So, the Christmas holidays will soon be upon us and it’s great fun to host a party with family and friends to celebrate the occasion. Throw the perfect holiday bash by hosting an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Ugly Christmas sweater (or sometimes called Tacky Christmas sweater) is a great and fun filled party theme. Plus, it’s pretty easy to host too.
So, just what is an ugly Christmas sweater party all about? Well, the idea is that you and your guests wear the ugliest, most hideous, tackiest Christmas sweaters and other clothing items (socks, ties, scarves, jewelry) you can get your hands on. The rest of the event – the food, decor, and games will also benefit from touches of tacky and fuggliness. In this post, I’ll provide some great ideas to make your Ugly Xmas sweater party a huge success.
When to host an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Most people probably think to host this party somewhere between December 1st and Christmas Day. This is definitely a good choice as a lot of people get easily “holidayed out” by the time Christmas rolls around. But, this does not just have to be a pre-Christmas party theme. Christmas Day itself is a perfect day to host this type of party too.
Keep in mind that people may receive some fuggly new Xmas sweaters as Christmas gifts and might be dying for somewhere to wear them. So, you can consider this theme for a New Year’s Eve party or you might consider it for a party held the week after Christmas.
It might even work as a theme for a Christmas in July party. However, sweaters in July might be a tad toasty, so you might want to hold that particular party at an ice rink or turn the air conditioner on super cold.
This theme is also a fun theme for a corporate holiday party. Corporate parties are often held in January and I think the theme is still appropriate then. However, it’s probably best to do this theme closer to Christmas than further from it because then you can ensure that everyone is still in the Christmas spirit.
Keep in mind, this is a great party theme for a birthday, anniversary or retirement party that lands near Christmas too.
First Step – Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Invitations
Starting with picking out your ugly Christmas sweater party invitations will help you set your party’s mood and decor.
My personal preference for invitations for this party is to go with one as ugly as possible. Remember, this is about tacky and over the top cheesy. So, if you can find an ugly design, all the better.
Alternatives are cute invitations that follow the theme or more stylish ones that keep the theme in mind as well.
Here are some invitations that some of our Party Simplicity designers created for this theme.
You can purchase these and even “ugly” them up by gluing on sequins, yarn, and glitter. No need to be a perfectionist over this. Large chunks of glue and messiness fits with this theme.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Decor and Ambience
With an ugly Christmas sweater party, you can really do whatever you want with the decor. What makes picking the decor the most fun is that you don’t really need to be concerned at all with good taste. Garish and over the top really fits the theme and certainly fits with what your guests and you will be wearing.
Decorate your Christmas tree with particularly ugly homemade tree ornaments… preferably in garish contrasting colors that don’t match in the least. Add in some cheesy cartoon character tree ornaments as well. Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck come to mind. Add a popcorn string garland and hang old silly family photos on the tree. Flashing Christmas tree lights add a nice tacky touch and are an especially important detail for your tree. If you can find an old vintage aluminum Christmas tree like the one shown here, it would be a great addition to your party. Many aluminum trees came in all sorts of interesting colors like pink and purple. You might be able to find one of those.
Consider hanging ugly Christmas sweaters, hats, and scarves on a clothes line. Just make sure it’s not too much in the way of guests. Liberally make use of tacky Christmas figurines, Christmas cards, stockings and Christmas wreaths. … use as many colors as possible. And make sure they just don’t match. Again, add in some cartoon characters in all this decor. It would be fun to take some “fake” family photos of you and your family wearing your ugly Christmas sweaters over the years and put them in some photo frames and scatter them throughout the room. If you do this part, go for super goofy silly looking photos, like the one shown here. You can find more inspiration for your family photos at this site.
Quick note… funny image above courtesy of My Ugly Christmas Sweater.
Consider looking for old vintage Christmas decorations and combining looks from different eras.
