Like it or not, Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Whether it's presents, food, nights out, a hair cut or an outfit for the work Christmas do, it can easily run up into the hundreds of pounds.
I like a challenge, so when Voucher Codes sent me an email asking me to put together a party essentials pack that would see me through the festive season, for a budget of only £60, I got planning.
If like me, you often have to go to Christmas parties after a full day at work without the chance to go home and spend some quality time getting ready, you'll know that a small set of staples is really important in helping you get ready, and fast. I've picked out a selection of items that can all be stashed away in your desk drawer, which will help get you dance floor ready in minutes, and can be used over and over throughout the party season.
Now, at first glance, this Nars Crime of Passion face kit (£35) might not seem like a very bargainous purchase. However, inside this highly portable little palette are 3 eye shadows, a blusher, a bronzer and a lip gloss. The eye shadows are perfect for a day time look when you're in the office, and can then be made into a quick smokey eye for the evening. The bronzer and blusher are space savers and in shades that should work for almost anyone, coupled with the perfect soft pink lip gloss.
Add some of these Eyelure individual lashes (£5.99) to the corners of your eyes to really help make your eyes 'pop'. They're also much easier to apply than full strip lashes, making them much quicker to get into position.
For the hair, I'd keep a mini can of Batitse (£1.49), and a small back-combing brush on hand to help add some volume and work up a more tousled look for the evening. You can get back-combing brushes for just over £1 in Primark, so it's really not a pricey investment. Some subtle back-combing at the roots can really help to add volume, without making you look like you're off to a 60s party.
For a second hair look, I bought this £1 hair donut (again from Primark!), which is exactly the same as the £5 ones they sell in Boots. If you don't fancy having your hair down. pop it up quickly into a neat bun, and secure in place with a hair elastic.
On to the nails! I've picked this double-ended Model's Own nail art polish (£4, ASOS). I'd paint my nails pink the night before, and then before heading out after work, add a fine layer of the glitter shade over the top to add a more glam feel. A pot of nail remover pads is also good to keep on hand for any emergency touch-ups needed, and these Quickies are a snip at £2.
One final thing would be to give your face a quick spritz of this Avene Eau Thermale water (£3.15), which really helps to refresh the skin, and also wake you up - something you might be in need of after a long day at work.
And that's me ready! I'll pop the kit back in my desk drawers, ready for the next event.
I had £4 left over in my budget, so decided to treat my feet to something soft and snuggly to put on, once all the partying is over...
My top tips for making the most of your money:
- Look out for in store offers - Boots currently have 3 for 2 across all their makeup, plus you get Advantage points as well
- Check to see if it's cheaper online. Sites like VoucherCodes.co.uk often have great discount codes that can make shopping online much cheaper than buying it in store
- If there's a site you use often, sign up for their emails - you'll often get sent discount codes
- Check places like Primark - not just a good place for bargain clothes any more, they have a wide range of beauty bits, from cotton wool to hair oil, and most are just as good as the ones you'll find in Boots and Superdrug
- If you use ASOS a lot, consider joining their Premier membership. For under £10 a year, you get unlimited free next day deliveries and also get emailed sale previews, discount codes and a monthly magazine in the post
- And at the end of the day, know your budget and stick to it. Christmas is supposed to be fun, not about spending money that you don't have. If you're short on cash, why not arrange a swap party with your friends and trade some of your goodies for theirs. You'll get to try out new things without spending a penny!
What are your money saving tips for the festive season?
*Post written in collaboration with VoucherCodes.co.uk