The whole idea of wearing an “ugly” Christmas sweater in the first place came about because of the seasonal habit of some of our most dear relatives—aunts, uncles, cousins, and mom and dad—for wearing the absolutely most dreadful-looking holiday-themed sweaters on an annual basis.
In the last decade, many of their offspring have taken their sheer embarrassment over their family members’ choice in style and turned it into a satirically-themed party event. One author even took it a step further and in 2001, published a book called the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On. Once there was a step-by-step guide to Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, the whole idea snowballed into a trend.
People were flocking to second-hand stores everywhere looking for the nearest likeness to their uncle’s yearly version of a festive Christmas sweater to wear to a fraternity party, neighborhood get-together, or even an actual work-related Christmas party with an ugly holiday sweater theme that was now becoming all the rage. The fad precipitated an offshoot of the same type of fashion on the runways of Milan and New York where designers were presenting the latest seasonal fashions with the same type of festive prints and bold patterns as many of the ugly Christmas sweaters of yesteryear.
When is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day?
The actual date varies each year for this unofficial national holiday, but it always the third Friday of December. In 2017, that day is December 15th. This is a day when everyone is encouraged to wear their ugly Christmas sweater no matter where they are or what the weather may be in their area. Teachers will have their entire class wear their version of an ugly Christmas sweater topped off with a party commemorating the national day of recognition for the fashion statement. Social media is full of people taking selfies in their ugly Christmas sweaters in unusual places like hiking in the Grand Canyon or hot air ballooning. Some people have even gone as far as to wear one to a funeral in honor of the sense of humor of the deceased. Entire wedding parties have been known to wear ugly Christmas sweaters, and the bride and groom will ask their guests to wear the same apparel for an ugly Christmas sweater-themed wedding on the national ugly Christmas sweater day.
When do you wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater?
Even though there may be only one actual dedicated day each year, you can find a multitude of places and activities where you can reach up into the corner of the very top shelf of your closet and pull down and dust off your ugly Christmas sweater and fit right in wearing it.
Whenever you are in the holiday spirit whether it is while you are decorating the Christmas tree, attending your child’s holiday extravaganza at school, shoveling the snow, or attending a Christmas in July sale or event, you will give off a holiday vibe and charm when you don your ugly Christmas sweater. You can even wear it under a blazer and go for a coffee run. And what about wearing it on the unofficial day that begins the holiday season? Black Friday! If you have a more fashionable and less garish version of an ugly Christmas sweater that does not have hanging ornaments or tinsel but simply a Christmas setting in vibrant colors, then work it in on a casual day at work and still look professional. So, don’t just save it for the once-a-year contest; make it an investment that works for you all year!
How do you decorate an Ugly Christmas Sweater?
The sky is really the limit when you create an ugly Christmas sweater. Many factors can be taken into consideration when decorating one like:
• Will you have a partner that will be wearing a similar or matching style of the sweater?
• What type of accessory will show off the design best? Lights? Tinsel? Mistletoe?
• Should you mix it up with three-dimensional (stuffed animals or dolls) as well as one-dimensional design (paper and fabric)?
• Should you include anything that is interactive or makes a sound? If so, how can I hide the wires so it does not interfere with the design?
• Can I embed a video display of a holiday yule-log fire or another festive theme?
• Will the actual design coordinate with your arms and legs so that it can be displayed as another symbol of a tree or another holiday object?
All of these things must be considered before you begin to decorate your ugly Christmas sweater.
What is the Best Way to Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater?
First, forget about just visiting the local Salvation Army and finding the gaudiest holiday sweater and just pulling it on over your head and going. That is the way your grandma work it. You want to create a trendy, eye-popping piece of fashion that will either get you noticed or win you a prize—or both!
So, start with a simple color scheme like mostly red or green, and then add to it by figuring out your theme first. This might be a direct result of what is put on an invitation by the host or in the case of an actual ugly Christmas sweater contest, the guidelines that you are given for entry.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with a plan that you have sketched out beforehand that may include buying holiday patches surrounded by blinking lights, neatly appliqued tinsel in the appropriate places, or if you are ambitious and have enough time, embroidered designs that are unique and show off your personal talents. Then, you can top it all off with a festive hat, leggings, boots, and even a matching partner who is in another color if the contest allows pairs to enter!
How do you win an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest?
Authenticity and humor usually make for a winning combination for any ugly Christmas sweater competition. Think about the following add-ons for a winning entry:
• Any items that are humorous but not too risqué usually stand out. Something that might infer a “bad Santa” but doesn’t actually show it like a Santa patch but with 3-D eyes sewn on that roll around and he appears to be looking at Mrs. Claus who is glued onto the other side of your sweater. This is cute but doesn’t go too far. Use your imagination as your scout around your craft store for ideas.
• Speaking of 3D, any accessories that truly stand out are the ones are dimensional ones like pom-pom balls, bows, tinsel, bulbs, candy canes, icicles, reindeer antlers, to name a few. Don’t just glue them on to make them stand out; use them strategically and appropriately so they will add to your theme and not detract from it.
• The more fabric you have to work with, the better the design will stand out. A mistake many people make is to buy a skin-tight sweater that gives them little or no fabric to work with. So, find an ugly Christmas sweater that is just baggy enough that it can be used almost as a makeshift canvas for a lot of design space.