You can swipe on glitter eyeshadow or throw your hair into a sleek high pony, but don't forget about your mani. From sparkling French tips to a metallic take on the ever-popular Skittles design, there are plenty of holiday nails to choose from.
To help you find the perfect festive manicure, Bustle reached out to experts and nail polish brand founders to get some ideas on how to showcase the New Year's spirit via your nails. From Pear Nova founder Rachel James to Orosa's Carolyn Chen and Sundays' Amy Lin (and more), we've rounded up the 12 chicest manicure designs that'll have your tips sparkling just in time to ring in 2021.
Prepare to have serious heart-eyes: These holiday nails feature everything from creative animal print to colorful confetti. So grab your mani tools and start prepping those nail beds for your Insta-ready New Year's Eve tips. Oh, and yes, they'll all look fabulous when you're holding your champagne glass.
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Sundays founder Amy Lin says a cute dotted manicure is a great idea for the holiday. "The look is something fun and easy to make," she tells Bustle. "You can use different colors to create different styles." You can opt for a minimalist take and place a single dot at the base of each nail, or punch things up a bit by decking your full nail beds with a bold color, like Sundays' No. 13 Chili Pepper Red, for that New Year's Eve glam.
"After nail prep, which helps nail polishes last longer, apply base coat and two layers of a base color of your choice," says Lin. Allow the polishes to dry. Then, apply a couple drops of nail polish onto foil paper. Using dot makers, dip the polish and apply onto your nail. Finish with a top coat.
Moving into a new year, you definitely want to keep the bad luck away. That's why Lin also recommends an evil eye manicure design to ring in 2021. She believes it's a great look if you want to "keep in positive energy and let the negative energy stay away."
To get the look, Lin says to use white polish or a light color as your base coat. Let this dry, then, using three different sizes of a dot maker, create the eye. Apply the biggest dot in a shade of blue, like Janet & Jo's Alma Matter, then a smaller one in white (like Butter London's Cotton Buds), followed by an even smaller dot in black polish, like Givenchy's Noir Interdit 04. Pro tip? If you don't have a dot maker, Lin says you can use the back of a ballpoint pen.
Besides simple dots, Lin also says you can use lines for a festive touch to your manicure. She recommends using a golden base coat (like No. 96 by Côte). Then, once that has dried, use two contrasting colors to create simple crisscrossing lines over one another. Paint one line first, let it dry completely, then do the other. You can do this on a single nail or apply to your entire hand.
Syreeta Aaron, LeChat Nails educator, says fireworks are a classic nail design for New Year's Eve. And it's not as difficult as it looks: All you need are stamping plates. Aaron points to Maniology's New Year Cheer nail art stamping plates as an easy way to create the festive design (though stickers also work, like Olive & June's Star options). She says to paint your base coat, and then use the plates to create whichever pattern you want — the sky's the limit.
Glitter is always a holiday classic. "It's like confetti on your fingers," says Nails of LA founder Brittney Boyce. "I think a glitter ombre is a more modern and chic way to wear it."
For the look, Boyce recommends using a shade like Orly's Turn It Up, which is a rainbow-themed glitter that's perfect for creating a bold ombre effect. Begin with a sheer wash of polish, then apply more coats as you move towards the tip.
Boyce also recommends a metallic Skittles manicure for New Year's Eve. "I've been seeing this trend a lot on social media, and it's really fun, especially for a Zoom party," she tells Bustle. "When you're going for solid bold colors, I recommend wearing them on short nails." Simply pick a handful of metallic shades and apply a different one to each nail for an easy yet festive look.
Modern French Tip
You can also stick with a modern, neutral style for New Year's Eve. Boyce points to Ariana Grande's simple manicure that showcased her engagement ring as an example. "I think the French mani in the classic pink sheer nude base with white tips will be big," she tells Bustle. "For people who want to add length, try NailsOfLa The Modest press-on extensions, which are a half-French."
Manicurist and Sally Hansen ambassador Hannah Lee believes a manicure made of sparkle bursts — think handheld sparklers — is a perfect holiday look. "These are great because they are quick and simple to do — you can't mess them up," she tells Bustle.
To get the look, apply two coats of a black base color (she recommends Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel in Onyx-pected but Essie's Now or Never is also great). Then, use a thin brush to apply glitter shades to one corner of the nail, dragging the glitter out to create the burst effect. She then does the same to the other side of the nail with a different glitter shade. Finally, seal everything with a top coat.
Carolyn Chen, founder of Orosa, loves this floating confetti nail look that her brand's in-house nail art creator Rebecca Flack created.
To get the look, pick three to five of your favorite shades. "Create small dots with a dotting tool from the Nail Paint Stipple Set along the tips of your nails, working through the shades from darkest to lightest and keeping the heaviest concentration of dots right at the tip," says Chen. "Keep the base of your nail bare for a negative space effect." Once the confetti dots are dry, Once the confetti dots are dry, top with a coat of glitter polish like Law Beauty Essentials' Mixed With Mermaid for that extra sparkle.
Animal Print French Tips
By this point, it's clear French tips are in, but Chen is combining them with another winter 2021 nail trend: animal print. She believes this is the perfect combo that'll have you embracing your wild side for New Year's Eve.
To get the look, Chen says to start with a base coat (like Smith & Cult's Basecoat). Then, apply two thin layers of a nude shade that pairs with your skin tone (like those in Mented's Nude collection). Let these dry, then create small dots and oblong shapes using a nail dotting tool and golden and brown shades of polish just at the tips. Finally, seal everything with a topcoat.
This subtle sheen manicure for New Year's Eve is simple to achieve.
There's nothing wrong with a little subtlety at New Year's, according to Chen. "If you’re not big on bold nails, this simple negative space look will do the trick," she tells Bustle.
Start with a nude base color that matches your skin tone and add a second coat for extra coverage. Then, apply one to two of Orosa's Silver Linings Pure Pop Nail Stickers around the edges of each nail. Seal it all in with a top coat like JinSoon's Top Gloss, and you're done.
Rachel James, founder of Pear Nova, says that a starry design is "the perfect foundation for your nail art and a reminder to bring in the New Year on a positive note." She loves nail artist Morgan Dixon's mani — which uses Pear Nova's Clear Your Space polish — for a holiday design. Her take? "You can add something extra with accent nails, hand-painted stars, and a few crystals for the countdown bling."
article written by Shea Simmons for Busle