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The Christmas Season Can Officially Start: Starbucks’ Holiday Cups Are Back

by Chloe Gordon on 11/03/2021 | 3 Minute Read

There are a few staples that constantly kick off the holiday season. Besides the weather switching overnight from sweltering to freezing and sweaters getting pushed to the front of the closet, there's one particular thing that inaugurates the old "merry and bright" season. 

Is it the constant background noise that is Mariah Carey's Christmas album? Yes, but also no. Is it the steady sound of bells as you walk into department stores? Again, yes, but also no. Is it the inevitable inability to find parking, well, everywhere? Well, yeah, but no. 

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Truthfully, the singular event that unites us all during this time of year is the introduction of the annual Starbucks holiday season cups. Starting November 4th, this year's festive cups will feature classic red, green, and white shades with subtle frosty, lilac pops. 

"For the start of our campaign, we typically come up with a mood board that centers every piece of the creative for the full season, and so this year, we came up with the centering point around gifting and the elements that surround it, as well as elements that are really celebratory," said Suzie Reecer, associate creative director at Starbucks.

Throughout each of the four holiday cup designs, these factors of wrapping and celebration can be seen visually throughout the entire campaign. From commercial to coffee bags to—obviously—the holiday cups, every aspect gets centered around celebration and the celebration of gifting. 

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For example, the first design found inspiration in a perfectly wrapped gift, featuring a circular pattern in holiday hues. The next cup features delicate ribbons encircling the cup, creating a joyful dancing movement, and it's a design near and dear to Suzie. "It really makes me think of when I wrapped presents with my mom, and you finish all the wrapping, and you look down, and there are ribbons all over the place in the most beautiful way," Suzie added. 

The other designs are more typographically based yet still tie into the gift-giving motifs through ribbons, stripes, sparkles, and, of course, the classical holiday hues. 

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And while each of these cups is innovative and refreshing from the past cups, there's a new design element that, quite literally, wraps up the entire design. "We do have a major change and shift in our design system this year, in the best way, which is bringing forward a gift tag on each of our cups," Suzie said. Baristas will now have a dedicated spot to write customers' names or even a note so that each drink sincerely feels like a specially gifted treat. 

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And while, of course, the new cups excite mass amounts of spirit, I'm also looking forward to filling the wrapping paper cup with this year's new Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte, inspired by the annual cookies seemingly always being freshly baked.

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Credits:

Agency: Starbucks Creative Studio 

Jen Quotson, VP of Creative 

Ben Nelson, Creative Director 

Lauren Richards, Creative Services Director 

Suzie Reecer, Associate Creative Director II 

Bridget Searcy, Associate Creative Director I 

Tyson Obleada, Creative Project Manager 

Abby McCartin, Senior Designer 

Charis Mori, Senior Designer 

Teal Chinn, Designer 

Megan Oost, Senior Copywriter 

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