Remember Christmas Vacation (1989) when Clark Griswold stapled 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights to his roof in a display so brilliantly tacky it could only be appreciated by the most obsessive holiday lover?
Fast-forward 20 years, and Christmas sweaters from that era with Santastic faces and Rudolphulous décor seem like something Griswold helped design using little (s)elf-control.
Enter the Tacky Sweater Christmas Party, a growing fad that requires participants to search mom’s closet, thrift stores and eBay for gawdy holiday fashions with the most awesomely bad designs.
It may have started as an ironic hipster statement, but tacky/ugly Christmas sweater parties have gone mainstream. Type the word “sweater” into eBay’s search field and “ugly Christmas sweater” tops the list. You’ll find thousands for sale, including one labeled “Ugly Horrible Tacky Santa Pepsi Christmas Sweater” that was up to $149 last week.
Missouri resident Jason Granda, 27, operates STL (St. Louis) Vintage with his brother, Jared Granda, 21, and Mark Antle, 28.
Granda began to notice the tacky sweater trend two years ago while searching eBay. Now he has one of the largest tacky sweater businesses on the site.
He said the items that bring in the most from competitive bidding are ’80s-style sweaters with thick fabric, indiscernible graphics and large Christmas characters. The appeal is making fun of the past, but he doesn’t really understand why he’s been so profitable this year when many Christmas sweaters exist in thrift stores and elsewhere.
Granda said tacky sweater parties seem to have grown in 2010.
“Last year, when I went to thrift stores and looked for Christmas sweaters, I was there by myself,” he said. “This year, I was in a town in Illinois shopping, and there were college kids out buying and talking about them.”