Saturday, June 10, 2023

Sidelines Guidelines: How to make the ugliest, most extra holiday sweater


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Photo courtesy of Flickr 

Story by Wendy Anderson / Contributing Writer

It’s that time of the year again. Houses are decked in everything red and green, hot chocolate serves as the wintertime water, candy canes are in abundance and ugly holiday sweaters are consuming your every thought.

These tacky and sometimes abrasive sweaters have become staples of the season. Some spend a generous amount of money on them, while others run across a few gems in thrift stores, but the secret to the best ugly sweater is simple: make it yourself. 

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body. How on Earth am I supposed to make one?” Well, that’s the beauty of these ugly sweaters — the uglier and tackier, the better! Plus, it’s much more fun making a sweater than buying one. All you need to do is send invitations to some friends, and there you go, it’s a party.

To make sure your ugly holiday sweater is on point this season, here’s a short how-to guide to get you started.

First step: Gather supplies

The purchase of simple supplies is the first step to achieving an ugly holiday sweater. (Flickr)

Obviously, you’ll need to find a plain or semi-plain sweater or sweatshirt. These can be found super cheap at either the local Walmart or thrift store. While the exact supplies needed will vary based on the genius design you’ve conjured up, some very basic supplies include a hot glue gun, fabric paint, scissors, felt and some battery-operated string lights. If that’s not wild enough for you, consider throwing in some small bells, or even glitter — otherwise known as Satan’s dust because it’s impossible not to get it all over everything in your home. 

Don’t freak out. There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on these things. In fact, the lights, glitter and bells can be found in Target’s dollar section, while Walmart carries mini bottles of fabric paint and small sheets of felt for an approximate $2. As for the hot glue gun, someone you know is bound to have one laying around the house somewhere, so just find one that way and borrow it.

See, little money was spent, and you’re well on your way to hand-crafting the ugliest holiday sweater of the season.

Second step: Brainstorm a design

Think outside the box when designing your holiday sweater. (Flickr)

The goal here is to create something that’s truly unique, so get creative with it. As mentioned before, if you’re not the next Michelangelo that’s ok. Any simple design — like a tree, present or snowman — can be turned into a festive eyesore, so don’t be afraid to make it loud and fun.

When in doubt, just glue bells all over the place so you’ll sound like a walking sleigh ride. This isn’t the time for precision or accuracy; however, if you do have the artistic gene feel free to showcase your skills and make this sweater your Sistine Chapel. Remember, the name of the game is to be creative.

Third step: Ready, set, DECORATE

This is where it gets good, because now you are free to grab your sweater and supplies and get cracking. If you aren’t sure where to start, fabric paint may be a good idea because it can take a while to dry. If you’re nervous about making a mistake, grab a pencil and sketch out the design. After all, the pencil marks will get covered up with your arsenal of supplies.

Decorating ugly holiday sweaters is the most fun step of the process. (Flickr)

If you still don’t feel confident using paint, felt can easily act as a substitute, but remember that sometimes mistakes can turn into something better than the original plan. The best advice one can receive in this step is to just roll with whatever happens.

When it comes to adding lights, try and place the battery pack close to the bottom of the sweater so it can be tucked into a pocket, or put it at the bottom of a sleeve so it can be attached to the inside with the help of some hot glue, which probably gets close to the temperature of molten lava, so proceed with caution. Another idea is to include the battery pack in the design. For example, it could be painted brown to look like a tree trunk and be completely hidden from plain sight.

When adding bells, it may be easier if you attach a string or ribbon to each one then glue the string or ribbon to the sweater. This way the bells can move more freely, which will maximize the sound they will produce, which will totally make people think they hear a loose reindeer running around. The options are limitless. 

Fourth step: Show off the masterpiece 

Ugly holiday sweaters are the new Christmas staple. (Flickr)

You didn’t put in all that work for nothing, so get out there and show that ugly puppy off. Wear it to any occasion from a festive party to meeting your significant other’s family for the first time. What makes a better first impression than a good ole ugly holiday sweater?  

Seriously though, let everyone see your fun and creative side. Regardless of how it turns out, as long as it was a fun process, it was a success. Now, turn on some holiday tunes, pour some hot cocoa and get crafting!

To contact Lifestyles Editor Tayhlor Stephenson, email

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