My quest for the prettiest ugliest Christmas sweater


Francisco Palacios

Ashley Martin wearing her new homemade pretty, Ugly Christmas sweater.

by Ashley Martin, Managing Editor

The month of December we encounter many celebrations, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, but I have been preparing for my personal favorite, National Ugly Christmas Sweater day, which is December 21. This special day has become a social standard, everyone must have the best ugly sweater.

I myself have my own, but instead of buying one, I thought I would experiment and make my own “Ugly Christmas” sweater for the big day this year. 

The “Ugly” sweater made its first debut back in the 50’s and 60’s when they were first called “Jingle Bell Sweaters” and featured vague Christmas decorations and animations on the sweater. They started becoming “ugly” due to the popularity and trends in the 1980’s. Weird patterns and textures started to immense during this time and many characters on television shows portrayed these sweaters. It wasn’t until the 2000s that social events started to revolve around the ugly sweaters and around christmas time people would throw “Ugly Christmas sweater” themed Christmas parties. 

I have concluded that a homemade ugly sweater is for more satisfying than purchasing a pre-uglied version.

My first step to make the perfect sweater was to find a plain base. I went to my local Goodwill store and found a large green sweater that was fabulous for the job.

During the next couple days, I collaborated with friends on how to make it ugly but presentable at the same time. On December 9, my mom and I ventured to the nearest craft store and collected key elements in order to make it the prettiest ugliest Christmas sweater. 

I bought craft items like ribbon, jingle bells, and themed Christmas ornaments to glue onto the sweater. My teacher Mrs. Natalie Rebetsky also brought in craft material I was able to borrow in order to spice up the sweater. I started out making homemade pom poms using white, red, and green yarn. I then incorporated jingle balls with the pom poms on the collar and sleeve cuffs.  I struggled with the hot glue, every time I glued the jingle balls to the cuffs they wouldn’t make any noise.

What is the value of a tacky sweater with silent jingle bells? 

My next step was to fill the body of the sweater, I had four stuffed ornaments, but they didn’t seem to look like anything but stuffed ornaments.

I talked with Mrs. Rebetsky again and decided to make a red ladder connecting  my shoulder to the bottom of the sweater. The ladder filled the sweater and made it more cohesive. After attaching the ladder, I then filled in the ladder with the snowman, gingerbread man, Christmas tree, and Santa Claus. In order to add some fluff to the sweater, I added more of my homemade pom poms to the bottom of the sweater. 

I estimate that my total investment was under $10.

I finished the sweater and received many compliments on how original the sweater looks. The experience taught me that something I make myself is far more meaningful and special than store-bought.  This lesson can relate to Halloween costumes as well.

This holiday season I am thrilled to be able to wear my own creation and can’t wait to continue a new tradition on making my own “pretty” “ugly” Christmas sweater.