Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Guide

Want to see some Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties in action? These can help show you how it's done!

The 2006 holiday season marked the fifth anniversary of the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. From my extensive research, it appears that this is the earliest known sighting of this phenomenon, which is reaching epic proportions.

A popular theme for parties these days is to make an ugly sweater mandatory for entry. One invitation reads, "The uglier the sweater, the better the party." Check out Craigslist and you'll find posters desperate for cheesy Christmas sweaters.

Whether it started in Vancouver or elsewhere, we applaud this tradition, which epitomizes hellishness. Want to throw an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party yourself? Or maybe you've been invited to one and don't know what to do--after all, your holiday clothes are so tasteful that you don't have anything appropriate! (Yeah, right.) Here's a helpful guide.

1. Think Ironic. You probably have fond memories of your older female relatives at holiday gatherings wearing sweaters with Christmas trees and Santa Claus. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party pokes fun at these wardrobe choices, and no one wants to be mean to Grandma. So mentally separate the Grandma sweater from the Party sweater. Pretend she wouldn't be hurt by the concept. And for God's sake, don't tell her about it.

2. Think Thrift Shop. Whether going or throwing, you might want to pick up some special specimens, and you won't find a better source than Goodwill. And you can't beat the prices. Just plan on spending a little extra for dry cleaning.

3. Think with a Twist. Move beyond the sweater. Add in a turtleneck,


or a tie.

4. Think Regional. Florida, Hawaii...not the right spots for this concept. Compromise! Hold an Ugly Christmas Tights, Sunglasses or a Hawaiian or T Shirt Party instead so no one passes out unless it's for the right reason: eggnog overdose.

5. Think Unsexy. There's nothing hot about a Christmas sweater, unless you're wearing it in Hawaii (against our excellent advice). No bare midriffs, especially on guys.

6. Think Prizes. Kick it up a notch and add a contest to the mix. And what do you give the partygoer with the uglist, tackiest, most heinous Christmas sweater? How about Christmas socks ? Or everyone's favorite: Fruitcake!

Originally published on Friday, December 15, 2006


  1. I am very excited to see the tradition lives on. However, I am sad to say that my friends and I didn't invent this, even though we thought we did:( In addition to the party, we have a white elephant gift, in which everyone must bring something (horrible and of no use) that was given to them which they hate and want to get rid of. It is always good for several laughs. Embrace the Ugly Sweater Party.

    Phila, PA

  2. Hey, I thought this was my idea, until our local paper contacted me to do a spread on my second annual ugly sweater party. He told me about this Vancouver one which is massive! How fabulous is that?! I can only strive for such a legacy....

    joyce, winnipeg, Manitoba

  3. well, i'm pretty convinced that my friend and i invented this party. the idea came out of the blue, as we approached the 2001 holiday season. we threw the party in at Houghton rural western New York state...maybe 10 people attended. there's no way i could have even heard of such a thing. i'm just saying. i'll welcome any comments citing an earlier party.

  4. Hey all!
    The original 'Ugly Christmas Sweater Party' info can be found at
    Enjoy your parties everyone!

  5. My housemates and I threw a CSP in 2000 at Miami University in Ohio. They continue the tradition in Chicago (this year will be the 8th anniversary). I host one in Cleveland. But I've never found any party cited earlier. As far as I'm concerned, we made it up.

  6. Just thought your should know: Vancouver's 7th Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party is scheduled for Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. Others (like "Anonymous," above) may claim to have thought it up earlier, but this is the oldest verifiable party. Those crazy Canadians!

  7. For more than 1000 Christmas sweaters, many of them ugly, check out

  8. eHi Laura! The first-ever online ugly sweater store has recently launched. Check it out at People can find the ugliest and tackiest sweaters here for the upcoming holiday season. Here's to adding humor to the holidays!

  9. these ugly sweaters were talking about used to be worn by people- like my mom- to annual christmas parties, no theme involved. Pretty fair to say those were the original- "ugly christmas sweater parties"

  10. Hi! For the most hideous Ugly Christmas Sweater Party sweaters check out ! 1st Place winning sweaters for men and women S-XXXL!


  11. If you can't find what you are looking for after visiting Amy's link, check out

    I'm so glad to see some online alternatives to schlepping thru thrift shops to find these things!

  12. we have been doing this for a few years now in UT also. such a great party! here is the link to see some pics from last year:

  13. I am planning my own Ugly Christmas Sweater Party but I need help on invitation wording...any advice?

  14. Here's a suggestion for your invitation:

    You’re invited to a special bash
    And here’s your chance to make a splash:
    Be sure to wear a Christmas sweater,
    The uglier it is, the better.

    So mug a grandma, trawl a thrift shop,
    An elegant choice would be a flop.
    The most obnoxious earns the praise;
    Celebrate the kitschy side of the holidays!

  15. The tradition is finally making it to Dallas. West End Pub is hosting it's first "Ugly Christmas Sweater Ball" Saturday, Dec. 11 8pm - 12pm. Cover is one new toy and of course be wearing your favorite Christmas Sweater. check out info at Prizes for sweaters and annoying Christmas Music Karaoke. See you there. Michelle

  16. I really enjoyed the banter about who made up the ugly sweater parties. I guess it's gonna be one of those age old debates like who invented baseball. Oh, well it's all in fun. Hope everyone has a great Christmas this year


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