What to Wear to a Christmas Party

Crystal Schwanke
woman opening champagne bottle

Christmas Party Attire

There are all kinds of settings for Christmas parties, from office potlucks to girls' night out, family gatherings to black tie affairs. Appropriate attire, then, can be anything from a cozy sweater and jeans to an evening gown or cocktail dress. If you're unsure, consider the time of day and the venue, or just ask the host what type of party it is.

A cute red Santa dress and hat may be fun for a gathering at home with a few friends and family members. It's delightfully festive and has its place in the season, but probably not anything you'll want to wear out on the town.

friends in warm sweaters

Cozy Sweaters for Casual Gatherings

When you're attending a casual get-together with friends or family (especially if the party is during the day), you can't go wrong with a sweater in a Christmas-inspired color, a Santa hat, a scarf, and gloves. Pair all of those with your favorite pair of jeans and some boots and you'll be ready to go without worrying about whether you'll be warm or comfortable enough for the duration of the party.

women in dresses and Santa hats

Dolled Up

When you have a day or night out with the girls to celebrate Christmas, you may prefer to dress up a bit more than you would for a gathering in someone's home. A Santa hat is a nice touch, but it's never a must. If it's warm enough where you live, try a knee-length dress that doesn't quite reach "cocktail attire" level, and don't be shy about your accessories. A peacoat for when you're outdoors will finish the look. (Bonus points if it's red).

woman in a cocktail dress

Going All Out

If formal attire is required, you can take this opportunity to dress up and go as glam as you'd like. You'll feel like a princess in a metallic gown, which couldn't be more perfect for the holiday season. A silver or gold dress with sheer mesh to give the illusion of cutouts is both festive and trendy. In this case, let the dress do the talking and keep the jewelry to a minimum. A beautiful updo held in place with a sparkling hair accessory, combined with a pair of earrings, is enough.

subtle glam gown

Subtle Glamour

If metallic dresses with cutouts are outside of your comfort zone, go more subtle with a fabric that has a light sheen. Instead of an updo that requires a professional and could make you feel a bit exposed, straighten or curl your hair and then mist a shine spray over it at the end. This type of understated glamour could work for any type of party -- business or pleasure -- more easily than the all-out glam look from the previous slide.

business suit and Santa hat

Christmas Business

Sometimes, a Christmas celebration with co-workers is limited to the office during the workday. You may decide to have a potluck or even bring in the caterers, but even then you'll be limited on what you can wear since you'll have it on all day and will still need to perform your regular job. To add some holiday cheer to a gathering like this, wear a neutral-toned outfit and then don a Santa hat and red beads.

blanket scarf

Simple Gatherings

There's nothing cozier and still presentable for public than a blanket scarf. A plaid one that features Christmas colors is a must-have for simple gatherings with family and friends because it can be worn so may ways. Wear it around your neck like a regular scarf until you get cold and settle in on the sofa after dinner. Then unwrap it and curl up in it while you catch up with your loved ones.

blue sweater

Unexpected Hues

There's a lot of red, green, and even silver and gold in the typical Christmas party wardrobe, but if you want to stand out (or if Christmas colors just aren't your thing), go for an unexpected color, like blue. The ones here are cool, clear blues, so they're perfect for winter holidays without being too obvious. A sweater with snowflakes or other snow-related scene works especially well for representing the season without being red or green. Pair a long sweater with leggings, boots, and maybe even a pair of matching gloves to stay warm when you go visit family or have people come to your home to celebrate.

red dress with shoulder cutouts

The Go-Anywhere Red Dress

If you have several types of parties to attend but don't want to buy a new Christmas-friendly wardrobe, look for a dress with half-length or long sleeves and a high neck (or mock turtleneck) that skims your body without being too tight. The deep red shade shown here is more universally flattering than bright red, and the shoulder cut-outs add visual interest without looking risque. You can wear a dress such as this with friends, family, or co-workers, in most settings and times of day.

neutral dress

The Neutral Canvas

A versatile option that works well at Christmastime as well as all through the year is the neutral-toned dress. Soft gold or silver (or beige, cream, or soft gray) can provide the perfect canvas for all sorts of looks. You may already have one of these in your closet, too. For Christmas, pair a dress like this with red lips and nails, nude pumps, and an updo with a beautiful accessory. For jewelry, go sparkly! The earrings shown here are the perfect example of jewelry that adds a holiday sparkle without screaming "Christmas!" so that you can't wear them at other times of the year.

neutral sweater

Sweet, Simple, Soft, and Warm

Here is another example of how something neutral-toned can be ideal for a holiday party. This cream sweater pairs beautifully with jeans and it's a little dressier than some of the chunkier knit sweater options in previous slides thanks to the texture and the wrap style at the neck. A sweater such as this offers a wonderful style for spending time with friends and family in a casual setting where you feel like you need to take your attire up about a half notch from the thicker, more casual sweaters -- but don't feel the need to veer into dress territory.

From casual to formal and bold to understated, there are plenty of ways to create the perfect Christmas party look.

Was this page useful?
What to Wear to a Christmas Party