Tacky holiday sweaters come with perks

Holidays • Cheap meals, modeling glory, hot sales and possible fame await for groan-inducing garb.
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Go find that stretched-out holiday sweater tucked far, far away in your closet, the one with the glitter ornaments and rosy-cheeked Santa. That once-loved — but now tacky — piece of winter fashion can get you all sorts of perks this month.

In the spirit of the season, Logan's Center Street Grill is offering customers who wear an "ugly Christmas sweater" half-off their meal. The restaurant dreamed up the promotion to add some fun to the holiday, according to manager Stephanie Miller. And there's no better way than to see people with a bejeweled sweater that was purchased a decade ago and is just a little too tight.

"They were awesome then," Miller said. "Not so much now."

For 12 Utah men, an "ugly holiday sweater" earned them a spot in the 2013 Sweater Boys calendar, produced by Salt Lake City photographer Miaken Christensen. For the second year, Christensen convinced some friends to pose in their craziest holiday sweaters for the 12-month calendar, which costs $19.99. All proceeds will be donated to the Andes Education Fund, which provides children in Peru access to books, glasses and other school essentials.

"It's not often you can convince a normal, attractive man to put on his grandmother's best holiday sweater for the world to see," Christensen writes on her website, sweaterboys.com. "But when you tell them it's for a good cause and that it's all the rage in Europe right now, they're sold."

Or there's a chance that your old holiday sweater could earn you a prize at an ugly Christmas sweater party, which might be something of a national trend, at least according to one Pinterest board that lists party ideas. There's even a book: Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting your Ugly On. You don't even have to create an invitation — a pre-printed one is available on Etsy.

If you're really into holiday sweaters, you can find some secondhand ones at thrift stores and consignment shops and sell them to your friends or start an online store. Or you could make your own Hanukkah-themed sweaters, as did Carin Agimand, creator of Geltfiend.com. The sweaters — which sell for $60 — are decorated with traditional Jewish symbols, such as dreidels, menorahs and Hassidic snowmen.

There's even a chance your old holiday sweater could get you on "Good Morning America," as the morning program is looking for the country's best — or rather it's worst — holiday sweaters. Viewers are asked to send photos and video of themselves or loved ones wearing "crazy holiday sweaters." The most outrageous could be shown on the air or posted on the Web at GMA.yahoo.com.

For most of us, wearing a holiday sweater to a job interview or an important board meeting would be a seasonal don't. But it's perfectly acceptable to wear decorated clothing to your child's elementary school, preschool and day care facilities, said DeeAnn Johnson, who has been a teacher in the Davis School District for more than 30 years.

Like many Utah teachers, Johnson has dozens of sweaters and vests, decorated with holiday symbols ranging from elves and snowflakes to winter houses and holiday birds. "Every year I buy a new one," she said.

The perks are worth the annual expense.

"The kids love to see us wear them," Johnson said.