National Ugly Sweater Day

Next Friday, 15 December 2023

National Ugly Sweater Day, also known as National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, takes place on the third Friday of December. Once an object of ridicule, Ugly Christmas Sweaters have gained popularity and become a cultural phenomenon in recent years.

This is a day to whip out your ugliest Christmas sweater - think tinsel applications, bells, tacky designs, and lights - and wear it for the whole day. Maybe even have a competition with friends and family to see who can find the ugliest sweater. 

Two people laughing. One wearing ‘Link Awakening’ theme sweater, the other with Father Christmas on

A beautiful creation

In 2011, National Ugly Sweater Day was fittingly created by the people from an organization called Ugly Sweaters Lovers. Their intention was to inspire adults to feel the Holiday spirit again by having some silly fun wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, and to make Christmas fun again. 

The day eventually grew in popularity and spread across the world. Many charities that help children use this day to host ugly sweater competitions to raise money for their causes. 

Ugly Christmas sweaters were originally called Jingle Bell Sweaters and were very popular in the 80s during the holidays. The most common designs feature bears, reindeers, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and other Christmas symbols.

Recently, ugly Christmas sweaters had started to include designs inspired by tv shows, movies, songs, and other pop-culture symbols, have become popular with younger people. 

The secret to finding the perfect ugly sweater

The following are real examples of sweaters on Aliexpress, described by their sellers as 'ugly' Christmas sweaters, and available now to buy online. If we study them, perhaps they will teach us something about what makes a good ugly sweater:

1. Be controversial

A sweater with rolls of toilet paper and guitars hanging like bunting across the front
Image retrieved from

Be bold, why stick to typical Christmas images when with a little bit of thinking outside the box you can wear something truly unique and unexpected. Rolls of toilet paper and guitars wearing Christmas hats dangling from rope like bunting for example, that will definitely stand out. 

2. Have a message

A sweater with the image of president wearing bold American glasses and the text “Ben Drankin”
Image retrieved from

The use of text is important too. A sweater can portray a message to others, maybe something festive and patriotic such as "Ben Drankin". What could be more Christmassy than the Founding Father of America holding a glass of Champagne whilst wearing incredibly patriotic glasses and a bandana? 

3. Don't be subtle

A sweater with a large image of Father Christmas, with a fake beard and holding his thumb up
Image retrieved from

Go big or go home, that definitely applies when choosing your Christmas sweater. Subtle does not work, so make sure your sweater has Father Christmas taking up 90% of the front. Of course, you had better stand with your left arm glued to your side all night unless you want to remove Father Christmas's arm from his torso!

4. Be confident

A sweater with Father Christmas riding on a reindeers back whilst holding a bag of presents
Image retrieved from

You should be confident in your choice of Sweater. Don't let people put you down by saying things such as "Santa rides in a sleigh, not on a reindeer's back", or "Why is the elf showing him where to go?", embrace the fact that it is Christmas time and anything goes. 

How to celebrate National Ugly Sweater Day

The only rule of National Ugly Sweater is that you must wear your sweater all day, from the minute you get dressed in the morning until you go to bed at night. Your sweater can be an old gift that you've been too embarrassed to wear, one that you borrow from your parents, a new one that you buy for this holiday, or you can even get your craft box out and make your own!

Make this day extra fun by hosting an Ugly Sweater Party, with a prize for the person who wears the ugliest, tackiest sweater.

National Ugly Sweater Day
National Ugly Sweater Day

National Ugly Sweater Day 2023

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Date: Friday, 18 December 2026

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