For napkins and plates, make sure you use a variety of mismatched patterns and designs. The plates should be very thin like the old paper plates that first came out that barely hold your food without folding. Some of these can have cartoon Christmas Characters on them too (The Grinch), while others have elaborate red and green poinsettia patterns. Remember, this is meant to be tacky, so you are using whatever you have “on hand”. For cups, cheap mismatched plastic throwaway cups will work well.
Outdoor party decor should also be over the top and as tacky as possible. Lots of lights, with quite a bit of flashing going on. Large cartoon figurines. This will probably drive your neighbors crazy. But it’s just for one night…. and to smooth it over, you should probably invite them to the party.
If you can achieve anything near as over the top as the photo shown here, you’ve definitely succeeded. But, to do that, you might drive yourself nutty in the process, so do only as much as you can handle easily.
For music, play the cheesiest Christmas music you can get your hands on (Chipmunks Christmas album comes to mind). This is all in keeping with the theme, but if you want your friends and family to stick around for the night, you should probably add some decent music to the mix as well.
Also, remember to have the holiday fireplace playing on the TV.
Food and Drink for an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party
Another fun idea is to serve something that looks like it is from some other holiday or party and let people know you got a great deal on it because it was left over. For example, maybe if you are celebrating a birthday, the cake could have “Happy Anniversary Mabel and George!” crossed out and replaced with “Happy Birthday Jeannie!”.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Sweet Treats and Appetizers
- Gingerbread Men or Sweater Shaped cookies – Definitely a perfect finger food option is to bake cookies shaped like sweaters or even gingerbread men! Then just decorate them with garish festive colors and patterns using icing and candies.
- Fruitcake – This sweet treat is a perfect addition to a tacky sweater party theme. Definitely make sure to get some even if you know your guests won’t eat it. You can always make it even more tacky with the presentation. Slice it up and serve it along side red and green maraschino cherries on a tacky Christmas serving tray.
- Rice Krispy squares – These classic “takes 5 seconds to make treats” have always been, lets face it, quite tacky. And the ones made out of the Holiday Rice Krispy cereal up the tackiness even more. So, serve up some red and red holiday Rice Krispy squares at your Tacky Christmas sweater party. Use them to form a unique looking table Christmas tree. Just cut them small and make sure each piece has a toothpick. You can decorate the “tree” with Christmas themed smarties or other candy.
- Pigs in a Blanket – these hot dog finger foods would make a great tacky appetizer addition to the party. All you need to do to tie them in with the theme is to dress them in Ugly Christmas blankets. Just use some ketchup and relish. It also helps if you give each “pig” little black peppercorn “eyes”.
- Tacky crackers and cheese – Cheese and crackers at a party are not tacky, unless you use Squeeze Cheese for the cheese and Ritz crackers for the crackers. Sandwich them and add a few layers to each individual portion.
- Ants on a Log – Another super easy to make tacky treat. It’s just Celery sticks (cut into small “logs”), cream cheese (to fill in the log), and some raisins to make the “ants”.
- Red and Green chip or vegetable dip – Take any legitimate dip or dip recipe and add food coloring to it. Make a couple of varieties so you can have both a red dip and a green dip.
- Jello Mold – There are tons of old recipes for these and they are pretty much the tackiest creations of all time. Search online for a great recipe.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Main Dish Ideas
For main course items, think one dish casserole. There are tons of recipes for these as well. Anything that incorporates cereal, potato chips and/or white bread as a time saving measure are perfect options for the theme.
One dish tuna casserole would work. The recipe I linked to here uses egg noodles. The recipe I remember used those cripsy chow mein oriental noodles. Either way, they both would work. You can give it a festive flair by adding in red and green peppers.
Any main course recipe that uses processed mixes in the recipe is a good bet (Sloppy Joe mix, onion soup mix). Shake and Bake up some pork chops too.
