Let the festivities begin! It’s time to celebrate the season at the office holiday party. Where are you headed – to an after-work cocktail, to a semi-formal party or dinner, or to a full-out formal gala? And, have you decided what you’re going to wear? Planning your office Christmas party attire can prove to be more of a holiday chore than holiday cheer – especially if you need a quick office-to-party switch, or if you are trying to balance a fair share of seasonal expenses. Here are a few suggestions that can help you choose a festive and original outfit, perfectly matched to the occasion (and to your budget).

For those headed to a cocktail party straight from work, you’ll need a quick solution to go from day-to-night attire. You don’t have to lug an entirely new outfit to the office that day: simply dress in your best suit or fine black pants, and just before heading to the party, replace your cotton shirt with a colourful blouse or a glitzy top. Another way to transform your look with minimal effort is to mix up your accessories. Bring a fun jeweled necklace or bracelet to slip on as you walk out the door, and switch your workbag or briefcase for an elegant clutch. Before you leave the office, take an extra minute to apply a coat of bold lipstick or glimmering eye shadow – just a bit of dramatic colour or seasonal sparkle can make all the difference.

Take your style up another notch for a semi-formal party or dinner. This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to add another holiday expense by purchasing a brand new party dress every year. It’s just as easy to look fabulous by wearing a simple black skirt or evening pants – then pairing your plain bottoms with a stylish blouse or a festive sequined shirt. Or, if you have a go-to black dress, use that as a base – and make it extra special with a lovely silk shawl or scarf, or a sequined cardigan. These practical options will come in handy if you are attending multiple parties and even in preparation for next year’s holiday gatherings. Simply wearing a different top, accessories, and hairstyle can compose a whole new look, despite the same pants or skirt.

If a formal holiday gala is on your schedule, you can use the same trick: balance basic yet elegant black bottoms with a beautiful top and dazzling accessories. On the other hand, a sophisticated evening gown would also be appropriate for this occasion – and if it fits within your budget, go for it! Evening gown or not, take some extra time to create a stunning hairdo or schedule an appointment at your salon to have your hair, makeup, and nails professionally styled. Part of the fun of getting ready for formal holiday gatherings is to primp and pamper beforehand!

For men: a nice black or grey suit with a seasonal touch would be appropriate for semi-formal occasions. Don’t worry – you don’t have to wear a reindeer tie or Santa Claus socks in order to look festive! Subtler details, such as a red pocket square or a simple red tie, will do the trick. Wear a black tuxedo for a formal Christmas gala; this, too, can incorporate a bit of holiday cheer with a holiday-coloured bow tie and cummerbund.

Whether your office chooses to host a casual cocktail or a formal gala to celebrate the holiday season, be sure to choose a look that is tasteful and appropriate both for the occasion and for the crowd. And enjoy the process – getting gussied up for the party is a fun holiday activity in and of itself!

Author's Bio: 

Diane Craig, President of Corporate Class Inc., is a leading image and etiquette consultant. For over 20 years she has provided corporate consultations, helping hundreds of men and women realize their professional and personal goals. She is a sought after speaker at national business meetings, regularly gives comprehensive workshops to corporate groups, and offers private consultations on business etiquette, dress and dining.