that typically means planning out gift ideas and decking the halls, as beauty lovers, we can't help but wonder what we're going to do with our nails. You too? We thought you might be, that's why we searched high and low through the Instagram rabbit hole to deliver you with 28 must-try Christmas manicure ideas this holiday season. Whether you're looking for a minimalist red and green nail art idea or a maximalist sweater-inspired manicure, we've got you covered. And hey, if you start now, you might be able to fit a few in before the season's over. Whatever you do, just be sure to start each idea off with a basecoat so that it will last through your holiday parties, happy hours, and family get-togethers.

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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 along a solid red background.

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Candy Cane Edges

Red and white peppermint candy is a major staple during the holidays. To show your love for the treat, consider this candy cane-inspired manicure idea. To create the look, start with a white base. Next, you can either carefully paint a red ring around the outer edge of each nail and top it off with white stripes, or use a red nail polish pen to create red dashes on top of the white. Whichever you choose, be sure to have a touch-up brush nearby so you can easily clean up any messy edges.

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Negative Space Nutcracker

We're going nuts over these Nutcracker nails (can you blame us?). The minimalist design offers 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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Half Holly Berry

We love the simplicity of these half berry, half negative space nails on Betina Goldstein. She even included a tutorial on her IGTV so you can get in on the action at home.

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Classic Christmas Colors

Who doesn't love a little tinsel action? These classic red and green nails look even more festive thanks to bold pops of silver. To create the look yourself, stock up on one of our favorite chunky glitter polishes, Essie's Luxeffects Nail Polish ($9) in Set in Stones.

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Two Turtle Doves

Betina Goldstein is a total nail art savant (this hand-painted set of doves on her own thumb serving as proof). You may not have the chops to re-create this at home, so finding an able (and willing) manicurist is key.

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Gold Foil

If we could put gold foil on everything, we would, so we might as well dress up our digits with the delicately eye-catching material in a move to conjure the holiday spirit.

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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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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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This two-toned negative space red manicure gives us minimalist Rudolph vibes. It's perfect for the person who wants to show their love of Christmas without going crazy with holiday-themed nail art (though, there's totally nothing wrong with wanting to do so).

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Holly Tips

These matte white nails create a snow-like base that makes the holly accents look even more dreamy. If you don't want to buy a whole set of matte colors to bring the look to life, paint as you normally would and top your glossy mani with a matte topcoat for an instant shift in the final look.

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Smitten Snowman

Another Christmas nail art idea that works best on longer nails (but no shame in getting extensions). These adorable snowman nails are equal parts playful and glam thanks to their length and finish, both of which instantly grab our attention.

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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 topcoat 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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White Christmas

These matte snowflake nails are nothing short of magical. Best of all, they're easy to DIY. Simply pour some white nail polish onto a plate and use a toothpick to draw your snowflakes. Just keep in mind that you might need help completing your other hand (unless, of course, you're ambidextrous). And remember—no two snowflakes are alike, so no judgment if they don't come our perfect.

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Holiday Threads

Cable-knit and flannel "fabric" nails make us feel warm and cozy in dry, frigid weather—just make sure the cuticle oil is handy to keep this mani looking its best as the temperatures dip.

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Eye-Catching Evergreen

Red and white might be the first color to come to mind when thinking of Christmas, but green is right up there at the top of the list, too. As such, if you're craving a cooler take on Christmas nail art, skip the hot red designs in favor of this evergreen mani.

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Holly and Glitter Galore

The more (glitter), the merrier. However, if you want to really tap into the holiday spirit, consider copying this look and leaving one accent nail out per nail to add a hint of Holly to the mix.

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Playful Penguins

How cute are these? We don't know about you, but looking down at those penguins for days on end would make us feel downright cheerful—and what better way to go about the holidays?

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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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Deck the Halls

These dainty dangling ornaments are nothing short of whimsical. Given their intricate design, you might want to enlist the help of a professional nail artist. If not, just be sure to have a bottle of acetone nearby so you can easily touch-up the design until it looks picture-perfect.

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Candy Stripes and O Holy Night

Stripes, snowflakes, and sparkling stars combine for a red and white manicure that's undeniably merry. While the stars and snowflakes are a bit easier to DIY given their adjustable nature, the stripes require a bit more attention to detail. To create crisp lines, start with a white base and, once dry, apply nail tape and use red polish to create the stripes. Once the red polish dries, peel off the tape and finish with topcoat.

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Wrapped With a Bow

This present nail art puts us in the gift-giving spirit. You too? To get the look, start with diagonal color blocks on each nail. Next, use nail polish pens or toothpicks to create the intricate wrapping paper designs. Top each package off with a bow and you're good to go.

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All Lit Up

If you love twinkle lights, why not put them on your nails? These gold-based nails look festive and fun thanks to colorful retro Christmas bulbs.

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Let It Snow

This simple snowflake manicure requires a red base, white detail polish, and a topcoat to seal the deal. Again, the best way to bring the snowflake to life is with a thin toothpick or even the tip of a safety pin. Top it off with a high-shine topcoat for a chic glossy finish.

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These glossy green nails are a nod towards beautiful holiday greenery. Add a little tinsel action with a gold accent nail or two and you have yourself a cheerful Christmas mani you'll want to wear again and again.

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Christmas-Dipped Stilettos

These extra-pointy nails are equal parts fierce and festive.

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Gingerbread Scene

Tiny little intricate gingerbread people, trees, stars, and ornaments are a tasty mix of holiday accoutrement.

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Ice Queen

There's nothing quite as magical as a white Christmas. Embrace that whimsical feel on your nails with this sheer white glitter design. You might want to book an appointment in case you're thinking about getting acrylics to nail the length.

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