(Photo Courtesy of salealertshopping.com)

By SAHAR DIKA, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Besides the gifts, food, family, friends and wonderful music, picking out my ensembles for parties and dinners is probably my favorite thing about the holiday season.

Stores are stocked with pretty dresses and sweaters and there is always something you can find that screams Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, New Year’s Eve or any other holiday that you are celebrating!

Although I don’t celebrate Christmas on a religious level, I always take advantage of gifts and use the holiday to bust out with some hot outfits that show off my closet. I LOVE the color red more than any other color in the world. I especially love red lipstick and have been known to wear it more often than not.

Naturally, I flock to the red dress section in every store when shopping for a cute Christmas Day dinner party. Last year, I opted for a long sleeve, shiny sliver dress from Alice and Olivia. It was right above the knee and skin tight with a zipper running all the way up on the back. Although a little pricey at times, I was able to get it for $200 from Nordstrom. I know, that is still pretty expensive but in comparison to the usual $400 or $500 priced Alice and Olivia pieces, it’s actually not that bad.

New Year’s Eve is a whole other ballgame. I always go balls to the wall because it’s my absolute favorite time to wear a party dress and the only time when you can wear an excessive amount of sequins and glitter without anyone looking at you funny.

(Photo Courtesy of vivelademoiselle.com)

This year, instead of purchasing my dress from a department store like Saks or Nordstrom, I think I might custom order a dress. There are so many designers like Jovani or Terani that sell their dresses at boutiques. The good thing about custom ordering a dress is that it usually guarantees that nobody will have the same dress that you do.

I’m always willing to spend a little more on my New Year’s Eve dress because I always attend a huge party and I tend to buy short, fabulous dresses that I can re-wear. If you’re unsure where to order these dresses, you can just Google search boutiques in your area and chances are that they will carry them.

Jewelry is also a great way to stand out during the holiday season. A really chunky, pretty colored necklace with a simple chiffon shirt can make your outfit. It’s not always necessary to wear a dress to dinners. Leather leggings, cute jeans, colored denim and peplum skirts are all in right now and they can be just as dressy.

(Photo Courtesy of ivillage.com)

Stacking up bracelets can really spice up your outfit, along with wearing cute earrings, rings, necklaces or watches. Sometimes your jewelry can take over your outfit and bring as much attention as a really cute piece of clothing.

This past weekend, I attended an “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.” It’s a lot harder than you think to find an ugly Christmas sweater. There were a couple good ones at Urban Outfitters and a few of my friends purchased ones from The Salvation Army or Value World. I went to men’s apparel at JCPenny and purchased a sweater for my boyfriend and I. Sadly, people actually wear those as “holiday” sweaters in real life.

Whatever you decide to wear this holiday season, have fun, eat plenty, receive from many and always remember to stay stylish. Happy Holidays.