How Not to Over- or Under-Pack for Winter Break

Confession: My idea of packing light for winter break is limiting myself to just one suitcase... and my laptop bag stuffed with jewelry and headbands I realized that I can't live without for a month that I shoved in there on my way out the door... and another duffel with those extra hair products I had to add just in case. Plus, five years ago, the weather in New Jersey was really warm in December and January, so that's why three jackets with varying warmth levels are packed into the trunk of my car. And don't even get me started on what shoes to bring.

Okay, so maybe I have a problem, but I know I'm not the only one out there. This year, I'm determined to change my over-packing ways. That said, I give you HC's guide to packing for winter break. So grab those suitcases, push those pack-rat impulses aside, and let's get packing! 

Do Your Homework

I know school is over for the semester and the last thing you want to hear for the next month is anything related to homework, but don't put away those planners just yet. Think ahead: Do you have a job or internship interview over break? Are your friends planning a night out for New Year's? Are jeans and a t-shirt simply unacceptable for that family party? Got your list ready? Now it's time to simplify.

Interview or Internship: Classic black heels and a business-chic suit or dress are never a bad packing choice... and also not the easiest to replace with a quick trip to the mall. So head to your local Target and snatch up a garment bag to tote these just-in-case items home in. While that extra pair of sweatpants and hoodies in every color may not be the best use of space, stylish and professional choices are always a safe bet. You can always wear a suit jacket over a dress or pair dress pants with a sweater for family events.

Nights on the Town: If you need to pack lightly, but can't bear the thought of pulling on the same outfit twice, save space by channeling those fashion smarts. Statement pieces are key here. This year, I'm relying on my favorite simple black dress and a pair of patterned black tights. But I couldn't make this look work for multiple occasions without the help of accessories. Gather up some statement-making necklaces, a bright pair of heels, a sparkly scarf, or a bold jacket or sweater (I can't wait to wear my new leather jacket over a super-girly dress). Each time you get dressed up, choose a different accent piece to spice up the look.  Accessories take up less space in your suitcase than clothes do.  Still not enough of a change? Experiment with different hair-dos each time you get dressed up, too. It's an instant way to change an outfit and takes up absolutely no room in your suitcase!

Family Functions: Grandma probably doesn't want to see you in a skimpy black dress, but at least you can make those accessories work double time. Pick one or two nice sweaters to pack for special occasions and one pair of dress pants (or dark skinny jeans if your family loves their denim as much as mine does!). Throw on a basic pair of boots or those dressy heels you already packed and you're ready to make an impression without taking up a ton of suitcase space.