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10 creative tips for throwing the best ugly sweater Christmas party

'Tis the season for holiday cheer and ugly sweaters

If you’re ready to host a holiday event at your home and are looking for something that will really be fun, there’s probably no better choice than an “ugly sweater” party. Good friends, good food and drinks, plus everyone dressed in the ugliest Christmas sweater they can find — what could possibly be better to get into the holiday spirit?

Deciding to host the party is the easiest part, but making sure your holiday get-together is a hit is where we come in. We’ve got 10 creative tips for food, drinks, decorations, prizes, and more that will help your ugly sweater party be an absolute blast! Get ready to make your ugly sweater Christmas party a hit with these great ideas.

Group of people wearing ugly Christmas sweaters in a living room
Image used with permission by copyright holder

9 tips for throwing a successful ugly sweater party

1. Invitations

Setting the mood for your party starts with your invitations. You can go traditional with mailed invitations, but we love the convenience of online invitations like the ones you’ll find on Evite. They have an assortment of ugly sweater-themed digital invites — some that are free — and you can manage your guest list and update your guests on any party changes. Plus, Evite automatically emails reminders to your guests in the days leading up to the event. Make sure you stress in your invite that wearing an ugly sweater is mandatory — the uglier the better — and that you’ll be awarding prizes for the best efforts. 

2. Decorations

Typical holiday decorations will do for your ugly sweater Christmas party, but adding a few little extras to help enhance the vibe won’t be difficult and will take your party from great to epic. Keep the color scheme traditional red and green — an ugly sweater party is not really the time for an elegant white-themed party. Add a little festive humor by covering a few empty wine bottles with their own tiny Christmas sweaters and hats and making them the centerpiece for your buffet table or bar. 

3. Food

For this type of party, you want to concentrate on making sure you and your guests have a good time, so keep the food simple. Do a make-your-own-taco buffet with a few protein options that you’ve made in advance and a good variety of toppings like cheese, salsa, guacamole, olives, sour cream, and tortilla chips for dipping. Place bowls of chips, pretzels, and popcorn around the room, and have a platter of cheese and crackers for noshing. Really any sort of build-your-own, buffet-style, dinner course will work here. 

4. Drinks

A hot chocolate or cider bar makes an amazing addition to your party, with or without a dash or two of bourbon, whiskey, or rum. Or, you can create a signature cocktail for the night that is rich with holiday spirit. Need a few ideas? You’ll love these holiday cocktail recipes.

5. Dessert

Christmas is all about indulgence, so there are plenty of great recipes for cakes, pies, cupcakes, and other delicious desserts. Want a dessert that will take the theme of your party to sweet new heights? Try these , which you can make and decorate yourself. Cute and delicious!

6. Photo Booth

If you want to really get your guests in the spirit of the event, plan on having a photo booth. You don’t need to rent one from a party supply store or event planner; all you’ll really need is an available wall where you can hang a backdrop — a solid red or green throwaway plastic tablecloth works well. Don’t forget to provide plenty of props to help guests maximize their fun. You can use your phone to take pictures and post them to social media, or you can leave a camera available for guests to take turns using — disposable or polaroid work great here.

7. Gifts

Since it is the Christmas season and people may ask about gifting, why not do a White Elephant Gift exchange or other fun game, where the focus is entirely on the fun? Set a dollar limit on gifts, and ask everyone to bring just one gift — it could be good, and it could be not-so-good, but that’s the fun of a White Elephant.

8. Games

There are plenty of great games that you can play at your ugly sweater party, but we love this one from Tipsy Elves: Give each arriving guest an ornament to hang from their sweater (make sure the ornaments aren’t breakable). Guests are not permitted to say the words “Christmas” or “holiday” at all, and if they do, they have to give their ornament to the person who catches them. The guest with the most ornaments at the end of the night gets a prize. (You can, of course, customize the “forbidden” words to personalize the game for your group.)

9. Awards

If your friends put in the effort to get all decked out in ugly sweater splendor, their efforts should be rewarded. Besides, who doesn’t love a little healthy competition? Make some ballots and print them off for everyone to vote for their favorite ugly sweater in a variety of categories such as:

  • Most Original
  • Best Couple Combo
  • Most Likely to Get Arrested if Seen in Public
  • Most Festive
  • Funniest

You can award the winners Christmas ornaments as prizes, or order these fun trophies. 

Green ugly Christmas sweater on hanger
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Finally… the most important thing: The sweater

10. The sweater

When you’re deciding what you’re going to wear to your party, you have several options. You can purchase an ugly sweater — since so many stores and websites sell them, you can visit a local thrift shop to pick one up at a great price — or you can make your own with a basic red, white, or green sweatshirt, a visit to your local craft store, and a little imagination. 

That’s it! You’re all set to host and enjoy the best ugly sweater party ever. Follow our simple tips and get ready for a fun time to be had by all.  

Editors' Recommendations

Kim Renta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kim has written for Bloomingdales, Movado, and various e-commerce wine sites. When she's not writing about wine and…
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