Deck the Halls with these Ugly Sweater Party Ideas

The uglier, the better!

Rhayn Abner


This is one of the few events where the motto is “the uglier, the better.” When it comes to Christmas, nothing really gets you in a festive mood like seeing tacky reindeer, Santas, and light-up Christmas trees sewn into cozy sweaters. What better way to take in the holiday cheer than an ugly Christmas sweater party.

It’s time to pull the cheesiest sweaters out of your closet and get the hot chocolate flowing  because it’s time to celebrate. Finding a great DJ, friendly Santa Claus, and finding winter decor is a great start to planning a memorable party. Luckily for you, we’ve got a few festive ugly sweater party ideas to make this Christmas celebration a jolly good time.

This type of event can work in any environment, whether you’re planning a day for your close friends, extended family, or work colleagues. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take place on a specific day, although National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is officially the third Friday in December. Whether you’re starting the season once November ends or hosting a Christmas in July celebration, anything goes.

Keep reading for ugly sweater party ideas…

Ugly Sweater Themed Invitations

A party like this needs a fun introduction. When it comes to your invites, they can display all sorts of designs. We’re talking quilt-style frames, clashing patterns, yarn and string light borders, needlepoint reindeer, and anything else you can think of. Going all out with  this theme will make your party feel so much more fun.

You can find custom invites on Etsy, or for an extra special touch, you can DIY them with ideas from Pinterest. Send them off digitally or put them in multicolored Christmas themed envelopes so your loved ones will have plenty of time to get their sweaters ready!

Photo Booth

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - photo boothVendor: 321 Photo Booth (handmade props)

Let your guests showcase their sweaters in all their detailed, festive glory. With the custom overlays, fun backdrop themes, and awesome lighting, photo booths make for a great addition to your ugly sweater party. On The Bash, we have plenty of local photo booth rentals for you to choose from, each with its own variety of props, themes, and personalized touches. This way when the party ends, your guests can go home with fun, carefree photo strips to keep as a Christmas keepsake and post on Instagram later.

Find Photo Booths

Santa Claus

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - Santa ClausVendor: A Claus To Remember

Every Christmas themed party needs a fun Santa-mental touch. If you’re planning a celebration for guests of all ages to enjoy, a professional Santa Claus appearance will make for a wonderful winter addition. With fun photo moments for the young ones and a chance to share their wishlists, Santa is sure to sleigh the day.

Find a Santa Claus

Christmas Carolers

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - Christmas carolersVendor: Christmas Carolers- 42nd St. Singers 

Do you want to add some extra musical flair to your event alongside the traditional playlist, DJ, or live band? Christmas carolers are sure to do the trick. Perhaps you want to help your friends jingle all the way throughout the night? Or maybe you’d rather sing of Rudolph’s victory story. Whatever song gets you in the holiday cheer, a group of trained carolers is sure to make for a holly jolly Christmas party.

Find Christmas Carolers

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contests

There’s nothing like some friendly competition to get the party started, and what better way to inspire your loved ones to step up their ugly sweater game than a contest? You can set the competition up however you want: a secret vote with your guests, a tournament-style setup, you name it. The prizes can be anything from a custom made gift bag to your loved one’s favorite bottle of wine, or even just bragging rights. As long as it brings you all together, it works.

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater 

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - DIY ugly Christmas sweaterPhoto: frenkel vic/

If you and your guests don’t have an arsenal of gaudy holiday clothes in your closets, this is the perfect opportunity to get creative with a DIY sweater-making session. There are many different places to get some cheap sweatshirts in bulk and a variety of craft items such as tinsel, paint, hot glue, glitter, pom poms, and felt that you can use. 

The best part is that there are no rules for this. Your friends, family, or coworkers will be free to make their sweaters as ugly as possible, whatever counts as “ugly” for them. Just throw an old sheet on your table or floor (so you don’t risk any stains) and let your guests show off their creative skills.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - hot chocolate barPhoto: Arina P Habich/

Nothing adds a cozy aesthetic to a party quite like hot chocolate. Of course, everyone likes it their own unique way, be it with or without marshmallows, a dollop of whip cream, or even with a shot of their favorite liquor. If you want to get your guests in the winter season, a hot chocolate bar will definitely be a great addition.

Lay out several mugs on a table, along with pre-made cocoa ready to be poured. Then fill some cute bowls or mason jars with all sorts of toppings, from classic marshmallows to multi-colored sprinkles. If you want to add an adult twist to it, you can set out bottles of Baileys, Peppermint Schnapps, and other favorites to add a hard-hitting taste.

Pot Luck Christmas Dinner

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - pot luck Christmas dinnerPhoto: Cabeca de Marmore/

When it comes to any party, food is a great way to bring people together. Your work party, family get-together, or night with friends can have some extra Christmas charm with some homemade dishes. Give your attendees the freedom to come with their favorite dishes, be it a childhood side dish, cultural dessert, or the mixers with their favorite cocktail. If your guests help you out with the menu, it can easily take some of the party planning stress off you.

