DIY Ugly Christmas Sweaters for the Family

In the United States, ugly sweater parties are a relatively new tradition that gained popularity in the 2010s because of social media. The third Friday in December is designated as National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, so in 2021 you can observe it on December 17!

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, or simply Ugly Sweater Day, is a fun holiday-themed occasion where people of all ages dress in old, tacky sweaters (or new sweaters with a throwback vibe) in a humorous way. The day is not just for people who celebrate Christmas; it’s also designed to be a casual, amusing, and enjoyable alternative way to celebrate the holiday season. You may get numerous unattractive Hanukkah sweaters, Kwanzaa sweaters, and winter sweaters from large department stores, specialist retailers, or maker websites like Etsy. Most ugly sweater designs have very little to do with Christmas; some even feature dragons, vintage cartoon characters, or Santas riding motorcycles.

You can amuse everyone by donning your ugly sweater at work, at family gatherings, or when you host your own holiday party. The trend of ugly sweater parties has gained significant traction (particularly among Millennials) as a less formal alternative to traditional holiday gatherings. Unlike the somewhat stuffy, traditional parties of the past, ugly sweater parties are noted for being incredibly informal and are much more about having fun with friends and making one other laugh.


Every year on the third Friday in December, people all throughout the United States choose to dress in abhorrently hilarious Christmas sweaters and subject everyone around them to this sight. There seems to be no end to the horribly absurd designs on exhibit, which range from gaudy green and red colors to pom-poms and nonsensical shapes. These knit monstrosities will be prevalent at holiday gatherings, on the street, and at the office. This is not a coincidental occurrence. National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is observed by the trend’s stylish and jovial participants.

When did the Ugly Sweater Tradition Start?

In the past, ugly sweaters were not at all what we would consider being such now. Jingle Bell sweaters were offered for sale in big retailers like Macy’s and mail-order magazines in the 1950s. These understated, long-sleeved sweaters frequently featured reindeer, snowflakes, and many of the traditional images and motifs we find in holiday sweaters (ugly or not) today. They were intended to be lovely or even fashionable celebrations of the winter season.

Christmas garb and winter knitwear first appeared in comedies with a seasonal theme in the late 1980s. As seen in ill-fitting vests with real jingling bells, silly cartoon Rudolph faces with puffball red noses, and loud red and green patterns, familiar and classic designs were cranked up until they were garish and over-the-top in films like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and on television in shows like Saturday Night Live. When people of all ages started posting pictures of themselves wearing their funny thrift store finds on social media, the Ugly Sweater holiday really took off. The rest is history!

How to do it?

The entire family will enjoy making their own DIY ugly Christmas sweaters! You may make your own ugly Christmas sweaters by following the procedures listed below:


  • Various sizes of plain sweaters (you can use old sweaters or buy inexpensive ones)
  • Hot glue or fabric glue
  • Accessories such as felt, fabric paint, pom-poms, glitter, and others.
  • Scissors
  • Holiday season stencils


  1. Pick a theme or design for your sweater to start. You may choose from classic holiday themes like Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowmen, or you can get inventive and create a one-of-a-kind design.
  2. If you have stencils, use them; if not, sketch your design freehand onto the felt or fabric paint. The design was cut out with scissors.
  3. It is time to sew your designs on the sweater after you have cut them out. To adhere the felt cutouts to the sweater, use fabric glue or a hot glue gun. To stop the glue from leaking through you on the other side, be sure to insert a piece of cardboard inside the sweater.
  4. To make the sweater even more festive, add extra details like pom poms, sequins, or glitter. To firmly fasten them, use fabric glue or a glue gun.
  5. For each sweater you wish to embellish, use the same procedure.
  6. Enjoy the holidays and show off your homemade ugly Christmas sweaters!

Additional tips

  • Before putting on the sweater, make sure the adhesive has dried fully.
  • Using washable fabric adhesive can be a good idea if you intend to wear sweaters more than once.
  • Use your imagination and enjoy creating the patterns! The sillier and more extravagant the better.

Ideas for the family

Dad (the words read “What Would Clark Griswold do?”):


Child 1 (the words have the number of suggested servings of each, and the top left text box says “World’s Best Coffee: Use Sparingly”):

Child 2: