Holiday parties are a great way to end the year with colleagues and friends, so don’t let the stress of finding the right outfit or gift keep you from RSVP-ing. Here are some ways to shop smart, look great and get into the holiday spirit:

The attire

Instead of throwing on the same cocktail dress you wore last year, consider buying something new. Sequins and crushed velvet are two of my favorite trends this holiday season, and they’re not hard to find on a budget.

Local boutiques Copper Penny and Teal in Mount Pleasant aren’t just making holiday trends affordable, they’re making them charitable, too. When you donate an unwrapped toy to Toys for Tots, they’ll give you 20 percent off your purchase.

If you go the online route, check the women’s boutique. All new customers get 50 percent off their first order, and new arrivals always are 30 percent off. The Lucca Couture black sequin dress, $97 (about $50 for first-time customers), is on-trend, affordable and festive.

If you can’t justify buying something you may wear only once, consider, a website that allows you to rent the latest designer pieces for a fraction of their retail prices. Rental fees for cocktail dresses range about $40-$275, and new customers get $25 off their first rental when they sign up. Pair your new dress with some chunky heels and tights and you’ll have a look that says, “Who needs mistletoe?”

The gift exchange

Many holiday parties feature a gift exchange, which means you’ll also have to find a gift that’s fun and appropriate for a mixed crowd. Here are a few ways to show off your good taste without overspending.

Gifts such as games, books or DVDs are sensible holiday party gifts because they’re fun and gender-neutral. At, I found a “Planet Earth” DVD, a desktop ping-pong set and a Ben & Jerry’s cookbook, all for $6-$10. Those are just a few of the hundreds of items listed on the website’s gift guide, and many are priced at 30 percent to 60 percent less than their retail prices. Plus, new customers don’t have to pay shipping fees.

Another easy gift for holiday parties is wine, but if you’re on a budget, an inexpensive bottle of wine can sometimes look cheap. Instead, consider a unique beer, like Josephsbrau Winter Brew from Trader Joe’s. The dark, malty pilsner has a high-quality look and taste, and it costs $5.99 per six pack. Throw in some seasonal candy or homemade goodies and you’ll have a tasteful yet laid-back gift that anybody would be happy to take home.

Email Abigail Darlington at charlestonsavvyshopper@post Follow @chssavvy shopper on Twitter or find us on Facebook.