When the holidays come up, you may be in the market for an ugly sweater. If you haven’t heard of the trend, many people purposefully wear outlandish sweaters to parties around the holidays to help get in the spirit. Sort of an ironic evolution of awkward childhood memories and the awful sweaters our grandparents used to make us, this flips it into something fun and positive. Besides, who said ugly can’t be cozy?

“The city of Vancouver claims to be the birthplace of the ugly sweater party after hosting an event in 2002. Every year since, the Original Ugly Christmas Sweater party has been held at the Commodore Ballroom, where the dress code ensures an ugly sweater affair.”

-ThoughtCo on this trend’s history

It’s all a little silly and adds to the fun of a party. The idea has been popularized by countless parties, contests, and charity events. It seems the uglier and tackier, the better. So why not get in on the fun? Here are some great ugly sweater ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

Movie and Show Themes

We all know how many different nerdy graphic t-shirts are out there. But sure enough, the ugly sweater market is just as ripe. With so many fandoms out there, it is pretty easy to come across some great ugly holiday sweaters with some of your favorite characters incorporated into the design. Amazon has everything from The Golden Girls to Star Wars and everything in between. We all know how much the Disney crowd loves the holidays, and their end is very well covered. But if you insist on bringing up The Big Lebowski instead, you’re in luck. There’s truly one for everyone.

Clever Lines

The holidays are not always wholesome and heartwarming. For all you jokesters out there a funny sweater may be right up your alley. Some of them are corny puns even your grandmother can appreciate. Others are absurd memes and inappropriate double entendres, which might be better suited for adult parties. With so many choices, it is easy to pick what impression you want to make when wearing your ugly sweater. And hey, it’s not the holiday season until someone mentions Festivus from Seinfeld.

Holiday Character

Nothing quite brings out the holiday cheer like cutesy characters like snowmen, reindeer, gingerbread men and more. This is the kind of ugly sweater kids will enjoy to see, and while it is tacky it’s adorable at the same time. It will bring out a fun girly side to your wardrobe while still fitting the ugly sweater theme.

And if that doesn’t sound like you, there’s always the complete opposite route. There’s plenty of countercultural Christmas characters too. Just look at Gremlins, The Grinch, Krampus, Die Hard and much more. Trust us, there’s no wrong way to holiday.

Animal Themes

Animals are a passion of many. Whether you are an animal rights advocate, or you just really love your pets, an animal themed ugly holiday sweater may be the right choice for you. Why not incorporate your obsession into your ugly holiday sweater? Cats, dogs, bunnies, skunks, penguins and much more are all available if you know where to look. And don’t forget the Christmas-specific animals, such as reindeer, turtle doves or polar bears.


Why not double up the fun? These new sweaters are the latest in outrageous technology, focusing on animations and other gimmicky illusions. They all have corresponding mobile apps, and work by incorporating your phone with the sweater itself. With these interactive sweaters, you can ensure that you will be the life of the party. While they are a bit more expensive than your regular sweater, it’s sure to be much more of a conversation piece. And if that sounds too ridiculous, there’s always the more old-school forms of interactivity like LED lights and velcro, both of which can accomplish the same thing.

Gaudy Patterns

What says classic ugly sweater more than bold patterns and clashing colors? You can go with stripes or polka dots or can even take a look for something tacky at your local thrift store. You can even try mixing them with silly socks or leggings. Hey, it’s not a wardrobe malfunction if it’s on purpose. You might even know a family member or two who is all about the gaudy sweaters that you can borrow one from. If it’s outdated and unthinkable, that’s all the more reason to try it on. If it looks like you’ve emerged from the 60s or 70s, that only means you’ve won.

“As a clothing item, ugly sweaters were often featured on situation comedies in the 1980s. They were mostly cardigans, buttoned down the front. The Christmas theme entered around the same time, with the first mass-produced Christmas garments being made under the name of “jingle bell sweaters” during the 1980s as well.”

-ThoughtCo on the sweaters’ inherently dated nature

Do It Yourself

Stop me if you heard this one. You spent all your time and money on gifts, that you completely forgot to get ready for the holiday party? If that sounds like you, and you’re far from alone, you may want to resort to making your own ugly sweater. It is easy enough with craft supplies and leftover holiday decorations. And if you can’t sew, that’s no problem either. Designing a blank t-shirt with some paints and hot glue can get the job done. Get creative by coming up with your own ugly sweater ideas and don’t worry about being a perfectionist about it. Remember, it is supposed to be ugly.

With so many things going on in the holiday season, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with your to-do list. But we hope that our ideas help you come up with a great ugly sweater ideas and give you one less thing to worry about. The holidays are always a rare and special time of year, and it’s important to just jump in and drown yourself in all of it. Life it too short to avoid it.

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