Happy National Ugly Sweater Day! How to Celebrate in Phoenix

Written by Lauren Loftus Category: Culture Issue: December 2016
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It really is the most wonderful time of year: Friday is National Ugly Sweater Day!

To help you celebrate, we put together the definitive guide of where to find ugly sweaters and where to wear 'em in our December issue's holiday guide: "Arizona Holiday A to Z."

“If the sweater makes your family and friends laugh immediately, then that’s the perfect ugly Christmas sweater,” says Brian Miller, founder of Chicago-based Since launching in 2005 – in the very early stages of America’s obsession with donning the oversize monstrosities once reserved for 1990s PTO presidents or your old piano teacher – Miller’s site has grown tremendously, and he now sells about 10,000 sweaters per year, many of which make their way to our sun-soaked metropolis in time for holiday office parties, pub crawls and family gatherings.

“They used to be really easy to find in thrift stores,” Miller says of ugly sweaters, “now you have to have a middle school math teacher in the family or an Aunt Dolores who has a box [full of ’em] in the back of her closet.” That’s why websites like Miller’s come in handy, which offer a wide selection of jarring jumpers – from vintage plaid wool cardigans (starting at $9.99) to new NFL-themed pull-overs ($59.99). But if authenticity is your middle name and you enjoy searching for the proverbial ugly sweater in a haystack, it’s best to start scouting your local Goodwill, Savers or thrift shop ASAP, or try searching Craigslist for neighbors looking to unload their uglies.

House parties reign supreme when it comes to ugly sweaters. But if you don't have the space (or time to make all that necessary nog), consider organizing a pub crawl instead.

Leave it to the pros:
In our humble opinion, the classiest way to celebrate the holidays is to do like the Brits do. The Real London Bus Company boasts a fleet of authentic double-decker red buses blasting Christmas tunes and decorated for the holidays. You can book a private pub crawl (up to 55 people per bus; call for rates) or hop aboard for their extremely popular Holiday Lights Tour ($50).

If you’re practical and want to actually use your sweater to keep warm, PHOENIX recommends crawling among these classic Old Town Scottsdale establishments with plenty of outdoor areas where you can stay cool in your Christmas ugliest.

Map by Angelina Aragon

Coach House: Start your crawl at Old Town’s original cowboy meetup. They’re quite accustomed to ugly sweaters and affiliated nonsense there. No judgments.
7011 E. Indian School Rd., 480-990-3433,

Citizen Public House: From the Coach House, ride/walk up Marshall Way to the gallery district and grab a barrel-aged Negroni at Chef Bernie Kantak’s upscale gastropub. You’ll definitely be the worst-dressed group in the joint. Enjoy the stares!
7111 E. Fifth Ave., 480-398-4208,

Giligin’s: From the classiest joint in town to the tackiest. Not many bars would think to hire a cocktail waitress with dwarfism and put her in a sexy teddy. Giligin’s did. You can’t spin a wheel and get stuck with a disgusting pickle vodka shot at most nightlife haunts. At Giligin’s you can. It’s an ugly sweater kind of place all year long.
4251 N. Winfield Scott Plz., 480-874-2264,

The Grapevine: For your final stop, why not a little karaoke? You’ll be surprised how easy it is to hammer out “Stairway to Heaven” when you’re already dressed like an absolute tool.
4013 N. Brown Ave., 480-994-1792,