Christmas sweaters have been around since the 1940’s and 1950’s, but what most people typically refer to as the “ugly Christmas sweater” really began being mass produced in the 80’s and 90’s. These sweaters featured any colorful pattern or design you could dream of that related to Christmas. While at the time these sweaters may have seemed like a good idea, looking back on the photos taken when wearing them may cause you to cringe. Yet, the ugly Christmas sweater still holds a strange appeal to both young and old, and the theme has been revitalized in the form of ugly Christmas sweater parties.
This concept was apparently founded by a group of college students in Vancouver, Canada back in 2002. They had the idea of wearing their mother’s old Christmas sweaters to a party they were throwing and giving a prize for the ugliest sweater worn. They gave their party the title of “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” and it really caught on and gained popularity in the area. Now, this theme is popular all over the United States as well, with people digging out those old 80s and 90s treasures from basements or attics, or even shopping online for a whole new generation of ugly Christmas sweaters. Here are tips and ideas on how to plan an Ugly Christmas Sweater party yourself, and sources for these sweaters.
Plan an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Ugly Sweater Printables
One easy way to host a cheap, easy party is to use printable decorations, invitations and accessories. These Ugly Sweater Party printables are colorful and you can print them at home from your own printer.
To plan your party, first plan your guest list and send out the invitations. The holidays are busy, so make sure to end early enough that your guests can work it into their busy holiday schedules. You can use convenient evites to send them online, or perhaps send paper invitations that you can make yourself. Have some fun with this and perhaps draw the outline of a sweater on some poster board and make invitations from it. Make sure to write “You’re Invited” or something similar on the front before you begin decorating the invitation. Decorate them by using gaudy colors and patterns, using crayons, markers, Christmas stickers, etc. to achieve the desired result. Write down all of the necessary information on the back, including date, time, place, and RSVP number. Make sure to emphasize that this is a themed party and all guests are expected to wear an ugly sweater and that the ugliest one receives a prize.
To decorate for the party, set aside a small space (as you’ll likely already have your home tastefully decorated for the holidays) where you can go a little crazy with the decorations. Nothing too elaborate, but slightly tacky will do nicely. Maybe some old decorations from grandma’s attic will fit the bill. Check thrift stores such as Goodwill for things you normally wouldn’t use to decorate, so that you can save some money on your tacky decor.
As far as refreshments, a punch bowl filled with holiday egg nog, a vegetable platter with dip, and some holiday cookies should satisfy your guests.
As part of the party activities, maybe cut out some cookie dough in the shape of a sweater and have them baked beforehand. Provide guests with a variety of frosting and cookie decorations and see who can make the ugliest Christmas sweater cookie. If you don’t want to make the cookies yourself, you can buy them already made and decorated as shown below:
Party Paper Supplies
Your party will be even brighter with a host of colorful ugly sweater napkins, plates, cups and other table supplies. If you use paper, your clean up will be much easier. However, you can also use themed dishwware that you can pack away to reuse year after year. Plastic, ceramic or paper, your ugly sweater party table will be cheerful and help set the mood.
You might also draw up a rather large sweater pattern and create a copy for each guest. Then, blindfold the guests and have them decorate their paper sweater and see what everyone comes up with. Make sure to have a camera, or several cameras, ready to take plenty of pictures to remember your guests and their tacky attire and creations for many years to come. This party should be all about coming together to spend time with family and friends at the holidays in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
As a prize, go to the local trophy shop and have an inexpensive trophy created for your winning party guests. To make things fair, allow all guests to participate in a vote for the ugliest sweater in attendance.
You might also wish to give the runner up a present, with encouraging photos to inspire them to one up their current ugly sweater so that they can take first place next year. The books “Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater,” and “Bringing Ugly Back” should provide just such inspiration.
Another cute prize idea is giving away ugly sweater ornaments. There are some really cute ones available for just a few dollars that everyone will enjoy. Here are some ideas:
Ugly Snowman Sweater Christmas OrnamentUgly Elf Sweater Christmas OrnamentHoliday Sweater 2013 Hallmark OrnamentUgly Santa Sweater OrnamentThe Legend of the Ugly Sweater Ornaments -12 countKurt Adler 4″ Merry & Bright Ugly Santa Sweater OrnamentKurt Adler Ugly Sweater Ornaments – Santa, Elf, SnowmanMidwest Gift Red & Black Reindeer ‘Ugly Sweater’ OrnamentMidwest-CBK Reindeer Ugly Tacky Sweater Christmas OrnamentDG Shopping Spree Ugly Tacky Sweater Knitted Christmas Ornament – TreeShelburne Country Store Knitted Sweater with Wire Hanger Ornament – PenguinHallmark Ugly Christmas Sweater OrnamentMidwest Gift Red and White Tree ‘Ugly Sweater’ OrnamentMidwest-CBK Resin Ugly Sweater Ornament – Santa
Where To Find a Sweater
Since all guests must wear an ugly Christmas sweater, this means they have to be able to find one. If you were a teen or adult from the 80s or 90s, you might still have one of these tacky treasures lying around yours or your parents’ basement or attic. If not, shopping at a thrift store will likely find you unearthing a few old sweaters that should probably have been best kept in someone’s attic, unless of course, it is to be worn at an ugly Christmas sweater party. Remember, the tackier the better, so nothing is too ugly as long at is pertains to the holidays.
DIY Ugly Xmas Sweater Ideas
If you or someone you know happens to knit or crochet, consider whipping up an inexpensive sweater and adding some great embellishments. There are actually several sites online that offer free ugly Christmas sweater knitting and crochet patterns. If making one isn’t for you, you can also take a simple plain sweater in a suitable color and add to it to make it a tacky holiday garment. Some possible ideas include taking a plain green sweater and hand sewing beads (such as inexpensive strands of Mardi Gras type plastic beads) to create the look of garland. Hand sew some plastic ornaments to the sweater and you’ve created a human Christmas tree in sweater form. You could also use a crochet hook to carefully place colored strands of yarn on the sweater loops, which could be carefully removed after the party, leaving the sweater undamaged.
Buying Ugly Xmas Sweaters
Light-Up and Musical Sweaters
If none of these options appeal to you, you can also choose to order a brand new ugly Christmas sweater. There are loads of styles including these musical and light-up versions below. Enjoy browsing and find many more by clicking through the links shown here.
If you know someone who has a Christmas birthday, you can turn the birthday party into an ugly Christmas sweater party. What a hoot that would be. Instead of dressing in your finest, wear tacky sweaters instead. You can play tacky sweater games and drink from tacky sweater cups. Set the table with a tacky Christmas sweater tablecloth.