There are a few things in this world that can make the ugly appear truly beautiful. Beer goggles are a classic example, that one neighbourhood cat so ugly that its story went viral, and of course the infamous ugly sweater – the more hideous the better.
We love these ugly garments because they make life jolly, in all their droopy-bell-badly-sewn-smelly-stuffy-stained glory. The holy mecca of hideous, The Ugly Sweater, is gaining momentum equivalent to Santa’s sleigh catapulting down the side of a snowy mountain in a blur of red and green – a matter of fact, that’s probably printed on an ugly sweater somewhere out there right now.
Founder and Chief Experience Officer of Now That’s Ugly Society, Jordan Birch and co-founder Chris Boyd, saw the beauty of the bad sweater in 2002 and decided to create the wonderful madness that is “Get Ugly, Grant Wishes” – a movement that has spread across Canada. They are also the reason why this article casually contains the words “eggnog chugging.”
Birch says the story is simple:
“People just loved getting into the spirit with their ugliest, outdated sweaters, and the party kept growing until we couldn’t hold it in our homes anymore. Now the only place that can accommodate our 1,200 guests is the Commodore Ballroom. And now we’ve added a 5K Ugly Dash, so families can also get involved in supporting a good cause.”
Nicolle: Before we discuss getting sweaty in an ugly sweater, let’s touch on some of the wishes that have been granted in the past.
Jordan: Our mission is to create smiles through the Children’s Wish Foundation. Although we had used proceeds from the party to donate to charities for years, we really started focusing on Children’s Wish Foundation in 2012.
That’s because that year, our dear friend and inveterate Ugly Christmas Sweater party-goer, Ashlyn was losing her battle with cancer.
We used our party revenue to create a wish-like trip to Disneyland for Ashlyn, her husband Cory, and their daughter. It was the happiest place we could think to send her.
Ashlyn succumbed to her illness shortly after, but her family was left with a truly special memory. We knew granting wishes was what we were made to do.
Through the Children’s Wish Foundation, we have helped grant quite a few wishes since in the Lower Mainland. For example, Conlan is a 14-year-old who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. His wish was to learn to surf in Hawaii, and the CWF helped him catch that perfect wave.
Nicolle: On that note, you are planning to raise 100K this year for 10 wishes? Some say it can’t be done….you say?
Jordan: We know it’s a lofty goal, but after seeing so much support, we still hope to get there.
So far this year, we’ve had city councils in almost every major metro in the Lower Mainland and two on Vancouver Island proclaim that December 19th is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. That kind of support for NTUS and CWF is inspirational, and motivates us to grant even more wishes.
Nicolle: Now you want people to RUN in ugly sweaters?! The Ugly Dash… I must know the reasoning behind this.
We put the sweaty in sweater! Our annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party is a 19+ event but a lot of kids wanted to get ugly with us. Kids like running, hot chocolate, and Santa, so an Ugly Dash seemed like the perfect answer.
The term “dash” is being applied loosely: it’s an untimed “fun run” around the Seawall. And the Vancouver Giants are sponsoring a Dash after-party, with the whole team wearing their own ugly sweaters for their game that day.
The Dash is your chance to be super cheesy, and have some good-old-fashioned fun with your family!
Nicolle: Now let’s get to the party… what sets it apart from other “Christmasy” shenanigans?
The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party is a Vancouver original – seriously, we’ve trademarked it! And after 13 years, we know how to throw the best possible party, with caroling, eggnog chugging, a visit from Santa, costume prizes, and a visit to Grandma’s Living room.
But those are just the details. What really sets this party apart is that it’s a celebration where you can have a fantastic time and donate to a good cause – it’s the most fun charitable event you can participate in!
And finally, how many Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties have their own beer? We’re super lucky to have our events sponsored by Parallel 49 Brewing Company. They’ve made an Ugly Sweater Milk Sout especially for us, and will donate $1 for every 6 pack and $25 for each 50 liter keg of Ugly Sweater Milk Stout sold during December 2014 to the Now That’s Ugly Society in support of CWF.
Nicolle: A penguin wearing an ugly sweater walks into the room, you say…
“Ice sweater, but where’s your tuxedo?”
So you see, the more that a sweater resembles Christmas puke, the more you can show up with your chest puffed with pride when someone points and says, now THAT’s ugly.
Yes, yes it is.
Ugly sweaters have evolved from a funny joke pulled from the depths of grandma’s closet to the reason to give back this season. Boasting anything from Grumpy Cat to flickering lights and white chunks of snow, this Christmas give the gift of Ugly by wearing your worst sweater, getting sweaty, and granting wishes.
Do: #UglyDash #UglyParty #UglyDay #GetUglyGrantWishes