The month filled with parties, prosecco and pampering is very nearly upon us. Each year, it creeps up on us slowly – before revealing itself in a rather glamorous fashion and 2016 has been no different. Despite feeling a little blue about the cold, dark evenings and having to wrap myself up in a ridiculous number of layers, the fact that the festive season is ahead makes it all worthwhile. However, we’re a whole year out of practice – so I thought I’d put together a little guide to prepping for the party season. Grab a cup of tea, pop on your slippers and keep on scrolling!
I may not have shaved my legs for a few weeks (the only real bonus of having to wrap up in hundreds of layers to keep warm) – but the party season means that you have to step up your pampering regime a little bit since here’s nothing worse than being caught out when you’re in a rush – so preparation is key. Rather than having to rush all over for various different pruning appointments, book them all in at once, at one venue you trust, to save time.
The spa at the COMO Metropolitan hotel not only oozes luxury and instantly transports you to somewhere calm and tranquil but it also offers a ‘Pick and Prep’ mix and match service for your party essential treatments. You can pop in during your lunch-break, pick a plan to suit your budget (A, B or C) and then choose from a selection of staples. I paid them a flying visit for a wax, lash and brow tint and essential pedicure and even ate my lunch at the same time!
Vamp up your wardrobe
Of course, your wardrobe plays a vital part in any successful party season – as if you plan ahead, you will banish those dreaded ‘I have NOTHING to wear’ moments, which usually occur while standing in among a pile of clothes and involve you dramatically throwing possessions in the air and maybe even having a little cry. It’s okay. It’s normal.
But anyway, if you want to avoid the above escapades, then planning ahead is key. Of course, the other dilemma however is that money is a little tight at this time of year (HOW many cousins do I have to buy presents for?!) so keeping costs down is another factor to consider. Rather than splashing out on one item which only sees you through one occasion, I’d recommend stocking up on the high street. In fact, one option to also consider is to pop into the clothing section of your supermarket while you’re doing your food shop – as there are some fab options in the most unlikely of places.
I shop at Tesco (and having tried all of the delivery services, I can confirm theirs is the friendliest and most reliable – I’m not naming names but an apple pie is not an appropriate substitute for strawberries…) and so love a peek at their clothing section when I’m shopping. Their F&F range is of really high quality (I’ve always bought their pjs!) and so I decided to pick out a few items for my festive wardrobe.
For those glitzy Christmas parties, I opted for their Sparkly Swing Dress which is super flattering with a feminine fit and those all important seasonal trend cold shoulder detailing. It doesn’t cling to your stomach (which I love – because it means you can indulge in all the pigs in blankets you like without worry) and yet it tapers in at the right places, meaning it still gives a pretty silhouette. Of course, any mention of sparkle means that I had to team this dress with my Valentinos and my glitzy choker, which may be a bit too much of a glittery overkill – but hey, if you can sparkle during the party season, when can you?
I also wanted something that I could wear to the more casual occasions – which would still look the part, but be a little warmer, cosier and more comforting. Something to take me through the day at a family occasion and still be with me when I was snuggled up on the sofa watching a Christmas film! Because you know, it’s not always acceptable to bring your pjs to change into – so you need a back up. This Cream Ribbed Jumper Dress fitted the bill perfectly, in fact I’m actually wearing this as I type so I’m getting more use out of it than I thought!
Make your smile sparkle
Forgetting jewellery and handbags, the best accessory to any outfit is a smile – as it promotes confidence in yourself and exerts it to others too! Recently, my addiction to peppermint tea and mulled wine (er, yes – did I forget to mention this amazing addition to the party season!) has really taken it’s toll on my teeth and while they aren’t really stained, they look a little dull and a bit ‘flat’, for lack of a better word.
I’d had my teeth professionally whitened five years ago and was amazed at the results, however unfortunately the practice had closed down and while I’d tried other in-chair whitening places, none had quite achieved the same effect. With my best friend’s wedding and my graduation on the cards (as well, of course, as the impending party season), I knew I wanted to really make my smile sparkle for the special occasions and so I tracked down SW1 Dental’s celebrity dentist Dr Rhona Eskander – who performs the Philips Zoom! Treatment.
The treatment itself takes around two hours, but contrary to your average trip to the dentist – it’s completely pain-free and there’s no scary sharp implements. After a little explanation by Dr Rhona Eskander, you sit in the chair and have your moulds taken, which essentially create the trays for your at home whitening, which follows up the treatment in the dentist’s office. While you do generally get an instant and ‘wow’ result after the two hour treatment, she recommends that you top up at home using a whitening gel – for the ultra white and bright effect.
Once the moulds have been taken, the whitening process begins – 4 rounds of gel and LED light (which speeds up the process). Your gums are protected and sealed with another gel and you have a very fetching mouth guard in which gives you a permanent grimace (hilarious for anyone walking past) however by this point, you’re totally ignorant to what is going on because you’re watching The Holiday on a pair of DVD Goggles. Yep, you heard that right. DVD Goggles. Who knew such a thing existed?
The time whizzes by and before long,Dr Rhona Eskander pops off your goggles, takes all the bits out of your mouth and hands you a mirror. Without sounding like a ridiculous cliche, I was astounded by just how white they’d gone! For a comparison, the pictures above were taken after my treatment (no editing) and this one was taken before. I did have a little bit of sensitivity on the top gums for a few hours after, however this soon subsided and I was back to normal very quickly.
Although I went in with the view of leaving with whiter teeth, I wasn’t quite expecting such a fantastic result! And so if a smile is going to be your best accessory for the party season, I’d definitely recommend a treatment. Make sure you check it’s the Philips Zoom! (they do it in dentists nationwide) as honestly, I have tried other in-chair whitening and it hasn’t worked at all or has only made a very minor change. So, while I would whole-heartedly say to make sure your whitening is performed properly at a qualified dentist, do also make sure it’s this specific treatment as I can’t vouch for any others personally!
Indulge in a little festive decor
As much as I love festive decor, I aim for subtly and weave in pieces that look beautiful as standalone items – rather than novelty Christmas characters. While I’ve been dragging poor David down to The Range on numerous occasions, it’s actually online that I’ve found some of my favourites this year – over at Cox & Cox. Not only do they have the most gorgeous copper gift wrapping items but they also stock incredible wreaths, light up trees and adorable festive accessories.
We’re hosting a couple of parties ourselves, so making sure we look the part is just as essential as making sure our home looks the part too. We went for the Star Silhouette Carnival Light – which I’ve been looking for EVERYWHERE but here, it’s only £35 (and it will be on display long after the festive season is over). It’s battery operated, so you could actually pop it in the window for a little extra sparkle – but we’ve chosen to make ours a centre piece in the living room.
I also absolutely adore my new Christmas Wreath – for which I have delayed putting on the front door just in case our new neighbours think we’re totally crazy – so I’ve displayed it inside instead! It’s so pretty and sparkly – with flecks of snow, however it doesn’t complete overwhelm the door or shed – which is a bonus! Each of the products from Cox & Cox are of such high quality that they look far more expensive than they actually are – meaning that I’ve also stocked up on a few indoor Christmas twig branches, which you’ll be seeing more of in my interiors lookbook coming soon! If you’re looking to deck the halls with holly this party season – or a frosted pine wreath or two, then you’ll want to see what they have in store!
What are your top tips for party prepping? Have you found your party dress at your local supermarket too?
This is a collaborative editorial but all views, opinions and photographs are my own.