'Tis the season

By Emily LeCoz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Forget the gifts at the newest holiday party trend sweeping America, it’s ugly Christmas sweaters you’ll need to bring.
Especially popular among young people, ugly Christmas sweater parties are on the rise as friends gather in the loudest, tackiest, kitschiest holiday threads they can find. The uglier, the better.
“It gives everybody a reason to be silly and have fun and not take everything so seriously,” said Mary Meghan Mabus, who threw an ugly Christmas sweater party last week and will throw another one next week. “It’s fun to take a night off from the same ol’, same ol’.”
Friends who gathered at the Mabus home donned an assortment of garish duds from embroidered nutcracker vests to embellished Christmas tree sweaters over Santa Claus turtlenecks. One party-goer, lacking a suitably ugly shirt, tossed a lace-hemmed tree skirt over his shoulders like a cape. It worked.
Mabus said she went to her first ugly sweater party a few years ago and, since then, has noticed increasingly more people throwing them.
According to Google Trends, the term “ugly Christmas sweater” has been searched twice as frequently this December than it was this month last year and five times more frequently than it was in December 2007.
The trend wasn’t lost on Tupelo residents, many of whom have attended or held several such parties this year. Amanda Gaskin said she went to one this month and wore a “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” sweater.
“It probably weighed 10 pounds with flashy sequins and – the best part – candy cane buttons,” Gaskin said. “It’s a creative way to gather friends during the busy holiday season, and sweaters are better than cocktail attire. It’s less stuffy and more comfortable.”
Shipman Sloan said he’s getting ready to throw one tonight. It’s his sixth annual.
“We have tried to make it an ugly Christmas sweater-theme party for the past few years,” Sloan said. “We always get a core group of 20-30 people who will dress up, and everybody else is too cool or doesn’t want to put forth the effort, I guess.”
The best place to find an ugly Christmas sweater, according to Sloan, is in your grandparents’ closet. If you don’t have grandparents – or if they have better fashion sense than is required for such a fete – head to the local thrift store.
Several online sites also cater to the ugly sweater crowd. Find them on Craigslist or UglyChristmasSweaterParty.com.
“It’s a mad dash to get them this time of year,” Sloan warned. “So they could be hard to find.”
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com