Two days before the end of 2013, most people are busy trying to figure out what to do and what to wear on New Year’s Eve. It is a special night of course, one that embraces a joyful sense of freshness and celebrates that another new cycle is coming our way. With the thought of the new, it occurred to me that one of the best parties I went to this holiday season was themed on the idea of something old and ugly. Yes, I attended an Ugly Christmas Sweater party, and it was indeed a blast.
To the contrary of the glitz and glamour of the last night of the year, this ugly sweater party invoked in me certain feelings from my past that for a long time I had forgotten. The tacky and funny sweaters were the perfect visuals to make me recall certain dear teachers, uncles, neighbors and friends of my parents. One can easily go back in time and not only think about these lovely people, but also what they used to wear; such a trip down memory lane also gives us the power to reminisce about the young versions of ourselves, our hopes and dreams, some lost in time, perhaps making us prioritize a new approach to life — after all, now is the perfect time for new resolutions.
I am not really sure who we should credit for the first ugly sweater party, but if you look up the term “Cosby sweater” in the Urban Dictionary, it will explain that it refers to “the incredible sweaters that Bill Cosby wore during his highly successful 1980s sitcom ‘The Cosby Show.'” And who doesn’t remember the famous ugly reindeer jumper worn by Colin Firth in a family gathering scene in the 2011 movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary”? How can anyone forget how ugly indeed it was?
We can also put a little of this guilt on a city: Vancouver, Canada, claims to be the birthplace of this trend, starting back in 2002. Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch are the co-founders of the annual ugly sweater party held at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver; the dress code for the party has always been an “ugly sweater affair.” They have even trademarked the terms “ugly Christmas sweaters” and “ugly sweater Christmas party” — they don’t joke around when it comes to the business of ugly.
Things took a more serious turn in 2011, when Team Ugly — formed by Brian Miller, Adam Paulson and Kevin Wool — published the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book,” the complete guide on how to throw this theme event for family, friends and co-workers. It is my personal experience that these parties are the funniest parties ever, where everybody is smiling and laughing and the ugly sweater is the perfect conversation starter. It doesn’t matter how bad you look; you still look great. This is the only time that you are encouraged to use fashion to look ugly, and you will always end up looking like you belong. It is no doubt the perfect atmosphere, especially for those who don’t get into the holiday spirit but who like to dress up.
So, as one of your resolutions for the upcoming year, get the book, get ideas, dig into your closet and start preparing to throw one of the best theme parties. And if you can’t find that perfect old ugly sweater at home, well there is always a Salvation Army or Goodwill store around the corner.