Tips to make your own Ugly Christmas Sweater
“The holiday season can be very stressful and at these parties adults can be funny and silly,” says Brandy Shay, co-author of Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Christmas Crafts, Recipes, Activities (Lark Crafts, 2016). “Plus, people are very competitive. Everyone wants to go home with that ribbon, bursting with pride that you had the ugliest sweater.”
Shay has seen Cousin Eddie sweater costumes from the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – “complete with the skin tight sweater, dicky, tight bell bottom floods and leather shoes,” she says. “Then you have the retro group who just finds an ugly sweater from back in the day. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just as long as it is ugly!”
If you don’t want to buy an already made ugly sweater, you can make your own without the help of Santa’s elves. “Some people get very creative, like the woman who turned her sweater into a fireplace mantle,” Shay says. “Her shoulders were squared off and she had pictures glued on the mantle. It was complete with a little fake fire fabric on her stomach.”
Shay recommends finding an old sweater from your closet and going to the ornaments aisle at the local dollar store. “Find the flashiest, most glittery, over-the-top ornaments you can find and get to work with your glue gun,” she says. “Some ornaments now come with little clips on the back, making it extra easy to clip these on your sweater and not have to use any tools at all.”
She says that a strand of battery-powered lights on a sweater is always a hit. “Also, hot gluing one of those annoying singing stuffed animals to the front of your sweater will take it to the next level,” she says.
Other ideas Shay includes in her book are a wreath sweater, with red tinsel hot glued around the bottom of the sweater and mini ornaments glued to the front. Want to look like a Christmas tree? Go nuts and glue tinsel on the entire sweater. Once it’s dry, hang candy canes, multicolored tinsel and an assortment of ugly ornaments on the sweater tree.
You can also turn your old Christmas tree skirt into a matching skirt for your ugly sweater or make a Christmas tree dress out of some tulle fabric and leftover poinsettias. Shay recommends making shoes, hats, headbands and other accessories to really make the ugliness of your sweater pop. The options for ugly Christmas sweaters are endless and only limited by your imagination.
Everything old is new again and when it comes to what’s trending in ugly Christmas sweaters. Vintage is in, so go ahead and raid Grandma’s closet or hit the consignment shops for donations of old sweaters. “Find that actual sweater that has not been changed or updated in any way,” Shay says. “Or one that looks like the sweater worn by Clark Griswold at his family Christmas party. These are hard to find. It takes a lot of looking at thrift stores to find these little gems. If you want to spend more, you can find them online, but an actual vintage ugly sweater can be a bit pricey.“
Brandy and Matt Shay host an ugly Christmas sweater party every year to raise money to help a family in need over the holiday season. In their book, there are recipes for ugly Christmas sweater cake, punch, cookies, decorations, fun games to play and, of course, more Christmas sweater ideas such as a Jingle Bells Sweater, and instructions on how to make an “oh deer” sweater where the head is on the front and the tail is on the back.
Gone to the Dogs: Ugly Dog Sweaters
Don’t forget to include Fido in the ugly Christmas sweater party fun!
Why would someone want to dress their dog up in an ugly Christmas sweater? “Because it’s fun,” says Leah Ingram, founder of the online dog birthday party store Pawsome Doggie (pawsomedoggie.com). “Think about the Christmas card photo, especially if the humans are wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, too.”
If Fido doesn’t already have a pullover that you can doctor up to become an ugly Christmas sweater, Ingram suggests shopping the local thrift stores to see if you can find any ugly Christmas sweaters in the children’s section. “If you have a bigger dog, you can probably get away with a thrift store adult sweater that falls under the category of ugly Christmas,” she says.
However, Ingram strongly cautions doggie owners to be careful about what you put on the sweater. “My only concern about putting a dog in an ugly Christmas sweater –besides the fact that he might be really hot – is to make sure there is nothing they can choke on hanging off the sweater,” she says. “If the dog gets annoyed with the sweater and wants to start chewing, you want to keep him safe.”
And, of course, don’t forget to take lots of pictures.