How to Host an Epic Ugly Sweater Party

My family knows me as the party queen. They can be sure at any time during the year, I'm planning some type of get together.  I absolutely ADORE hosting! It's all so much fun--planning the meal, decor, and things to do. I even debated becoming a party planner at one point. But I couldn't figure out how to monetize it. So I said to hell with it. Fast forward to today. Today I'm planning my own epic ugly sweater Christmas party! I can not wait! I figured since I'm planning one I may as well go ahead and write a post on how to have one, right? So here it is!

The answer to how to host an epic ugly sweater party comes down to five things: picking a date,  picking a theme, sending out invites, choosing the best food and drinks, and having the best ever games! (Don't forget the ugly sweaters of course!) 

I'll dive into the specifics of each of these within the rest of the article so that you're able to have the most epic party ever!

First things first--PLAN. 

Plan now! The amount of planning that goes into a party really dictates its success. Pull out a paper and pen and start writing down some logistics. 


When are you going to have the party? 

Grab your calendar and check out the dates from Black Friday to Christmas (I'd even argue it can go up to New Years eve, eve.) Let the season last till the end of the month! ;) ) Pick a date and then make sure you have nothing going on at that point. 

If your partner works in an office and you want to make sure their annual office Christmas party isn't happening, have them find out first. Same goes for you. Make sure you won't have any other commitments going on. Then set in your date.


Choose a theme. 

This party is all yours, and as such, you can do whatever you want with it! Think about parties that you may have wanted to have in the past and if it can fit into this one. You can do anything and everything here. Personalize it to make it yours!

Some Options: 

How about a pub crawl? Where you meet in an area that's heavily populated by bars? Then you and your friends bounce from bar to bar either walking/taking an Uber?

Try a potluck! Where everyone on your list brings a food item. You can choose the types of food or have a list growing on your evite.

Choose a  movie theme for your ugly sweaters. There are tons of types of dirty sweaters out there, from Star Wars to Sesame Street. Choose one and reflect it on your invites.

80's themed Ugly Sweater party. The ugly sweater first debuted in the 80's. Why not have a party to reflect that? I've gone ahead and structured this post to include some great ideas for this one!


Now that you have your date and theme set up, time for invites!

Set up your invites. You can either go with mailed invites, or evites. My favorites were always Facebook invites, but there's no guarantee everyone you know is on Facebook, so sending out an evite or one through mail may be better. 

There are some perks to mailing an invite. It's super personal, and it always feels really good to write out each persons name and address, and have the availability to add a sweet note on the back. Snail mail is super rare nowadays and it'll stand out when they get it. 

Alternatively, you can hand deliver them. Which would be super cool, since you can wear your tackiest Christmas sweater and garb to go out and hand invites to people at their homes. This would be perfect if you haven's seen the recipient in a while and gives you the opportunity to catch up a little bit beforehand. They'll be happy to see your face before they get their invite from you. (Sometimes it's a bit awkward getting an invite to something when you haven't seen the person inviting you in a while. This is a good way to get over that.)

If you're going to go this route, I'd suggest going with Zazzle. Zazzle has some super cute ones and they are inexpensive. 

Here's a couple of the cutest ones.

I'm not sure if this is the same for you, but when it comes to acquaintances, I tend to make it more often to paper invites then evites, since they're normally put up on my fridge and I see them constantly (which makes it hard to forget). Otherwise, with everything going on in my life, I tend to forget.

Now, I have received evites that have set really good reminders for their parties--such as two weeks before then the week before, then the day of. You might think that's overkill but to be honest, people live hectic lives! In my case, I've got four kids, two jobs, and two blogs that I take care of. Every spare minute I get counts. So yeah, I tend to forget stuff. Reminders HELP.

If you go the evite route, make sure you set the parameters for reminders!

Also! Make sure you stress the importance of wearing an ugly sweater as its an ugly sweater party! You can even list a cover charge for those that don't wear one if you feel comfortable or list on the invite that you're having a contest for extra incentive (more on the ugly Christmas sweater contest below).


My absolute favorite place to send evites from are from Pingg.

Pingg is my favorite because there are so many ways to personalize it, down to sending a link to a video the recipient can watch. I also love that it'll send more than one reminder if you want and it'll actually print out the card and send it to the person via snailmail! Everything done in one shot. Plus, they're pretty inexpensive. You pay one membership fee for the year.

Here's a cute card from their site.

how to host an epic ugly sweater party

A couple of more sites that have great evites are and Paperless Post. Check out all three to to determine which pricing and designs are best suited for you and your party.

Now that you've gotten the date and invites out of the way, the next step to how to host an epic ugly sweater party is by having amazing food!

Ugly Sweater Christmas Party Food

Alright. Now, to really go epic with this party, you need to have food that reaches epic level! 

