Wednesday, 13 December 2017
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Christmas & New Year 2016

Stephanie Berkeley reveals her Christmas collection...

As the countdown to Christmas draws ever closer, there is something harrowing looming
on the horizon, the metaphorical iceberg of faux-pas – the office Christmas party.

A whole year’s hard work, character-building and unblemished reputation can be destroyed in one false move, one wrong word or one ill-informed tweet. The internet is full of real- life horror stories that are scarier than fiction – photocopied body parts, festive fisticuffs and embarrassing declarations of unrequited love.

Apparently, this year’s big date for soirees is December 16 and hopefully you’re looking forward to an evening with your colleagues, whether it’s for a cocktail evening, a pizza buffet or even a hog roast in the local boat club!

We know the Christmas Do can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you’re twice the age of those attending and just don’t get this whole hipster thing. What do you wear to a hog roast anyway? Thankfully, help is at hand with some top tips to finish the night unscathed – well, as best as you can anyway...

You probably have all of your social gathering outfits styled and ready to go this Christmas, this one requires a bit more strategic planning. No pressure, but you are going to be judged for months to come at the coffee machine for what you choose to wear. You want to show off your sartorial skills, but need to walk the fine line between festive and professional and nobody wants to top the office’s worst-dressed list.

Maybe your colleagues only ever see you in work clothes and so this is your moment to shine. Be festive, but don’t be tacky. The office party is not the time to don a cleavage boosting bra or a tight bandage dress if this is something that you don’t normally wear. You won’t feel comfortable and it can affect your confidence, mood and reputation.

A jumpsuit is a wonderful option because not only does it look sexy, classy and cool all rolled into one but it will also keep you warm all night long. And let’s face it, that’s pretty important in December. It’s never nice to feel overdressed, especially if you’re surrounded by your colleagues,
so the easiest way to play the office party game is to strike that smart/casual balance. Another option is a sexy top in this season’s hottest material (velvet) or seasonal favourite sequins teamed with some skinny tuxedo trousers and an elegant metallic court.

When you’re at the open bar stay effortlessly elegant by not over-indulging. Try to remember it’s not a drinking competition just because the drink is free. You’ve heard it a million times, but drinking plenty of water will stop you peaking too early and ensure you last the duration of the party without any red-faced moments.

Try to have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink. If you don’t want to appear like a lightweight, ask for water in a half-pint glass with a slice of lime and tell anyone who asks it’s a gin and tonic.

The silent Christmas party-killer – too much and you could end up bloated and lagging, too little and you could end up appearing wasted on one glass of Prosecco. It may be Christmas but avoid rich, heavy turkey or anything similar which could give you a heavy stomach especially if your outfit is fitted – and whatever you do – don’t eat garlic!

The dancefloor – another minefield... Remember to know your dancing capabilities. If you are a good dancer don’t over-egg the Christmas pudding, no one likes a show-off and while you might be putting your colleagues to shame, you might also be emptying the dancefloor at the same time, and that’s never fun. Likewise if, like me, you are as elegant as Ed Balls, then just say NO. It’s not worth the embarrassment. This is the age of YouTube and Facebook Live and no one wants to see that...

Speaking of which, I am so grateful that I did most of my silly stuff in the days before social media. There is practically no photographic evidence of my dodgy hair, outfits and partners. The devil makes work for drunken, idle hands – so my advice is leave your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at home. Sharing your amusing photos and inner-most thoughts on social media, good or bad, is likely to lead to some awkward conversations and comments in the morning. ELEGANT EXIT This term is one which my buddies use when you decide to pull a Houdini...

The ideal scenario is to arrive early and condense all the mandatory work socialising into an hour and a half, during which time you can get a full update on how Claire from HR is getting on with those pesky bunions. When you feel that you’re on the brink of no return (probably when you get the urge to demand Beyoncé) quietly make your escape out the back exit.

Do NOT announce your departure and don’t worry, it doesn’t mean the night is over. Grab the closest cab and hotfoot it to your friend’s house, where you can enjoy your alcoholic spoils with people who are used to seeing you in a worse state than Britney circa 2007. As for me – I’ve completed a 14-day Skinnymint Teatox, I’ve been bronzed and buffed courtesy of Vita Liberata’s brand new Body Blur and have an appointment booked at Shankey’s new Braid Bar at House of Fraser Belfast. My hair never sits anyway and this way I will have it braided, glittered and may even add a few cheeky extensions.

And to give myself an additional treat after the hours of shopping for the perfect present for everyone else but me, I have booked into The Wellbeing Spa in Sion Mills for a whole afternoon of massages, manicures and make-up. Owner Rosemarie Patton is on a mission to relax and revitalise and, as well as running a successful business, she also finds time to pen her own beauty blog. Rosie’s Blog is a must for all lovers of “how to...” tutorials as it is full of hints and tips on strobing, contouring, eyebrows as well as some amazing beauty steals such as New Look’s Latte shade lipstick which is an almost identical shade to MAC’s sold out Velvet Teddy!

The idea is that the work Christmas party should be FUN; so, in short, dress nicely, don’t drink too much, make sure you eat, don’t harass the boss and don’t use social media while under the influence of cheap champagne!

Now, if I can only take my own advice this year...


MUST BUY | Long, voluminous eyelashes are top of everyone’s wish list for Christmas party season. If you’re not a fan of fiddly falsies Eye CANDY® 3-in-1 Mega Lash Serum Mascara with Fibres is the only thing you need to give you that glamorous ‘wow’ look in an instant. RRP £19.99 from Boots.

MUST HAVE | Mummy’s not the only one who wants her feet to sparkle for the party season. Huntleys Shoes (, the beautiful handmade baby’s and children’s shoe designer, has launched a new collection of stunning footwear for mini-fashionistas that will make any little girl feel like a princess all winter long. Prices from £20 and many styles come with an adorable matching hair bow.

MUST SEE | Looking for a vintage Xmas gift that’s truly chic and unique? Check out the Aladdin’s cave of fabulous retro gifts in the newly-opened Emporium Belfast, 135 Holywood Road, Belfast opposite the Strand Arts Centre.

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