5 Ugly Sweater Party Ideas + Tips for Hosting the Best Ugly Sweater Party

Article by BlissLights LLCMon, Nov 07, 22
man wearing ugly christmas sweater in front of christmas tree

When you’re figuring out how to create holiday memories that last, an ugly sweater party can be a great choice. It’s a classic way to bring festive spirit to your home. Plus, between making the food, finding decor, and deciding which tacky Christmas sweater to wear, hosting an ugly sweater party can be an adventure. Below is an assortment of ugly sweater party ideas for making holiday magic.

What is an ugly sweater party?

Ugly sweater parties are events celebrating the audacity of the tacky holiday sweater. You might see sweaters with an abundance of bright red and green, tinsel and jingle bells, or a glittery cartoon Santa. Ugly sweaters are always informal – and always extravagant.

The ugly holiday sweater itself was born in the early 1980s, and ugly sweaters emerged as a popular party theme about two decades later. The first official ugly sweater party was thrown in Vancouver, Canada in 2002. Since then, ugly sweater parties have become a favorite way to gather and spread holiday joy.

How to host an ugly sweater party

Now that you’ve decided to throw an ugly Christmas sweater party, you might be wondering where to begin. With just a few simple ideas, you can transport your guests right to the North Pole.

Set a dress code

While most people have a good idea of what qualifies as an ugly sweater, there are really endless possibilities. By including guidelines like “keep it tacky” or “bright colors encouraged,” you can spark everyone’s creative juices.

Go big with the party decor

The joy of ugly sweaters is their celebration of all things bold, and the decorations for your ugly sweater party should be just as daring. From your Christmas tree ornaments to your table settings, the flashier, the better. In a space you want to truly bring to life, you can never have too much shimmer.

Decide on food and refreshments

Good food and holiday comfort go hand in hand. Your culinary choices play just as much of a role in setting the tone as the decor and music. A station for hot beverages like cocoa or cider can help create a cozy environment. You can also highlight your ugly sweater party theme with elaborately decorated baked goods like an ugly sweater cake. Festive food is an easy way to make your guests feel like they’ve been transported to the Polar Express.

Pre-plan the party activities

Your ugly sweater party should include at least one planned activity. From ugly sweater party games to delightful group crafts, there are all kinds of great ideas for elevating your party into an experience of wonder.

Make the perfect party playlist

What would the holidays be without music? Composing the perfect playlist is essential to creating the right atmosphere. Whether you keep it traditional or include more modern holiday tunes, your playlist should leave guests feeling merry and bright.

Stream the holiday movie classics

You can add a dash of holiday cheer to your ugly sweater party with your favorite seasonal films. Christmas cartoons can be great in the background, or you can make a movie the focus with classic comedies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Whichever films you decide on, streaming the classics is a low-effort way to enliven your surroundings.

Don't forget the invitations

Getting invitations out sooner than later is ideal, as your guests are likely to have full calendars with the holidays fast approaching. Your invitation can also be a great way to convey the party theme and let guests know well in advance if they need to bring anything. You’ll create a sense of holiday wonder before your guests have even arrived.

5 exciting ugly sweater party ideas

From crafts to contests, there are all kinds of ways to elevate your ugly sweater party. Below are a few ideas to inspire an event that can transport your guests to a winter wonderland.

Hold an ugly sweater contest

Give your guests the chance to show off their gaudy fashion finds with an ugly sweater contest. You can choose to stay simple with one overall winner or make up your own award categories, like “Funniest Santa” or “Best Use of Glitter.” And if you want to make it a full-fledged fashion show, transform your space into a catwalk with BlissLights’ holiday lights.

Host a themed gift exchange

‘Tis the season for giving, so a themed gift exchange can be a great ugly sweater party idea. Whether hosting a white elephant or having guests play Secret Santa, a gift exchange is a great way to keep your guests entertained.

You should offer theme suggestions on your invitation like “home for the holidays” and focus on items that will brighten everyone’s home.

living room with blissglow multicolor led strip lights

Decorate your own ugly sweaters

A DIY ugly sweater workshop can offer everyone the opportunity to be tacky in ways that most store-bought sweaters can’t match. So skip the hassle of planning ahead and let your guests make their own ugly sweaters at your party.

While you should provide some basic decorating materials, this can also be a budget-friendly idea. Ask guests to bring their own plain sweaters and any other adornments they’d like so they can transform their blank canvas into a tacky masterpiece.

