Ugly Sweater Parties Hit 54481

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Photos by Samantha Feld.

Photos by Samantha Feld.

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., 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 sweaters.

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 for me.


Samantha Feld




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