Joining “Team Ugly”: Students Host Ugly Sweaters Parties

Dec 24, 2009 8:30am

ABC News on Campus reporter Toby Phillips blogs:    Holiday parties are well underway. And for some, that means digging through racks at the local thrift store (or their mom's closet) to give new life to holiday sweaters that, arguably, should never have existed in the first place.
"Ugly sweater parties" are popping up around the country — parties where the only requirement is that you find the ugliest holiday sweater you can, and make sure you out-do everyone else. 
An ugly sweater is "something that has a lot going on, and something that you normally would not dare to be seen in public in," said Adam Paulson, 27, of UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com "It's gonna have a lot of sequins or bells," he added.   
Paulson and two of his friends started selling and shipping sweaters on the Web site several weeks ago. He says they've sold nearly 1,000 since then. Most of the sweaters range from $10 to $25. They find the sweaters at local thrift stores, garage sales or from family friends in Crown Point, Indiana where they live.
"We drove into Chicago because we depleted the area around us," Adam said. 
The three friends call themselves "Team Ugly," and have not only shipped sweaters all across the U.S., but also internationally.
"Towards the end of November we got a lot of orders from soldiers overseas," Paulson said. 
Ugly sweater parties started out on college campuses, according to Paulson, and he says "the older generation" is picking up on it too.  Cities like Chicago, and Phoenix have been home to ugly sweater bar crawls.
At Arizona State University, groups of friends gather to participate in ugly sweater contests. Brittany Gansar, 21, of Boulder, Colorado attended multiple ugly sweater parties this year. "The [parties are] always fun because it's basically a contest as to who is going to have the best ugly sweater — and some of the things people find to wear are absolutely ridiculous," Gansar said.
"It's a blast just to do something different, let loose for a night, look as stupid as you can and have fun with your friends and family," Paulson said.
A quick search for ugly sweaters on eBay came up with more than 6,000 results. Custom-made sweaters are Anne Marie Blackman's specialty. She runs myuglychristmassweater.com and sells elaborately decorated, ugly sweaters on eBay. Her featured item this year is a "Christmas jumper dress." It's a dress-length sweater complete with a body-sized, lighted Christmas tree adorned with ornaments and bells. "I do a lot of ‘Couples Matching’ sweaters and just filled a request for some singing dancing reindeer on matching sweaters," Blackman said. Her sweaters range in price from around $20 to more than $60 for something custom designed "Business is great," she said.

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