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Tips for Throwing Ugly Sweater Parties

The Christmas season can be marked as officially here with that first burst of chilly air, the sumptuous smell of holiday baked goods coming from the kitchen and, more ominously, the appearance of the ugly Christmas sweater.

This visual affront in recent years has evolved to show what a sense of humor we have about the sweaters. I'm sure you've been to or have at least heard of someone throwing an "Ugly Sweater" Christmas party.

If not, the long and short of it is that to throw an ugly sweater Christmas party, you invite all your friends (with a sense of humor) over to wear the ugliest Christmas sweaters they can find. Some good-humored judging of the ugly sweaters occurs, and the winner gets a prize. Preferably something ugly.

Here are some tips to consider when planning an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party.

Ugly Sweater Party Décor:

Tacky rules. Scrape the bottom of your Christmas decorating barrel. Plastic Santas, ugly pre-made velvet bows, and most of the stuff that’s left in the bottom of the Christmas bins after you decorate is prime material for décor. Think loud, think cheap and think ugly!

Ugly Sweater Party Beverages:

A nice sherbert punch complete with frozen floating ring or anything served out of a red plastic solo cup will be the perfect festive addition to your party. Don't forget masking tape and a black magic marker to mark the owners of the cups. Check out all of our Christmas drink recipes to find the perfect sip for your ugly soiree.

On Food:

I'm going to shy away from calling any food "tacky" here as all food can be great given the right circumstances, but there are a lot of throwback classics that have made so many appearances at parties that they might be considered passé. Swedish meatballs, cheese balls, Chex mix, pigs in a blanket and on and on. We all love to eat them, but they seem to be less than "cool" on a party table these days.

On Activities:

The judging of the ugly Christmas sweaters can be an activity all on its own and a great ice breaker (or finale) for the party.

Another in-theme idea to add some color to your event is to have a white elephant exchange. Everyone brings a wrapped tacky gift (something no one really wants, like a matching set of pink elephant salt shakers) to the exchange and pulls a number for the order in which they get to choose a gift from the pile.

After unwrapping, the opener can choose to keep the gift or "steal" a gift from one already opened, with each gift only able to pass owners three times. The person who draws the number 1 gets the chance to keep or steal their present once all the gifts have been opened.

In the end, at an ugly Christmas sweater party, you really can’t go wrong if you keep things tacky and light hearted!

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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