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Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

Send Thanks: Content and Design Ideas to Create a Good Thanksgiving Email

Thanksgiving is a big marketing opportunity for almost all businesses. We all know that it's a very big deal for the United States, but other countries recognize it as well. Similar celebrations are held in Canada, China, Japan, Germany and the Netherlands, to name a few. The dates differ, but mostly the holiday falls on October – November.

Yet, America probably has the biggest celebration which in 2020 falls on November 26. Thanksgiving in the USA is in the middle of the high shopping season – preceded by Halloween and followed by Christmas. Such huge shopping events as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday also belong to Thanksgiving celebrations.

As you understand, these days customers’ inboxes are stuffed with various kinds of Happy Thanksgiving emails, offers, sales, discounts, promo codes, and gift reminders. If you want to stand out and give your offers maximum chances to be noticed, start planning your Thanksgiving schedule in advance. Below, I’ll show what to start with.

How to Send a Good Thanksgiving Email

The first step to creating any email is an idea of the message. Happy Thanksgiving email campaigns are no exception. Before getting down to writing one, answer the following questions:

  • What will I write about?
  • What’s the purpose of the email? What response should it generate, if at all?
  • Does my message resonate with my audience?
  • Does it resonate with the current situation?
  • What makes my email special and different from emails by competitors?
  • What can make a subscriber respond to my offer?

When answering them, keep in mind that you won’t be the only one sending Thanksgiving sale emails. Also keep in mind that nowadays most people are immune to too straightforward marketing. Yes, such words as 99% off and Sales are still music to many ears. But they’re used so often and by so many that their allure is steadily shrinking.

Plus, don’t forget that Halloween sales have just finished and people might be a bit tired of considering promo offers. So, your task is either to make yours extra special or focus on other tactics.

Thanksgiving Email Subject Lines

If you receive as many emails as I do, you may have noticed that most of Thanksgiving emails are titles as follows – Thanksgiving Sales, Thank You, From Our Family to Yours, With Gratitude, Happy Thanksgiving. Emoji of a table, turkey, pumpkin and a pumpkin pie are also in abundance.

I’m not saying this is bad and such campaigns will be totally ignored. But if you can come up with something more original, your chances for success may double. These lines caught my eye last year, and you may find them inspiring as well.

  • Good gravy! Thanksgiving is now live ??
  • Thanksgiving got you stressed? Not anymore with 365.
  • HOW WAS THAT TURKEY???
  • *Clink, clink* We’re raising a (very full) glass to you
  • We're Thankful for You – And a Few Other Things
  • Best. Thanksgiving. Ever. It all starts here.
  • You guys are amazing, you know that?
  • Wines That Go With Turkey (And All The Sides)
  • So are you pre- or post-food coma???
  • Turkeyed out? Dish up 50% off!
  • First Feast, then Sale
  • Take the Next Step This Thanksgiving

What to Write About

  • Say thank you.

How to write a happy thanksgiving email? First, a sale doesn’t necessarily have to be the only purpose of it. Leave it for Black Friday campaigns and focus on customer appreciation instead.

The very idea of the holiday is to express gratitude to close people around – family, friends, college mates, colleagues. Convey it in your emails as you probably also have a lot to thank your customers for, especially this year. Many people supported favorite brands during the COVID-19 quarantine, making online orders, participating in charity and getting active on social media.

Tell how their support helped you make it through hard times. Say thanks to your team, partners and suppliers. Share your expectations and plans for the future, crediting everyone who’s sharing your values.

Thanksgiving email example by Vegamour

  • Ask what your customers are thankful for.

But be sincere. Don’t angle for compliments or a positive review of your service. Ask your subscribers how they spent the year and what they are thankful for.

COVID-19 made 2020 hard for all and very hard for many. And still there were moments of family unification, amazing community support, dedication of frontline workers, charity and volunteering. Ask your subscribers to share such moments and tell how they express gratitude and what for.

By the way, you can do it using the convenient AMP form in any of the Thanksgiving email templates in our drag-and-drop editor. It allows recipients to leave answers straight in the email body. They don’t have to switch to other pages and can write down in the email what’s on their mind.

The answers are sent to a data service where you can view them and download as a separate file. Apart from knowing your audience’s mood, you’ll get valuable user-generated content which you can later use in other campaigns.

Email template with an AMP form in our editor

1000+ free HTML templates easy to edit in a drag-and-drop editor

  • Tell a story.

Storytelling is one of the favorite marketing tools. People like stories and like brands that can tell them. This doesn’t mean you need to write a Hollywood movie scenario. Just tell how your team spent the year, what were your achievements, how you managed to survive the lockdown, what plans you have for the future.

Thanksgiving email example by Patagonia

And since Thanksgiving is about thanking and giving, you may come up with a special charity campaign, for example, donating Thanksgiving meals to a homeless shelter or spending the eve with lonely seniors at a retirement home. Send an email describing these events but don’t sound too boastful. Your task is to share moments of warmth and encourage similar activity and not to put yourself upfront.

