I'm not a big fan of festive nails, but these 6 party-ready designs are undeniably chic

All the party season manicure inspo you could need this season

TOWNHOUSE's Candy Pop design from its 2023 festive collection, featuring metallic dots on a sheer pink base
(Image credit: TOWNHOUSE)

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that I love a bit of nail art. I have a Pinterest board that’s stacked with ideas for my next manicure, featuring everything from breakout nail trends to party nail designs that’ll take me through to 2024. 

But, while I do appreciate an intricate festive-themed design, I know from past experience that I'll go off a kitsch nail art design within a few days of a mani appointment. Thankfully, themed nails don’t have to be too on-the-nose, and there are plenty of understated and chic options out there for those who don't want to overdo the festive cheer.

To collate some serious inspiration, I asked three nail industry pros, London manicurist Metta Francis, founder of Nails by Mets, Surrey manicurist Alex Philamond, and Juanita Huber-Millet, founder and creative director of TOWNHOUSE nail salons, for their insights on the best party nail ideas to wear during the 2023-24 season.  

6 party nail designs that are undeniably chic

1. Chrome nails

Chrome nails were something of a viral hit last year and their popularity has barely wavered since. Not only that, they're also a great choice for party season. “Metallics continue to be popular this season, no longer limited to just gold or silver chrome," says Metta. "Taking inspiration from the AW23 catwalk trends of metallic accents and make-up, your favourite nail shades can easily be transformed into a chrome look with Essie's Expressie FX range of nail toppers at home, or with the sheer variety of chrome pigments, flakes, etc. that are available to your nail professional."

2. Glitter ombré

If your take on glitter is 'more is more', all power to you. "A short, neat and practical full-coverage glitter nail will never not impress during the festive season; a neutral metallic like silver or gold will go with anything," says Alex. "Holographic and 'flash' glitters are especially popular; they have a light reflective property that makes them absolutely dazzle underneath direct light."

But if you aren't a huge fan, glitter nails don't have to be mega glitzy. “A glitter ombré nail goes hand in hand with the festive season, and a fine glitter ombré can look super chic—think a light dusting of glitter on the tips,” says Metta. “This can easily be achieved by using fine glitter pigments or glitter eyeshadow. For something a little more eye-catching, choose an ombré cat-eye effect, flash glitter or magnetic polish.”

3. Cherry red half moons

Red nail polish is a classic choice and an easy winner for party season. “Timeless and bold, cherry red nails are a personal favorite of mine,” says Juanita. “They exude a level of glamour and warmth that's unmatched. The perfect choice for those who want their nails to make a statement!” Level up a block red with a negative space half moon.

4. Dark shimmers 

Dark nails pack a punch year-round, but they’re particularly ideal for the winter months and any festive parties. "All anybody wants is indigo, forest green, burgundy or black," Alex confirms. "The gel brand Twenty has a shade called Espresso Martini that's a gorgeously deep purple-toned brown, the exact colour of Galaxy Minstrels."

For an on-trend twist, opt for shimmer polish. “This year, I'm leaning more towards cooler shades like silver and icy, shimmery blues and blacks,” says Metta. “Chanel's Sequin is a beautiful black shade with a very subtle shimmer that catches the light and is perfect for the festive season. It's not too black or goth-like and it's not too sparkly, so can be worn daily.”

5. Silver tips 

If ever there’s an occasion when metallic nails work, it’s festive parties—whether you lean towards predominant colour or a subtle dot detail. “I'm loving silver for this coming party season,” says Metta. “Silver nails can really help to elevate a classic outfit, such as a little black dress or black trouser suit, especially when paired with other silver accessories. It's a colour you can really play with in terms of nail art. For an understated yet luxe nail look, minimalistic silver tips or half moons on a very natural, sheer pink or nude base work really well.”

6. Gold dots 

Hand manicured with metallic dots

(Image credit: TOWNHOUSE)

Metallic dots make for an eye-catching design, whether worn over the top of a simple neutral base or a bolder and brighter shade of polish. The above is also a design from this year’s Festive Collection at TOWNHOUSE. “Immerse yourself in the magic of winter with this bauble-inspired design,” says Juanita. “The intricate dots capture the essence of the festive season and will add a touch of playful elegance to your party look!” For a DIY look, invest in a dotting tool and carefully apply gold polish over your chosen base shade. 

Lucy Abbersteen
Beauty Contributor

Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.