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Tacky Christmas Sweater Party Ideas

Updated on October 22, 2014

Invitations, Decorations, and General Tips on Hosting an Ugly Sweater Party

Are you ho-ho-hosting a tacky Christmas sweater party this year? Lucky for you, I've assembled the best tacky Christmas sweater party ideas I could find - all in one place. Follow this advice, and your party will be well on its way to legendary status.

Ugly sweater parties have been growing in popularity ever since the 1990s, when people woke up to just how awful the previous decade's Cosby-rific fashions were. Now these wacky holiday parties have become one of the Christmas season's newest and most beloved traditions. Check out these tips to make your own party something people will look forward to every year.

Tacky Christmas Sweater Party Invitations

The first step is to find some sweet holiday party invitations to send out. Any Christmas card will do - as long as it's funny, that is. However, for something really memorable, send out an invitation with an ugly sweater theme.

If you have the time and inclination, you could make your own invites and go wild with tacky flourishes such as tinsel and even scraps of colorful cloth. Or you could take the easy way out and buy funny invitations online.


Your decorations should be in keeping with the party's theme - that is, gaudy, tacky, and just plain ugly. Chances are, you (or your parents) already have some awful decorations sitting around somewhere. Now's your chance to get some use out of that hideous fake Christmas tree and those godawful ornaments you made as "projects" when you were a kid.

If you don't already have these things, don't worry - you can pick up cheesy decorations at a dollar store or even on eBay. Decorate with plenty of tinsel, glitter, and bright colors. You can make your budget go a long way when your whole goal is actually to make things look cheap.

To top things off, you might also want to consider one or two set pieces, such as a funny wall decal or a replica "Tacky Leg Lamp" made famous in A Christmas Story. Items like this are obviously a little more expensive, but they make your party more memorable and can be used year after year.

Funny Christmas Music

To set the mood, you'll want to have funny Christmas music playing in the background. I suggest familiar novelty songs like "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" and "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

Christmas Karaoke, Anyone?

An ugly sweater party is the perfect time to break out the karaoke machine (or rent one).

White Elephant Gift Exchange

Another funny holiday tradition is the White Elephant Gift Exchange (aka Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa Gift Exchange). Why not add this to your roster of activities? Simply ask each attendee to bring one wrapped, unmarked gift costing less than $20 (or whatever price you choose).

The rules vary, but generally each participant in one of these gift exchanges chooses a gift and decides whether to swap it for another, previously opened gift. The game can get hilariously cutthroat as players vie for the best gift. This Wacky White Elephant Game makes it easy to follow the rules, while adding a few twists. It's completely optional, however.

Where to Find Tacky Christmas Sweaters

Not everyone has a tacky sweater lying around (go figure). In your invitation or an accompanying email, you might want to give people some tips on how to get one. One option is to get a plain old sweater and ugly it up with tinsel and so forth. This really allows people's creativity to shine through, but not everyone has the time for a project like this (especially at this busy time of year).

Fortunately, you can also buy completed ugly sweaters such as the one pictured here. eBay is a great place to find a vintage tacky sweater, often for a pretty cheap price. Etsy is the place to go if you're looking for something hand-crafted. And finally, believe it or not, there are online shops that are entirely devoted to selling ugly Christmas sweaters.

For more info, check out my page on buying an ugly Christmas sweater. I've got lots more tips there.

Pictures, or it Didn't Happen

Don't forget to take a picture of each guest in his or her tacky sweater, for posterity (and blackmail).

Any other ideas or feedback?

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    • OneHappyFeet profile image

      Lora Riley 5 years ago