13 out of office examples for holiday email templates
13 out of office examples for holiday email templates

The holidays are a time for celebration, relaxation, and quality time with loved ones. For many professionals, they also mean a much-needed break from the daily grind of work. But before you switch off that computer and head for the eggnog, there's one crucial task: setting up your holiday out-of-office email message.

An out-of-office (OOO) message is an automated email response that lets people know you're unavailable and when they can expect you back. This might seem like a small detail, but a well-crafted out-of-office message does much more than inform people of your absence.

An automatic email when you're OOO sets expectations, maintains professionalism, and ensures a smooth return to your inbox when the holiday cheer subsides. In addition to holidays, you can also utilize automatic OOO emails when you're on sick leave, maternity leave, or traveling on a business trip.

While professionalism is key, don't be afraid to inject some personality into your OOO message. This is an opportunity to showcase your style and perhaps even spread some holiday cheer.

Whether you opt for a concise and direct approach or a touch of festive flair, a thoughtful out-of-office message can make a positive impression on colleagues and clients alike.

What makes a great out-of-office message?

A great out-of-office message balances providing essential information and keeping things concise. 

Here are the key elements to consider:

Return date

The most important detail is your date of return or when you'll be back and actively responding to work emails. Be specific, including both the date and, if possible, a general timeframe โ€” i.e., "I'll be back in the office on January 2 and will respond to you in the afternoon."

Alternative contact

If there are urgent matters that can't wait until your return, provide the name, title, and contact information โ€” typically in the form of a contact email โ€” of a team member who can assist during your time away. This demonstrates your commitment to client service and coworker communication.

Reason for absence

A brief mention of your absence is sufficient. You don't need to provide elaborate explanations โ€” a simple "I'm currently not in the office for the holidays" does the trick. Avoid oversharing personal details.


Your OOO message should reflect your usual communication style and align with your company's overall tone. Is your workplace formal and traditional? Or is it more relaxed and conversational? Tailor your message accordingly. This ensures consistency and maintains professionalism across your communications.

These core elements form a solid foundation for your out-of-office reply. But remember, there's always room to personalize and adapt these basics to fit your unique style and the specific holiday.

Ready to explore how you can tailor your OOO responses? Let's look at some template examples across different tones and situations that are sure to point you in the right direction.

What are some OOO email templates to use?

Your out-of-office message sets the first impression upon your return, so consider the tone that best suits you and your company. Let's explore some examples across a spectrum from strictly business to a touch of festive cheer.

Business professional

When clarity and efficiency are paramount, opt for a concise and direct message. Here are a few examples:

Template 1:


Thanks for your email. I'm currently not in the office and will return on [date]. If you're in need of immediate assistance, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email] or [colleague's phone number]. I'll respond ASAP upon my return.

Template 2:


I'm away from the office until [date]. If it's an urgent matter, please reach out to [colleague's name] at [colleague's email]. I'll address your email when I return.

Thank you so much for your understanding.

Friendly professional

Sometimes, you want to add a touch of warmth while maintaining professionalism. Consider these templates:

Template 3:

Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out! I'm currently not in the office and will be back on [date]. If you have a pressing issue, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email]. Otherwise, I'll follow up with you upon my return.

Wishing you a happy holiday season!

Template 4:


I'm currently away from my desk, but wanted to acknowledge receipt of your email. I'll be back in the office on [date]. For anything urgent in the meantime, please reach out to [colleague's name] at [colleague's email].

Thanks for your patience. Have a great day!


Want to share some holiday cheer? Keep it tasteful, and avoid anything that might not align with your brand personality.

Template 5:

Season's Greetings!

I'm currently enjoying some time away from the office to celebrate the holidays. I'll be back on [date]. If your matter is urgent, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email]. Otherwise, I'll happily respond to you after the holiday break.

Template 6:

Happy Holidays!

I'm taking a short break to recharge but will be back in the office on [date]. For immediate assistance, contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email]. I look forward to connecting with you in the new year!


Humor can be tricky in a professional setting. It's best used sparingly and only if it aligns with your company culture. Opt for harmless, universally relatable humor.

