Look Great for Holiday Parties Without Breaking the Bank

by Jamie Simmerman · 1 comment

Woman at holiday party

Preparing for holiday parties and functions can get expensive. A new dress, plus shoes, accessories, jewelry, spray tanning, facials, make up, hair… all that primping can lead to a hefty price tag! With a little DIY attitude and a few hours, you can reduce the cost of primping for the holidays.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

Frugal Hair Tips

1. Use coconut oil.

Dry dull locks are common around the holidays. Cold weather, decreased moisture in your home from your furnace, hot showers, and too much coloring or heat styling all take a toll on your hair. To perk up your winter looks for a party, try coating your hair in coconut oil. This organic treatment is a cream-like substance at room temperature, but it quickly turns to liquid when scooped from the jar and rubbed into your hair. Massage your ends and scalp well, cover with a warm towel, and let sit for an hour. Wash as usual.

Cost: $7 at Walmart for a 14 oz. jar, which should last all year. Cost of deep condition and scalp massage at the local spa: $35 plus tip. Savings: $28+.

2. Style your own hair.

My hairstylist once told me that nearly all great up-dos start with some type of pony tail. Well, I can do a pony tail — I just never know what to do with it after that! The internet comes to the rescue with tons of tutorials on YouTube, or lists of 100 hairstyle tutorials, which can help you to create a suitable party hairstyle at home.

Cost of special-occasion hairstyle at the salon: $55 plus tip. Savings: $55+.

Inexpensive Ways to Keep Skin Looking Fresh

3. Buy some baking soda. 

Yes, that’s right, baking soda! You don’t need an expensive beauty product for beautiful skin. Get a healthy glow before your party by mixing up a paste of baking soda and water and rubbing it into your face with gentle, circular motions. Leave the mixture in place for five minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

Cost of salon facial: $55 – $100 plus tip. Savings: $55-$100+.

4. Take advantage of DIY tanning products. 

Need a healthy glow to go with that new party frock? You don’t have to bake in a tanning bed or resort to a salon spray tan. Most women can achieve a healthy look by boosting their own natural skin color — instead of going for a deep, dark tan that really isn’t realistic for many skin types. To boost your natural color, try Sally Hansen’s Leg Makeup. You can use it on any exposed skin (not just your legs) for a nice subtle glow. Be sure to let it dry before getting dressed, and you’re set for the night. It washes off in the shower without any residual effects. You can also add a little bronzer to your cleavage area and the tops of your shoulders for a sun-kissed look.

Cost: $11 at Walmart. Cost of a spray tan at the local salon: $25. Savings: $14.

Budget Wardrobe Ideas

5. Recycle your old dresses.

If you can’t afford to go all-out on a new party dress, try sprucing up something you already own. You can alter a garment by changing the hemline, neck line, or sleeve length. You can also change out the buttons, remove shoulder pads, or simply have the garment altered by a seamstress to improve the fit.

Cost of new dress: $50- $500. Savings: $50-$500.

6. Borrow from a friend.

A great way to avoid investing in a party dress that will hang in your closet and collect dust the rest of the year is to ask a friend to help out. By raiding a friend’s closet for a jacket, blouse, dress, skirt, or accessories, you can put together a nice party outfit without investing a dime. Of course, it would be nice to return the favor for your friend — or buy her that scarf she’s been eying as a thank you gift.

Cost of new dress: $50- $500. Savings: $50-$500.

What frugal tips do you have for looking great over the holidays?

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  • Kate says:

    I don’t go to a party to show off; I have worn the same black cashmere skirt and top with different jewelry for the past 22 years and always look right for the occasion. Buy a classic suit or dress with plain, simple lines that flatter you, and accessorize. For really nice things at lower prices, shop consignment stores. You may pick up a frou-frou frock for a good price, wear it through the holidays, and sell it back to the shop after New Years.

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