Ugly Holiday Sweater Alternatives to Get You Into the Seasonal Spirit

By Kaitlin Hurtado on December 24, 2019

The holiday season is full of various traditions. From decking the outside of your home in lights and decor to hosting a gift exchange between your closest friends — the festivities never seem to end during the holiday season. One tradition has become even more popular in recent years — ugly holiday sweaters — as they transition from something you laugh at in old family photos to seeking one out for yourself to attend a special “ugly holiday sweater party.” While many may be jumping at the chance to pick up and wear the most festive sweater full of tinsel and lights, others don’t want to fall into buying a sweater they will only wear once and shove to the back of their closet, never to be seen again.

Check out these recommendations for ugly holiday sweaters that will still have you in the holiday spirit this season.

Photo: Unsplash

Ugly holiday sweater alternative #1: A non-ugly holiday sweater 

Instead of an ugly holiday sweater, you can opt for something more practical to get you into the seasonal spirit. Sweaters or shirts don’t have to be seen as tacky if you wear them any other day of the year outside of the holidays. Yes, you can always DIY an ugly holiday sweater, but spending money on a sweater you will actually get more use out of is a lot more practical for your wardrobe and budget. Check out these recommendations for ugly holiday sweaters that will still have you in the holiday spirit this season (and maybe even the rest of the year).

You can make your non-ugly holiday sweater pass as a holiday sweater using multiple tactics:

  • Colors. What colors scream “holiday season”? Red and green. Choosing a sweater that incorporates one (both is better) can help it make look more festive.
  • Patterns. Patterns are a big contributor to the classic ugly holiday sweater, so incorporating them into your non-ugly holiday sweater is a perfect idea. This can be plaid stripes across your midriff or sleeves or a bit of argyle on the front of your sweater. Bonus points for a combination of patterns and clashing colors!

Ugly holiday sweater alternative #2: Nail art 

Why spend money on something to make you feel festive when you already have what you need at your fingertips? Festive nail art can be as simple or creative as you want it to be — you can DIY some nail art with what you have or treat yourself to a manicure. Even better, ditch the idea of an ugly holiday sweater party and make a paint-your-nails party with your friends instead.

Hosting a nail art party with your friends can be just as fun as a holiday sweater party. You can all collaborate on each other’s nail arts (perfect for those with a less than steady hand or lack of artistic talent) and share supplies, saving everyone’s budgets. Put on your favorite holiday movies, set out some snacks, and get to work on creating some festive nail art.

Here are a few ideas on how to achieve festive nails:

  • Colors. Make your nails as colorful as ugly holiday sweaters can be. Bright ornaments, a red-nosed reindeer, green wreaths and trees, golden bells – get creative! If you want minimal work on your end, go for one-color, then design an elaborate accent nail.
  • Classic holiday themes. Opt for painting classic festive icons: snowmen, snowflakes, gingerbread men, candy canes, elves.
  • Glitter. If you can’t put tinsel on your nails like you would for an ugly holiday sweater, go for glitter instead.
Ugly holiday sweater alternative #3: Jewelry

You don’t have to full-on hold back on the “tacky” factor that usually accompanies an ugly holiday sweater. Using accessories like jewelry can have you feeling just as much holiday spirit, if not more, without ditching the perfect outfit you had planned out for yourself.

If you have your ears pierced, the opportunities for festive jewelry is seemingly endless. From seasonal studs to drop-down dangling earrings, you have plenty of ways to bring festivities to your very own ears. During the holiday season, you do not have to look very hard for festive jewelry during the holiday seasons. Big retailers carry packs of studs with famous holiday icons: snowmen, wreaths, Rudolph, Santa, you name it. More elaborate, showy earrings can be found as well – light bulbs, drop-down snowmen, and many more.

Don’t have ear piercings? There are plenty of necklaces out there to replace the ugly holiday sweaters you often see during the holiday season. These are adorned with bells or charms typical of holiday icons, or can even mimic a string of Christmas lights hanging around your neck.

Ditching the tradition of the ugly holiday sweater doesn’t mean you can’t still have the seasonal spirit. These ugly holiday sweater alternatives are sure to get you in the spirit this holiday season, and maybe even start a new tradition within your friend group or family. Happy holidays from Uloop!

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a fourth year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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