Ugly Sweaters V. Tacky Sweaters

To Make a Tacky Sweater or buy an Ugly Sweater?

I can hear you already. No Beth! Not another tacky sweater party! I can’t handle it! Can’t we just wear something cute and be done with it? Well, sure. I’m not going to your party. I don’t care what your dress code is. I’m not even having an ugly sweater party myself, at least not this year. But there’s been a shift in recent years that’s driving me crazy, so I wanted to chat about it. Ugly sweaters have become tacky sweaters, and friends, I don’t have time for tacky. Literally, I don’t have time to make these crazy contraptions parading themselves as sweaters. So, humor me while I explain this evolution and which is easier for a time-crunched hostess.

The Ugly Sweater

When I first heard about an ugly sweater party, circa 2007ish, I was all in. The fad was a few years in, but it became trendy in Canada first, so cut me some slack. My friends and I had to throw an ugly sweater holiday party immediately.  We went on a sweater hunt to our favorite thrift store and in about thirty minutes we all came out with hideous, but amazing holiday sweaters. Now, thirty minutes may seem like a lot of time for a sweater hunt, but let’s be honest, there were five of us and we were in our twenties. We were easily distracted by other things the thrift store had to offer. I’d say thirty minutes is really a success. This is why I advocate for the ugly sweater over the tacky sweater, if you’re going to buy into this nonsense trend. It’s so much faster!

That’s the sweater I bought back in 2007. I still have it. Ugly right? Your great aunt Mildred probably turned it in to the thrift shop, but who can say for sure? Anyway, that’s another bonus to the ugly sweater. If you’re a costume hoarder like myself, you probably already have one. Do you think I’m ever going to find an uglier sweater than that? No! It’s an awful fabric with an awful color combination. It’s like the designer knew what it’s eventual purpose was going to be.  But, if I did want to go look for a new one, I’m pretty sure I could go down to Goodwill and find one in a matter of minutes, as could you. You might even need to head there anyway. It is Christmas after all. Donations run high this time of year. Now you’re done with your party prep. Easy, right?

The Tacky Sweater

Oh, the tacky sweater. How did it come to this? I admit, there has always been a crossover between ugly and tacky, but in recent years the tacky has soared to new heights. I don’t have one. I’m not going to make one. But I did borrow this image from my friend Allie, who was happy to share how ridiculous they’ve become:

tacky sweater

Do you see this? How do you even wear it? The worst part is this one isn’t even that crazy – and it still probably took awhile. And then if you’re hosting the party you still have to cook and clean and decorate? No thanks. Also, they seem a little wasteful, don’t they? I saw one a couple years ago on Live with Kelly and whoever else was hosting with a stuffed reindeer cut in half and glued on the front and back of the sweater. This is crazy to me. This could be a lot of fun if you aren’t time-crunched. I suppose you could even buy a whole bunch of supplies and decorate as a group, at the party. That might be an interesting take. But if you’re hosting it, just remember you get the cleanup.

The In-Between

There are, of course, ugly sweaters for sale just about everywhere. Here’s one on Amazon that crosses over between tacky and ugly. Tugly? I’ll work on it. The problem with buying ones like this instead of thrift store shopping is, obviously, the price tag. If your income is mostly disposable, this might be the way to go. It would be, in all honesty, the most time-saving. Ten minutes on your phone and bam! Your sweater is on the way, and you can get the fun of tacky with the real sweater feel.

To sum it all up, you have  few options in the ugly sweater department. The quickest way to go is to order it online. You don’t have to leave your house or get out the arts and crafts bucket for that. But, if you don’t want to spend the money on a sweater you can only guarantee you’ll wear once, the thrift store is going to be a lot less work than taking the time to DIY something so horrifying. Plus, what if all those lights and candy canes fall off your sweater and you have to do it all again next year? The horror! No matter what you choose, if you choose to celebrate the strange centennial creation that is the ugly sweater party, have fun, and look awful.