Christmas Sweater Bar Crawl


Ugly Christmas sweater parties are nothing new or revolutionary, I’ll admit to this. What they are, is a lot of fun. Two years ago my friends and I started our first annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Bar Crawl, held sometime between Christmas and New Years so that those living outside of NEPA (myself) can participate.

The first year we came up with the idea on a Monday, had the crawl on a Tuesday and I think ten of us scrounged around our mothers’ closets to find whatever monstrosities we could. It turned out to be a pretty great success. We only made it to three bars, but were received warmly at all three (semi-warmly at one as my uncle kept going behind the bar to plug in the extension cord used to power the lights he had wrapped around himself).

Last year I made the crawl Facebook official and with time to prepare we went from ten people in ugly turtlenecks and vests to thirty plus with some of the ugliest sweaters I’ve ever seen. Participants drove in from Philly, Jersey and Long Island. We once again only managed two bars, but who wants to rush a good time. There’s really nothing like a group of people dressed like assholes loaded up on Peppermint Schnapps and holiday cheer taking over a sleepy small time dive on a Wednesday night. This year should be just as good.

Ugly Christmas sweater bar crawls (or parties) are a good idea for the following reasons:
• Bar crawls are always fun and I’ve found normally people welcome you; however at Christmas everyone welcomes you.
• They’re cheap as cheap as you want them to be. Everyone has ugly Christmas sweaters lying around the house. If not, everyone could afford an ugly red turtleneck and santa hat from Dollar General.
• Ugly Christmas sweaters are hilarious. I like to wear them not only on the night of our bar crawl, but at random get togethers during the holiday season, whether they be themed or not. I think more people should.
• People are more apt to travel and make the effort to get together around Christmas. We have ours for all the home friends getting together. However, I have college friends who have annual Christmas parties, and it’s something everyone looks forward to.

If you decide you’re going to hold one this year, even if it’s just a handful of you, here our my tips. Hopefully yours could become an annual thing too:

1. If you want a big turnout give people time to get to plan and find Christmas attire. The closer it is to Christmas, the harder it will be to secure oufits in stores. Salvation Army is decent and Old Navy loves ugly holiday attire, but those are not guarentees.
2. Ebay and Amazon are always great websites for random stuff. One of my friends got a great sweater last year that came with a battery pack and lights. Other websites which that are good are: This one’s a little expensive, but the sweaters are awesome. If you don’t want to spend over $20.00 I’d still check them out for the descriptions, “What’s better than two reindeer screwing? Three.” Bonus: Santa Suit Beer Coozies. Titles says it all. I especially like this website because three friends who had an abundance of xmas sweaters due to all the parties and crawls they had started it. This is my least favorite of the “ugly Christmas sweater” websites, but it has a great “under $25.00” section.
3. Enforce the dress code. There will inevitably be one scrooge who refused to be fun. That person is an asshole and should be treated as thus. Make them wait on the porch till you leave. Have the entire group chant at them until the put on a Santa hat, and repeatedly point them out to people you meet as the group idiot.
4. Some people despite their best efforts won’t come dressed, but won’t be opposed to some help. Encourage friends to bring extra sweaters, and load up on Garland and cheap Santa hats. People can add those to what they’re already wearing.
5. Pick a house to start at, this should go without saying but make sure it’s centrally located, and close to the bars you want to hit. Make sure your stash of extra supplies is here and as the host, don’t feel obligated to provide alcohol. Specify that pregaming is BYOB, although it wouldn’t hurt to have some peppermint schnapps, Baileys, or other holidayesque beverage on hand. One of my friends brought the makings for “candy cane” shots last year which were a hit. If you’re not feeling creative Peppermint Schnapps and hot chocolate is cheap. I’d stay away from eggnog.
6. Keep it to three or four bars. It’s the holidays and more about having fun and enjoying each bar rather than trying to get as many as possible. If you make one bar, you make one bar.
7. Make sure you have a designated jukebox player for the bars. Like them or not, Christmas carols must be played in some capacity. Put someone in charge of making sure this happens (also, you’re traveling as a group and will be receiving attention because of this, don’t alienate fellow bar patrons further by playing terrible music. Play stuff everyone likes).
8. Remember that not every bar allows the plugging in of extension cords for those who are decked out in lights or electric sweaters. If the bar does allow you this privilege, tip them well.

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