This year my friends and I will celebrate our 11th annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. And a lot has changed since our first ugly get-together — we’ve graduated high school and college, and variously gotten married, landed dream jobs, and moved across the country or the world. Nevertheless, without fail, we still manage to come back for our festive little reunion.
How have we maintained this ugly sweater streak? Will our seasonal soiree continue on to its 20th, 30th, even 50th anniversary? Who knows. All I can be certain of is that ugly sweaters have a way of bringing people together. They’re like that pair of jeans in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, except without the weird, magical size-changing properties. Because where there are ugly sweaters, there’s bound to be a good time (and hopefully plenty of eggnog).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over 10 years of ugly Christmas sweater parties, it’s that this event is about so much more than sweaters. You have to get creative to keep things interesting, which is why I’ve come up with five easy ways to take your event to the next level.
The Ugly Dinner Party
Nothing goes with ugly sweaters like truly ugly apps and entrees. For this party theme, just ask your guests to prepare and bring the most disastrous-looking dishes they can come up with. Maybe they’ll make a mutant pizza or a misshapen Santa Claus cake. If you want to really up the ante, ask people to stick to vintage recipes. You know the ones, circa 1950, like Ham & Bananas Hollandaise, Mixed Seafood Mousse, or my personal favorite, Jell-O mounds with various bits of meat and veggies suspended inside. A bundt pan will come in handy for that one, though you can also use it to make far tastier things. Whatever your guests bring, you’re in for an interesting evening of eats.
Ugly Sweaters, Fancy Cocktails
Don’t want the hassle of hosting a dinner party? Stick to cocktail hour. Whether you whip up mulled wine, spiked hot chocolate, or some sort of seasonal sparkler, winter drinks are a sure-fire way to make people merry. (Or break the ice with the awkward plus-one your friend insisted on bringing.) Just keep some nice glasses and a snazzy cocktail shaker on hand and you’ll be all set.