Ugly holiday sweaters are a recent tradition that has swept through the younger generations. Originating from the bizarre, festive holiday looks from the parents in the 80s, the youngsters from this generation took this look and put their own twist on it, highlighting the extraneous fashion trend from the 80s. Being able to spread holiday cheer just by wearing a sweater is a powerful thing, it can help spread the joys of the holidays in a simple, yet grand way. These sweaters have no limits. They can be dedicated to television shows, great memories, inside jokes or just be a cute design. Ugly holiday sweaters can be extraneous and spontaneous or simple and sweet. But at the end of the day, they all share one common goal: to spread the holiday cheer. Although it seems like creating these projects can be overwhelming, holiday sweaters are actually a lot easier to make than one might think.


     If you are creating a sweater dedicated to Hanukkah, do not be afraid to buy a whole menorah to glue or sew into the sweater. In the past, I have managed to put candy-cane slots, stockings, cup-holders and ornaments onto sweaters. Nothing is too much for an ugly holiday sweater. Holiday sweaters are fun and should be a reflection of the creativity inside one’s mind.


     What is your favorite show? What is a huge thing that’s impacted you this year? Who inspired you the most this year? Ugly holiday sweaters are supposed to draw attention, make people turn heads and celebrate the great season of giving. These are all very valuable questions to ask yourself while coming up with an ugly sweater idea. Every year, I have a different idea for my sweaters. Last year was “Christmas is LIT,” so I created a sweater that featured  battery-powered LED Christmas tree lights. This idea was inspired when my dad took me downtown to see the Circle of Lights light up for the first time.


A common misconception for holiday sweaters is that one should already have a sweater fully planned out before buying materials, but that is not the case at all. It is hard to visualize what to put on a sweater if you do not see what you have to work with. It is hard to match sweater colors to the colors of things to put on a sweater if you do not have the supplies. Now that the idea has been established for the sweater, it should not be hard to understand what materials to get. For my own sweaters, my list of materials usually consists of colored felt, puffy paint, cotton balls, jingle bells, thread, holiday-themed cloth, ribbon and, of course, a blank sweater. However, these materials can vary, depending on the idea. For example, for my “Christmas is LIT”sweater, I had to get myself some LED lights. I ended up cutting up a light-up necklace along with the battery powered LED lights to be able to get the effect I wanted.


     How is it going to look? Don’t immediately start putting stuff on the sweater. Maybe start with a sketch. I usually choose quotes or small phrases to put onto a sweater, but that is not how it always has to be. One must understand what he or she is putting onto it beforehand. The ribbon I buy is used for the lettering of the words. I lay out the ribbon in the shape of the letters, pin them down with sewing pins and go back in to sew the ribbon on the sweater.


     For me, the “basics”  would be the phrase that I want to feature on the sweater. For example, this year’s sweater theme is dedicated to “The Grinch.” The phrase that I chose to put on the sweater is “Grinch don’t steal my vibe,” which I made sure to sew on it before starting anything else. However, if your sweater is inspired by the aesthetic of gifts, then maybe lay down the design of the tied ribbon bow first. If your sweater is dedicated to Kwanzaa, maybe start with sewing on some felt shaped as a candle to represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Going back to the first rule, do not be afraid to put actual (unlit) candles on a sweater dedicated to Kwanzaa to represent the seven principles if you want to.


     Once the basics are laid down, let the creativity take over. You have the materials and foundation of the sweater laid out, so, put all of the creative ideas flowing through your head onto your canvas. Do not second guess anything. If anything “goes wrong,” understand that they are called ugly holiday sweaters for a reason and virtually no mistakes can ever be made on a sweater. If puffy paint horribly smudges and you want it gone, cover it up with some felt, holiday-themed cloth or ribbon.