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Lurking in the murky depths of many people’s wardrobes is a colorful, brash and (in most cases) highly embarrassing novelty Christmas jumper which, were it not for National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, would probably never see the light of day.

When National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day comes along, it’s time to stop being ashamed of the contents of your (likely gifted) wardrobe and start busting out the ugly. There is such a thing as ‘so awful you can’t really hate it’ (the nether-regions of Netflix has multiple movies that fit these criteria), and Ugly Christmas Sweaters fit the bill in your wardrobe.

So, it’s time to forget that buttoned up look at work and opt for a relaxed, ridiculous, and possibly even irreverent version of this festive, jubilant attire!

History of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

It wasn’t so long ago that ugly sweaters were worn either accidentally (by well-meaning party-goers) or ironically (by hipsters making fun of the previous generation).

Maybe the snowman with the 3D carrot nose was meant only to appease Aunt Martha who gave it as a gift the previous year. Or perhaps the sweater featuring Santa’s sleigh—and bells that actually jingle-all-the-way—was gleaned from a holiday gift exchange and worn in desperation after spilling eggnog all over a tasteful silk shirt.

Launched in 2011, this annual celebration, which is growing in popularity every year among adults and children, is not simply an excuse to parade humiliatingly-unfashionable seasonal knitwear featuring Rudolph, Christmas puddings and Frosty the Snowman; it can also be a light-hearted and enjoyable fundraising event with a serious aim—in aid of Save the Children.

Since then, this day has become an important event that drives charity funds for organizations that help children around the world deal with severe illnesses. The firm belief that children shouldn’t die from easily treated diseases is what brings this holiday to the fore.

And so, many people subject themselves to a minor harmless ailment, the sight of these hideous sweaters, to help save the children from medically complicated situations.

How to celebrate National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

In schools, colleges and offices, Christmas jumpers are donned to raise money for the global charity that works to combat premature death among children from easily preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia. The organization’s mission is summed-up in the slogan ‘No Child Born to Die’.

So, if you want to celebrate National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, then dig into your wardrobe, and organize a day among friends and co-workers to assault the eyes of everyone around with the garish and uncomfortable designs of Christmas Sweaters!

One fun activity is to organize an ‘Ugly Sweater’ auction, where everyone wears their worst sweaters, and other people bid to have them take them off. It’s amazing what people will pay to stop a grisly assault on their eyes!

For the trolls in the audience, the rules can include a counterbid by people seeking to have the sweaters remain, with the hope of continuing to torment friends and co-workers for the rest of the day.

As the ultimate finale to this event, it’s a great idea to take all the sweaters that have been auctioned ‘off’ of their wearers, and burn them in effigy to these awful emblems of the holidays. The proceeds obviously go to a worthy charity. (However, this might not be possible as easy as it sounds, since these absurd garments are often made of synthetic materials which may be more likely to melt than actually burn!)

Alternatively, if a creative group of people has the skills to produce a sweater, it is always possible to organize an actual auction early in the season. People bring their own holiday designs, auction them off in a silent auction, and donate the proceeds to a charity of choice. And the winners can then sport their newly-acquired ugly items at their next holiday event. It’s a win-win!

How to win at National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Some folks may be wondering exactly what constitutes “ugly” when it comes to this silly day. The good news is that almost anything goes on this rollicking day that is intentionally meant to offend both good taste and common sense!

Customizing is key. For those who are creatively inspired, it’s easy to start with something basic (like a red sweatshirt) and turn it into a glorious display of festive hideousness. With a hot glue gun and some simple craft supplies, even the most boring, non-festive shirts can become an enviable work of awful (and awe-inspiring!) art.

The more outrageous, the better. Glitter and sequins can always be counted on to add that special touch. Or take it to another level with a battery-powered, light-up garment (say, Rudolph’s famous red nose) that offers a leg-up on the competition.

Accessories add class. Some ugly sweater events are judged on more than just the merits of the individual sweater. Adding a bit more pizzazz to the outfit, such as a Santa hat or Reindeer antlers, can transform a marginally ugly pullover into a dazzling display of merry-ness.

Shop year-round. For those who are extra committed, year-round shopping for festive garb is the best way to score unique pieces. Keep an eye out in charity shops, thrift stores, and even garage sales. Sort through your grandma’s attic to find not only ugly sweaters, but also bits and bobs that could be used to decorate one in an outrageous manner.

Of course, buying a pre-decorated sweater off the rack is also possible beginning around October and lasting through the end of the year. Even better, picking one up on sale in January can save some money and hassle for when the season comes around again. It’s true that National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day tends to bring to the highest level all things tacky, kitschy and….well, ugly. Even so, there is something endearing about what has morphed into ‘ugly sweater chic’. Whether celebrating as a family, a group of friends, or in the workplace, this day stands out as a fun, festive way to out-ugly the ugliest!

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