Coloring tip: It's a fact. The longer your hair is the older the ends are. Okay no news there. What may be news is that this makes them more porous and open to accepting hair dye. Which is why you want to get to them last if coloring at home. Otherwise they may end up darker than the rest of your strands leaving you with a final result that is well, interesting looking. Just not in a cute and sexy way.
Before having any kind of color applied to your hair, select a salon with a certified color professional. Not every hairdresser is an expert in color. Find a salon that specializes in color and ask about the qualifications of their staff. Usually a high end colorist will charge more, but it's worth it. Considering you are looking for something for the holidays, think of this as a gift to you.