And really, a tacky party is not complete without a little KD. Plus, you can even add a crunchy cereal top to some Kraft dinner. One of the easiest ways to achieve optimal crunch is to mix equal parts Rice Krispies with grated cheese and sprinkle over the Kraft Dinner before baking it briefly in the oven.
Drinks for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
For drinks, eggnog (and rum) is great choice. Consider garnishing the glass with red and green sprinkles. Wine in a box is a great tacky addition as well. And, make some Jello Shots in red & green! Finally, have two choices of either green or red punch for the kids.
Check out this link from myrecipes.com for some additional great Ugly Christmas Sweater party recipe ideas.
Fun and Games for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
It’s a given that you will absolutely have to have a contest for the best, most outrageous ugly Christmas sweater. Prizes can be given out for first place, runner up, and honorable mention. Party guests can vote on the winner and prizes can be tacky or actually something people would want. It’s up to you. We added a free printable “Ugly Christmas Sweater First Prize Certificate” last year. You can download and print out the certificate and award it to your winner.
Along with the certificate, here’s some more ideas for prizes for your Ugliest Christmas Sweater contest.
And some wrapping paper to wrap them in.
Another idea is to have a “gag” or “tacky” gift exchange. Have each of your guests bring a wrapped gag or tacky gift that costs under $15. Then people draw numbers to determine what order they go in to pick their gift from the table of gifts. If you want, people further down the line can steal the gifts of other people who have already picked.
Get out some popcorn and watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. A classic full of tacky and outrageous Christmas fun. Or, why not play a Christmas movie trivia game? Who is “as cuddly as a cactus?” Who said “Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”?
Play a game of Santa Hat hot potato. Whoever ends up wearing the Santa hat either shares an embarrassing Christmas story or drinks a Jello shot before passing the hat to someone else. First person picked to wear the Santa hat can be one of the guests who didn’t dress up for the party.
You can also simplify the hosting of the party by making it a potluck and having your hosts bring their own tacky treats to eat.
Where do you find Ugly Christmas Sweater party attire?
Now, not everyone has a grandmother who knits them ugly Christmas sweaters. For those of you who just don’t get these as presents every year, where can you find the appropriate attire to wow your guests with? First, you can try raiding your parents or grandparents closets or you can see if you can find a sweater at your local Goodwill or second hand shop. And you know, if you find an ugly sweater and it’s just not ugly enough for you, you can always head to your local craft store to find some embellishments. Add some sequins, pom poms, ribbons, fake Christmas florals, glitter, puff paints, etc. Whatever you think would make it uglier. You can also buy various ugly sweaters brand new on Amazon. Here’s a few we found. Not your grandma’s ugly Christmas sweaters!
Not only Amazon has these fabulous sweaters. You can also get a variety of Ugly Christmas sweaters from fun.com.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Thank You Favors
It’s always nice to thank your guests for coming to your party by having a basket of favors ready for people to take home with them. You can do up all sorts of fun things for this including making some tacky homemade tree ornaments or making up some traditional homemade Christmas goody bags.
You can always get some personalized pre-filled jelly belly candy tins as shown here. Or, you can get a sheet of personalized Ugly Christmas Sweater favor tags stickers to personalize the favors that you make.
Thanks for stopping by!
I hope you enjoyed these ideas and tips for hosting your very own ugly or tacky Christmas sweater party. Remember, this theme works as a general Christmas party theme or as a party theme for a birthday, anniversary, retirement or any other party taking place around Christmas. I think this theme would make a particularly fun Sweet 16 birthday party theme for a girl who loves to have a fun, goofy time. Just make sure to do the drinks non-alcoholic.
If you have any other great tips for this party theme, feel free to comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
Shannon is a graphic designer for Wasootch, a special occasion stationery and gift shop that specializes in unique and affordable wedding and bridal shower stationery. Interested in Shannon's designs? Check out her shop on Zazzle, her shop on Etsy or check out her designs on her new partner website Lemon Leaf Prints.