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Ugly Christmas Sweater DIY Guide

Now that Halloween is over, there isn’t much to look forward to as far as dressing up goes… That is, unless you’re into ugly Christmas sweaters! Over the years a trend has emerged that glorifies and showcases the most hideous piece of a holiday season wardrobe. The ugly Christmas sweater has become increasingly famous thanks to a multitude of pop culture factors, including Bill Cosby’s questionably fashionable sweater choices on The Cosby Show and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There are other factors that have impacted the increasing popularity of the horrible knitted trend, but the top reason seems to remain that they’re just fun to make and wear.

Although ugly Christmas sweaters can vary a lot, there are some standard characteristics that set them apart as exceptionally horrendous:

  • Excessive use of red & green
  • Obnoxious adornments such as bells, lights and tinsel
  • Cartoony and exaggerated snowmen, Santas, reindeer, etc.

…The list goes on, but I think you get the point.

Now that you know what all the hype is about, I’m sure you want to get started making your own *ahem* lovely article of clothing. Well, I’m here to help. I’ve gotten pretty good at digging through the depths of the internet to find the shining diamonds of epic inspirational proportions for a variety of subjects. This one, however, is very special. You only get one chance a year to don one of these beauties, so you better make it count. Below I’ve found and showcased the worst of the best ugly Christmas sweaters for both your inspiration and enjoyment.


Category #1 – Tacky Christmas Sweaters

First we’ll go over the “traditional” style of the ugly Christmas sweater. You know, the one with the giant image of a Christmas tree on the front? I, personally, had a bright red one with the tree made out of stiff green fabric and padded with a generous heap of batting underneath. The tree was adorned with little embroidered ornaments and lights and had a slew of bad fabric choices for presents under it. Thinking back on it, I cringe at the thought that my mother may have actually thought this was a cute idea. I think it would be less traumatizing to know that it was meant to be a joke… Anyways, the traditional look for an ugly Christmas sweater is simply just the big, obnoxious tree in the middle. It’s fairly common to find in thrift stores and also pretty easy to make. You could make the tree out of any material and attach it to the sweater in a variety of ways. Traditional ugly Christmas sweaters can also be any sweater with classic Christmas motifs. These sweaters are usually not actually meant to look bad, they’re just made that way because someone with bad taste thought it was cute.

Category #2 – Strange & Creepy

Next is the strange & creepy category of sweaters. If you’re looking for shock factor at your next Christmas party, you should consider coming up with a very strange sweater design. One of the best ways to make your sweater creepy or strange is, of course, to take some creepy photos with it on. You can make any sweater look creepy if you take the right picture. For example:

…But if taking weird pictures isn’t your thing, you could always just find a strange subject matter for your sweater. Cat sweaters can also fall into this category, but there are many other options. Many old graphics and knit patterns for Christmas motifs can end up looking very… strange. These are great for creeping out other party goers and starting a slew of conversations.

Category #3 – Cats

Yep, you read that right. They’re big in all the clothing stores in the mall and they’re spreading across every fashion trend you can find. Cats are even taking over the ugly Christmas sweater trend in force. Kitties in stockings, playing with ribbon and lights and wearing little Santa hats are quickly becoming a must have for holiday party attire. Need I say more about these festive feline tops?

Category #4 – Pop Culture & Alternative

It’s always fun to see some of your favorite characters from TV, movies, and the internet adorned in holiday garb and celebrating right along with us. A slightly more avant garde style of the Christmas sweater is one with popular characters and references on it. There aren’t a lot of them out there, but the ones you can find are usually gold. There’s also options for those who may not be sweater people. Many stores carry t-shirts with Christmas sweater inspired graphics. (All the ugly without the bulk!) From internet memes to some of television’s biggest animated faces, there’s surely something out there to strike everyone’s interest this holiday season.

Category #5 – Obnoxious

The final, and probably most popular way to see an ugly Christmas sweater is the obnoxious adornment style. This is where the trend got out of hand a little with people over exaggerating the ugliness of the fashion statement. These are also, surprisingly, the easiest kind to DIY at home! You have absolutely no limits here because the goal is to make it annoying and ugly. Chanel your inner preschooler and get out the glue and sequins. While your at it, grab those pom poms and pipe cleaners. Some bells and tassels would help too! The whole point is to create Christmas imagery out of simple and cheap materials. You can add Christmas ornaments or garland if you’d like. Making the sweatshirts light up will get you some extra points, too!

Do you have an epic ugly Christmas sweater that you think belongs in this gallery? Send me a link, or leave a comment below and I’d be happy to consider it for the round-up! Also, don’t forget to share this with all your friends and spread the love!

(Stay tuned… There may be a DIY post about this soon…)