When I was about ten years old, my grandma bought me a
holiday sweater. It was a cardigan: turquoise, featuring about ten tiny beaded
snowmen surrounded by pink sequined trees. For a young girl who had an
irrational fear of both anything sparkly and the color pink, this sweater
brought about much anxiety.
Today this sweater would have come in handy. This past
weekend, the cultural phenomenon that is the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
seemed to take over Stevens Point. I did some research on the origins of these
parties and discovered a few possible sources.
The first one came from a book entitled “Ugly Christmas
Sweater Party Handbook: the Definitive Guide to Getting your Ugly on.” It
declared that the first ugly sweater party was held in Vancouver, Canada.
In 2007, the popularity of these parties exploded with
the launch of the website www. UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com, which got the
word out about a use for these ugly sweaters.
These parties were also featured on the list of Stuff
White People Like in 2008. Author Christian Lander explored what he called the
greatest difficulties of preparing for these parties: “Craftier white people
have been searching used clothing stores since last Christmas, and so you
should not expect to find anything for significant ironic value.”
The part-nostalgia, part-hipster phenomenon made it to
Stevens Point, where I was able to further explore the beauties of Christmas
I walked into the house to find partygoers scattered
about the festively decorated living room. It felt like a family holiday party
circa 1980, considering the quantity of over-the-top holiday attire. Camera in
hand, I summoned my inner Joan Rivers. As she does on any red carpet of any
awards show, I began my search for the best of the best. Or, in this case, the
ugliest of the ugly.
My first sweater wearing “celebrity,” as we will call
them, was Jason Burr. He was sporting a lovely chunky sweater that reminded me
of Bill Cosby. No, it wasn’t a holiday sweater specifically, but those faux
leather triangles scattered amongst the multicolored stripes really set this
sweater apart from the rest.
I quickly eyed my next partygoer. Chelsey Baeb was
wearing what could be called an ugly sweater party essential: the Santa
sweater. The Santa sweater can come in a variety of fashions. In this case,
Santa was standing stoically amongst majestic woodland creatures that were
covered in a light dusting of knitted snow.
My favorite type were the do-it-yourself sweaters. The
DIY ugly Christmas sweater takes the potential for kooky knitted nonsense to
all new heights. A couple of my favorite DIY sweaters that I saw were by Sarah
Mark and Ryland Gulbrandsen. Sarah already owned a bunny sweater but decided to
take it to a new level with a few oversized, glittery snowflakes. Ryland was
the owner of a sweater that had the seams on the outside but wasn’t inside out.
Ryland decided that the natural thing to accompany the front of this sweater
was a small plaid puppy decal, making this sweater one of the most memorable