How to Judge an Ugly Sweater Contest

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People of all ages can participate in an ugly Christmas sweater contest.
People of all ages can participate in an ugly Christmas sweater contest. (Image: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images)

Many people keep one or two ugly Christmas sweaters in the backs of their closets. Ugly sweater parties and competitions are a favorite group activity during the holiday season. An ugly Christmas sweater contest may be a fun and easy activity for a home, office or school party. While judging an ugly sweater contest is harder than it seems, it is worth the extra bit of effort to ensure everyone has a fun time participating in the game.

Categories for Judging

Come up with a few different categories for different prizes. If your party has more than 20 attendees, create prizes for categories such as the best Santa sweater, best animal sweater and most glitzy sweater. Other possible groups include funniest, weirdest or "Best Depiction of a Christmas Tree.” You also may come up with your own categories specific to your guests. For example, if your party is taking place on a university campus, make a category for the ugliest sweater in school colors.

Sticker Voting

One way to judge the contest is to take a photo of each participant as he arrives at the party. Using a digital printer, print out photos as they are taken and hang them all in one place. Give guests a set of removable, round, colored sticker dots, which are available at any office supply store. Designate different colored dots to correspond with different awards. Make sure guests receive a complete set of every colored sticker and encourage them to spread the stickers out across the different entries. At the end of the night, it will be easy to see which sweater won the most stickers for each category.

Applause Voting

Another easy way to judge the contest takes little to no preparation; all you need is a list of prize categories. In the middle of the party, make an announcement that the ugly sweater competition is about to begin. Once you have everybody’s attention, call out the categories in order. Anyone who wants to contend for the announced title is welcome to come to the front of the room. Once the person comes forward, repeat the name of the prize category. Introduce each guest individually, then pause to hear the level of applause after each introduction. Give the prize to the person who receives the most applause in each category.

Prizes

Reward the winner of an ugly sweater contest with a gift certificate to a store that sells nice sweaters that may be worn the rest of the year. Present the award to the winner with a funny announcement such as “Congratulations on having the ugliest sweater at the party. Hopefully, you can use this gift certificate to buy something a little nicer.” You might make a humorous homemade trophy for the winner of each category. Glue trophy handles onto a cup and spray paint it gold. Then write the name of the category on the trophy. Take a photo of each winner with his prize to give to him after the party.

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