Ugly Sweater parties are a cultural phenomenon. Gaining popularity and notoriety as far back as 2001, the trend seems to have originated in Canada. Of course Canadians probably have more access to sweaters so they can plan out their ugly sweater well in advance of actually being invited to an Ugly Sweater Party.

Since the trend has been around for some time, most of the truly ironic ugly Christmas sweaters have been snatched up from thrift stores. Even undecorated sweaters that are generally ugly have probably already been appropriated by hipsters.

ugly sweater work party

Before you give up and buy your ugly sweater from an ugly sweater website where you’ll run the risk of someone else showing up in the exact same sweater, make your own ugly sweater for cheap! Starting with a strong foundational garment is important. To stay on the cheap side, start by scouring your local thrift shops, swap meets, and flea markets. Discount and bargain bin stores are an option too but you’ll be paying more for an item that will likely only be worn once.

ugly sweater that's too small

Christmas holiday colors are important so green, red, and white are the best. If none can be found maroon, black, or blue can be alternative choices. Basically think of traditional Christmas decoration colors.

The sweater needs to be relatively thick to support the decorations you’ll be adding so avoid very thin or open mesh. It’s great if you can find one that is oversized to load up on the ugliness, however, a sweater that is undersized offers it’s very own humor even before the hot glue gun touches it. Any sweater that has sparkle or shimmer can be an amazing base to start with too even if you’re a guy.

While you’re looking for your foundation, keep an eye out small Christmas decorations that can be used for your masterpiece. Evaluate things creatively. For example, an old tree skirt with Christmas characters like reindeers and snowman can be cut up and applied like applique. Tinsel will be your friend, but don’t discount other materials like tulle, felt, even cotton balls.

hand decorated ugly sweater

The most vital tools you’ll need are a hot glue gun and scissors to get your party started. A hot glue gun opens up tons of possibilities including gluing Christmas candy and other not so obvious ornaments like bottle caps, balloons, live pine tree branches, and laser printed images directly onto the sweater.

felt santa ugly sweater

Dollar stores are pretty much available nationwide and if you’ve never been inside of one, they are treasure trove for ugly Christmas sweater material. Cheap is good in the case of the ugly Christmas sweater! Consider what can be done with plastic strings of beads and a bag of bows.

Create a theme with your ugly Christmas sweater. Holiday movies like the Nightmare before Christmas, A Christmas Story, The Grinch, Elf, and Home Alone all have elements that would be relatively easy to construct with felt and magic markers without the hefty price tag you will have to pay for professionally printed licensed material.

If you’re lucky enough to find a sweater with a character on it, try to incorporate the character into the Christmas theme by fashioning a Santa or elf cap for it.

ugly sweater with character

Drawing with hot glue and quickly sprinkling glitter can create impressive effects with very little effort and that much glitter will leave a trail of Christmas cheer wherever you go.

Lastly don’t forget that accessories can add a lot of detail to your outfit. Look for Santa’s hats, elf hats, festive mittens, silly scarves, and jingle bells to round out your entire ugly sweater outfit.

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