Template 7:


If you're reading this, it means I'm successfully avoiding all things work-related for the holidays. I'll be back in the office on [date]. If you can't wait until then, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email].

Template 8:

Out-of-office status: Activated. Eggnog consumption: In progress. I'll be back on [date] to tackle your email. For urgent matters, contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email].

A word of caution: When using a funny out-of-office reply, test it with a colleague to ensure it lands as intended. It's better to leave a straightforward message than to offend someone.

When to limit or avoid contact

While holidays are a time of merriment, they're also meant for rest and rejuvenation. Sometimes, the best way to recharge fully is to step away from work completely โ€” email replies included. 

Constant email access can contribute to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. A true disconnect provides a crucial mental and emotional break. What's more, stepping away entirely reduces the risk of burnout, allowing you to return to work feeling refreshed and focused.

Perhaps best of all, taking time to unplug allows you to come back to work with renewed energy, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. For many, that's worth its weight in gold.

Template examples for "no-contact" OOO

If you're opting for a complete break, be polite and firm about your unavailability. Here are some templates:

Template 9:


I'm currently not in the office until [date] and will have limited access during my time away. If your matter is urgent, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email] for assistance. Otherwise, I'll respond upon my return.

Template 10:


I'm taking some time to refresh and will be away from the office until [date]. I won't be checking my email during this timeframe. If you need immediate attention, please connect with [colleague's name] at [colleague's email]. I appreciate your understanding.

Template 11:


I'm currently on [vacation/parental leave/sabbatical] and will return to the office on [date]. To ensure I come back fully refreshed, I won't be responding to emails until then. For urgent inquiries, please contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email].

When to check in during OOO

There are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes, circumstances may necessitate checking in on your inbox, even during a planned holiday break.

Think about high-stakes projects with tight deadlines or situations where you're the primary point of contact for major clients. It might be necessary to carve out limited time for checking and responding to only the most urgent of emails.

Template examples for "urgent-only" OOO

Set clear expectations for when you might respond and how to flag urgent matters. Here are a few examples:

Template 12:


I'm out of the office and won't be back until [date], and my email access is limited. If your matter is urgent, please include "URGENT" in the subject line, and I'll do my best to respond within 24 hours. Otherwise, I'll address your email upon my return.

Template 13:


I'm currently away from the office but will be checking email periodically for urgent matters. Please indicate "URGENT" in the subject line for immediate attention. For all other inquiries, contact [colleague's name] at [colleague's email]. I'll follow up with you upon my return on [date].

Important Note: If you opt for an "Urgent-Only" approach, be disciplined about when you check your email, and resist the temptation to respond to non-urgent matters. This maintains boundaries and helps ensure you still reap the benefits of your vacation time.

What are some technical tips for OOO messages?

Setting up your out-of-office autoresponder email is a simple process for most popular email clients. Here's a quick overview, along with tips for alerting you to urgent matters:

Google Gmail:

  1. Click the gear icon (Settings) and select "See all settings."
  2. Scroll down to "Vacation responder" and toggle it to "On."
  3. Set your start date, end date (optional), subject, and your OOO message.
  4. Urgent Alerts: Consider using Gmail filters to label emails marked as "URGENT" or create a separate inbox folder for them.

Microsoft Outlook:

  1. Select "File" then "Automatic Replies."
  2. Toggle the "Send automatic replies" option.
  3. Set your start and end date (optional), and customize messages for inside and outside your organization.
  4. Urgent Alerts: You can set up rules within Outlook to trigger notifications or sounds for specific keywords like "URGENT."

Other Clients:

Most major email providers (Yahoo, Apple Mail, etc.) have similar out-of-office settings. Refer to their help sections for step-by-step instructions.

Keywords to trigger urgent email alerts

As mentioned earlier, instructing senders to include words like "URGENT" or "TIME-SENSITIVE" in the subject line will help you quickly identify emails needing immediate attention while you're away.

How to fly through your inbox when you return to the office

Superhuman is the fastest email experience ever made. Features like Split Inbox, Superhuman AI, and Inbox Zero will save you hours per week and let you get through those post-holiday emails in record time. 

Reclaim your time and focus on what matters most. Try Superhuman today.