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11 out-of-office email templates for holidays (Best Practices 2023)

Want some easy to implement out-of-office email templates before taking off for the holidays? Try these 11 creative messages out this season!
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Did you know you could outsource writing your out-of-office email? The number of templates, canned responses, and automation tools available today make it a cakewalk.

But what if  told you you could out-horse your out-of-office message? 🤠

Iceland’s tourism board came up with this innovative marketing campaign where you can get a horse to type out your out-of-office message while you enjoy a relaxed vacation. The horses, it claims, type fast and are “trained in corporate buzzwords”. 

There’s a catch though! Your email could very well end up looking like this.

A horse typing on a large physical keyboard against the backdrop of a church and meadows in Iceland

So, if you’re looking for less controversial out-of-office email message templates that don’t just make sense to Icelandic horses, this blog is a much better place to be. Read on!

What is an out-of-office message?

An out-of-office message, also known as an automatic reply, auto-response, or vacation message, is an email message that is automatically sent to anyone who contacts you while you are away from your office or email. 

Out-of-office emails are a handy way to let people know about your unavailability at work while giving them important information and alternative means to reach someone else to get urgent tasks done. 

Being away from the office does not have to be a stressful thing, either for you or for people who might be hoping to reach you. These messages ensure that work continues without a hitch till you’re back and no one is left hanging while waiting for your response. 

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When to use an out-of-office message?

In cases where you are unable to answer urgent and/or important emails during regular business hours, you should set up an out-of-office message. This holds true for both short-term absences such as a casual day-off or leaving work early for a medical appointment or to pick up a child etc. and long-term leaves including vacations or maternity/paternity leaves. 

Ultimately, whether or not to set up an out-of-office message depends on the nature of work you do and the consequences of your unexplained absences. If timeliness is not a major concern, you can get away without one. However, if you deal with pressing matters that require immediate resolution, it’s best to let people know that your response may be delayed.

If you’re away from the office for long for the holidays, you might want to set up an out-of-office message. The best way to do this without scratching your head is by using a readymade email template.

Why do you need an out-of-office message template?

An out-of-office message template can make your vacation much more hassle-free than you think. Here’s why you should use one:

1. Curbs anxiety

You don’t really want to look into your inbox every 5 minutes when you could be gazing at the waves splashing about the shore on your vacation, right? Dispel all of your email anxiety by setting up a templated response that lets people know you’re taking some time away from the hustle and bustle.

2. Doesn’t leave the sender hanging

A template can give you just the right words, voice, and tone that lets the sender of an email know you can’t respond to them without hurting their feelings or making them suspect that you don’t care. Sometimes, it’s best to rely on tried and tested auto-responses which you know will work. 

3. Saves everyone’s time

You don’t have to reply to each email that demands your attention with a custom response, immediately. The sender does not have to wait endlessly or follow-up every 2 days because they did not hear back from you. An out-of-office email message template saves everyone time

4. Is highly adaptable

Your out-of-office message can be professional without being cold, haughty, or worse, boring! There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to email communication. And the right out-of-office email template can effortlessly capture the quirks of your work personality while getting the message across.

For all the above reasons, it makes sense to rely on preset templates. Plus, why should you have to waste time thinking of and typing out the perfect out-of-office message from scratch? Especially when we have already done it for you?

Recommended reading: How to type less by using text expansion apps

How to write an out-of-office email message for the holidays?

Not that you ever need to, but just in case you do decide to craft your own out-of-office message (and ignore our beautiful templates 🥺), here’s how you can ace it.

Make sure you have the following essential ingredients in place. 

  1. A crisp subject line (I am often tempted to go with: ‘Tis the season—for my vacation!)
  2. The dates of absence (You can specify the begin and end dates for your holiday)
  3. Reason for the absence (This is optional, of course. You could simply say you’re on vacation, that works too!)
  4. Details of the contact person in your absence (Usually the email address and/or phone number of a colleague within the organization)

It’s pretty simple, yeah. But we do have a simpler way out as well. 

11 out-of-office email message templates for the holidays

Check out 11 of the top out-of-office email message templates we’ve especially crafted for the holidays! (Yeah, we do feel like Santa 🎅🏼Thanks for asking!)

