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How To Dress Up An Ugly Christmas Sweater?

Last update: 2024-05-05

The ugly Christmas sweater has become a beloved holiday tradition, with people competing to find the gaudiest, tackiest sweater to wear to parties and gatherings. However, even the ugliest sweater can use some extra decoration to really make it shine (or should we say shimmer). Here are some ideas on how to creatively dress up an ugly Christmas sweater.

Add Glitter and Sparkle

Glitter Glue Designs

  • Outline sweater motifs like snowmen, trees, snowflakes with glitter glue for an eye-catching look. Let dry fully before wearing.
  • Draw geometric or abstract shapes with glitter glue to make your own designs.

Add Glitter Fabric Paint

Red ugly Christmas sweater with green ornaments
  • Paint swirly designs in glittery fabric paint. Metallic golds, silvers, and greens work well.
  • Cover small ornaments or plasticchristmas decorations with glitter paint. Once dry, glue onto your sweater.

Sew or Glue on Sequins

  • Cut sequins into snowflake shapes and sew or hot glue onto sweater. Focus on the edges and hemlines.
  • Sew strands of mini sequins onto plain sweater areas to add sparkle.

Attach 3D Decorations

Christmas Tree Ornaments

  • Hot glue shiny bulbs and ornaments onto your sweater for instant holiday flair.
  • Tie on jingle bells or small bells with ribbon onto buttons or hem.

Fuzzy Balls and Pom Poms

Beautiful or ugly: green Christmas sweater with decorative balls
  • Sew or glue colorful fuzzy balls onto your sweater to look like tree ornaments.
  • Add faux fur pom poms in holiday colors for whimsical flair.


  • Wrap tinsel garland around wrists and neckline.
  • Cut tinsel into pieces and glue onto motifs to make them shimmer.

Light Up Your Sweater

Christmas Lights

  • Wrap battery operated string lights around your sweater and use small Velcro tabs to attach.
  • Outline a motif like a Christmas tree or reindeer with mini LED lights. Secure with fabric glue.

Glow Sticks

Rear view of girlfriend decorating tree
  • Break open glow sticks and place into clear plastic Christmas ornaments. Hot glue onto sweater.
  • Use fabric glue to attach snipped glow sticks directly to sweater for a bright effect.

EL Wire

  • Sew blinking EL wire along zippers, cuffs, neckline for a fun light up effect. Use clear thread.
  • Shape EL wire into designs like stars and Christmas trees before gluing to sweater.

Cinch with Festive Accessories

Garlands and Tinsel

  • Wrap garlands around your shoulders and hat for an extra festive look. Opt for gold or silver tinsel.
  • Use pine garland as an eye-catching belt. Secure ends with a festive bow or ornament.

Statement Brooches

Silver Christmas floral decorations among the pinecones.
  • Look for novelty brooches in fun holiday shapes like trees, stockings" or gingerbread men and pin them to your sweater.

Festive Scarves or Boas

  • Tie a shimmery holiday scarf around your neck atop your sweater. Or go big with a feather boa.

Santa Belt

  • Make your own "Santa belt" by attaching bells to a wide ribbon with fabric glue or Velcro squares.

Tips on how to dress up your ugly Christmas sweater

Choose the right fit

Terrible Christmas sweater isolated on white

An ugly Christmas sweater should be fitted enough to flatter your figure, but not so tight that it's uncomfortable. Avoid sweaters that are too big or too small, as they will make you look sloppy.

Tips for finding the right fit:

  • Try on the sweater and move around - make sure you can lift your arms comfortably without the sweater riding up.
  • The sweater should skim your body without clinging too tightly or hanging off you like a sack.
  • Size up if the sweater feels snug, especially around the arms and waist.
  • Size down if the sweater is very roomy and baggy on you.
  • Get a female friend's opinion on the fit. They'll give you an honest assessment!

Pair it with the right bottoms

Ugly sweater day in the office

Ugly Christmas sweaters can be worn with a variety of different bottoms, such as jeans, leggings, skirts, or dresses. For a more casual look, try pairing your sweater with jeans or leggings. For a more dressed-up look, try pairing it with a skirt or dress.

Casual bottom options:

  • Dark wash jeans - classic and versatile.
  • Black leggings - comfortable and slimming.
  • Corduroys or khakis - for a preppy vibe. \n- Leggings with fun patterns - get creative!

Dressier bottom options:

Ugly sweater day at work
  • Midi or maxi skirt - provides balance with an oversized sweater.
  • Pencil skirt - sleek and elegant.
  • Velvet skirt - luxe texture for the holidays!
  • Sparkly tights under a dress or skirt.

Mixing up your bottoms will allow you to create different looks with one ugly Christmas sweater. You can easily go from day to night by swapping out your bottom pieces.

Accessorize appropriately

The right accessories can really elevate your ugly Christmas sweater outfit. Try adding a festive hat, scarf, or jewelry. You could also add a belt or tights to dress up your look.

  • Santa hat or reindeer antlers
  • Glittery jewelry
  • Oversized hoop earrings
  • Skinny belt to cinch in an oversized sweater
  • Patterned tights or colored stockings
  • Winter boots - Uggs, snow boots, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials work best for decorating a sweater?

You'll want to use materials that can adhere well to fabric and withstand some wear without falling off easily. Good options include glitter fabric paint, puffy fabric paint, fusible web fabric, felt, sequins, pom poms, and plastic ornaments. Look for fabric glues and hot glue that are specially made for fabric use.

Where is the best place to find an ugly Christmas sweater?

Check thrift and secondhand stores around the holidays - you'll often find delightfully tacky sweaters for just a few dollars. Or search online retailers using phrases like "ugly Christmas sweater" or "gag gift sweater." Stores like Urban Outfitters, Target, and Walmart also sell pre-decorated ugly Christmas sweaters.

How can I make DIY sweater decorations stay on securely?

If sewing on decorations, use a strong nylon thread and stitch through the weave of the fabric rather than just top stitches. For gluing, look for fabric glues meant for permanent bonding like E6000 or GemTac. Add a bit of hot glue for even more hold if needed. Avoid heavy decorations that may weigh down and pull off embellishments.

What are good ways to decorate sweaters as a group or family?

Make it a crafting party! Provide a variety of materials like tinsel, pom poms, fabric glue, and paint pens for everyone to customize their own sweater. Or collaborate on one over-the-top sweater, taking turns adding ornamentation. You can also order iron-on embroidery kits to apply matching holiday phrases or images onto multiple sweaters.

Should I decorate my sweater before or after putting it on?

If possible, decorate your sweater flat beforehand to give yourself the most room to work. This is especially important if using messier materials like glitter glue or puff paint. However, putting the sweater on a hanger or over a cardboard backing can allow you to test placement of embellishments. Decorate cuffs, collars, and hemlines last.


Dressing up an ugly Christmas sweater adds an element of creativity and fun to the holiday season. By adding sparkle, 3D elements, lights, and accessories you can take your ugly sweater from drab to fab. Get the whole family involved and make customizing sweaters a new holiday tradition. Whether you go classy, outrageous or anything in between, your one-of-a-kind Christmas sweater will be a huge hit this holiday season.

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