If you've read 'The History of the Ugly Sweater' you know it actually originated in the 80's with National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

I say--have the cheesiest, tackiest, ugliest food (to match your ugliest sweaters) as a homage to the 80's! How fun is that? I guarantee a lot of your friends haven't thought of this one.

Retro Food Ideas

Frugal SOS has a ton of great throwbacks. Some of them probably wouldn't work for a party, but a few of them did.  These are the ones I thought would work.

Bread Bowl

Photo by The Girl Who Ate Everything

You can find a great recipe for Bacon Cheese bread bowl dip from The Girl Who Ate Everything. Looks really cheesy and if you plate it right with the bread cubes--itll completely be retro suited!

Seven Layer Dip

Image and Recipe found at Gimme Some Oven

Tri-Color Pasta

Image and recipe from Taste of Home 

Some other simple ideas are pizza (pretty much suited for any time after the 70's),  cocktail weiners in sauce, Swedish meatballs, and ambrosia salad. You can also add anything else you want, 80's or not. Just make you make them look TACKY when you present.

Here's what I mean by throwback tacky. You'll notice a lot of food is made 'pretty' using ingredients used in the meal. So make sure to dress your meals up with the fruit and make colorful designs with the ingredients like some from this one. Even if you choose recipes from today, you can tacky it up using these techniques *groan*.  Super tacky!

Your guests will love it!

Now, a lot of people say you should have an Ugly Sweater Party cake, but to be honest, I wouldn't bother unless it's a kids party (or even at a regular Christmas party for part of the Christmas dessert table). It'll look super cute then!

Personally, I love the idea of really going tacky with food prep, decor and your actual sweaters. Once you do that, making a special cake to look like a sweater isn't necessary. Now for the kids? YES. They would love it! They don't really get the whole 80's thing anyway. But food shaped as sweaters? Oh yeah! They'll love it.

Holiday Drank

For your ugly party Christmas drinks, serve anything Christmasy. Things that are green and red, or named after Christmasy things.

Here are a few noteworthy's to check out.
Recipe and pic from Delish

Jingle Juice

4 c. Cran-Apple Juice
bottles red moscato
bottle prosecco
1/2 c. vodka
2 c. frozen cranberries
1/3 c. mint leaves
1/2 c. sugar, for rimming glasses
limes, sliced into rounds
Using a wedge of lime, wet the rim of your glasses. Dip in sugar until coated. 
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl, stir together and serve. 


Grinch Cocktail

How to host epic ugly sweater party christmas drinks
Recipe and pic Mix That Drink

What You'll Need

2 ounces Midori Melon Liqueur
1/2 ounce lemon juice 
1 teaspoon simple syrup 
Garnish: maraschino cherry 

How to Make It 

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Serve and enjoy!

Any of these drinks can be prepped beforehand in large quantities. Put them in a punch bowl or serving jug and strain, or serve over ice. 

For more Christmas drinks for your ugly sweater party check out Webstaurantstore.

Now that you've got food and drinks set, let's discuss them de-cor-ay-shuns!

Ugly Sweater Decorations 

Alright, guys. You've tacky-ed up your food and drinks, and now its time to tacky up those ugly sweater Christmas decorations! 

This is super easy, to be honest. All you have to do here is just make things look uber Christmasy. Hang lights up all over the place. Turn your home into a lit up Christmas castle. 

Image from DIY Network

Turn up the Christmas 10x's normal.  Use anything and everything in your ugly sweater party decor. Full-size Santa's, doors wrapped in gift wrap, mistletoe all over the place. Everything goes here. Don't be afraid to go over the top because cheesy is fab during an ugly sweater Christmas party! 

Some additional ideas from Shutterfly:

  • "Decorate your front door. Welcome your guests in style and let them know where all the celebrations are happening with a front door decor piece that is humorous. Wrap your door in Christmas paper or drape red and green streamers from the top of it. Make it apparent that guests are walking into a good time.
  • Set the scene with a Christmas themed backdrop.  Any item that is obnoxiously flashy and stands out will work well as ugly sweater decorations. 
  • Decorate your walls and ceilings. Drape holiday wrapping paper, ugly sweaters, lights or streamers around your party venue to add a fun element to your party area.
  • Create a DIY photo booth for guests. Set out some Christmas themed props like Santa hats, beards, glasses and more that your guests can pose with. A photo booth assures that the night will be documented and that your guests will have a blast.
  • Don’t be afraid to utilize Christmas cut-outs and other nice decorations. This theme also gives you the perfect opportunity to test out your own DIY Christmas sweater decor skills too. Hang cut-out snowflakes from the ceiling, lay tinsel on the table tops and stick bows around the party scene.
  • Take advantage of all the silly and mismatched patterns this theme allows and incorporate these options into every design element for the most fitting tablescape.
  • If you have some extra hideous sweaters, display them around the party venue." (source

The most important thing about getting the decor right for your Christmas party is to think about the way you want your guests to feel. 

