In the Centennial State, where gaudy costumes are second only to Broncos jerseys as preferred casual wear (cough, cough, Denver Cruiser Ride), the question isn’t if you should host an ugly-sweater party; it’s how to separate your kitschy bash from all of the others. We’ve found the best places in town for decorations, drinks, and even discarded sweaters to ensure your shindig does Colorado—and your kindergarten teacher—proud.
When decking the halls, max out the tackiness instead of your credit card. Your mecca: St. Nicks Christmas and Collectibles in Littleton, the one-stop emporium for everything from Santa snow globes to Nutcracker yard figurines. As for the playlist, Jeremy Padgett, the morning-show personality for Denver-based radio station Mix100, recommends starting with “Funky Funky Xmas” by New Kids on the Block to thoroughly excite—or annoy—your guests.
Of course, the sweater is the most important element of the soiree, so don’t skimp on supplies. Broadway’s Fancy Tiger Crafts stocks all the elements you’ll need (like red and green pom-pom trim and felt for cutouts). Or head up to Fort Collins to Get Your Ugly On, a shop that collects thousands (seriously) of old sweaters. Bonus: Get more post-party use out of your pullover at the Ugly Sweater Run 5K through the streets of LoDo on December 17.
Keep the throwback theme going by making punch spiked with Drambuie (a classic liqueur made from Scotch). We recommend Punch Bowl Social’s Giddy Up Jingle Horse recipe (see below). Retro snacks are also a must; steal Denver food blogger Barb Kiebel’s recipe for a pecan-pineapple cheese ball from her website, creative-culinary.com. For dessert, there’s no better option than Yours Truly Cupcake’s sweater-shaped sugar cookies: The RiNo bakery even offers custom designs if you just have to taste an edible version of your outfit.
BONUS: The recipe for Punch Bowl Social’s Giddy Up Jingle Horse (serves 10 to 12 people)
16 oz. dark rum (Bacardi 8, Cruzan Aged)
4 oz. Drambuie
8 oz. orange peel oleo-saccharum*
8 oz. fresh lemon juice
24 oz. Teakoe Cinnamon Swagger Rooibos Tea (or other rooibos with cinnamon or clove)
Orange wheels, dried cranberries, and cloves for garnish
Mix the oleo-saccharum and the tea first. Then add the remaining ingredients, along with ice to taste. Garnish with your pick of orange slices, cranberries, and cloves.
*To make the oleo-saccharum, peel oranges cleanly without much pith. (Save the fruit for juicing later.) Add four tablespoons of brown, turbinado, or demerara sugar per orange. Let sit for at least two hours. The sugar should pull out the oils from the peels, creating a thick syrup. Discard the peels and squeeze one ounce of juice per orange into the mixture.