How to Shine (Like Glitter) at an Ugly Holiday Sweater Party

We all carry the shame of a bad holiday sweater (or two) hiding in the back of our closet. Maybe it was a gift you couldn’t refuse. Or an abundance of holiday spirit gone awry.

Myself, I like to blame a lot of my bad decisions on holiday candy. Once I’m hopped up on sugar and caffeine, my ability to say “No, no, no” to “Ho, Ho, Ho” holiday gear flies out the window.

This year, it’s time to pull that sweater out of the closet and wear it with a little bit of pride and a lot of glitter. Let’s be in on the joke when we deliver the world’s largest apparel punchline! Think of it this way: an Ugly Sweater Party is just a social media post begging to happen. And here are a few of the best (aka worst) ways to achieve that photo op responsibly (and without sugar).

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Photo Credit: @warmandenviting

Candy Cane Lame.

You know those tiny candy canes wrapped individually to ensure freshness? Some people hang them on their Christmas tree or attach them to gift-wrapped packages. But DIYers could tape them to a painfully green or red (or green/red striped!) sweater. True, you will have people picking candy off your back all night but an interactive AND ugly sweater might just be the cat’s meow. Oh wait, there’s a category for that…

Cats. Any Sweater with Cats.

Turn any cat sweater into a Christmas cat sweater with just a few embellishments. Make a two-dimensional Santa hat with a triangular piece of red felt and a mini pom-pom and plop it right over those tall cat ears. Sprinkle a healthy dose of red and gold glitter to up the unfortunate factor. Want to earn bonus points? That Best Worst-Sweater trophy is yours if you can find cats that are participating in any human-like activity, like baking cookies or caroling. And if you can’t find the perfect cat sweater, you can also add the cats yourself to any garment by cutting them out of felt. How about a nativity scene with cats? Seriously, can anything top a Kitten Jesus? Well, maybe…

Three Wise Dogs Playing Poker.

It is surprisingly easy to find a Dogs Playing Poker sweater online. Sew a gold felt crown over three furry heads or make crowns out of glitter. Then add a felt-likeness of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the tabletop, and prepare for a flood of “Oh, why didn’t I think of that?” compliments (that may or may not materialize).

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Photo credit: @azwcjoker

Friends Don’t let Friends Wear Santa Claus. Or Do They?

Maybe you already own a Santa sweater that’s considered cute and acceptable. The key to upping the ugly factor lies in embellishments that give the sweater some dimensional heft. (In other words, texture = tacky.) To this purpose, cotton balls and mini pom-poms make excellent Santa beards. Add some red glitter to Santa’s nose and Rudolph isn’t the only one guiding the sleigh that night. Plus, don’t be afraid to pile on gift wrap bows, or drape foil garland on your sweater. You could even attach those little decorative stockings from the drug store. The more you add, the merrier, and this season is all about merry!

When You Just Gotta Say No to Sewing.

Then say yes to these holiday sweaters from Tipsy Elves that are ugly from the get-go. (There’s even a Santa riding a unicorn. Need I say more?) Enjoy! Tipsy Elves Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Prefer to customize your ugly holiday sweater? There are lots of places online where you can choose colors, borders, and even add your own text and import designs. (How about uploading a photo of your own Santa hat-wearing, smiling self?!) Here’s one custom website: customizedgirl.com

If All Else Fails…

There is literally no sweater that can survive a Christmas-lights necklace, ornament earrings, and an Elf hat. Go forth and conquer that tacky holiday party!


A.J. Bowker is a contributing writer to From House to Home. She has lived on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and is now settled in Southern California. One thing she has learned from living in various parts of the country: home is a state of mind.