With Christmas nails, you can go one of two ways—incredibly simple or over-the-top. And if you're craving a design that's festive and interesting with nary a reindeer or snowman in sight, you've come to the right place. We're here to guide you through Christmas nail designs that are elegant and restrained. "Elegant nails have an essence to them [wherein] they do not have too much going on, yet capture your attention," says nail artist Sharon Ladokun.
When it comes to Christmas nails, it's all about taking the core elements of the season—jewel tones and metallics—and having fun. "You can incorporate festive colors such as red, green, and gold into minimalist looks such as a French manicure," says nail artist San Sung Kim. "Use festive colors and shimmer or glitter for an elevated look."
Meet Our Expert
Sharon Ladokun is a nail artist and brand ambassador at Aprés Nail.
To help you nail down the look you'll wear this Christmas, browse the stunning designs below.
“This French manicure featuring a golden velvet tip with the addition of tiny holly berries and twinkling stars is the perfect Christmas look,” says Kim. “If you don't have a gold velvet polish available, you can substitute it with a gold glitter polish like ORLY's Untouchable Decadence ($11) for a special touch of shimmer.”
Skittle Half Moon
Leaving the half-moons of the nail bare is an easy way to elevate a simple nail look. Ladokun used a different shade of red on each digit to create this Skittle nails-like effect.
Branches are a staple in nail designs because they're so simple to paint. Jazz up leaves for Christmas by adding berries and snowflakes.
Just two polishes—Moon Cat's Poison Ivy ($13) and I’m A MF Supernova ($14)— were used to create this stunning look. Each nail features a glittery gold tip anchored by a black arch. The ring fingers feature a super simple Christmas tree design, resulting in a festive, yet sleek look.
Ladokun used bright red, warm cream, and shimmery gold to create this swirly look. Each nail features a different design, making the look extra mesmerizing.
“These ruby-encrusted French tips are perfect for an elegant holiday party,” says Kim. "It is a twist on a red French manicure but glammed up with extra rhinestones. You can use a color like ORLY's Cran-Barely Believe It ($11) as the base French color and add various red rhinestones to top it off."
Festive Polka Dots
Get in the holiday spirit without using the traditional shades of red and green. This look uses shimmery jewel tones to create a stunning look.
This mix-and-match look features cable-knit, bow, and snowflake patterns. Although the designs are so varied, the look only uses two colors, which keeps the overall effect a bit calmer.
Adding holly berries to your mani is a perfect and easy way to celebrate Christmas. This look features berries atop holographic glitter, accompanied by high-shine, red shimmer nails.
Sleek Red Tip
By painting a simple French tip in a jolly shade of red, Ladokun created a super simple yet impactful Christmas nail design.
To create a snowy look without getting too literal, swipe on a few coats of an iridescent white polish like Essie's Crystal Clear Intentions ($10)
Because this look features swirls of shimmery polish on a sheer, nude base, the sparkle isn't super overwhelming. The design is festive, yet breathable.
Simple Mix ‘n Match
You can't go wrong with a traditional Christmas mix-and-match mani. For this look, Ladokun used red, green, white, and beige to creat a plaid-and-snowflake design.
This design features a cluster of polka dots at the tip of each nail that cascade down, creating a tip-like effect. It was created using Brutal Honesty ($18), Twin Flame ($18), Lightning Strikes Metallic ($18), and Blank Canvas ($18) from Un/Dn Laqr.
Metallics will always be a perfect fit for the holidays. This look keeps it simple with gold chrome tips.
This French manicure features glittery red tips and varied festive foliage at the base of each nail. It's a bold design that remains a little airy thanks to the sheer, nude base.
Although the glittery green polish is festive on its own, this design goes a bit further by adding a single white nail featuring a mistletoe leaf along the nail's half-moon.
This drippy nail design features a red and white design that looks like a melting Santa hat. The look embodies the holiday in a cool and abstract way.
