How To Dress For Holiday Parties Without Breaking The Bank

Hot pink is the new holiday neutral

’Tis the season. Not just the season of gifting, and lights, and way too many things on the to-do list. It’s also the season of Holiday Parties, and the love/hate relationship I often have with them. A chance to pick out a great formal dress with sparkles? Love. The fact that said outfit has to be “appropriate” for the senior engineers in my husband’s firm? Hate. Getting out of the house for a celebratory evening party? Love. The fact that there are too many parties, and half of them are with folks you’re required to make uncomfortable conversation with? Hate.

Okay, fine. I don’t actually hate anything about holiday parties, but I do wish they were a little easier. And in particular, I wish dressing for said parties was easier and less expensive. Because nobody wants to spend a pile of money on an outfit they’re never going to wear again, no matter how cute it is. But also, I still want to look stylishAF while I drink those cocktails, so how do I solve that puzzle?

Detail shot of a woman wearing a black jumpsuit from Walmart and hot pink statement heels while holding a glittery star banner in front of a white Christmas tree and brightly wrapped Christmas presents

Lord & Taylor Laci Suede Slingback Pumps and Wrapper Women’s Crepe Short Sleeve Jumpsuit

The goal is to come up with a holiday party look that you’ll love, but one that will also A) not cost you a fortune, and B) provide you with items that you can wear again and again. And one of my favorite ways to pull that off is high-low shopping. That is, mixing high quality items with other budget pieces and still staying true to your style. (And to be clear, the pieces you invest in should be the ones that you’ll wear again and again, and the fun just-for-now trends are where you should look for a bargain.) So today, we are sharing our best tips for creating killer holiday looks with items from Walmart has recently expanded their online footprint to include premium brands like Lord & Taylor (yup, that Lord & Taylor: the one with all the beautiful dresses from your favorite designers). Which means you can mix and match affordable trend pieces with high-end staples.

Brightly colored wrapped Christmas presents covered in Minted wrapping paper in front of a white Christmas tree and tinsel trees from Target

And that makes me super happy. Because here’s the real talk: while NBC News may claim that I live in San Francisco, I don’t. I live on a horse farm nestled in between the ’burbs. Which means Walmart has been, true confessions, one of my go-to destinations for shopping. It’s a great place to indulge in leopard print, and I swear to you they make the best activewear. But the truth is, I don’t just have wild-glitter-and-hot-pink taste. I also sometimes have expensive wild-glitter-and-hot-pink taste, so the fact that I can now indulge in this all in one place delights my glittery heart. And just in time for holiday parties, at that!

So today, in partnership with, we’re delighted to bring you all our best tips for holiday party shopping, modeled by APW’s Operations Manager and shopper-in-chief, Chelsea.

A woman wearing a black tea length Adrianna Papell cocktail party dress from Walmart with hot pink heels in front of a white Christmas tree and a pile of wrapped Christmas presents

Adrianna Papell Tea-Length Fit-and-Flare Dress

Invest (In A Dress) Wisely

First, let’s talk investment pieces. Or namely, what you should invest in and when.

It’s all too easy to see a dress and think, “I just love it and I have to have it,” without thinking when and where you’ll get to wear it, other than to the holiday party in question. So if you’re going to invest in something, go with something classic, like this super figure-flattering black fit and flare dress from Adrianna Papell. Because it’s black, it’s easy to drastically change up the look with different shoes and accessories, so nobody will notice that you’re wearing the same dress for holiday parties and wedding season. And because it’s fit and flare—which is one of the world’s most timeless and flattering styles—it’ll still be stylish next year (and arguably in fifteen years when your teenage daughter steals it from your closet).

We paired the dress with these hot pink heels, which are now sold out (probably because we got them for under $30). Though I might like these embroidered Betsey Johnsons even more. Since hot pink is basically the new holiday (and all the time) neutral, getting heels that will be comfortable and withstand many wearings is a wise investment. (Hot pink is always what you should always put your bets on, if you ask me.)

A close up photo of a woman wearing a lime green, brown and turquoise statement earring from Walmart

Design Lab Embellished Rhinestone Drop Earrings

But when it comes to jewelry? Go with the $10 earrings that are flashy and fun, but that you won’t mind if you lose in the bottom of your purse next month (for sure me).

A woman balancing Christmas presents while wearing a white blouse with a decorative black bow, plus floral pattern pants from Walmart in front of a white Christmas tree and a pile of wrapped Christmas presents

Tommy Hilfiger Tie Front Blouse and Lord & Taylor Petite Floral Jacquard Pants

Consider Separates

Holiday parties, like all formal occasions, can get you focused on picking the right dress (if wearing a dress is your jam). And while a good dress can make you feel like a million bucks, it’s also unlikely to make day-to-day appearances in your wardrobe. But you know what will? Separates. Here we paired a cute bow blouse that can grace even a corporate office, with floral jacquard pants from Lord & Taylor that make a subtle but stylish statement, and can be dressed up or down for your day-to-day life. (Paired with a perfect white t-shirt? Yes please.)

A woman wearing a wine colored velvet party dress from Walmart with a statement necklace and hot pink heels while holding a disco ball in front of a white Christmas tree and a pile of wrapped Christmas presents

Unomatch Women’s Long Sleeved Round-Neck Slim Velvet Pleated Winter Dress Red Rose and Tazza Antique Red and Pink Statement Necklace

Think About Cost Per Wear

But sometimes you just want the flashy and fun holiday party dress. And you know what? Life is short. Get the velvet. But consider your cost per wear. Chances are good velvet is not going to make the spring wedding circuit (or the office). So look for a more affordable alternative like this long sleeve velvet cocktail dress for just $28 or this short sleeve v-neck velvet dress for $16 dollars. And then did we mention that hot pink is the new holiday neutral? Which means those pink shoes officially go with everything. (I’m also really into the red and pink pairing right now.)

A woman wearing a black jumpsuit from Walmart with a statement necklace and hot pink heels in front of a white Christmas tree and a pile of wrapped Christmas presents

Lord & Taylor Laci Suede Slingback Pumps and Wrapper Women’s Crepe Short Sleeve Jumpsuit and Tazza Antique Red and Pink Statement Necklace

Always Get The Jumpsuit

And finally, jumpsuits. You know the APW policy on jumpsuits is more jumpsuits all of the time. But jumpsuits are not always going to get a ton of day-to-day wear (unless you actually work in the APW offices). So this $18.98 pick is perfect. (Also, jumpsuits are notoriously hard to style, so note that we paired a cropped pant with a statement high heel, and it WERKS.)

Shop more of our holiday picks below:

Are you going to holiday parties this year? What are you wearing? What’s your favorite look from past holiday parties?

This post was sponsored by With Walmart, you can shop affordable holiday looks plus premium fashions from Lord & Taylor all in one place. Click here to find your holiday party lewk today. And if there’s velvet involved, you better come back here and show us.


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