Unofficial Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters

What Is The Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze?

The Ugly Christmas Sweater, has in recent years amassed so much attention, it has become a “thing”. In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard of it, the concept requires participants to compete by wearing the gaudiest, most atrocious Christmas sweater they can find. This new twist on an old tradition has inspired ugly Christmas Sweater parties, contests, and prizes, and led to Facebook pages, websites and hashtags. Amazon has dozens of coloring and how-to Ugly Christmas Sweater books and there is even an official count down to Ugly Sweater Day, which has been declared a National Holiday (December 16, 2016)

How Did The Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze Start?

When I was growing up, the ugly Christmas sweater was a very different “thing”. Each year great Aunt Ruth would lovingly hand craft her custom interpretation of snazzy Christmas apparel. Presumably Aunt Ruth’s masterpiece was intended to be admired. The word ugly was never, ever spoken aloud.

A few days after Thanksgiving a box would arrive smelling strongly of moth balls and slightly like cats. Inside the box was a monstrosity of epic proportion. Your mom would make you wear it and you would “JUST DIE! I mean honestly, there was a crooked snowman crocheted on itchy thick wool, sequins sewn on randomly and one sleeve was considerably longer than the other. The only consolation was on any given day in the weeks before Christmas, several other kids would be wearing equally ugly sweaters. Luckily this punishing tradition faded away.

Brief Come-Back of The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Ugly Christmas sweaters had a brief come-back (complete with shoulder pads) in the 90’s, thanks in part to their prominent place on the popular Bill Cosby Show TV show and Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Movie.

Current Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze

Some accounts of the current craze point back to two Canadian students having the first ucs party. I have a different theory.  I think we elementary teachers who disregarded whispers of fashion faux pas and proudly wore our sweaters to work well past their expiration date deserve the credit.

Regardless of which version you believe, I am sure you will agree that I am an Ugly Christmas Sweater aficionado and qualified to present you with The Unofficial Ugly Christmas Sweater Guide. I was, after all, an Ugly Christmas Sweater pioneer, albeit a reluctant one.

The Unofficial Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters

To begin with let’s start with a good working definition of an Ugly Christmas Sweater. Any garment such as a vest, sweatshirt, or sweater that is covered with a combination of felt figures and symbols, glitter, gemstones, sparkles, tinsel and fake snow. Bonus points are given for the addition of working lights and talking characters.

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweaters

If you are the DIY type you are now ready to uglify your own Christmas sweater. This can be done in three easy steps:
1) Go to the dollar store and fill a basket with all sorts of Christmas stuff.
2) Go home and randomly glue it all on (use heavy duty glue – no need to be neat)
3) Duct tape back on anything that falls off.

If this is a little too imprecise for your taste – check out this video:

For Non-DIY People

Perhaps you prefer to purchase your Ugly Christmas Sweater there are lots of options available.

Tipsy Elves has a huge variety for men women and children

Kohls and Target also have reasonably priced options. And if you are working with something other than a teacher’s budget you might be interested in’s $600 version.

In Betweeners

Those of you that fall somewhere in between complete DIY and off the rack, may like this kit you can purchase for just $7.97 at Collection Set!

And don’t bypass the bonus points Light-Up LED Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornaments from

Time to Party!

Now that you have your Ugly Christmas Sweater, you are ready to rock it at a party or event. What? You haven’t been invited to one yet? Well, plan your own with these easy printables.  You can have a class party with your students or a fund raiser with your school staff.

Where to Find Some Stuff

Free Invitations, banners, awards and more from Catch My Party

More invitations and party printables from The Country Chic Cottage

Need a cake?

Easy cupcake ugly sweater cake from Purple Chocolat Home

Ugly Sweater Decorating is a fun activity for young and old. You can get your Ugly Sweater Cookie Cutter at They even have a Hanukkah edition for those that want an Ugly Hanukkah Cookie Sweater!

Feel free to share your Ugly Christmas Sweater finds or your thoughts on Ugly Christmas Sweaters below.

Wishing you all happy, healthy, fun-filled holidays!!!


Join Us!

Subscribe to Stars On The Spectrum email list and be among the first to to access the growing resource library. 

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed.

Pin It on Pinterest