Close your eyes and picture your guests coming up to the house. What do you want them to see? What will they feel when they walk in your door? Having an epic party requires connecting feelings to the experience, then designing the experience around that.

Start a list and add in everything you want them to feel, then start perusing the net using the emotions.

For example, if I want to make my guests feel whimsical I'd look up 'whimsical Christmas decorations.'  Start going through and creating a Pinterest board for your vision. Add in those decorations that connect to what you're creating.

You may find some DIY stuff that looks great, and doable. Pin that to a Pinterest board as well.

Start buying the decorations and materials as you go, so you can be prepared and not have to rush. I have waited for the last minute to buy my party decor one too many times. It's not fun. Honestly--it makes hosting your party so much more stressful! Do yourself a favor and plan ahead. 

If all else fails, Amazon Prime allows for free two-day shipping, which is a lifesaver. Let me tell you!! I literally don't shop anywhere but Amazon (well, once in a while I shop elsewhere) because of this perk. They have a 30 day free subscription for newbies so check it out to see how it works.

Alright, now that you've got your ugly sweater party decorations out of the way, let's talk about making your party fun!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Games

Part of what makes parties fun are the games! You want your games to be easy enough that you don't have to do a lot of prep work or directing the day of. Choose games that are simple so you can have fun and be involved without having to take yourself away from the party to conduct them. I've listed a few here that I think are easy to manage and go with the flow of an ugly Christmas sweater party easily.

Ugly Sweater Contest

Having an ugly sweater party means you get to have an ugly sweater contest! These bring life to a party and are super easy to have since everyone is involved and you don't have to prep much to have one.

1. Let your guests know early! You want them to know ahead of time that there's going to be a contest, so be clear on your invites.

2. If you're using Facebook or another evite that allows for videos, put the video below or another Youtube contest within your invite so they can see what a contest looks like, and what type of ensambles win! If not, text your list the video using phone number, or go through social networks.

3.  Plan the ugly sweater contest categories and prizes. You can have whatever categories you'd like here. Best couple, best movie sweater, most creative, most offensive, most ugliest sweater, etc.

Set up a panel of judges or use a voting style where everyone writes their fave and puts it in a ballot box.

You can have prizes for different categories, and give out fun gifts like boxes of chocolates or ornaments.

Check out the Real's recent contest.

Ehow has some other great tips for hosting an ugly Christmas sweater contest.

How to Host an Ugly Sweater Contest Infographic

Two Truths and A Lie (Christmas Edition) 

This is  a fun game I got from Shutterfly.

Ugly Sweater Party Games
Image Credit Shutterfly
Stocking Stuffers or Bluffers 

This game is tons of fun. I got this one from Queen of Theme Party Games

Ugly Sweater Party Games
Image Credit Queen of Theme Party Games

Christmas music can be found all over the place at this time of year. You can go old school and pick up some CD's or utilize Spotify, Pandora or Itunes to find some awesome Christmas music lists. Whichever way you decide to go, just make sure that you're only bumpin Christmas music for your ugly sweater party. Nothing makes more for a Christmas party ambience then Christmas music.

Ugly Sweaters 

Finally--time for the piece de resistance! The ugly sweaters! 

I'm not going to get into the history of the ugly sweater, but they've been around for a while. I wrote a great article if you'd like to learn about it's background. But to sum it up--they're an fun way of expressing who you are while having fun during the holidays!

Now, if you've not brought an ugly sweater before, I'd like to set some parameters for finding one so that you're not stuck surfing the net for hours, trying to find something that works. 
Finding The Perfect Ugly Sweater

1.  First of all, think about your likes. What do you love? Is there a particular show thats your favorite, character, sports team, or singer/band? 

What are the things that make you laugh?

Do you like dirty jokes, or are you more of a clean joke kinda person? 

This is going to make a difference in finding the perfect sweater. 

Once you have your list of loves, move on to your search. 

2. Find the right place to search. 

Personally, Im an Amazon fan. I'm a Prime member so that means everything I order gets to me three days or less. And it's free! I never pay for expedited shipping. Ever. Which is fantastic, since I have very little patience. AND--Amazon has pretty much everything you can think of from every company you can think of. So I get free shipping on everything I love, no matter who sells it. 

But if you're not huge on Amazon, start your ugly christmas search on They have everything under the sun! 

3. Search using the criteria you've listed.  

If you're not able to find something from a favorite show, musician, sports team, or character, scroll through and start favoriting different ones that you like. You're bound to find something amazing. 

I've listed a few below so that you can get an idea of what's out there.  