1. Basic or vanilla out-of-office email message

For times when simple is beautiful, here’s a basic OOO message template.

Sample template

Subject: Auto-reply: Out of office till [date]

Thank you for your email! 

I am on vacation from [date] to [date]. I will see your messages when I return.

If you need immediate assistance, please contact my colleague, [name],  [designation], at [email]. 

Thank you for understanding.

[Your signature]

2. Friendly out-of-office email message

If you’re one of those who like to sprinkle a little bit of friendly confetti everywhere you go, this OOO message template might resonate with you!

Sample template

Subject: On a break till [date]

Season’s greetings! 

Thank you for your email.

It’s the season to be merry. So I decided to take a vacation and give my inbox a break from my constant refreshing. 

I’ll respond to you once I am back in office on [return date].

If it’s urgent, please feel free to reach out to [name], [designation] at [email].

Happy holidays to you and yours,
[Your signature]

3. Professional out-of-office email message

If your work involves dealing with clients or customers who expect you to be professional, this OOO message template can be the right one for you. 

Sample template

Subject: OOO: I am on leave until [date]

Hello, I am away from the office from [start date] to [end date] and have limited access to my email. 

In urgent cases, please leave a message with my colleague [name] at [email address]. 

I will get back to you as soon as possible after my return.

[Your signature]

4. Witty, funny, and creative out-of-office email message

Looking to break through the clutter, stop the scroll, and get your email’s recipients to chuckle a little? Here is an out of the box OOO template that will do all three!

Sample template

Subject: Reported missing 😱

This is an automated response.

The person you’re trying to reach has reported themselves missing since [start of vacation date] and has refused to be found till [end of vacation date].

Their last words before heading into oblivion?

“I am away for some quality me-time and there is no way you can convince, cajole, or coerce me into replying to your emails.”

Guess you’ll have to wait! Or contact next of kin [name] at [email] in case of an emergency.

P.S. You’ll hear from them soon. Maybe!

5. Internal out-of-office email message

Not all OOO emails are the same. There’s a difference between writing one for your clients/customers/external contacts and one for your teammates or colleagues. 

This is why email tools will almost always give you two options to customize your OOO messages. Internal OOO messages can include more details than external ones so that your colleagues don’t have a hard time getting things done in your absence. 

Sample template

Subject: OOO until [date]

Hi, there! Thank you for your email.

I am currently OOO until [date]. 

Updates on [project or task name] are shared with the team at [url or file name and location]. 

In my absence, [name and designation] will be the point of contact. Please feel free to reach them at [email or phone] for questions or concerns. 

[Your signature]

6. Super short out-of-office email message

If you favor brevity over details, here is a super brief OOO email that’ll make you happy.

Sample template

Subject: OOO until [date]

Hi! I will be unavailable from [start date – end date].

For urgent matters, please email [name] at [email address].

[Your signature]

7. Company holiday out-of-office email message

Want to send out an OOO from the company email address when no one is in office? Easy. Set up a generic OOO and enjoy the holidays, stress-free.

Sample template

Subject: Closed for the holidays! 🎄

Season’s greetings!

Thank you for your email.

We are closed from [date] to [date] for the holidays and hope you’re spending them with loved ones, too.

We will get back to you as soon as possible once we reopen.

Until then, here’s wishing you and yours loads of rest, recreation, and rejuvenation for the season.

Happy Holidays once again from all of us at [company name]!

8. Call-if-needed out-of-office email message

This is the perfect OOO template for workaholics out there who take their jobs very, very seriously and don’t wish to completely disconnect.  It works well for people who are in demanding roles where emergent situations can come up often, such as medical professionals.

Sample template

Subject: OOO; call if urgent

Hi and thanks for reaching out!

I am currently on vacation and not responding to my emails. 

I will be back in office on [date]. 

If you need urgent assistance, please give me a call at [phone number].

[Your signature]

9. Helpful out-of-office email message

OOO messages can provide a great opportunity to share helpful resources such as newsletters, knowledge base or help center articles, FAQs, product demos/videos etc. especially if you’re setting them up exclusively for your customers and anticipate some repetitive queries. 

Sample template

Subject: I’m away but here’s something for you!

