In case you haven't torn off your kitten calendar since July, let us remind you that the holidays are officially here, which means you're only weeks away from being subjected to an inevitable onslaught of forced family pictures that your aunt will miraculously upload to Facebook before you have the chance to say, "wait, let me see."
So in an effort to make one thing a bit easier for you this year, we've rounded up the prettiest braided hairstyles that practically require you to be a messy, careless, haphazard, stressed-out beginner. Because none of these braids should look perfect—and frankly, that's a pretty freaking refreshing thing to hear right now. Pick your favorite, below, and get braiding.
Section off a two-inch chunk of hair near your hairline, loosely braid it to the ends, then pin the braid to your hair with fancy barrettes, or plain-ol' bobby pins.
Alright, these smooth curls and topknot are anything but "messy," but the ease is all there: Just cornrow-braid three rows of hair down the middle of your head, then pull the rest of your curls into a topknot.
If you can handle a regular braid, you can handle this messy Dutch braid, which requires only three strands that you cross under, rather than over, to create a popped-out effect. Tie off the end with a clear elastic, and pull out the edges for a softer finish.
Yes, this braid is easy, and no, we are not insane. French braid your hair, starting at the middle of your head and working your way down before tying off the ends. Then deconstruct: Pull at the braid and tug on short layers, then wrap stray sections around a curling wand for a soft, messy effect.
Separate a three-inch section of hair on one side of your part and fishtail-braid it (not sure how? This easy tutorial makes it, you know, easy). Then pin the braid in place, gently tug at the edges of it to fatten it up, and let the ends flow as they may.
Pair these mussed-up braids with spandex, and you've got frizzy, post-gym hair. But add a bright lip and some winged liner, and you're left with a decidedly pretty lewk. Split your hair in half, create a soft Dutch braid on each side, tie off the braids a few inches from the ends, then rub your hands over the braids to amp up the fuzzies and flyaways.
Pretty much the embodiment of the "what, this old thing?" sentiment, this loose braid relies on gravity alone...plus a few bobby pins. After curling your hair, sweep it back into a French braid, stopping at the nap of your neck. Slide in a few bobby pins throughout the length of the braid to help the style secretly hold its shape throughout the day.
Alright, so there's the real crown braid, which involves braiding all of the hair around the edges of your hairline in a circle—so, you know, not beginner—or there's the faux crown braid, which can be created by braiding each side of your hair in two French braids, then wrapping and pinning the ends around each other. As with every messy style, tug at short layers and the edges of your braid to soften the look.