On the day of the party rock that sweater!!

Well, that's it!! I think I've covered pretty much evertyhing. Let me know if I've missed something below.

If you found this guide to having the most EPIC ugly sweater party ever useful, please share this or pin it on Pinterest so others can see it too.

Tis the season.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Ideas For Kids

Ugly Christmas sweater ideas for kids are not as easy to come by as they are for adults. Adults are the ones more likely to use them since their often raunchy and cheesy! Funny as hell, but not really good for the kiddos. I've created a list of great ugly sweater ideas for kids that you'll love!

You can decorate your kiddo's ugly sweaters using crafty Christmas decorations,  lights, iron on's, and even ornaments! The possibilities for making your own are endless. And if you're not that crafty, no worries (I'm not either)! You can buy some really adorable ones all over the place! 

If you've checked out the 'History of the Ugly Christmas Sweater',  you've discovered some fun ways to use your Christmas sweaters! But what about your babies? They want in on the fun too! Check out some amazing ways to include the kiddos in on this tradition below. 

Create A Ugly Sweater

Kids love making stuff! Why not grab some sweaters and decorations and make them yourself? 

Personally, I'm not that crafty so you just won't find me doing this with my kids. I have a ton of amazing skills--helping people talk about stuff, coaching people to get ish done, and being a great mom in general (I hope!), but being crafty is simply not one of them. Sadly, I'm just not that talented in the craft department. If it weren't for Michaels classes my kids wouldn't get regular use of their crafting muscle! 

But if you've got the craft in you? Girl, the kids would love this! 

Creating a kids sweater seems pretty simple! Surprise Collector & Sunshine go through step by step with this tutorial.

Seems pretty straightforward. Buy some simple sweatshirts, some colorful Christmas crafts, and you're good to go!

The Mommy Promotion has an amazing tutorial for this one if you're interested. It lights up and is super cute! I included the pin below so you can save it for later!

So much fun! Makes me want to create one with my angels.

If you're anything like me, inspiration is your best friend.  Morning Chores has some great inspiration on 51 Ugly Christmas Sweater Ideas So You Can Be Gaudy and Festive. (A few of them are 'adult only' but tons of them can be used for your children's sweaters too!)

My favorite are these by Sydney Jones. DIY Chrismas Sweaters with lights!

I'm all about the sparkle and shimmer, so anything that shines always brings me to a YAAAAS. Not to mention my girls were behind me while I was watching saying, "Awww! I want to make that!" I told them I would be a super cool mom and give it a try this season. We'll see how it goes.

Now if you're in a pinch and want to take the easy way out (*Raising Hand*) check out these fabulous finds! 

You guys. Tell me this isn't the cutest ugly sweater ever? Sesame Street? WUH? Totally getting this one for my four-year-old. Find it here on Amazon.

These are from My son would love the dinosaur too!

Amazon has tons. Here are some cute ones.

Finally, I have to include some ugly Christmas sweater ideas for babies. These are adorbs.

That's it ya'll! (The kids are whining because they're hungry. I guess I'll have to get up and cook. As much as I love going through these adorable sweaters!)

Do me a favor and show me your creations below! Me and the girls would love to take a look!

Tis the season!

Who Started Ugly Christmas Sweaters?

Ugly Christmas sweaters--they bring out all that's beautiful about Christmas, in the cheesiest, dorkiest ways possible. But who started ugly Christmas sweaters in the first place? Check out the history of the ugly Christmas sweater below.

The idea of the 'ugly Christmas sweater' started way back in the 80's thanks to the famous Christmas movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It didn't really start to take off though until 2002 when two men named Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch decided to host the first ever ugly sweater Christmas party in Vancouver.

  Read on to learn more about the history of the ugly Christmas sweater.

Annoying Ways to Wrap a Gift

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

There's nothing better than giving gifts. Being able to share something you know someone is going to love feels so good! Even more than that, the presentation of the gift matters. Here at Dirty Santa Gifts--we're all about the hilarious. So I thought I'd share some annoying ways to wrap a gift because it amps up the fun in gift-giving. Check them out below.

annoying ways to wrap a gift

Dirty Santa Gifts For Men

Dirty Santa Gifts For Men

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

dirty santa gifts for men

Christmas time is here and I'm amped! I love Christmas shopping. 

There's nothing better than combing through goods picking out the best stuff. 

Mental Health Therapist GIfts

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

gifts for therapist during christmas

Man, you're one lucky duck! You've got a therapist in your life.

Dirty Santa Gifts For Work

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

You're on the hunt for a great office gift.

It's got to be fun, original--and most of all, affordable.

I've created a list of some go-to's that you may find perfect for the co-workers in your life.

Comb through and find a dirty Santa gift for work that will wow your co-workers (and if nothing else, make them laugh!)