Do you want a traditional seated dinner? Ask your guests to bring their favorite sides and desserts while you prepare the main course. Or maybe you prefer easy bites and snacks for your guests to enjoy as the night goes on. Finger foods, charcuterie boards, and appetizers will be your best bet. Either way, delicious bites and nibbles are sure to keep the celebration going.

Ugly Decor

Eye catching decor is sure to get your guests in the holiday mood. Hypnotizing peppermint swirls, stitched snowflake patterns, and bright yellow stars are some of the many designs you can add to your party venue. Streamers made from Christmas scarves, reindeer-decorated napkins, and a Christmas tree adorned with winter mittens can also add a fun, casual feel to your event, making your guests feel right at home. The best part about an ugly sweater theme is that anything goes!

Sweater Wearing Gingerbread Cookies

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - sweater wearing gingerbread cookiesPhoto: Nature's Charm/

Do you want to create ugly sweaters good enough to eat? The classic gingerbread cookies will make for a great solution. Not only are they a cute, classic addition to any winter event, but they’re also a creative way to show off your event theme. If you love to bake, you can create some delicious, colorful gingerbread and ginger sweater cookies before your guests arrive. If you think your visitors will love to decorate their own, a display of frosting pipe bags and candy eyes and buttons will make for jolly DIY fun.

Yule Log Cake

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - yule log cakePhoto: Antonina Vlasova/

Imagine you and your loved ones hanging out by the fireplace—or video of a fireplace—in a warm blend of ugly sweater designs. If you want to give your big day an extra warm, crackling aesthetic, a sweet yule log will do the trick. This classic Christmas cake can have any flavor you want and can range from a classic bark-like look to a smooth, iced appearance. Just be sure there’s enough for everyone to have a slice!

Champagne Tower

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - champagne towerPhoto: Pixel-Shot/

Maybe you want to add an elegant touch to balance out the wonderfully ugly sweaters filling your living room or venue. A champagne tower or champagne wall will definitely add a classic, effervescent touch. You can choose from glass flutes for a sophisticated finish or compostable flutes for easy, eco-friendly cleanup. To keep up with the theme, you can also search Pinterest for ideas on how to decorate your flutes in a memorable way. 

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Theme

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - How the Grinch Stole Christmas themeVendor: GRINCH - CANADA & USA 

Let’s face it—the Whos of Whoville are the kings and queens of tacky Christmas. For your ugly Christmas sweater party, the theme of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a fun idea for a unique holiday twist. The classic Dr. Suess illustrations, costumes, and bright, colorful decor can quickly get your arriving guests in the holiday cheer.

Winter Wonderland Theme

Do you want to make sure your guests’ sweater designs take center stage? Decorate your venue with something simple like a sleek, winter wonderland theme. A simple white and blue color scheme is sure to put the focus on your guest's unique ugly sweaters, whether they’re classic Christmas themed or have a pop-culture spin. Paper snowflakes, hanging icicles, white tree branches, and white twinkle lights are some of the many decor items you can add.

Ugly Ornament Exchange

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - ugly ornament exchangePhoto: Nomofoto/

Sweaters aren’t the only thing that can be adorably ugly. If you’re near the Christmas season, a white elephant exchange of ugly ornaments will make for an adorable activity. 

Demon skulls with Christmas hats, Santa in a speedo, crocheted mini sweaters. Whatever your guests consider to be ugly will work. Your guests opening the boxes and bags up to these laugh-worthy gag gifts can definitely add a fun touch to your party. When your guests leave at the end of the night, those ornaments will serve as fun memorabilia for their own trees at home.

Grinchy Punch

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - grinchly punchPhoto: 5PH/

You may be able to tell that we’re fans of the Dr. Seuss character. He just fits so well with this theme! This unmistakable beverage can fit guests of all ages, depending on the ingredients you use. There’s a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic recipes on the internet to create this bright green drink. After you have made the perfect mixture, top it off with red garnishes—think maraschino cherries, red straws, or a red sugar rim on the glass. You’ll be ready to party in no time! 

Christmas Movie Marathon

Ugly Christmas sweater party ideas - Christmas movie marathonPhoto: Ellyy/

Would you prefer something a bit more chill and low-maintenance with a few of your besties? A Christmas movie marathon makes for a good choice. Those warm, ugly sweaters can fit perfectly with a few throw pillows and cozy blankets for some nostalgic Christmas videos. A Christmas Story, The Holiday, Krampus, and Home Alone are some classic choices to enjoy with a bowl of popcorn.

Pro tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, take a drink every time an ugly Christmas sweater comes on the screen. However, if you’re watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, we recommend you stick with non-alcoholic options (Trust us, there’s a lot of them.) 

Find more holiday party ideas here on The Bash.

Published on 9/7/2023