The holidays are coming up and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been doing quite a bit of online shopping. In doing so, you’ve probably noticed that many, if not all, of the sites you’ve visited have a winter or holiday theme to them. Additionally, many of them have been reorganized a bit, pointing you in the direction of one great thing: gifts.

Let’s start with Amazon. The Walker Sands office is on the 39th floor of a building in downtown Chicago, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many carts full of Amazon packages the delivery guy has had the past couple weeks. It’s almost comical. Amazon is one of the most frequently visited websites for holiday shopping, and their site design reflects it in a very simple way.

For the most part, Amazon’s homepage has subtle hints of the holiday season. The first design element that stands out most is the banner for the Kindle Fire, which is nicely wrapped in a red bow. I’m not in the market for a Kindle Fire, but it sure looks like a nice gift to give or receive. You may also notice little holiday details, such as the little gift boxes in the top right corner, which are prompting you to order before Christmas, as well as the snowflake in the upper left menu. Additionally, Amazon hopes you notice a “12 Days of Deals” advertisement.

Once you dive a little further into the site, the site looks pretty normal, but some of those elements I mentioned previously follow you throughout the site – even into checkout.

In my design opinion, Amazon did a nice job of dressing their site up for the holidays in a very subtle way without taking away from the experience the everyday user is used to.

Macy’s is also a pretty popular store with lots of website traffic around the holidays. When you visit their site, you may notice they’ve taken the red color in their logo to another level, and have also complimented it with green – Christmas, anyone?!

Macy’s takes the holiday theme quite a bit above Amazon, with many of its specials and featured items placed in gift tags, as well as a “Holiday Gift Guide” section to visit. If you visit the Holiday Gift Guide, you not only see a continuation of the gift tag theme, but there is snow falling slowly in the background as well.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Macy’s site design because it lacks the clean design style that I prefer, but I think what they did for the holidays works for their visitors – There’s no doubt in my mind that Macy’s is definitely a place to shop for the holidays.

Lastly, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite store’s sites: Nordstrom. Like Macy’s, they use red and green prominently, but in a bit more tasteful way. I prefer this green to Macy’s green choice, mainly because it says “holidays” more than “Christmas” to me.

From a design perspective, I love that they chose a variety of red items to showcase in their main “Where the Gifts Are” section, and love the overall clean look and feel – they let the items speak for themselves while still letting us visitors know they’re gifts and that they have a designated gifts page.

You may also notice the snowflakes in the background of the site, which I think is nice, because it will most likely stay even after the holidays pass.

Many other sites are also decorated for the holiday season, check them out!

Happy Holidays!