This week is set it be a busy week of parties for a lot of people, as offices and workplaces up and down the country whip out the lukewarm lambrusco and the king prawn ring for a bit of a festive knees-up. Yes, it's Christmas party season and once again the shops are loaded with sequins, party shoes, sparkly tights and mad jewellery.

The options are endless, but how do you dress for the occasion without looking too over the top? Well, to begin with, it's totally ok to be over the top at the work party...but we do draw the line at 'Sexy Mrs Claus' suits. Try to resist the urge to douse your hair in glitter hairspray, use those false eyelashes sparingly and step away from the snowman deelyboppers, here's how to do the office party with a touch more style, but without losing your sense of humour and fun. All you need is ten minutes in the ladies' loos and a very, very large handbag...

PARTY ONE: DRINKS IN THE OFFICE

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If office drinks are in plastic cups in the boardroom, you'll probably find people won't be pulling out all the stops with sequins, maxi dresses and killer heels. Chances are you won't have time to change (and nobody else will be doing so) so only nod to the occasion will be the addition of a pair of silly Christmas tree earrings to your usual work uniform.

Of course,if you're brave and you don't want to be letting your hair down whilst wearing your dull trouser suit, simple changes are the key. Ditch your shirt and add a chic little top instead. Try a bit of lace, like this Miss Selfridge number, or go for a blouse in a luxurious fabric - Warehouse's pussy bow bird print number is perfect - you could easily get away with wearing it all day under a jacket.

Freshen up by nipping to the loo with a can of Umberto Giannini 'Backcomb in a Bottle'. Just tip your head upside down, spray like you've never sprayed before, and revel your brand new Cheryl Cole locks. Then all you need is a bit more eyeliner and lippy.

PARTY TWO: THE PUB AFTER WORK

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The pub party is always a tricky one. How dressed-up will people go? Is anyone going to bother to change? Will Sarah from HR really rock up in that maxi dress she's been threatening to wear? Use your colleagues as a guide for this and ask around before the day arrives to save that last minute H&M dash in your lunch hour (we've all done it).

A good bet is a pair of your favourite jeans (sexy skinnies are perfect) dressed up with some amazing heels (boots are a good bet - you need something that you can walk to the taxi rank in, even when tipsy) and add a statement top as your nod to the fact it's Christmas. You can do sparkle in a chic way with Topshop's 'Ziggy' blouse.

Finish off with a cross-body bag (hands free, but also safe - a lot of purses go walkies at Christmas parties) and one piece of jewellery. It's festive, but still nonchalent enough for the pub.

PARTY THREE: A NIGHT ON THE TOWN

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Have you got the kind of boss who's up for karaoke, clubbing or a slap-up meal in town with cocktails aplenty? Lucky you! This kind of full-on party means you have the perfect excuse to go all-out with your festive partywear. Yeah, it's a bit naff, but at what time other than Christmas can you wear sequins on sequins on sequins?

Our guide to the top 100 party dresses under £100 will probably give you plenty of inspiration when it comes to the perfect look - our failsafe party outfit always starts with a killer dress.

Paillettes (big sequins to you and me) are the key look this season and look really striking, but if you don't want to go that crazy, anything a bit festive with some beads, sequins or embellishment will do. Add a gold clutch, a bit of bling and a pair of brilliant shoes - the more ridiculous the better - and you're pretty much there, just remember that it's December, it's freezing and you're likely to need a pair of tights and a massive coat as well! Look out for faux fur - a dress like that deserves a statement coat to go with it.

PARTY FOUR: A FORMAL DINNER

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Got a table booked at a posh hotel for a more formal festive do? Two words, my friend: maxi dress.

Take this opportunity to get as glammed up as you possibly can, but resist the urge to go for anything too prom-like. Resist the 'occasionwear' section of department stores and say no to organza, taffeta and stretch satin - they're the most unflattering fabrics on earth and do not wear well!

Instead, look for modern maxis with a bit of sex appeal. There are lots of great long-sleeved numbers around at the moment, but our fave festive maxi is Topshop's gorgeous floaty green number which has a cool 70s feel, but is also a very seasonal shade of green. Gold is green's perfect partner, and though we've said before to avoid Christmas tree sparkle when you're wearing green, just this once (as it's a big event) a pair of glittery shoes poking out from below the hemline would work. Add a simple clutch in the same shade of the dress, and if you want to hide that elasticated waist, invest in a green belt too. Finally, if you're going to deck yourself out like a Christmas tree, you need some baubles! The art deco style drop earrings might only last an hour before they start to hurt, but teamed with an updo they'll look amazing.

Finally, A dress like this won't work with a necklace, so pile on some bracelets (one arm only - you're not wearing shackles) for the finishing touch.

For more party dressing inspiration, try our round-up of the best party dresses of 2011!