10 FREE Unexpected Winter Color Palettes

10 FREE Unexpected Winter Color Palettes

Bored of holiday red, indifferent to forest green, or totally over wintery silver? Here’s some chilling-fresh color palettes for you.

Perhaps you’re looking for an edgy palette for that corporate holiday card. Or, you’re in need of unusual inspiration for a seasonal marketing campaign. Whatever the case, if you’re itching to think outside the red-and-green box, these alternative winter color palettes are a good place to start.

Packed with surprising color combinations and unexpected twists on tradition, each palette is distinct, yet strongly seasonal—enough to give your December designs an edge over your competitors.

Plus, there’s something here for everyone, whether you adore the bleak beauty of winter or need a rush of dopamine brights to get you through the shorter, darker days.

Scroll down to discover ten surprising seasonal schemes, and don’t forget to pin the ones you like best.

Discover 100s of color combinations with Shutterstock’s Color Spectrum

Yellow DoorImage via Helene Sauvageot.

How to Use Your Alternative Winter Palettes

These ten unique, wintery palettes are sourced from trends in interior design, fashion, and branding, as well as more unusual sources of inspiration, like retro party décor.

Each palette consists of four HEX code color swatches, which allows you to easily translate your designs to web and other online applications. You can also convert your palettes to printable CMYK swatches using design software. 

RGB vs. CMYK: Deciphering Color Modes for Print and Digital Design

Each alternative winter palette proposes a combination of colors that can give graphic design, packaging, branding, illustration, or web designs an edgy, seasonal style.

Read on to discover your new favorite cold weather scheme, and open up a whole world of winter color that’s not simply limited to red and green. When you’ve found your favorite winter palette, pin your chosen image to a Pinterest board or save to your computer to refer to later.

1. Purple Beets

Deep and rich, this palette is inspired by the earthy colors of winter root vegetables and the cool purple tones of winter sunlight.

Beet Color PaletteImages via Plateresca, Jessica Nyyssonen, and aodaodaodaod.

When combined with deep red and royal blue, purple hues feel contemporary and crisp. Use in place of traditional seasonal schemes for a fresh take on winter red.   

Purple/Red Color Palette Image via Sergei Mishchenko.

2. Orange Frosting

Inspired by perfectly crisp winter weather, this fresh scheme combines red orange with deep purple-blue, sky blue, and pure white.

Blue/White Color PaletteImages via taniascamera, FOTOGRIN, and Holly S Cannon.

The high contrast in this scheme makes it particularly effective for logo design and illustration, allowing text to stand out on marketing and social media images. 

Winter Color Palette Image via Pavel_Klimenko.

3. Bordeaux Velvet

This palette is a modern take on classically seasonal red and green. Christmas red is swapped out for richer mulled wine hues for a juicier, more luxurious effect.

Cabernet Color Palette Images via Shtennikova Evgenia, Ovidiu Hrubaru, and gulyilmaz.

Deep sherbet pink and wine red combine with emerald and forest green for an atmospheric, festive scheme that’s both traditional and fresh.  

Wine Red Color Palette Image via Photographee.eu.

4. Mustard Seed

Warm up your designs with this subtly retro mustard-yellow scheme. While Pantone’s Colors of the Year 2021—Illuminating and Ultimate Gray—have a distinctly urban flavor, this variation gives the pairing of yellow and gray a more folky feel.

Mustard Color PaletteImages via oneinchpunch, FashionStock.com, and Olinda.

Use this scheme across ads and social posts to give viewers an immediate sense of hygge-inspired coziness.  

Mustard Color Palette Image via Helene Sauvageot.

5. Days of Rust

A beautiful palette for winter wedding schemes or seasonal interior inspiration, this is a rustic, down-to-earth color combination that balances a range of nature-inspired tones.

Rust Color Palette Images via Tomasz Koryl, Nelia L, and Luca Ponti.

Burnt orange and chestnut combine with the palest of pastel blues, while charcoal black anchors the scheme.

Rust Color Palette Image via Luca Ponti.

6. Winter Blues

This palette offers a festive, ’70s-infused alternative to classic red-and-gold schemes. Antique gold and russet red lend warmth to cooler tones of denim blue and navy, making for a balanced palette that feels cocooning and sophisticated.

Blue/Gold Color Palette Images via brizmaker, Ondrej Prosicky, and Akasha

This is a beautiful, grown-up scheme for winter interiors or seasonal product design.

Gold Color Palette Image via Efremoff Studio.

7. Pink Party

Looking for an alternative scheme for a holiday event or party-themed social media images? This palette contrasts conservative cold-season colors of dark blue and snow white with a party-worthy pop of neon pink.

Neon Pink Color Palette Images via Ume illustration, REN Photography, and Wanwajee Weeraphukdee.

Gray with a slight dose of warming pink rounds out the palette, making it versatile and chic. 

Pink Color Palette Image via Ferruccio Dall’Aglio.

8. December Dopamine

We could all do with more color in our lives over the winter months, and with rainbow brights trending on the spring 2022 runways at Tom Ford and Moschino, it’s clear that dopamine dressing is back in fashion.

Multi-Color Palette Images via Sergey Ryzhov, aniarenard, and buketaltindal.

If you’re on the hunt for a festive scheme to brighten up the bleak winter days, this ultra-bright, cheerful scheme will have you wishing for a retro-style, multicolored Christmas tree in no time. 

Multi-Color Palette Image via Chainapa.

9. Cabin in the Woods

A gothic winter palette that gives a nod to Scandi noir and horror, this palette presents the perfect color choice for those seeking the ultimate anti-festive winter palette. Crimson, blood red, and inky black lend a vampiric edge to pure snow white.

Red Color Palette Images via Ferruccio Dall’Aglio, Artverau, and Christian L. Sweden.

Channel your inner Snow Queen and use this edgy scheme for book covers, posters, or video graphics this winter.

Red/White Color Palette Image via Kopytin Georgy.

10. Onyx Forest

Go back-to-black with this monochrome scheme inspired by moonless winter nights. This sliding scale of dark, dramatic hues will give your designs mysterious, moody beauty this season.

Black Color Palette Images via Kichigin, Gaurav Aryal, and FashionStock.com.

If you’re looking for a palette that feels truly wintery and bypasses festivity, this deeply stylish scheme will give websites and app designs sophisticated depth without introducing color.

Black Color Palette Image via AB Photographie.

Ready to embrace the winter mood? Can’t wait for the holidays to begin? Here’s everything you need to make your winter designs come to life:

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Cover image via Pavel_Klimenko.

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