MAC Nutcracker Sweet Holiday 2016 Gift Sets: The Cool Eye Compact Eye Shadow X 9

Published in: Collections, Kits and Sets, MAC Makeup, Palettes


I’m wearing Performance Art, Marzipan, Quite Spoiled, Absurdly Pretty, Sugar Plum and Nutcracker from the MAC Nutcracker Sweet Holiday 2016 collection Cool Eye Compact Eye Shadow X 9 ($39.50)

In the closet in my office there’s a homage to hoarders/makeup storage area with a bunch of acrylic drawers stacked one on top of the other, inside of which I keep my very favorite workhorse products that I truly love.

Most of the items I review, I give away to friends or family or the women’s shelter, but I put the stuff that I want to keep for myself into those drawers.


One of them is dedicated to MAC Eye Shadow palettes, and whenever I’m in a hurry and just want to throw some makeup on without really having to think about it, that’s my go-to drawer. I know that I can pull anything out of it and basically be OK.

I’m going to put the MAC Cool Eye Compact Eye Shadow X 9 palette in there. 🙂

But I’m not going to stick it in there because it’s the most mind-blowing palette. I’m going to stick it in there mostly because of shock value!

I’m kind of shocked that I like it as much as I do, because I rarely love the MAC holiday eyeshadow palettes, to be honest. I don’t think most of them are as good as the singles in MAC’s permanent line.

But this one is.

I really don’t want to say, “I was surprised that I like this,” but I was really surprised that I like this! It’s actually very good, and I keep trying to find ways to talk myself out of liking it, because I’m just so used to not liking the holiday palettes. The more I use this one, though, the more I like it.

M∙A∙C Nutcracker Sweet
Available online October 20, 2016
Available in stores on October 27, 2016 through December 8, 2016

OK…now let me back up a little. This is one of three X 9 palettes in the MAC Nutcracker Sweet holiday collection. We looked at the Smoky one the other day, and I’ll have a review of the Warm one coming soon, but I think this one is my favorite of the group.

I don’t recognize any of the colors, either. I went to the MAC website and typed in their names, and none of them came up, which is cool because MAC’s Eye Shadow palettes are usually heavy with re-promotes.

So many mattes, too! So many of them. MAC holiday eye kits also tend to go all out on shimmer, with maybe a light sprinkling of mattes, but this one has quite a few.

I love using mattes in the crease, on my lower lash line and also as liner. Of course, you can also use shimmers the same way, but I think that if you’re a lady of a certain age, mattes are more forgiving.

The Cool Eye Compact Eye Shadow X 9 ($39.50) — Enchanted Beauty (Lustre), Absurdly Pretty (Matte), Raspberry (Matte), Plum Darling (Lustre), Performance Art (Lustre), Nutcracker (Satin), The Wrong Man (Satin), Sugar Plum (Matte), Marzipan (Matte) and Quite Spoiled (Satin).

It’s one of three X 9 palettes in the MAC Nutcracker Sweet holiday collection (the other two are Warm and Smoky).

The set also comes with…

The 214/213 Dual-Ended Brush

mac nutcracker sweet cool eye compact

MAC Nutcracker Sweet Cool Eye Compact Eye Shadow X 9

mac nutcracker sweet cool eye compact

MAC Nutcracker Sweet Cool Eye Compact Eye Shadow X 9 swatches, top row: Enchanted Beauty, Performance Art, The Wrong Man, Marzipan and Quite Spoiled; Bottom row: Absurdly Pretty, Sugar Plum, Plum Darling and Nutcracker

mac nutcracker sweet cool eye compact

You could use one or two of these mattes all over your lids for a quick eyeshadow look, or use a few of them together for something smoky. Also, a few of the colors, like the pinks and reddish purples, are trending up in the makeup world now. They’re kind of a big deal this fall, so the palette also seems very “in the moment.”

In another shocking development, I don’t hate the brush that comes with these palettes. Sometimes, when I use the brushes that come with MAC’s holiday palettes, it feels like I’m scratching my skin with a porcupine, so I usually toss ’em.

(I’m trying to KonMari that sh*t.)

But this brush feels surprisingly soft. I like the small brush head for precision work, too. It’s called the…214/213.

Jeez, I had to like… You know you’re getting older when you have to take a second to read small print, haha!


Anywho, the weakest links for me are the shimmers. They’re super fluffy, pretty subtle and less pigmented than usual for MAC. I wish they were shinier, punchier and didn’t have as much fallout.

To do the look I’m wearing in these pics with that bright halo spot in the middle of my lid, I dipped my brush into a pan, wet it with MAC Fix+ to intensify it, then patted it on my lid, and I had to do that a few times to get that bright spotlight.

