05 December 2011

How to Attend an Ugly Sweater Party

This last weekend was the first Ugly Sweater Party I have ever attended. Prior to this event I had nary a Christmas sweater in my closet, much less an ugly one. So for those of you who are unfamiliar with Ugly Sweater Parties and how to prepare, I am happy to map it out for you.

Step 1: Get invited to an Ugly Sweater Party
There's one happening every year and most likely being hosted by someone you know. When we found out that fellow med school wife, Amanda, was anxious to throw a party this year, I made it known that not only would I attend, but I would be extra supportive of her efforts to plan. To be honest, my support was offered more in the way of enthusiastic phone calls, but that probably helped...

Step 2: Take a friend Ugly Sweater Shopping
The best place to shop for Ugly Sweaters is your local thrift store, and the best time is around Thanksgiving. You may be able to find something online, but it's likely that you wont have much time for shipping after you receive your party invite. Plus who really wants to spend $20 for a new UGLY sweater that you only wear once a year... or depending on how ugly, maybe only once!

I escorted my buddy and fellow attendee, Morgan, to the oh so eccentric Lebanon thrift store strip in search of Ugly Sweaters. Expecting Lebanon to be an untapped gold mine for particularly ugly sweaters, we instead found:
Strange figurines that could double as scary movie props,

unusually large, used basketball shoes,

and a variety of tree skirts, all of which were not large enough to wrap around as a skirt for our Ugly Sweater outfits.

It is important to be flexible in your ideas for Ugly Sweater outfits. You never know when you might find a bedazzled vest, elf hat, or dress length sweater that could pull your whole party image together. We found that the best thrift store for Ugly Sweater shopping in Oregon is Goodwill. Unlike Lebanon's stores, the Goodwill stores I visited were organized and had specific Ugly Sweater sections for browsing.

Step 3: While thrifting, keep an eye out for White Elephant gifts
Many Ugly Sweater parties have a white elephant gift exchange on their agendas. A typical white elephant gift is something unwanted or previously loved, whether from your home or purchased at the store. Clearly there were many items to choose from on our visit! The most popular white elephant gifts are the entertaining ones. While most people enjoy making a crowd laugh with their humorous gift, I would say providing the most fought over gift has it's benefits as well (especially if stealing gifts is allowed in game rules).

We happened upon this lovely pooch portrait with a stunning suede canvas in my favorite Lebanon thrift store. This homemade beauty was only $3!

Step 4: Don't be afraid to look the part
When preparing for an Ugly Sweater party, don't be afraid to match the personality of your sweater combo! Personality is key to making your sweater stand out as the ugliest of ugly. If you second guess your sweater choice, test it out at the local Walmart in December. You should get at least one compliment or see familiar outfits.

And there we have it. I hope these tips help you to have the ugliest of sweater seasons!