As you jump through the holiday party circut, you have your best dresses, the hottest shoes and, of course, gorgeous clutches (this Alexander McQueen one will do nicely). But do you have your nail polish wardrobe picked out yet? Think about it. Everyone will see them as you’re holding that glass of bubbly, so it’s essential they’re ready to be the centre of attention at all your holiday parties. We checked in with pro manicurist Leeanne Colley, owner of Tips Nail Bar in Toronto, to find out how to get notice-me, stunning holiday party nails.

We know your iPhone is buzzing and beeping with appointments over the festive season and that between the holiday parties and shopping and wrapping and decorating, you’re barely able to find a few moments for yourself. But according to Colley, nails are the final touch to any holiday look and are an inexpensive way to make a personal style statement. “Whatever you do, don’t forget about them,” she says.

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Holiday beauty: Prep your nails
Getting your nails ready isn’t as quick as slapping two coats of polish on them, especially when it comes to getting dolled up for holiday parties. For a perfected, professional look, prep them in advance so that they’ll look as good as they would if you went to the nail salon. Here’s what Colley suggests:

Clean up your cuticles
“Use a cuticle softening gel on all 10 cuticles, rub it in and wait two to three minutes,” she says. “Push them back using a stainless steel cuticle pusher or orange wood stick.” Then, wipe off the excess gel and buff your nails lightly using a shining block. “Using a cuticle nipper tool, carefully remove any unsightly looking cuticles. Be careful not to go overboard as the cuticle acts as a seal to combat bacteria.”

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Shape your nails
“When shaping your nails, opt for a nail file that has a very high grit,” says Colley. “This will help smooth the edges and take care of any rough edges and splits in the natural nail.”

Moisturize your nails

Once you’ve painted your nails, Colley says to moisturize, but only do so after your polish is dry. If you moisturize before, it will be difficult to remove excess oils from the nail before polishing, causing tiny bubbles in the polish.

Use a top-coat
“To extend the life of your manicure, add a quick dry top-coat every two to three days,” says Colley.

Now that you’re nails are prepped, take them up a notch on the next page …

Holiday beauty: The top nail polish colours for holiday parties

While there’s certainly a time and place for a subtle nude nail, Colley says the trend for the holidays is colour. Here are her top three picks:


“Red is always a classic go-to shade,” she says. “It’s bold and sexy and can perfectly transform from day, straight into a LBD.”

Luxe precious metal shades

Metallic shades of nail polish like silver, gold and bronze will instantly add a festive touch to your holiday outfit. “The great thing about metallics is that they wear longer and are easy to touch up without looking messy,” says Colley.

Dark and dramatic shades

“Jade green, deep purple and
oxblood hues that have a black undertone are very wearable for all skin tones and will really vamp up your look,” says Colley. “Keep nails short and square for a clean chic look.”

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Nail design trends

Want to really have fun with your nails instead of slicking on one shade of nail polish? Colley says that mixing metallics to achieve an ombre effect is one of the top trends in nails this seasons. Or if you want to get creative with colour combinations, Colley suggests these daring duos:

· Nude with black

· Lilac with deep shades of purple

· Navy with gold

· Oxblood with rose gold

· Black and white

Holiday beauty: At-home DIY nail art

Getting fancy with your manicure doesn’t mean you have to go to the salon (though isn’t it always luxurious to spend the afternoon getting your nails done?) If you don’t have time for a salon visit, you can create a chic look at home and Colley says one of the easiest DIYs to do at home is a French tip, using a bold hue. Here, she tells us how:

1. Paint all 10 nails using your base shade and allow them to dry for five to six minutes; a metallic or nude nail polish would be a great option.

2. On a piece of tin foil, add a few drops of a very dark, dramatic shade like black, oxblood, deep purple.

3. Carefully run the tip of your nail through the drop of lacquer. Don’t worry about getting the enamel on your skin. This can easily be cleaned up using a Q-Tip and acetone at the end.

4. Repeat this step on all 10 nails.

5. Wait five minutes and seal it with a top-coat. Be sure to seal the edge of your nail too. This will give you a longer wear.


Holiday beauty: 5 dos and don’ts for holiday nails

DO go bold! Break your traditional nail rules. Choose brazen shades, glitter and fun pops of colour.

DO know your shade name; someone might ask and it could become a fun conversation piece.

go naked. If you can’t find the time to visit your manicurist or wait for polish to dry, add a
quick coat of a nude or clear polish or use a shining block and bring your nails to a high shine.

DO push back your cuticle before applying polish.

DON’T polish your nails when you are running out the door. You’re bound to smudge and knick your manicure, which can look very messy.