Hot chocolate, homemade baking, cozy sweaters, and endless bottles of wine. The holiday season is coming around again, and we all know what that means… hibernation. Just kidding (sort of), it’s Christmas parties. For lots of us several even. Whether for work, friends, or with family, there is one universally beloved theme —the ugly sweater party. Possibly the comfiest theme to ever exist.
We know this time of year can be hectic, so we are here to help you make it fun, at least for a night. Everything from what to wear to tips for hosting a virtual party. We have all the ugly sweater party ideas you need in one place.
What is an Ugly Sweater Party?
Who hasn’t heard of ugly Christmas sweaters? If you don’t own one, you’ve at least seen one. They started catching mainstream popularity in the ’80s. You may have even adopted an original from your parents’ closest. Or are lucky enough to have a handmade knit-by-grandma classic.
The self-aware ironic fashion statement became popular again in the early 2000’s. The first (known) ugly Christmas sweater party was at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, Canada in 2002. The two hosts wanted “a cheesy, feel-good, festive party”. Judging by the international love of ugly Christmas sweaters, they definitely accomplished that. We can all use a cheesy, feel-good party to break up the stress of Christmas shopping, and they’ve given us the perfect theme.
Ugly sweater parties celebrate ugly sweaters in a fun and festive way. The perfect excuse to get friends and family together in person or virtually.
Tips For Ugly Sweater Party Outfits
Obviously, the key ingredient here is —an ugly Christmas sweater. Whether you want it to be cute, funny, or as ugly as possible, an original sweater idea is always best. Plus, it can be paired with anything.
1. Create a Dress Code
An invitation to an “ugly sweater party” may seem pretty self-explanatory, but it never hurts to explain —especially if you’ve invited some older folks. Everybody wearing a big ugly sweater is key to the fun atmosphere. Make sure they know about the Christmas theme and bright colours. The tackier the better.
2. Consider Matching Outfits
If you and your partner (or best friend) both don’t know what to wear, why not create matching outfits? Or one’s that play off of each other. Halloween doesn’t have to take all the couples-costume thunder.
3. Tip: Don’t Forget What’s on Bottom
The ultimate addition (and our personal favourite) —Christmas socks! Reindeer, snowmen, pom-poms, even sparkles. You can use them for years to come. The moment you slip off your shoes people will be smiling and filled with Christmas cheer.
Ugly Sweater Party Activities
Even an ugly Christmas sweater party can benefit from ice-breakers. Especially if your party is for your office or friends who don’t know each other well. Party activities are the perfect way to kick off the evening and make sure no one is left on the side-lines —enjoying all of the spiked hot apple cider.
4. Have an Ugly Sweater Contest
The best way to make sure everyone comes wearing one, is to have an ugly sweater contest. People can vote for the best over-all, or you can have categories like funniest, cutest, ugliest, etc. People will bring their A-game, so be ready with some prizes.
5. Play Secret Santa
The perfect way to bring some humor to your party is to play Secret Santa. However, it can be difficult if your guests don’t know each other very well. Use a questionnaire for Secret Santa to help your guests learn more about each other before the party even begins. This way everyone can receive a gift they want instead of trinkets from the local gas station.
6. Host a Themed Gift Exchange
Themes can be a great way to add some excitement to your gift exchange. Instead of —or in addition to a questionnaire, you can pick a theme to help people with gift ideas and make it more entertaining. Vacation themed, colour themed, gift-card themed, sweet themed, the options are endless.
Food Ideas for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
‘Tis the season of freshly baked cookies and gingerbread houses. Delicious season-inspired snacks make everyone jolly. Beach bodies are far away so there’s no harm in having a cookie or two —or 10.
7. Create a Hot Chocolate Bar
You don’t have to be good at baking to impress your guests. A hot chocolate bar is such an easy way to have delicious fun. Make a big pot of hot chocolate and put different D.I.Y fixings in jars or bowls. Marshmallows, candy canes, toffee bits, sea salt, whipped cream, caramel sauce —the sky (or north pole) is the limit.
8. Make it a Potluck
If you don’t have days to spend cooking and preparing everything yourself (who does), have everyone bring something. Ask some people to bring savory snacks and desserts. There is sure to be more than enough for everyone.
9. Serve Hot (Adult) Beverages
Now we’re talking. Mulled wine or hot apple cider are classic favourites. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and some rum to your pot of hot apple juice or wine and you’re good to go. Most important note —Make sure not to boil out the alcohol.
10. Get Crafty
Decorations aren’t only for your house. You can festively decorate mugs, the stems of wine glasses, or buy some paper Christmas plates. The more the merrier!
How to Take Your Party Virtual
Times are changing, and more and more things are being done virtually. There’s no need to worry if an in-person party is not possible for you this year, you can still host an entertaining festive Christmas bash online.
11. Send Out a Meeting Invite Ahead of Time
Sending a festive Christmas evite sets a great tone for the party. Make sure you give enough time for people to organize their calendars — and find their best ugly sweaters.
12. Use Fun Video Backgrounds
Finally a reason for this feature! Also no need to clean or decorate in advance, it’s a win-win. Tell everyone to find a Christmas themed background in advance. You could even turn it into a contest with an online gift card as the prize.
13. Play Games
There are group games like Charades or Pictionary that you can easily play on a video conference call. Plus, it includes everybody and gets them participating.
Additional Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Tips
There are a couple of things that you can do to put the icing on the cake — or gingerbread house (Okay, both. Who am I kidding).
14. Send Out an Invitation
It’s time to get Christmas-y. Your ugly sweater party invite should spread cheer and excitement to your guests. You can buy pre-made cards, hand-make them yourself, or you can find great evites online.
15. Go Big with Christmas Party Decorations
With Christmas party decorations, you can go as crazy as you want to — okay, maybe not Whoville crazy. Tinsel, garlands, a tree; walking into a Christmas wonderland makes everyone’s spirit bright, even the grinchiest.
Hosting an epic ugly sweater party can be as involved as you would like it to be. If you’re tight on time (or creative skills), you can still make a memorable party.
If you need help finding the perfect ready-to-wear sweater, you can look here to purchase Christmas sweaters made by independent artists on Redbubble. If you want to add some humour to your event, you can also check out these hilarious Christmas card sayings. After all, it really is the most pun-derful time of the year (I had to, it was too easy).