Overall, though, I think this is a very good palette. Of the three holiday X 9s, it’s my favorite.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 18 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Jane says:

    So it has been awhile since I left a comment. I have been busy with the holidays this month. I missed your MAC Smokey eye palette, until know. Saturday was my 57th birthday and I got the Bobbi Brown Chocolate palette which has 4 mostly matte shadows and 3 high pigment shadow liners(matte). It is pretty and one of the liner shades is similar to the powder shade I use on my brows. I used it thta evening when we went out to dinner. So far, I like it. I haven’t been wearing much makeup lately, so I felt special. Imtried a soft, smokey eye which I usually don’t wear. I also treated myself to the Wine nail polish in the collection. It is more my speed than the chocolate shade. On another note, I can’t believe it is 80 degrees here on the East Coast in mid-October? Hooe all is well.

    • Karen says:

      Happy birthday, Jane! I hope your hubby and your son spoiled you to pieces.

      Oh, and I love that you tried something different for your birthday makeup. Was your smoky eye brown or gray? Brown smoky eyes are my fave.

      80 degrees? That’s so crazy! It sounds you guys are having a little bit of Bay Area weather (it usually gets very warm here late September/early October).

  2. Jane says:

    Please excuse the typos. The last sentence should read Hope all is well!

  3. Erin says:

    It looks very nice on you!
    Erin recently posted … Pacifica Mediterranean Fig Perfume

  4. Hi Karen, I hope you’re having a nice Monday! 🙂
    I really like the bright halo spot. I need to try that soon!
    Carolina Braina recently posted … Givenchy Le Rouge Lipstick in 212 Heroic Pink: Is It Really Superstellar?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carolina,

      It’s super easy to do… Just wet your brush after you dip it into your shadow and apply it to the center of the lids. Wait a few minutes for the shadow to dry (because it’s too hard to blend when it’s wet), and then blend the edges. If you’re feeling adventurous you can apply that same shimmery shadow in the center of your lower lash line!

  5. Mimibelle says:

    So you don’t like holiday palettes as much as singles? Me either. I always find them less pigmented and sort of disappointing. Same with palette lipsticks. They never seen as pigmented and are often dry.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mimibelle,

      Yeah, they never seem as good as the singles. This cool palette is pretty good though!

      MAC did mini lipsticks this year. I just swatched them and will have a review up soon.

  6. Hmmmmm I dunno… These just aren’t ‘my’ kind of colors, I’m afraid. But I do love the whole Nutcracker theme.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | L’Occitane Arlésienne Eau De Toilette

  7. Kim says:

    I really like the halo effect and I’m definitely a fan of these colors (particularly the pinks). Can it be that I actually like something that’s trendy? The 90s are coming back, aren’t they? HAHA!

    • Karen says:

      In my mind they never left, HAHA!

      Did I tell you that I went to an I Love the ’90s concert a while back? It was fun, although I wish I could un-see Vanilla Ice performing live.

      • Kim says:

        I’m the same way! A few of my girlfriends went, too, but the timing didn’t work for me. I’m sorry about VI. I would have been pumped to see Salt ‘n Pepa, though!

  8. Fran says:

    The look you did is gorgeous, Karen! I’m trying to figure out when the cosmetic companies decided that pink/red is a cool color, though… I want a cool-themed palette to be full of blues and silvers and periwinkles and charcoal grays and almost-whites, not pinks! It seems like really high-performing blue eyeshadows are difficult to make, though…

  9. Fran says:

    Karen, I *seriously* wish I had purchased that Hourglass blue eyeshadow before it was discontinued! At the time, the price seemed too high for me… but that’s a product that I really wish I hadn’t missed. At the time I didn’t realize how seriously rare really great non-teal-leaning blue eyeshadows are.

    I’m sure Marya and Sonya would love to adopt you! Of course distance is an obstacle… Dwarf hamsters are a little bit of work — they come to you only half-tamed — you have to be willing to spend some time with them every day, getting them used to you. They can be a bit bite-y at first, and are *very* fast, so they’re not really suitable for very young children. I’m sure many families have lost their dwarf hamster down a mouse hole, sadly. My son, who’s had guinea pigs since the age of 5 and raised countless babies, says he “never could have managed a hamster when I was that age!” And he pet-sat a neighbor’s dwarfs when he was about ten years old. So I think he knows. They are fairly simple creatures, but it never ceases to amaze me how each one is an individual, and how they find ways to communicate what they want. And how they are just super-cute. One of mine used to go to work with me, taking care of an older women who had dementia, depression and anxiety, and he could keep her entertained all day long. The main drawback is their short lifespan; they usually live one and a half to three years (mine have averaged one and a half to two), so you have to be prepared for that and be ready to transfer your affections to the next little friend. I just remind myself that their lives might seem short to *me*, but they don’t seem short to them. Since they are naturally solitary creatures and so tiny, they’re good pets for someone who lives in a small space, is busy and away all day and wants only one pet, who won’t feel neglected while they’re out. But, if you don’t give them some daily attention and affection, they’ll revert to their half-wild state and you’ll have to train them to get used to you all over again. Just saying. They might not need a whole lot from their pet parent, but what they do need, they need 🙂

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