It's 5:15 p.m. on a chilly Thursday evening in December and you're standing in the ladies' room at your office staring at your reflection in the mirror. In a few minutes, you and your co-workers will be walking over to the restaurant where your company will treat you to a holiday party, and you're trying to figure out how to make what's left of your daytime makeup look good in festive candlelight.

Day to Night Makeup

Getting ready for the office party? We've got day to night makeup tips.

It's really not necessary to wash everything off and start over, and a little advance planning can help you make the transition from Super Staffer to Bewitching Beauty with relative ease.

First, it helps to know the level of formality of the event since it can range from an open house at someone's home to a sit-down dinner dance at a hotel ballroom. Less makeup works for the first, while you might want to pull out all the stops for the second.

Shimmer, smoky eyes and sparkling lips are ideally suited to the party circuit of November, December and early January.

Start your day by putting concealer on your eyelids and setting it with powder. This will make a base for your eyeshadow to grab on to and it's more likely to last all day. Start with a softly shimmering shade in peach, cream or pink—my choice is NARS Night Star.

Apply the balance of your daytime eyes as usual, but hold off on the mascara for a minute. Decide if you'd like the drama of false eyelashes here. If you're going to the office and then on to a party, I don't recommend a full set. However, the tiny clumps sold as "individual" lashes work nicely. Apply two or three to the outer corners of each eye, let the glue dry, then add mascara.

Day to Night Makeup

Show your co-workers a softer side with your day to night makeup change.

Packing your makeup bag is the most important step in going from day to night makeup. Blotting papers are a great way to absorb shine without disturbing foundation. Most concealers come in small tubes, tubs or sticks that are easily transported. Makeup products that do double duty are a good choice—try Avon's Sheer Highlighter for Lips and Cheeks, Cargo's Color Tube or NARS The Multiple. If you want to carry your tried-and-true makeup with you, tiny pots can be bought at art supply stores and you can scrape some colour into them or cut bits off lipstick. And if you know that you have a tendency to raccoon eyes by the end of a working day, tucking a Q-tip soaked in makeup remover into a plastic bag will help whisk away any remnants.

Decide ahead of time if you'd like to emphasize one feature, or two, or go for equal tones on eyes, cheeks and lips. The last looks best if you select colours in the same family—all bronze, or all rose—and use the same intensity.

If you want to do smoky eyes, remember that they don't have to be grey or black. Deep blue, deep purple, browns, bronze and deep greens also work beautifully.

Once you're ready to start, do your eyes first, especially if you're going for smoky eyes using shadow instead of pencil. Whenever I use my MAC Black Tied eyeshadow, a LOT of it falls below my eyes. Waiting to add foundation and/or concealer ensures that you don't have to start those steps over.

Practice makes perfect. If dramatic eyes are new to you, take an hour to have a lesson at your favourite beauty counter, or for yourself at home. Try a pencil look on one eye and a shadow technique on the other. Wash it off and start over again with different colours. Experiment until you're comfortable with a style.

When your eyes are done, dab concealer on the areas that need it and set with powder. Touch up your blush if you feel you need it. Pull out the red lipstick (see last month's column for colour suggestions) and perfect your pout. Dab a highlighter along your cheekbones, your collarbone and under your brows. Products to seek out: Revlon's Skin Lights, Benefit Moon Beam, or Stila All-Over Shimmer Powder.

Spritz on a touch of your favourite perfume, fluff out or pin up those fabulous curls with a bejewelled hair pin and add some gorgeous earrings to frame your face.

The holiday season is your time to shine—night and day!