  • Give the word to your team.

Thanksgiving greeting emails are bulk and are typically sent to all your subscribers. You can make them more human-like by speaking on behalf of your staff.

This is what Harry’s did last year. I like the idea, but the quotes themselves look too obvious and impersonal. Saying I love working at…. and I love our customers… is kind of white noise. These are automated regular phrases that can be said by any employee of any company.

Thanksgiving email example by Harry's

If you’re about to set a friendly tone, sound like a friend. Use more live language and phrases that would touch heartstrings.

  • Add a bit of humor.

If your brand’s tone of voice allows, add some cheerful vibes to the copy. There’s no need to turn the whole message into pun comics, though. A couple of fun lines is enough to make your email sound less official and more friendly.

Look at a good Thanksgiving email example by Boden. Their message contains all the classic elements: family image, words of gratitude, turkey on the table. However, the last line (Everyone looking at the camera at the same time) would make smile everyone who has ever had big family reunions and knows how hard it is to take a good picture with everyone in focus.

Thanksgiving email example by Boden

  • Play a game.

Gamification is one of the popular marketing practices of the last years. It allows to present regular promotional content in a more dynamic form. Quizzes, crosswords, puzzles, trivia, wheel of fortune, etc. – there are many practices at marketers’ service.

The main plus of gamification is that it fights boredom and makes your email more engaging. When seeing something new, people who got used to a certain format, get interested and spend more time reading your email.

Function of Beauty transformed an ordinary 25% sale into a find the answer quiz. It stood against other Thanksgiving email content and made many readers (well, me for sure) finish it till the end where they found the same 25% discount. The offer didn't change, but people who reached it were warmer and more ready to respond.

Thanksgiving email by Function of Beauty

By the way, our friends from Stripo have recently published an interesting case on AMP quizzes. If interested, you can implement similar ideas in our drag-and-drop editor using ready blocks of an accordion, carousel or form, or editing your own code.

  • Offer Gifts.

This advice is no rocket science that’s why it goes the last but one. Sales are the biggest allure of any event and holiday. However, there is always a way to make them somewhat original.

Frontgate offers 30% off to their email subscribers which makes the offer a bit exclusive. You can go another way and give access to otherwise limited collections, offer a gift combo (sale + free shipping, professional advice + personalized gift box…) or a surprise decor piece for every first-time buyer.

Thanksgiving email example by Frontgate

  • Explain your working hours.

If you have physical stores with limited holiday hours, let your customers know. You can send a separate short notification email or include the info in the congratulation message.

That’s what our designers did for one of our free Thanksgiving email templates. It sends wishes, at the same time reminding of the office hours on holidays.

Thanksgiving email template in the editor

Last post

Design Tips

After figuring out what to write, you need to come up with a general idea of the email layout design.

So, first, take a look at email examples and find some creative ideas. Consider checking these search engines for more results – Milled, Really Good Emails. You don’t have to copy the entire email: just note some practices to use for your own campaign. It can be unusual off-grid layout, product recommendations, animation, user-generated content, gamified content, etc.

In our platform, we offer a library of 350+ free email templates. You may search them by industry or sort out Thanksgiving templates only.

Email gallery

You can also copy the code of your custom template and edit it if needed, or launch a campaign straight away.

Email code editor

And speaking of editing, let’s see what techniques can spice up your messages.

Create emails in a drag-and drop editor without code editing

  • Minimalism

Simple doesn’t mean boring. If you opt for a text-only content, complement it with unusual font and decorative elements.

  • Color Palette

Happy Thanksgiving emails to clients aren’t the best place to start experimenting with colors. Like Christmas, it’s a traditional holiday associated with certain colors and symbols. People expect to see in your messages hues of brown, yellow and orange that resonate with autumn colors, falling leaves, turkey on the table, and fireplace flame.

However, there is always a place for creativity. Take a look at how White+Warren avoided cliches but still managed to get the message and advertise their own products.

Thanksgiving email example by White+Warren

  • Animation

Animation always makes emails more dynamic and appealing. To use it, you’ll probably need your own team of layout designers and be able to work with code, but the result might be worth it.

Look at how Nordstrom turned a regular holiday promo into a piece of art by adding there a series of animated elements.

Thanksgiving email design with animation

  • Countdown timer

If you run a limited sale, consider using a countdown timer to encourage a faster decision.

Thanksgiving email example with a countdown timer

  • Product recommendations

Help people navigate your Thanksgiving offers more effectively by providing personalized product recommendations. You can opt to show best sellers, category products, or most viewed items or set up personalized recommendations based on each recipient’s previous interaction with your brand.

Thanksgiving email design with product recommendations


The key to a good Thanksgiving email, as actually to any good email, is creativity and consideration of customers’ needs. Take time to think the design over, come up with relevant offers and help your customers get ready for the holiday season.

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Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

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