Why stick to putting lights and colors only on your Christmas tree and decorations? How about wearing them on your Ugly Christmas Sweater? Besides giving thoughtful gifts or gift experiences, surprise everyone with your funny Christmas sweater too!
Ready to beat everyone’s Christmas OOTD? Read more now.
Jump To a Section Below
The History of Ugly Christmas Sweaters
The ugly Christmas sweater entered pop culture in a big way in the 1980s. The character of Cliff Huxtable, played by Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, brought ugly sweaters into living rooms in the US, the UK, and other countries around the world.
The 1989 Chevy Chase film, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, took things a step further by bringing the ugly sweater into the festive season. It’s a simple wintery theme in green, red, and white; not exactly hideous, but a sign of ugly things to come.
Since then, we’ve seen all manner of monstrosities on stage and screen, in catalogs and shop windows, and on seemingly innocent passers-by. Looking for some inspiration? Check out the following five films for some of the ugliest Christmas sweaters ever seen on screen:
- The Santa Clause – Ugly sweaters feature in all three films in the series
- Dumb and Dumber – Whose was worse? Lloyd Christmas or Harry Dunne?
- Love Actually – Is it a turkey? Is it a peacock? No, it’s John of John & Judy.
- Bridget Jones’s Diary – The gorgeous Colin Firth wears a ghastly reindeer sweater.
- Christmas With The Kranks – Nora’s wardrobe includes ugly Christmas sweaters and worse cardigans
The Elements of an Ugly Christmas Sweater
So, what exactly makes an ugly Christmas sweater ugly? Is it not just a matter of personal opinion? That could be the answer if you want to be diplomatic about it, but in reality, several elements combine in the seasonal sweaters that are well and truly hideous.
Your ugly Christmas jumper doesn’t need to contain all the following elements. One or two of them would still make for a sweater that makes you look as though you got dressed in Santa’s workshop:
- The knit would impress your nan: Good old-fashioned knitwear that would make your nan beam with pride is what you want. However, your ugly Christmas sweater or cardigan needs more than a good stitch. Bright colors, snowflakes, reindeer, Christmas trees, stars, and/or other festive season symbols should also be part of it.
- At least three colors: Two-tone is too tame for a foul festive sweater. You want at least three bright, gaudy, and garish colors. Green, red, and white are traditional Christmas colors, but you certainly aren’t limited to them – and don’t worry about clashing colors. The more it hurts to look at, the better (and uglier) it is. Let your imagination run wild.
- Bits and bobs: A true ugly Christmas sweater doesn’t limit itself to the pattern. The grotesque garment also wants bits and bobs on it. Small baubles, pom-poms, bows, tinsel, plastic stars, striped candy canes, fake holly, and even LED fairy lights are appropriate embellishments. If your sweater makes you look like a walking crime against humanity, you know you’re on the right track.
- The weird and the wonderful: Festive season symbols on an ugly Christmas sweater go without saying, but don’t believe for a minute that you’re limited to Santa, reindeer, trees, snowflakes, stars, elves, and all the other seasonal stuff. Man Ray-style red lips, Dali-esque melting anything, murderous Santa, mounted reindeer heads with X’s for eyes and lolling tongues, ninja gingerbread men, duck-billed platypuses, and dinosaurs are all great non-sensical additions. No, none of it needs to make sense.
- It’s in everyone’s face: There’s no ignoring a truly ugly Christmas sweater. Eyes must pop, heads must spin, the sun must darken and the stars fall from the sky all at the sight of your ghastly Christmas jumper.
The Best Ugly Christmas Sweaters of 2023
Take a look at our top picks of the Best Ugly Christmas Sweaters for 2023. Not sure where to find the ugly Christmas sweater of your dreams/nightmares? Check out Amazon for more.
Women’s Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Tipsy Elves Wine Glass Ugly Christmas Sweater: This sweater features a wine glass design, along with snowflakes and Christmas trees. It’s the perfect sweater for anyone who loves to enjoy a glass of wine during the holidays.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Santa Says Interactive LED Sweater: This sweater is perfect for those who enjoy being the center of attention at a party. The sleeves have patterns like candy canes, and there’s a button you can press to find out if you’ve been naughty or nice this year. This sweater is sure to keep the laughter going all night.
Tipsy Elves Sequined Snow Day Ugly Christmas Sweater: This sweater is covered in sequins, so it will definitely sparkle and shine at your holiday parties. It also has a fun snow day motif, with snowflakes and snowmen.
