Ugly Christmas Sweaters, a history

“Seasonal sweaters” aka “The Ugly Christmas Sweaters” have proudly been worn by teachers and grandmas, soccer moms, soccer grand moms, art and music teachers, volunteers and retirees for generations.  In the late 1980s, the trickle down effect began and the department store shelves were heavily stocking them to keep up with this epidemic. Now they have become a product of pop culture and are known best to be associated with theme-partying.

An “Ugly Christmas Sweater”pub crawl, an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” office party, or even an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” family gathering…everyone is drinking the “koolaid” if you get my drift..and wearing the sweater!

If you’re interested in showing off your “great looking” sweater, the city of West Palm Beach has you covered! as the ugly sweaters will take over West Palm Beach once again on Saturday, Dec. 16th for the 3rd annual, Ugly Holiday Sweater Crawl!

Last year nearly 500 revelers donned their ugly sweaters for a day of bar-hopping in WPB, and this year is looking to be event bigger and better as the crawl takes over CityPlace!

Join us as we spread holiday cheer, enjoying exclusive food & drink specials at your favorite CityPlace bars & restaurants, and collect toys for Toys for Tots!

– Complimentary Drinks (4 ‘Free Drink Tokens’ good on beer & mixed drinks)
– Free entry into your favorite CityPlace bars & restaurants
– Exclusive food & shot discounts and special entertainment
– Tons of free holiday swag, giveaways, and more!

– Currently just $25 (prices will increase) Don’t wait around, as prices increase every week leading up to the crawl on Dec. 16th!
– $40 at the door

Brother Jimmy’s WPB, Copper Blues West Palm Beach, Blue Martini West Palm Beach, Mellow Mushroom, Cabo Flats – West Palm Beach, Mojito Latin Cuisine &BAR, Revolutions at CityPlace

Check-In will be held from 2-6pm in the CityPlace Plaza (700 S. Rosemary Ave). The Crawl & specials will go until 8pm.

To help make sure we’re partying for a good cause, the Ugly Holiday Sweater Crawl will be accepting Toys for Tots donations at Check-In. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy to help those less fortunate in the community.

There will also be live music starting at 7pm on the Plaza stage, and CityPlace will be making it snow at 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm!

For full details on the crawl and links to purchase tickets, please go to


As one of the many versions that come up for the History of the “Ugly Christmas Sweater”, the story goes that there was a holiday party on some un-named campus… according to an article in the Washington Post, “The sarcasm may be thanks to a 2001 party trend from Vancouver, Canada. At least, that’s according to the three men who wrote “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On.”  Authors Brian Miller, Adam Paulson and Kevin Wool hedge that claim, saying the world will never be sure who held the first ugly sweater party. They also manage to squeeze out 152 pages of advice on throwing a party with instructions that can be summed up in one sentence: “Tell your guests to wear ugly holiday sweaters.”

A true cultural historian might want to analyze the detail on the sweater to get the meanings behind the variety of colors of green, red and blue. Like a piece of collectible art, one might examine closely what exactly is the meaning behind of each the balls, the trees, the candy canes and any other kind of festive shape that might be incorporated into the design of the sweater.  What if it is bedazzled?  What does any of this mean?  What will future generations take away from a discovery of this kind?  Hopefully, a party invitation and a mixology manual will be found nearby for flawless interpretation.


For now, though, the part nostalgia/part hipster mockery “Ugly Christmas Sweater” is turning up on the fashion runway as well as being a a hot commodity at local thrift stores and fetching a wide range of prices.  The subject of the Ugly Christmas Sweater has even earned a much-desired position on the 2008 list of “Stuff White People Like“.

If you are proud enough to “tout” your collectible piece, send us a picture:  [email protected].  We would love to see them!