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.)
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?