Forever 21 Christmas Tree Poncho: Even though it’s not exactly a sweater, this tree poncho is an excellent way to embrace the holiday vibe. It’s also a fantastic option if you need extra layers, as the armholes and tent-like shape provide more room compared to a regular sweater.
Tipsy Elves Stocking Stuffer Ugly Christmas Sweater: This sweater has a fun stocking stuffer motif, with candy canes, ornaments, and gifts. It’s the perfect sweater for anyone who loves to give gifts.
Men’s Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Ugly Christmas Sweater Santa Claus 3D Chimney Climbing: This sweater goes beyond the typical ugly Christmas sweaters. It has a mechanical Santa that actually climbs into a chimney attached to the front of the shirt. You’ll be the talk of the Christmas gathering for weeks with this unique and entertaining sweater.
Tipsy Elves Formally Festive Light Up Ugly Christmas Sweater: This sweater features a reindeer with LED lights in its antlers. It also has a scarf wrapped around its neck and comes in red and blue.
Ugly Christmas Sweaters Black 3D Sweater With Stuffed Moose: This sweater strikes a balance between being delightfully ugly and adorable, featuring a stuffed moose popping out from both the front and back.
Tipsy Elves Cheer Pong Game Ugly Christmas Sweater: You’re the life of the party with this sweater that has a built-in ping pong game!
Tipsy Elves Gaudy Garland Ugly Christmas Sweater: Who’s the better Christmas tree? It’s you with this overly decorated Christmas sweater.
How to DIY Ugly Christmas Sweaters
If you want an ugly Christmas sweater that’s truly unique, it’s best to DIY. You can even make it an activity for the whole family to enjoy.
If you have the time and the skill, you can knit one from scratch (use the ugliest store-bought or downloaded pattern you can find). The easier option is to buy the most horrendous seasonal sweater you can find, as well as a few other supplies.
Let’s take a quick look at what you need:
- A colorful, horrible Christmas sweater
- Tinsels, baubles, small bells, bows, candy canes, snowflakes, stars, and other appropriate and inappropriate cheap and cheerful Christmas decorations
- Safety pins
- Good quality glue
Right, now you can get to work. Lay the sweater flat on a sturdy surface. Spend a few minutes playing around with the positioning of the bits and bobs. Remember, you’re not trying to make the thing look good. Your sweater is not supposed to be pleasing to the eye, so don’t worry about balance or color coordination.
When you’re happy (or horrified) enough, start sticking things in place. Use the safety pins to attach items that either won’t stick well with glue or that you may need to remove easily (small plastic willies aren’t suitable for every setting). Use the glue to attach the other bits and bobs. Leave to dry overnight. Prepare to lose friends and alienate people (no, not really – everyone who’s anyone will be donning ugly Christmas sweaters in 2023).
How to Throw an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Why limit your ugly Christmas sweater to the office party or family dinner?
You can wear it when you go shopping or to your favorite restaurant. Better yet, why not throw an ugly Christmas sweater party and invite your friends and family to share in the horror? If a face-to-face get-together isn’t possible, consider hosting a virtual party online.
The theme: It does exactly what it says on the tin. Encourage guests to wear ugly seasonal sweaters.
The invitations: Find Christmassy invitations drenched in poor taste. You can find some that fit the theme perfectly or you can create your own. State the dress code clearly and give your guests an idea of the evening’s menu and activities (especially if you’re going to hold an ugly sweater competition).
The food: It’s a Christmas party, so serve up the expected fare to avoid disappointing your guests (cocktail sausages and fruit mince pies are de rigueur). You’re not limited to that, of course. It’s your party, after all.
The activities: Consider playing a few games to increase the festive season’s fun. Charades, Christmas carol Pictionary, pin the red nose on the reindeer, and Christmas karaoke are some ideas to keep you and your guests entertained.
The music: The cheesier, the better. You won’t go wrong with Christmas carols and seasonal songs, especially if they’re bad pop versions. Start with selected tracks from Boney M’s Christmas album and really get into the spirit.
The ugly Christmas sweater contest: Decide on a few categories and let your guests vote for the winners. Make sure you have a few tongue-in-cheek prizes for the winners. Suggested categories include the ugliest sweater, the most original sweater, the tackiest sweater, and the best couple.
Christmas is about spreading joy and laughter! Wearing an ugly Christmas sweater can surely spread giggles wherever you are. But hey, gift-giving is still the best way to make your loved ones happy this Christmas.
Have a happy holiday!