10 Out-of-Office Email Ideas That Make People Smile

The holiday season is that special time of the year when we spread good cheer, gather with loved ones and set up our out-of-office email messages. This year, why not combine all three? Fun out-of-office messages spread good cheer and enable us to enjoy family and friends with fewer distractions. It’s festive multi-tasking!

Before decking the halls, keep in mind that out-of-office messages should include:

  • Start and end dates for your time away
  • Contact information for the person covering for you, if you have someone
  • Your phone number for emergencies, if your responsibilities require it

The rest of your message is up to you. Think “professional, but playful.” Need ideas? Here are suggestions for the holidays and beyond.


We celebrate holidays throughout the year, and several at the end of the year: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. Wish your contacts “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” (don’t forget the apostrophe). “Happy Festivus” is sure to make “Seinfeld” fans smile.
Holidays like Memorial Day call for solemn messages. But if you’re celebrating Groundhog Day in its birthplace of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a funny message is required.

Paying It Forward

Are you off helping Earthwatch tag penguins in Patagonia? Say so, play off of that theme (penguins!), and link to the charitable organization in your message. If you’re not your own boss, check first to make sure it’s OK.

Business Travel

Working at a trade show? “Visit Booth #55 for the raffle; stay for the sales pitch” is a friendly invitation that could benefit your business.

Press the Paws Button

Is your ever-present pooch beloved by customers? A message written in her voice will make pet-lovers swoon. “Lee is in London getting married. I’m an English Bulldog, yet they didn’t invite me.”

Share an Experience

Introducing your kid to your parents’ homeland? Attending the biggest renaissance festival in the world? Your contacts might enjoy a link to a blog or photo album you’re updating on the go.

Ask For Recommendations 

If you’re not going off-grid, you can crowd-source and strengthen business bonds at the same time. Set up an online survey or poll. “Visiting Cincinnati for the first time. Where would I find the best Skyline chili?”

Personal Time

Are you taking time off for a minor medical procedure? Sharing the pain could be funny. Caveats: Keep your message clean and don’t reveal too much. However, if you’re a middle-aged former breakdancer who wrecked your shoulder showing off for neighborhood kids, people need to know.

Pop Culture Reference

This is where the difficulty level increases. It’s ideal if you have a timeless pop culture reference in mind (see Festivus example in No. 1). If you don’t, consider skipping it. Serving up something fun but appropriate and cool but not obscure is a tall order. Do you have something clever to say about Baby Yoda? We’re all ears.


Embedding or linking to an image, GIF or other media is sure to elicit smiles. That said, some uber-vigilant email systems might filter them out. Proceed with caution.

Be Yourself

We use our personalities to build professional relationships. Perhaps a vendor you thought of as gruff is now a hilarious curmudgeon to you. How delightful would it be if his message reflected that by saying: “I’m out of the office spending time with family. Pray for me.”


As long as your out-of-office messages are good-natured and not political, you’ll earn smiles. If you’re already receiving many out-of-office messages due to upcoming holidays, remember: SaneBox can help. SaneBox’s A.I. learns how you manage your inbox, then does it for you. Steering all those out-of-messages from your crowded inbox into a single folder is a piece of cake. What’s left for you to do? Just make sure you’ve turned off your out-of-office message when you’re back at work.