It may be time to redefine the Ugly Christmas Sweater, or U.C.S. (Let’s just go with the abbreviation.) After all, the styles we now consider typical for such garments — synthetic creations in the worst versions of red and green bedecked in holiday clichés — are effectively the equivalent of wardrobe tchotchkes. But they didn’t start out that way!

The “jingle bell sweater” first appeared on shelves in the 1940s and 1950s, and was mostly a sincere attempt to add some (OK, kinda cheesy) snowflake- or reindeer-adjacent themed cheer into a knit. The ironic versions we now know really began to take off in the 1980s, thanks to Cliff Huxtable’s signature bad sweaters in “The Cosby Show” and to the 1989 movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

In 2001 came “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and Colin Firth’s unforgettable entrance as Mark Darcy in a crew neck featuring a life-size reindeer face on the front. A year later, according to the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Getting Your Ugly On,” the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party (U.C.S.P.) was born.

6 Holiday Movies to Watch This Season

“Candy Cane Lane:” In this family saga on Prime Video, when Chris, played by Eddie Murphy, shops at a pop-up Yuletide store run by a nefarious elf, gifts inspired by “The Twelve Days of Christmas” come to calamitous life. It’s up to Chris and his family to corral the gifts. (Swipe for more holiday movies.)

“Dashing Through the Snow:” On the streets of Los Angeles, Eddie (played by an understated Ludacris), who hates Christmas, crosses paths with Nick, who claims to be Santa Claus. Thinking his jolly new acquaintance is deluded, Eddie tries to get him some professional help in this Disney+ offering. Will Nick melt Eddie’s permafrosted heart?

“Elf Me:” In this Italian production on Prime Video, a rogue elf is cast out of Santa’s workshop because he keeps inventing dangerous artifacts. He finds redemption by helping a young boy save his mother’s toy store from the evil forces of capitalism.

“EXmas:” The workaholic Graham is stunned to discover that his family has secretly stayed in touch with his ex-girlfriend, Ali. They even invited her over for the holidays! While the two fire off pleasingly snappy dialogue on Amazon Freevee, they might just find their way back to each other.

“Family Switch:” The holiday connection is more background than integral to the plot of this Netflix comedy of mixed-up identities. Regardless, it’s great fun to watch all the members of a family led by Jennifer Garner and Ed Helms be Freaky Friday’ed for Christmas. A seasonal must!

“Genie:” The fish-out-of-water trope has a pretty good holiday track record (see: “Elf”). Now comes Melissa McCarthy on Peacock as Flora, a genie who gains her freedom during the Christmas season in NYC. She is gung-ho on helping her hapless liberator win back his estranged family, just in time for the holidays.

At this stage, however, it’s all starting to seem a little less fun — and funny. Ugly sweaters have become one of the worst examples of disposable fashion: made, essentially, to be almost never worn, and most likely discarded, while at the same time being generally not recyclable (all that acrylic). Yet, this time of year, it often seems that even consumers who would not usually engage with fast fashion are welcoming its wares and starting to think, The cheaper, the better. Perhaps, because of that, the U.C.S., as well as its related parties, persist.

Given that one of the rules of parties is that, out of respect for the hosts, you should equally respect the dress code, what to do?

Consider the guiding principle of the U.C.S.P. If the idea is to spread cheer by lessening the burden of dressing up for the holidays and poking a little fun at tradition, and one’s self, in a way everyone can do with no consideration for age or gender (all good things), then in theory, you could dress for a U.C.S.P. without actually wearing a classically U.C.S.

For example, I recently went to a U.C.S.P. where, among the revelers, there was one man who simply selected the loudest sweater in his closet (it was a striped number). Another went with a sweater that had been a meal for moths, calling it his “holey” sweater. Personally, I wore a fuzzy silver knit and told everyone I was tinsel.

That brings me to the D.I.Y. U.C.S., a temporary version that involves pinning Christmas ornaments onto a plain cotton sweater or sweatshirt, which could lead you in all sorts of fun, crafty directions. Or you could hold a U.C.S.P. pregame swap in which, rather than buying new ugly sweaters, you trade an old U.C.S. for someone else’s, a cashless form of shopping that prioritizes existing ugly sweaters over new ones. (Extending the life cycle of clothes is one of the most effective things that all of us can do to combat fashion’s role in climate change.) One person’s U.C.S. could be another person’s perfect holiday gift.

The point is: Keep the spirit alive, but update the substance. It’s one way to have your fruitcake and eat it too.

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