There once was a time, long, long ago, when people wore ugly Christmas sweaters in earnest. Those people—mostly teachers and goofball uncles—would get so wrapped up in the gift-wrapping season that they’d dress up like gifts and show up at their jobs and holiday parties in the spirit of “spreading Christmas cheer.” Thankfully for the rest of us, folks like Bill Cosby and the costume designer on “Christmas Vacation” also enjoyed such decked-out pieces, and as explained by Time’s Official History of ugly Christmas Sweaters, at some point in the mid-’80s to early ’90s silly people started wearing them too, but as a joke.
From there, it trickled up though ironic hipsters to the retailers that serve ironic hipsters like Urban Outfitters, to mainstream department stores like Nordstrom; now, high end designers from Marc Jacobs to Stella McCartney all have toned-down takes on the ugly Christmas sweater, which they sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars to grown-up hipsters with lots of cash.
Now, each holiday season, festive people from all backgrounds throw Christmas sweater parties to compete the best-worst sweater. Here is our selection from all over the internet—some new, some old—that we think could take the gold at any such festivity. Some are available to buy, others are intended for inspiring your own DIY Christmas Sweater project—which has kind of become the pumpkin carving of the Christmas season.
1. Light-up Grinch Christmas Sweater
2. Rudolf the Bucktoofed Reindeer Christmas Sweater
3. Reindeer in a Stocking Christmas Sweater
4. Baby Jesus Christmas Sweater
5. Frankenstein Festive Frock
6. This weird thing
7. Baby Jesus Christmas Sweater, #2
8. Light-up Tie Dye Christmas Sweatshirt
9. Diva Glam with Inappropriate Snowmen Christmas Sweater
10. Abe Lincoln Christmas Sweater
11. Nutcracker Christmas Sweater
12. Christmas Tree Sweater
13. Little Christmas Sweater for wine
14. Baby Jesus Christmas Sweater, #3