Ugly Sweater Party

Ugly Sweater Parties have been a staple holiday celebration for years — it’s a great way to get use out of that snowman sweater you got from your Aunt Gertrude, or the reindeer tie your Mom thought was “precious.” Then there are those people who spend a month planning and making their own sweaters!

With all this fun, the more the merrier, right?
Why not include the shelter animals in the celebration?

Hold an Ugly Sweater Party at the shelter. Ask volunteers and members of the community to ‘sponsor’ a dog — this would include either purchasing or making a sweater for their sponsored pet. Then at the party, attendees can vote on who has the Best Ugly Sweater! We suggest ballots for best dog sweater and best person sweater. Winners can simply get bragging rights, or you can provide a small gift or trophy.

Tip: To engage your online supporters, post photos of the dogs in their sweaters and ask them to ‘vote’ by ‘Liking’ the sweater they want to win.

To limit expenses, make the party a potluck — and ask attendees to bring a snack or dessert that would feed 10 people.

Large dogs can usually fit into large human sweaters (you may just need to shorten — roll up — the sleeves). Goodwill and thrift shops are jackpots for inexpensive ugly sweaters. Craft stores have tons of options to ‘bling up’ a regular non-ugly sweater too.

An Ugly Sweater Party also makes a great volunteer appreciation/staff holiday party.

(Disclaimer: We do not suggest putting sweaters on any animals that do not like it — that goes for cats, rabbits, reptiles or any animals that protest.) 🙂

You don’t have to limit the fun to holidays! There are plenty of ugly cat and dog sweaters on the racks. (

Action Steps:

  • Sent up an online event invitation, using a site like or, and send to your email list (if it’s a potluck, remember to ask people to bring a dish!)
  • Create a social media sharegraphic to invite your social media supporters – sample below
  • Create a flyer/sign to post in the shelter to invite supporters who visit the shelter (consider cutting sweater shapes out of tacky wrapping paper–and posting pieces of paper with the info about the event on the ‘sweater’)
  • Create a ballot for voting (or set out jars with the dog’s photos — and have people drop a generic ticket in them to cast their vote. The most tickets wins!)
  • Want way more ugly sweater party ideas? This is the site for you.

Request editable templates for all the items below.

Social Media Sharegraphic Sample (click to enlarge):