Ahh, the ubiquitous ugly holiday sweater. What once was a cheerful way to keep warm in the ’80s has now turned into a so-tacky-it’s-trendy fair-weather fad. (Thanks a lot, Bill Cosby.) Entire parties get thrown in honor of these sartorial atrocities, reminding us that: 1) Most things from the ’80s should stay in the ’80s, and 2) no one looks good in red and green. No one. Not even you. Check eBay, Etsy or your local Goodwill, and you’ll find yourself swimming in Fair Isle patterns, snowflakes, and discarded knitting projects with triangular Christmas trees and lopsided presents.
What we’re offering here are not those sweaters. These holiday sweaters are kiiind of on the naughty side. They’re perfect for that inevitably themed party with your friends, but we doubt Granny and Pop would approve. In fact, there’s a good chance they’d be straight-up offended. Or maybe they’ll deck the halls with LOLs. IDK. Either way, we’ve rated each from one to 10 in terms of how vulgar and/or confusing your grandparents may find it, along with its party-pleasing potential, should you take it out in public. ’Tis the season to be tacky! (Fa la la la la, la la la la.)
GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER
The Sweater: Granny Got It ($40)
Vulgarity: Nine. It doesn’t get much worse than murder.
Confusion: One. We all know how this song ends. Although it kind of looks like grandma is about to get run over by MULTIPLE reindeer.
Party-Pleasing Potential: Five. Points for clarity and the allusion to a campy holiday tune, but there’s one major downside: being forced to listen to everyone you encounter sing that song, word for word.
What Would Grandma Say: “Young people these days have no respect for their elders!”
SANTA’S VERTICAL GRIN
Photo: Urban Outfitters
The Sweater: Santa Crack Sweater ($68)
Vulgarity: Seven. If the gramps don’t want to see it hanging out of your brother’s sagging pants, they don’t want to see it on Santa, either.
Confusion: Three. This should be familiar to anyone who’s ever hired a plumber. But what’s he doing with that bag?
Party-Pleasing Potential: Six. Jolly, funny, colorful.
What Would Grandma Say: “Well, for Pete’s sake!”
The Sweater: River Island Holiday Sweater With Jingle My Bells Slogan ($64)
Vulgarity: Eight. Only if they get it. *WINK*
Confusion: Seven. Your grandparents would probably assume it’s in reference to either the familiar Christmas carol or the Anita Ward disco song.
Party-Pleasing Potential: Seven. Just don’t be surprised if people start to get handsy with you. O_O
What Would Grandma Say: “How does that song go again?”
CAUGHT IN THE ACT
Photo: Christmas Ltd.
The Sweater: Peeing Santa Shirt ($19)
Vulgarity: Five. At least it’s a nice sentiment.
Confusion: Six. You could probably argue that he’s using a hose if you had to.
Party-Pleasing Potential: Eight. Everybody’s got a yellow snow story.
What Would Grandma Say: “Good grief.”
GRAB A HOOK AND HANG THEM
The Sweater: “Balls” Christmas Sweater ($50)
Vulgarity: Six. That’s what they are, technically.
Confusion: Five. Could go either way (see above).
Party-Pleasing Potential: Seven. You can’t deny it: That calligraphy is festive!
What Would Grandma Say: “Balls? They look like ornaments to me.”
Photo: Morph Costume Co.
The Sweater: Creeping Santa ($55)
Vulgarity: Seven. The eyes actively move back and forth. “Is this Santa playfully glancing around at your friends … or checking for witnesses?” SO CREEPY.
Confusion: Nine. Good luck explaining this to anyone without a cell phone.
Party-Pleasing Potential: 10. This is the best of the best and will catch unknowing passersby COMPLETELY off-guard.
What Would Grandma Say: “I don’t like technology.”
SAINT NICK INDISPOSED
The Sweater: Toilet Santa ($40)
Vulgarity: Seven. I mean, it’s not cute, but it could be worse.
Confusion: Zero. I think we all know what’s going on here.
Party-Pleasing Potential: Eight. Endless jokes about Santa leaving “gifts,” etc.
What Would Grandma Say: “Nobody needs to see that.”