Create an upcycled DIY ugly Christmas sweater in just 5 steps

diy ugly christmas sweater

Time to get out your holiday ornaments and dress up your ugly sweater! That’s right, you heard me correctly. We aren’t talking about dressing up your Christmas tree just yet, we are talking about decorating an old sweater for the holiday season to create the perfect upcycled DIY ugly Christmas sweater.

Ugly holiday sweater parties always provide a good giggle, but buying a pre-made sweater just for one night out has an impact on the environment and your wallet. The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) reports Americans generate 25 percent more trash during the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s compared to the rest of the year. We discard enough ribbon to wrap around the Earth, with some left over for a nice bow.

We are all about reducing that percentage. So instead of buying a new sweater, we suggest you find an old sweater from your closet or shop at a local thrift store. We also recommend reusing ribbon and garland. You know you’ve got some shoved in a box somewhere. Now all you need to do is follow the steps below to create a DIY ugly Christmas sweater that will win you best dressed and most sustainable this holiday season.

MORE: 10 Budget-friendly holiday decor tips from a Hollywood set decorator

To make this DIY ugly Christmas sweater, you’ll need

  • Thrifted or old sweater/sweatshirt
  • Holiday garland
  • 10-inch x 10-inch sequin fabric
  • Holiday wine charms
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun

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Step 1

Adding tinsel to the collar of your sweater is a great step in the right direction. When it comes to designing an ugly holiday sweater, remember that the more over the top, the better. We added tinsel at both the collar and the bottom hem of the sweatshirt, securing it with glue.


Step 2

Cut out 15 egg-shaped pieces from your sequin fabric that measure about 1.5 inches in height. These will be your holiday lights! Before gluing, we suggest you lay them in a slightly uneven line. Once you are happy with your placement, use a glue gun to secure the sequin pieces in place.


Step 3

Time to string these lights together! Lay a piece of ribbon from the top of the sweater to the bottom of the sweater, connecting all the bulbs together. Once you are happy with your placement, glue the ribbon to the sweater.


Step 4

Trace around the outside of the light bulbs using puff paint or glitter paint. Next, add a small rectangle where the light bulb meets the ribbon — this will help refine the light bulb and light strand. Now it’s time to go grab some hot cocoa, because this will take an hour or so to dry.


Step 5

Once your glitter glue is dry, finish off by adding little ornaments. We used wine charms that we found at our local thrift store for $1, but you can use actual ornaments as well. Attach the ornament or charm to your sweater using hot glue or any other type of method. Our wine charms were made out of wire and could pierce right through the sweatshirt. We love the idea of sharing these charms throughout the night (or using them to mark all of the hot toddies and eggnog we are going to be having).


MORE: Creative and sustainable ways to wrap gifts

And that’s it! Now rock that DIY ugly Christmas sweater all season long while you reduce, reuse and recycle.

Looking for more ways to go green? Check out our tutorial for a macrame reusable bag.