Christmas karaoke

While listening to holiday songs is a great way to get in the holiday spirit, singing them yourself is even better. Hosting Christmas karaoke can be a fun activity that adds to a lively ugly sweater party atmosphere. If you don’t have a karaoke machine handy, a capella Christmas carols are always a fun choice to create a joyful and festive environment.

Decorate ugly sweater cookies

The only thing more fun than decorating an ugly sweater you can wear is decorating one you can eat. Set up a station of sugar cookies with tons of colorful frosting and sprinkles, and let your guests create artistic edible wonders.

Ugly sweater party decor ideas

Whether you’re feeling ambitious or just looking for simple suggestions, there are countless ways to transform your space into a world of holiday wonder. Here are a few tips for elevating your surroundings and leaving your guests in awe.

A photo backdrop for memories

A festive photo booth or backdrop is a great way to create memories your guests can keep forever. You can go simple with a backdrop made of wrapping paper or get as elaborate as an ugly sweater backdrop with tinsel, bells, and reindeer. Include props so guests can transport themselves to Santa’s workshop without moving an inch.

Cozy lighting

Lighting can change everything – it’s key to the perfect party atmosphere. In particular, creating a festive, cozy mood for your ugly sweater party takes lighting that evokes comfort and warmth. Classic Christmas string lights are always an option, or you can foster bliss easily with the BlissRadia. This ambient mood light sets a relaxing tone with gentle, colorful lighting that seamlessly transitions among hues, immersing your space in a sense of calm.

blissradia smart ambient mood light in grassland green
blissradia is an led ambient light with app control that shines in multiple colors

BlissRadia Smart LED Mood Light


From desktop to bedside, light the way to concentration, stimulation, or relaxation.

Ugly sweaters for bottles

You and your guests don’t have to be the only ones to don ugly sweaters. If you feel like getting crafty beforehand, ugly sweaters for drink bottles can be a charming way to add festive flare. And if you’re serving drinks in cans rather than bottles, ugly sweater koozies are also great for brightening your refreshments.

Themed tableware

All Christmas parties should have festive serveware for refreshments, and ugly sweater parties especially present the chance to get creative on this front. Big clashing colors on napkins, utensils and other tableware is yet another way to imbue every inch of your space with that ugly sweater vibe.

How to host a virtual ugly sweater party

When you can’t gather in person with loved ones, ugly sweater parties through a screen are another great option. Below are some suggestions for virtual sweater party activities to create a celebratory environment in an instant.

virtual ugly sweater party

Send out an over-the-top invitation

Set the tone before the party even starts with an invitation as eye-catching as an ugly sweater. If you send digital invitations, you can go especially over the top with a gaudy or humorous holiday animation.

Scout out your ugliest sweater

Just like with an in-person ugly sweater party, adding an element of competition can liven up the festivities. Host a poll or ask guests to vote by emoji for the sweater that stands out the most. Get creative with the awards so that everyone’s ugly sweater gets its own moment of celebration.

Make it engaging with games

For virtual parties where it can be difficult to mingle, pre-planned activities are especially important. Games like Pictionary lend well to a virtual ugly sweater party, or you can create your own holiday trivia for a virtual celebration that wows.

Use festive and fun video backgrounds

Virtual parties offer plenty of opportunities for guests to express their creativity, and playing around with their video background is a great example. Encourage guests to choose a virtual background that ties into the party theme or ask them to decorate their space.

No matter what backdrop your guests decide on, good lighting is key. The Sky Lite Evolve projector, for example, can transform your surroundings into a galaxy of brilliant red and green holiday hues. And it does that with just a tap on your phone screen.

evolve smart galaxy projector effect colors
sky lite evolve smart multicolor galaxy projector

Sky Lite Evolve: Smart Galaxy Projector


The latest evolution in smart galaxy lighting.

Create an ugly sweater holiday wonderland with BlissLights

No matter how you go about your ugly sweater party, you should create a space that transports your guests to a world of holiday magic. BlissLights are an easy way to create an atmosphere of celebration and comfort for any occasion, ugly sweater parties included. Browse the BlissLights collection today to see your ugly sweater party in exactly the right light.

About BlissLights

BlissLights has been a leader in the laser lighting industry since the company was founded in 2006. Our team of experienced engineers and technicians helped create award-winning special effect lighting for major theme parks before minaturizing ourpatented technology for home use. BlissLights is dedicated to laser safety and education, and is registered with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

View all articles by BlissLights LLC

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