For many, when red Starbucks cups return, it’s a signal that the holiday season is drawing closer. Since 1997, Starbucks has welcomed the holidays with a special red cup that celebrates the spirit of the season. Over the years, designs have ranged from the modern, using whimsical brushstrokes in bold colours, to the nostalgic, featuring mistletoe and ornaments. This year, for the very first time in history, the well-loved Starbucks red holiday cups will feature 13 hand-picked designs created by customers from all over the world, and will be served in 23,000 Starbucks stores across 74 countries around the world, including Singapore.
From traditional Christmas lights and ornaments, to snowflakes and winter landscapes – designs of the red holiday cup were inspired by holiday stories of customers from around the world. From Illinois to Indonesia, Pennsylvania to Korea, Dubai to Ontario, Starbucks received more than 1,200 individual submissions from 13 countries in just eight days.
The Starbucks Creative team printed each design posted to social channels and noticed the themes that began to emerge – graphic, inspirational, intricate, seasonal, typographic. The team then asked a small group of customers to mail in their cup so that it could be evaluated for potential production. Few changes were made as possible to the original to honour the artists and the integrity of their artwork. In the end, 13 customer designs were selected from six countries to represent the collective spirit of the holidays around the world.
Meet the Red Cups and the Artists behind Each Design
The artists behind the beautiful artwork hail from all over the world – a college student studying in Germany, a hair stylist near Philadelphia, an aspiring artist in New York. Their inspiration came from nature or seasonal traditions. Some are bold and graphic, while others evoke the feeling of an old-fashioned storybook. Together, the collection expresses the shared spirit of the season.
1. Birds & Flowers By Florencia (Bandung, Indonesia)
Florencia’s nature-inspired design depicts a bird in a field of magnolia flowers and berries. “The magnolia symbolises friends and love and the hedge sparrow represents faith and creativity. I hope that my design inspires people to joyfully love life and be creative, even when faced with tough times.”
2. Holiday Lights By Maria Lauren (New York City, United States)
New York-based aspiring artist, Maria, loves creating bold, graphic patterns. “I was looking around my home for inspiration, and when I looked at my tree I thought about how beautiful the lights were,” she said.
3. Birch Forest By Chloe (Plainfield, Illinois, United States)
Chloe, who is a nurse aide in a Chicago suburb, created a wintery design using acrylic paint. “It is such a beautiful sight seeing the bare trees covered up in snow,” she said. “The first thing that comes to mind is home.”
4. Candy Canes By Jennifer (Seattle, United States)
Jennifer, a professional artist who has also illustrated several colouring books, wanted to create a holiday design that people could identify with. “My goal was to merge the whimsical candy cane elements with the botanical patterns in a cohesive, symmetrical design that would not only capture the spirit of the holiday season but also work with the red ombré, which is why I chose white ink. It was a great deal of fun to make, and I thank Starbucks for giving artists such a lovely canvas to work with.”
5. Ornaments By Anz Soza (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
When Anz Soza moved from her home in the Philippines to Dubai, she made a hobby of doodling on Starbucks cups, collecting more than 75 cup creations. When her husband brought home a red cup last holiday, she was excited to try her first holiday design, with hanging ornaments and feathers reminiscent of dreamcatchers. “I love the Christmas season so I was really inspired. To me, the colour red symbolises the celebration of love and life,” she said.
6. Woodland Deer By Samantha (Broomall, Pennsylvania, United States)
Samantha is a hair stylist who was on maternity leave when she created her wintery design, which features the silhouette of a deer against an evergreen wreath and snowflakes. When Starbucks put out a call for cup designs, “My daughter was three weeks old and I was doodling during nap times,” she said. Now she’s looking forward to creating new holiday traditions with her daughter, who will soon be celebrating her first birthday.
7. Love and Joy By Anna (Toronto, Canada)
Santa’s sleigh and reindeer take flight above a snow-covered village in this design from Anna, who lives in the heart of Toronto – one of Canada’s most vibrant cities known for its rich cultural heritage. Born in the Soviet Union, Anna was trained in petrykivka, an ancient Ukrainian decorative folk art, which influenced her design’s intricate line work and details.
8. Poinsettia By Christina (Bakersfield, California, United States)
A student of landscape architecture created a design that features the festive poinsettia plant. Christina, who is currently working on a public art installation in Bonn, Germany, said, “Part of the job of a landscape architect is to connect people to the environment by creating a sense of place. I decided to evoke the Christmas spirit by creating a design with a plant that is symbolic of the season.”
9. Graphic Swirls By Erica (Markham, Ontario, Canada)
Erica, a recent paralegal graduate from Markham, Canada, was helping her sister recover from knee surgery when she decorated her holiday cup with playful swirls. “My sister was stuck on the couch for a month so we spent a lot of time colouring together,” she said. “When I wanted to change it up, I switched to doodling on Starbucks cups!”
10. Snowflake Sweater By Alisa (St. Petersburg, Russia)
For Alisa, the inspiration for her design came while drinking a gingerbread latte. “The holiday mood made me try to draw on the Starbucks cup for the first time.” Her design features snowflakes and reindeer patterned after a cosy sweater.
11. Evergreen Forest By Bronwyn (Moscow, Idaho, United States)
A December hike along a favourite mountain trail was the inspiration for Bronwyn, a college student from Moscow, Idaho, “Everything was still and snow-covered. The contrast was beautiful – it was almost like a black and white photo all around us. The simplicity of the image transferred easily into a wintery design.”
12. Sleigh Ride By Eun Joo (Daejeon, South Korea)
For her whimsical design, Eun Joo depicted Santa’s sleigh on a starry night. Tiny snowmen adorn a field of overlapping circles. “There are many people – like different patterns of overlapping circles – but everyone can have happy memories with a cup of coffee.”
13. Wooden Wreath By Tracy (Los Angeles, United States)
Tracy, a professional artist from Los Angeles, crafted a wreath that encircled the Starbucks logo – a design now on Starbucks cold beverage cups. “I love the nature and the woods, so I decided to illustrate a wooden wreath with ornaments of various shapes and patterns. Topping it all off is some snow, a bow and a dash of holiday spirit.” Unfortunately, we do not have a high resolution visual of the design.
Having seen all So which is your personal favourite? Share with us in the comments section below!