Did you ever think an idea you and some friends hatched at a spirited holiday house party would ever turn into a decade of putting smiles on the faces of thousands of people — and raising tens of thousands of dollars for an amazing cause? The Original Ugly Christmas Sweater Party was founded by Jordan Birch, Chris Boyd and Scott Lindsay, and they’ll once again be throwing the “biggest, wildest, sweateriest bash of the season” on December 18th at the Commodore in Vancouver in support of The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.
The Original Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
The idea came about 14 years ago when the friends gathered at Scott’s house in matching penguin sweaters for spontaneous carolling, hugging, and “festive around-the-fireplace things”, Jordan told me over the phone. They had so much fun that it became a tradition, slowly changing to bigger living rooms and bigger venues, drawing in more people with their holiday fun. Six years ago the party moved from the pub at SFU over to the Commodore on Granville, which has been its home ever since.
“I haven’t seen anything like it, or anything measuring up to it yet in terms of a holiday event experience.”
For Jordan and his friends, co-founders, and co-hosts, it’s all about getting people together to have fun. When they started selling tickets a few years ago, thus generating revenue, they decided to support a different charity each time they held the party.
It wasn’t until an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party regular, and family friend, was battling cancer that they realized they wanted to support people like her, providing them with even more reasons to smile and have fun outside of the party. Proceeds from the event that year went toward sending this woman and her family to Disneyland in the spirit of lasting joy.
The founding members then got together and decided to dedicate the event and campaign each year to a wish-granting organization, which is how their partnership with the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada came about. To this day, the Now That’s Ugly Society has raised enough to grant the wishes of 7 deserving children with life-threatening illnesses.
“It’s jovial, it’s relaxing.” Jordan says they create an environment where people automatically have something to talk about and a reason to connect. “It’s really all been about fun but it’s also about giving back, and I think that’s what separates us from their whole industry that’s spawned from our original living room tradition.”
So dress up in your most giggle-inducing holiday sweater (or sweater vest, or pull over), get your photo taken with Grandma, enter the costume contests, participate in the festive sing-along, smooch under the mistletoe and eat sugar cookies at with them on December 18th.
Tickets are $35 and include one Parallel 49 beer. They can be purchased through Ticketmaster online or by phone at 604.280.4444. Doors open at 8:00pm on December 18, 2015. This event is 19+.
The Ugly Christmas Sweater Dash
“We wanted to create an experience where we could now share this sort of 19-and-over experience that we had — that’s so fun and crazy and engaging — with a wider demographic and families.” The Ugly Christmas Sweater Dash was born three years ago as a way to engage multiple generations in the spirit of the Ugly Christmas Sweater fun.
Parents with strollers, grandparents, and 20-somethings who cross the finish line and continue straight on into the craft beer garden are all welcome at this festive fun run in Port Moody on December 5th. This community event at Rocky Point Park will have an untimed 5km run, holiday music, craft beer garden, and family entertainment. Registration includes an authentic Ugly Christmas Sweater Toque and all the hot chocolate you can drink. The Dash starts at 11:00am and you can register all ages online in advance.
In case you’re wondering just what makes a Christmas sweater ugly, I asked Jordan for his top tips: “Make your own. At both of our events we have a prize trophy for Most Original Sweater. I think that’s what draws people to these events anyway, it’s the originality, because your sweater is a reflection of your personality, and what the holidays mean to you.”
I have 3 pairs of tickets to give away to the upcoming Ugly Christmas Sweater Party! Here’s how you can enter to win:
- Leave a comment on this post naming your favourite Ugly Christmas Sweater decorations/features, from glitter and sequins to bows and vests (1 entry)
- Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
I will draw 3 winners on Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 9:00am. Must be 19+. Please enjoy responsibly.
Update The winners are: @portiaphelps83, @clarab3rry, @CanadianNatasha!