Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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By  now, our annual ugly sweater jubilee has become something of tradition, so much so that she was on me to send out an e-vite the second the calendar registered November 1 and she was so eager to join the fun that she braved the drive-train-cab combo to come from Sacramento to the city for the fun. And the cold (50s for San Francisco) and rain (pelting, sideways-style) arrived just in time to set the mood. Just weeks before, it was still in the 70s—how is one to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s finally warm enough to wear tank tops in Northern California?

Now, I realize that ugly sweater parties are becoming the norm with twenty- and thirty-somethings across the United States—that’s evidenced by the lack of holiday apparel in resale stores—but I like to think we take ours more seriously than most. In fact, while I own SIX sweaters from my mom’s closet previous years and two hideous holiday vests, I still went to Goodwill in South City—which has a much better selection than the picked-over holiday departments in the San Francisco thrift stores—some weeks earlier to procure new outfits for this year’s party. After all, many of the attendees had already seen what we had on tap from parties before. (I did re-wear Mom’s Santa earrings once again. Those babies are keepers.)

But what I found myself was slightly too big for me—a women’s size 24 sweater, approximately six times larger than the size I typically wear—which is why I married a man who sews. Day of the party, I threw on the sweater, and he cinched up the back with a needle and ribbon so it became a nicely-fitting sweater dress.

But fixing me was not SVV’s only task. I also had purchased a hole-y children’s Janie & Jack reject sweater for $0.99, so he took in the sides to make it puppy-appropriate. Handy, that one.

After all, we did say “Festive attire mandatory.” As if we could make allowances for our daughter.

She wasn’t digging the ridiculous bow, but she does quite like her sweater! Thanks, Dad!

And here we were thinking we looked pretty darn good until Elizabeth and Erik showed up. I thought I was into the theme, but they went all out. Not only did they have themed turtlenecks and vests, but also ball caps with cheesy Christmas messages on them—and the best part? They were shipped all the way from their Ugly Sweater Secret Agents in Michigan, who scoured the thrift stores for the ugliest items they could find. (Picture taken before we tracked down our external flash, unfortunately. Our apartment is like a vampire’s lair—no light anywhere—and thus isn’t the best setting for a photo shoot.)

As if bringing their lovely selves from Sacramento wasn’t enough, they also brought the most delicious gingerbread cupcakes ever…and Baby K. Now, I’m famously not a baby person. I like kids once they’re of walking age; prior to that, I tend to stay away. This was my second time meeting Baby K, and she managed to charm the pants stockings off of me—along with everyone else in the room. Even Ella was barking up a storm if we wouldn’t let her up on the couch within licking distance of Baby K.

I think every person at the party held Baby K at one point or another. And I never saw her so much as frown despite the music, two dogs barking and all the noise 28 people in an echo-y apartment tend to generate. (Elizabeth said Baby K should come with a warning label that rarely are babies this well-behaved and good-natured. They surely lucked out with that one.)

Everyone seemed to arrive at once. Nicole came; her boyfriend James Bond and partner-in-crime Jamie were not far behind.

Autumn showed up with her fire-spinning pal Zane. John and Ray drove up from Redwood City (and requested their photos not be added to this pool—boo! they’re quite the good-looking lads, too), bearing gifts for SVV, Ella and me, my favorite of which was the string of Christmas lights NECKLACE that I wore all night. It had three settings: blinking, rave mode and stagnant. I raved for awhile, but seeing as we were short on glow sticks—and I feared someone might have a case of epilepsy they had not informed us of—I kept it on glow mode much of the night. It even came with an extra set of batteries should mine burn out.

Then SVV decided to announce an impromptu contest for the ugliest of ensembles. We had to have a prize, so we threw in the last bottle of our wedding champagne to give to the winner.

We had everyone stand up and introduce themselves, as not everyone knew one another and you needed to know the name of the person for whom you’d be voting, after all. There was Lovely Giulia and her husband Mark (not pictured).

And Moose, appropriately donning antlers, who always delivers when a costume contest comes a callin’.

Kimberly and Killian obtained and brought back their outfits all the way from Houston—authentic sparkle right there, folks. Methinks Kim probably swiped a hand-me-down from the former Miss Texas. Now all she needs are the boots.

Leah rocked some killer shoulder pads and Christmas kittens. (Simon was, at one point, sporting a cardinal sweater vest, but began stripping—as he’s wont to do—soon after entering our apartment, due to its furnace-like state.)

Lauren had a hat that sang and danced, and her boyfriend Joe wore full-on elf ears that were pretty darn rad.

My brother-in-law Chris and sister-in-law Lisa manned up to the challenge, too, as did their dog Sweetie Pie (not pictured, as she stays as far away from Ella as canine-ly possible).