Thanks for your email!

I am out of office till [date].

If you need immediate help, contact my colleague [name], [ designation], at [ email].

Meanwhile, here are some resources that might prove useful:

Resource 1
Resource 2
Resource 3

I hope these help. Otherwise, I’ll respond to you once I am back!

Thanks again,
[Your signature]

10. Festive and celebratory out-of-office email message

Since we’re talking about the holidays, celebratory OOO messages carrying the festive spirit will not be totally out of place. Here’s one to spread the cheer.

Sample template

Subject:  ̶O̶O̶O̶ Ho Ho Ho! 😄

Season’s greetings!

I’m currently spending 0% of my time with my inbox. (And 100% of it indulging in soppy Christmas flicks and drinking way too much hot cocoa).

This has left me unable to answer my messages till [date] when I hope to return to normalcy.

If you need urgent help, please contact [name] at [email or phone number].

Happy holidaze to you and yours!
[Your signature]

11. 100% unavailable out-of-office email message

This one’s for people who religiously take their PTO (Paid Time Off) and know how to walk the thin line that separates work from everything else in life. Yes, they exist! 

Sample template

Subject: Currently unavailable. Sorry, not sorry!

Well this is awkward! 

Here’s a response to your email that isn’t really a response. Nu-uh. 

I am on vacation till [date] and will NOT be checking my email because, boundaries, am-I-right? 

Please expect to hear from me after [date]. 

If it’s urgent, I urge you to contact [name] at [email address] who, unlike me, WILL be checking their email and can help you better.

Hasta la vista,
[Your signature]

Phew! That was it folks. That’s all we had in our treasure chest of out-of-office message templates. And we are hoping it was enough.

Now that you’ve chosen the best template to pen your out-of-office message, here are a few final steps and best practices to heed to before you (let your email client) hit send!

Best practices for writing out-of-office email messages for holidays

1. Proofread your out-of-office email 

Make sure to proofread your out-of-office message. You want to ensure it’s free of spelling mistakes, typos, and grammatical errors. Writing assistants such as OSlash can help you out here. 

You can use OSlash text expander to set up auto-replacements for your frequent typos (such as teh and the, receive and receive). It can even help you create, save, and invoke your out-of-office email templates in just a few keystrokes by designating shortcuts such as o/ooo, o/ooo-eml, or any other handy abbreviations.

Here’s a quick glimpse of how it works

2. Check the voice and tone of your out-of-office email

It is important to maintain a professional and respectful tone when composing an out-of-office message. Of course, you don’t have to be BORING. Stay consistent and considerate even when using a funny or clever out-of-office response so that you don’t end up making your colleagues or clients feel hurt or neglected. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.

3. Be on time

An out-of-office message that reaches too late is as good as one that never does. It is important to set up your out-of-office message in advance so that your colleagues don’t have to constantly keep checking their email or calendar for updates. In most cases, people rely on simple out-of-office messages to help them manage their workload and stay organized.

4. Set realistic expectations

“I’ll respond to your email as soon as I am back” might be a good intention to have but we know from experience that it rarely works that way. Chances are you have hundreds of emails piled up in your inbox after the holidays and unless you’re a robot, you can’t process and answer them all immediately. It might be better to give yourself and your colleagues a more realistic time-frame to respond.

5. Ask for permission before sharing contact details of colleagues

This one’s a no-brainer! In a time when our data is our most precious (and most misused) asset, you should NEVER share the contact details of a colleague in your out-of-office message without their permission. Good manners and professional courtesy 101, anyone?

And while you’re at it, make sure to tag relevant individuals in the body of your out-of-office message. Tagging only those who may be impacted by your absence or busy schedule is sufficient. Remember to also include key team members, such as managers or HR professionals, if needed.

6. Update your message if needed

If your plans change and you will be out of the office for a different length of time than originally planned, make sure to update your out-of-office message accordingly.

Signing off

We’re hoping by this time that you have all our tips and tricks down pat! Don’t hesitate to come back to this blog every time you need an out-of-office email that stands out from the rest.

Now, please excuse us while we log off too and program our automatic out-of-office replies so that we can enjoy ourselves a few notification-free silent nights, holy nights. Happy holidays!

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