Decorate Your Own Not-So-Ugly Christmas Sweater

Christmas is already upon us. I can’t believe it. This year has absolutely flown by. I love Christmas and everything about it, especially gatherings with friends and family. If your friends are like mine, at least one of these gatherings ends up being an ugly Christmas sweater party. These are often not truly ugly sweaters, but just very Christmassy over-the-top sweaters. 

This year I decided I wanted a different Christmas sweater because I have been wearing mine for several years in a row now. These coveted sweaters are in high demand at Goodwill, and now’s the time to get them. Find a store near you here

While the sweaters found in stores can be a lot of fun, I decided to get crafty and make my own using materials found at Goodwill. It was so easy, and now I have my own, custom look for the holidays!

If you wanted, you could really just go to Goodwill, find a mix of Christmas items and ornaments and glue them on a sweater and call it a day. However, I wanted my sweater to be a bit more intentional. I chose a reindeer for my sweater, but you could make a snowman, a tree, or anything you want! These are the materials I used, but get creative with what you can find!


  • Sweater
  • Red Ornament
  • Bells
  • Shirts for extra material
  • Liquid Stitch adhesive
  • Needle/thread


I started out with this basic light brown sweater and two shirts that I found in the store. Look for items that are half off during our weekly color sales to get amazing deals on these items.


I then cut out the shapes for my head, eyes, and antlers out of my two shirts. I honestly did not use a pattern or measure in anyway because I figured it was supposed to be tacky anyway, so it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect, but you could make a pattern if you want. I then glued it to the sweater using liquid stitch.


Next I wanted to find some accessories for my reindeer. I saw this ribbon, and knew I wanted to use it to make it more Christmassy and cheerful. I made a bow out ribbon for her head and glued it down.

I also found these bells and sewed them to her antlers.

I also used this same ribbon to decorate the cuffs of the sweater; I just glued it on. I found it’s a lot easier if you put something such as a water bottle in the sleeve so you can press down easily.

I also used a red ornament to make her red nose. I sewed it through the hole that would normally be used to hang it. It was still floppy, so I glued it down using my liquid stitch. 

So this is what my reindeer looked like.


I decided to give more depth to the eyes and bring my sweater to life by adding more detail to the eyes. I added little circles to the eyes using some fabric and a sharpie, and voila! 

I’m pretty excited about wearing this to Christmas events. This is just one idea of what you could create for your own Christmas events!

If you want to make your own sweater, we have a couple guided workshops coming up! we’ll provide all of the materials, and you will get to make your own festive Christmas sweater! Check out the details here. If you end up making your own sweater, or finding one in stores to call your own, enter it in our Share Your Sweater contest for your chance to win a Goodwill shopping spree!

About Alyssa Watson

Alyssa is an AmeriCorps member serving at Goodwill Industries Knoxville in the Marketing Department. She is currently learning to play the ukulele and preparing for Christmas.