Other Scott, who just moved to Oakland from Africa with my charming South African friend Alison, even had a PSA on his sweater: Save the Animals.

No surprise: Erik brought home the gold in his turtleneck-and-vest combo, a prize well earned. Though everyone made an impressive showing this year. I’m proud of my friends: Nobody lamed out or was above the ugly sweater.

As always, this party was even more fun than the last, and I will be checking off the next 364 days until it rolls around once more.

How will you be celebrating the weeks leading up to the holidays? Any God-awful sweaters in your future?

  • December 6, 2010

    Ugly sweater parties are big in Canada too. It’s now becoming impossible to find Bill Cosby sweaters in thrift shops! Damn hipsters making ugly cool.

  • December 6, 2010

    I can’t have an ugly sweater party. Well, I can, but I can’t tell my husband’s side of the family. My mother in law and her sister still wear them. And tell each other how cute they are. Every. Year. “And we got it on half off day at the Goodwill! Can you believe it!?!?” (Um, yes, I can actually.)

  • December 6, 2010

    Much as you’ve surmised, the rest of the 20-30some population is taking part in ugly sweater parties, so I am awaiting our friend’s Christmas Eve-Eve sweater party with baited breath. While this is the third year they have thrown the party, this is the first year that I’ve had spawn, and Mommy needs some eggnog. We’ll actually be dropping the little one off with my parents for our first evening out (good thing the grandparents live a whopping TWO minutes from where the party is being held!) and I plan on living it up ugly sweater style, although I’ll probably re-use last year’s offering. Of course, last year’s sweater does feature a zipper pull shaped like a Christmas tree in a lovely shade of neon green AND tinsel fringe round the collar, so it’s really too good to retire after one year.

  • December 6, 2010

    Ella kisses with her eyes open.

  • December 6, 2010

    I’m always bummed to miss this each year! (So many of my favorite people in one room!) Looks as fun as ever.

  • December 6, 2010

    Every year this party makes me wish I lived in California – looks like so much fun!

  • December 6, 2010


  • December 6, 2010

    My shoulders have never looked so large and in charge. Great party (as always)! Ella totally should have won the contest though; she was robbed!

  • December 6, 2010

    I think that darling fur baby outshone you all! What darling pics!

  • December 6, 2010

    Ah, that turtleneck will haunt my dreams.

  • December 6, 2010

    Looks like fun!!! Your daughter is just too cute. 🙂

  • December 6, 2010

    Aw, you and the hubs look adorable!

  • December 6, 2010

    Thanks for hosting, Miss K and Sir Scott! This is easily my favorite party of the year. I just have to remember to avoid open flame, out of respect for my polyester sweater vest and booze-soaked liver.

  • December 6, 2010

    Now I need a hat that sings and dances.

  • December 6, 2010

    I am currently green right now, bright green. Looks like you guys had a ton of fun! Next year I will so be there!

    (Also, Kristin, no one should look as good as you in ugly sweater attire. NO FAIR 😉

  • December 6, 2010

    This is a new one on me yet sure sounds like fun. I love to dress up, or down as the case may be.

    With this dam dialup I never can see all of your photos which bums me out. But your words always fill in.

    No parties in my future. Think I’ll wear sequins to Mike’s parents for Christmas.

  • December 6, 2010

    This is a trip!!! Nicely done, everyone, with the ensembles! (Especially the pupster. So cute!)

  • December 6, 2010
    Pink sun drops

    What a coincidence that I run across Amy mentioned in two of my favorite blogs – you and Andrea’s at Caffeinate Me. Note to self: read Amy’s blog & add to reader.

  • December 6, 2010

    This looks like a fun party, the sweaters arent too ugly

  • December 7, 2010

    When I left London, there were parts of East London that were so, ahem, “fashion-forward” that *plenty* of these outfits would have been worn for real. Mainly the clashing patterned ones…

  • December 7, 2010

    how fun!!

  • December 7, 2010

    This looks like so much fun! But Miss Ella and Baby K were far too cute in their outfits to win an ugly anything contest!

  • December 7, 2010

    What a fantastic evening!! I am attending an ugly sweater party on Friday and have yet to procure said ugly sweater. I’m starting to get nervous.


  • December 7, 2010

    Love the sequin santa hat and the picture of SVV with the puppy. So cute.

  • December 7, 2010

    Love it!

  • December 9, 2010

    Oh my! I love Ella’s bow! Whats cuter than a dog with a bow?!

  • December 11, 2010

    I die over the cuteness that is Ella’s sweater, plus it was made with love. ahhh so cute.
    Looks like a fun time had by all!

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