It was the best Christmas gathering to date — the ugly Christmas sweater party.

Prep for this gathering started about a month or two earlier. Of course, there was the decision to hold the party, coming up with the theme, planning who to invite and all the normal party planning details — cooking, cleaning, buying drinks and more.

But this party also had another planning aspect that is only slightly foreign to me. It was almost as if Halloween and Christmas were wrapped into one.

The hunt for the prefect ugly Christmas sweater wasn’t very different than scouting for a costume that would get the most head nods acknowledging you as having an awesome holiday garment.

My wife, Tracy, and I started our hunt shortly after selecting the theme.

Our first shopping experience for the cliche clothing was the Internet. Apparently there are websites dedicated to the reselling of Christmas sweaters, and their prices only go up the uglier they get. The more comments about how hideous they are, the higher their prices move, or so it seemed.

I am sure the people running these websites, know they actually have to sell items to make money. I think we saw one sweater for $198.

Online shopping provided some good laughs. “Who would ever wear that?” I said to Tracy more often than not.

And then she would pop up from behind the laptop with something like, “Oh my God, this one would win several contests.”

Eventually, we decided that online shopping wasn’t practical for these types of purchases, because we couldn’t try the sweater on.

After a week or so, we ended up frequenting multiple thrift stores around Thanksgiving. The sweaters were being put up on racks, and they were amazing —overly decorated reindeer, larger than life Santa Clauses and snowmen and several other designs.

But in most cases they wouldn’t fit or while they were good, they weren’t perfect for us.

Hitting every thrift store from Copperas Cove to Belton, we found a gold mine of fitting or overly large sweaters, which we determined were just as good. The only problem is they were all women’s garments.

Tracy giggled as I put on several questionable pieces. At first, I sighed because I was against the idea of wearing a female vest as my holiday sweater, but honestly, that made it even more perfect.

The holly and the trim, in my opinion, made me look like a festive Mr. Rogers, and I could just envision myself walking around the house in the 1950s or ’60s with a bad Christmas mug telling the kids it was time to unwrap presents.

But everyone who has seen pictures of me in that sweater said I looked like an evil Disney Christmas cartoon villain, probably a cross between Aladdin’s Jafar and Dr. Seuss’ Grinch.

Adding a turtleneck probably didn’t help this, but regardless of being good or evil, I took second place in the best ugly sweater contest.

Fortunately for me, Tracy destroyed her first pick of sweater in the wash.

It was even better than mine. It had snowflakes and a giant Santa Claus embroidered on its front. St. Nick wasn’t his normal jolly self, either. He seemed to be screaming.

So she went with her second pick, which got me in trouble at the holiday party, because I said she looked like my second-grade teacher.

With sweaters chosen and worn, the party went off without a hitch, thanks to Tracy, who is excellent at planning, cooking and coming up with party games.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474

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