October 24 2014 Latest news:

Don’t worry if you’ve left it a bit late to prepare for the festive season – Olivia Abbott advises on how to get ready for that little black (or red!) dress in no time

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Aaargh! The first party of the Christmas season is less than a month away, and you’ve spent the weeks since you got back from your summer holiday stuffing comfort food and watching chick-flicks on the sofa.

Never fear, our four-week party plan will have you looking drop-dead gorgeous and ready to be the belle of the ball.

Four weeks to go - Slim down, shape up

Embark on a healthy eating plan right now and by the time the party season gets into full swing you won’t need to worry about a little bit of overindulgence. Embark on a fat-burning and toning exercise regime that you’ll be able to stick to for four weeks. Pick an activity you’ll enjoy – why not try dancing lessons?

‘Dance classes are a great way to get your moves sorted out before the party season and get fit’ says David Wills from Bodywork (Glisson Road, CB1 2HA, 01223 314461)

Three weeks to go - Buff up and shine

Now is the time to start on some grooming strategies that will pay dividends over the weeks to come. If you can afford it, book yourself a course of treatments that will fit your needs at your local salon. Have a chat with the beautician about what you want to achieve – whether it’s smoother skin, inch loss or smoothing cellulite. She will be able to advise on the best course of treatment for you.

If your budget is too tight for such luxuries, get the products you need to buff up at home. If you don’t do it already (and you should!) start body brushing every day. Choose a brush with bristles that are not too firm – you don’t want to scratch – but not too soft either; the idea is to stimulate your lymph system, so your body detoxes more efficiently and you look glowing and gorgeous.

Exfoliation is key. Make sure you give yourself a once-weekly body polish and follow with a generous application of a body lotion or cream that suits your needs.

Two weeks to go - Go to extremities

A fortnight before the big event is the time to get your hair cut and coloured. That way, your style and shade will have time to settle in – and you’ll have a chance to get used to them and try out new accessories and ways to wear your hair. Before a big event is probably not the best time to branch out and try a new stylist, but if you have a good relationship with and trust your hairdresser, trying a new style can be a huge confidence booster. Ask your stylist about a special shine-boosting treatment too, so your hair is in optimum condition.

Feet tend to get forgotten over the winter – but parties mean peep-toes or strappy sandals and that means your tootsies need to be in tip-top condition. Treat yourself to a full pedicure or do it yourself at home.

One week to go - The final touches

A week before the party (and no later) is the time to have a salon facial. Choose the right treatment and not only will it boost your skin and get it glowing for the party, it will also help to strengthen it against the ravages of late nights and overindulgence that will follow over the next few weeks.

Again there are a number of great at-home treatments that will work wonders. You can even make one yourself – Charlotte Votz, author of Naturally Gorgeous, advises making your own mask of banana and manuka honey, which will detoxify and rehydrate the skin. Mash together half a small organic banana, one teaspoon of hemp oil and one teaspoon of manuka honey. Smooth it on your skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing gently with warm water.

And, of course, it’s time for a manicure. Treat yourself to the full works at a nail salon, or, if you’re a confident nail painter yourself, grab one of the latest dark dramatic colours and go for it.

Salon secret

‘Semi-permanent eyelash extensions are perfect for a special event. They completely transform your face and can be as subtle or dramatic as you like. They’ll stay on for four weeks and make getting ready easier as you don’t need mascara,’ says Lucy Argent, owner of Salon At Number 5

Agenda offer!

Agenda readers can get 25% off Mink semi-permanent eyelash extensions (normally £75) throughout November at Salon At Number 5 (Milton Road CB4 1UY, 01223 311777). Just quote Agenda when you book

Help!

Q: I’ve got to go to a work do but I’m not great at parties. How can I overcome my nerves and make a good impression? Rachel, Ely

A: Before you enter the room stand up tall and look confident – it’ll help you feel it. You deserve to be looked at. Imagine Marlene Dietrich walking into a room – she would have expected people to stop and look.

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