Party Crasher

8 Best Ugly Sweater Parties in Metro Phoenix

An ugly Christmas sweater can be a thing of beauty. Just ask any of the increasing number of people who have donned the charmingly atrocious knitted creations adorned with felt, jingling bells, or tinsel during the holidays for the kitsch or irony value.

Ugly Christmas sweaters have grown from a niche interest into a multimillion-dollar industry since the beginning of this decade. What once was something bequeathed to you by a well-meaning elderly relative before being stashed in the attic has become a staple of the season. And they now are worn proudly by millions.

And since the music industry has never met a merchandising trend it couldn't exploit, cheesy yuletide sweaters or printed sweatshirts inspired by bands have popped up increasingly in recent years. It started with metal bands (where the juxtaposition between the genre's bombast and excess with the cheery innocence of Christmas seemed amusing), but has expanded to essentially everyone. Foo Fighters has one, as do Queens of the Stone Age, 2 Chainz, Death From Above 1979, and State Champs, just to name a few.

And as the popularity of ugly Christmas sweaters has grown, so have theme parties inspired by the trend. That's true here in the Valley, where a variety of sweater-related shindigs will occur in the coming weeks, including a few concerts and nightlife events this weekend. They will be lively and offer opportunities to show off your favorite tacky apparell, be it an adorably awful, kitten-themed sweater made by a great aunt or Attila's "Suck My Fuck" crewneck (complete with fornicating reindeer) you picked up years ago.

Ugly Sweater Party at SideBar
The dance music world has a long history of embracing garish fashion, from the wildly dressed party monsters of the early aughts rave scene to the day-glo ensembles being sported at modern-day EDM festivals. In other words, this party’s mix of house beats with horribly bizarre holiday pullovers will seem oddly appropriate when it takes place at swanky Seventh Avenue lounge SideBar on Friday, December 11. DJs Adam Osuna, Fnky1, Steve Shifty, and Zona will perform. The party stars at 9 p.m. with no cover. 

Ultimate Tacky Christmas Party at DeSoto
Christmastime cheesiness will be celebrated in all its tinsel-wrapped and bedazzled splendor during this cheeky affair at DeSoto Central Market on Friday, December 11, where guests are expected to don gaudy-looking apparel, exchange ugly ornaments, or pose for awkward family photos. There will be plenty of music on tap, including Christmas carols being sung by the Beer Choir PHX (featuring members of the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale), a performance by ASU’s all-guy acapella ensemble Priority Male, and spins by DJ Mr. PHX. This free event starts at 6 p.m. 

Cruisin' With Santa Party at the Shops at Norterra
An ugly sweater contest will be just one of many activities at this eveningtime affair on Friday, December 11, at the North Phoenix outdoor mall. Local classic rock radio station KOOL 94.5 will conduct the competition and those with the best sweaters will be entered into a drawing for four passes to Magic Mountain. The free event will also feature music from tribute band Come Back Buddy, a parade of cherry rides and classic cars, an appearance by Santa, and more. It runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Ugly Sweater Party at Jaguars
We can’t say for certain if the dancers at this gentlemen’s club will be wearing ugly sweaters during this event on Saturday, December 12 (given the nature of their occupation, we’re guessing not) but many of the patrons probably will be sporting ‘em. In fact, the ugliest sweater in the house will win $300.
A Concert to End Valley Hunger at Valley Bar
Aimed at raising money for the local chapter of the United Way, this benefit concert at Valley Bar on Saturday, December 12, will feature performances by Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold (self-described as a “two-man bastard child of country, blues, Appalachia, bluegrass, and rock”) and Americana artists The Senators. Ugly sweaters are highly encouraged and the best (i.e. worst) ones win prizes. Things get going at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Alt AZ 93.3’s Ugly Holiday Sweater Party at Mesa Amphitheatre
Many of the concertgoers that will flock to Mesa Amphitheatre during this two-night event put on by radio station Alt AZ 93.3 are certain to be clad in ugly sweaters of some sort, considering it’s the theme and all. You might even catch any of the musicians onstage sporting some during the second Monday, December 14, by Of Monster and Men, singer-songwriter George Ezra, and X Ambassadors. The concerts start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40.50 per day, $68 for both. 

Ugly Sweater Run Post-Race Party at Moonshine Whiskey Bar
Participants in the Tempe version of the Ugly Sweater Run will mix and mingle with other holiday season revelers at the Moonshine Whiskey Bar just off Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe after finishing their 3.1-mile trek on Saturday, December 19. Anyone and everyone can partake in the $4 specials on such beers as Sam Adams Lager, Jolly Traveler, and Angry Orchard, regardless of whether or not they competed. 

Ugly Sweater Paint Party at ThirdSpace
This beer and wine bar along Grand Avenue will offer an artistic twist on the ugly sweater trend when it hosts a paint party and workshop on Thursday, December 17. Local artists Lucinda Yrene and Monique Mata will lead a painting class taking place on ThirdSpace’s outdoor patio and the participant sporting the best awful holiday sweater will be awarded a price. The event begins at 6 p.m. and there’s a $30 fee (which includes supplies).
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.