Put a Bow on It
This look features snowflakes atop a red, glittery base. It's the perfect look if you want something Christmasy that can be done quickly.
Matte & Sparkle
In addition to mixing polishes this look also mixes finishes. Two shades of green are both topped with a matte finish that allows the glittery nails to really shine.
This look features red tips painted with Color Dept.'s There Goes Rudolph ($10) atop Lights Lacquer's Clueless ($11). For an added pop, each nail also got a swipe of Salon Perfect's He’s With Me ($5).
This design features super delicate scenes that revolve around foliage. Each nail has its own defined look that resembles intricate and elevated wrapping paper.
A mix of polishes from Lights Lacquer was used to create this abstract look. It uses classic Christmas shades like red, green, and gold, along with a grounding shade of brown.
This berry shade of red is brought to life with stars and swirls in super shimmery shades of silver, gold, pink, and red.
Snow and Stars
A bright red serves as the base of this look, which features white stars and snowflakes for a pretty, wintery design.
Chic and simple, this design features sprigs of greenery along with solid green nails.
For a super minimal Christmas nail look, apply a shade of sheer, nude polish and then create a micro-tip in a festive shade like red or green.
There's something about a plaid nail that's just so perfect for Christmas. This look features plaid print accented with a green French tip design and gold stars to give the look some breathing room.
Shimmer and Shine
This Christmas nail design is bold—it features red, white, gold, and black to create striking plaid and snowflake designs. The addition of the black adds some nice weight to the design.
This red-white-and-gold swirl design starts thin along the base of the nail before traveling up the side and expanding into a wider design at the top of the nail, emulating a tip design.
Gold chrome snowflakes are the star of this abstract design. Each nail features a nude base, shimmery red blob, and white dots to create a fun base for the stunning snowflakes.
Carry the trendy checkered design into Christmastime using a festive shade like this shimmery green polish. It adds a glamorous touch to the geometric pattern.
A rich, shimmery red coats each nail while the ring fingers get a a snowflake design peeking through at the base of the nail.
A little bit of sparkle is all you need for a Christmas nail look. This look features gold stars on a sheer nude base over the Sculpted Round Medium ($30) gel-x tips from Aprés.
Stacked Swirl Tips
This drippy look features shimmery red blobs that fall from the tip of the nail with a nude, sheer base. It's a design that could work any time of year, but it's especially good for Christmas.
This deep emerald design features a matte base with a glossy asymmetrical tip, separated by a thin gold line. It's a moody-glam look that's great for the dark days of winter.
Green and Simple
Color Dept. Mistletoe Kisses ($10) is the star of this simple abstract design. Each nail has a similar design but with its own special twist, resulting in an organic look.
Pink & Red
A coral-y pink shade was paired with a shimmery red to create this subtle Christmas nail look.
Red, pink, two shades of green, and beige come together in this Skittle nail design. The shades are muted, and the addition of the pink makes it less overtly Christmasy but still fitting for the vibe.
Matte and Glossy
This design plays with green for a subdued design. Most of the nails are solid green (some with a glossy top coat and some matte), and two nails per hand feature a shimmery nude base with a thin green line.
Mixed finishes take what could be a plain red mani to the next level. Some of the nails have a glossy finish while others are matte.
This design is all about simplicity. It features a sheer, nude polish and silver gems at the base of each nail.
Daisies and Ribbon
This nail look features white daisies and gold chrome ribbon. It was done atop the Sculpted Almond Medium ($17) gel-x tips from Aprés.
Under the Mistletoe
If you want a mix-and-match design that isn't too loud, this design is perfect. It features a red-and-white plaid, solid red polish, and a simple holly design.
Gold Glitter Micro-Tip
Go for a sparkly, yet clean look with gold glitter micro tips. You get a tiny touch of shimmer to get you in the spirit.
Wreath French Tip
Turn your tips into wreaths with this cute design. The wreaths each have a tiny red bow in the same shade of red that adorns the thumb and pinky nails.
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