A look from Whoopi GoldbergÕs holiday sweater line for Zappos.com.

SERIOUSLY UGLY: The Friday before Christmas is a last-minute scramble for thousands of shoppers and many more are dressing the part in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

While ugly holiday sweaters have been around for decades — either by intention or thanks to misguided gift givers — the national holiday dates back to 2011.

Celebrated annually on the third Friday in December, today, as in years past, will call for an abundance of brash, candy cane-style, striped and Santa-fied sweaters. Online and in-store shoppers have a myriad of resources including Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, Amazon, Forever 21, Loft, Asos, Nordstrom Rack and The Christmas Tree Shops, among others. Red and green crewnecks and cardigans can be found at such e-tailers as Tipsy Elves, Zappos, Ragstock. As the holiday shopping days wind down, many labels have marked down the category. One exception is Whoopi Goldberg’s ugly holiday sweaters, which were still selling for full price at Zappos Friday morning. The range started at $70 for the “No Smoke N Fly” pullover with a motif of a reindeer crashing into a tree and going up to $120 for the “Mr. Nutcracker” or the “Mrs. Nutcracker” sweater.

Forever 21 has made ugly sweaters a category unto itself for the past two years. This year there is a charitable component. For the last two months of this year, Forever 21 has been donating $1 to the Boys & Girls Club of America for every ugly sweater sold. The retailer has pledged a minimum donation of $25,000. On the Forever 21 site Thursday, a hooded, holiday elf, striped sweater was marked down 50 percent to $20, as was a plus-size fireplace Christmas sweater at $17.50. Shoppers could also find red and white Fair Isle minidresses that are half off at $15.

Macy’s also had deep discounts Thursday for Karen Scott’s ugly sweaters, including one with a sequined tangled reindeer motif and another with a cat appliqué holiday design — both of which are selling for $20, deeply discounted from the original price of $49.50. More imaginative is the 3-D shark plushie ugly Christmas sweater that is selling for $55 at the Ugly Christmas Sweater site. This riff on a wintry sweater includes a shark-inspired pattern and a stuffed animal-like shark fin on the back of the sweater and a shark’s head at the front.

Shoppers at Tipsy Elves’ e-commerce site will find a $75 “gaudy garland ugly Christmas cardigan.” Another option is the women’s drinking game, ugly Christmas game sweater which has a target on the front and comes with six Velcro balls. The pullover is imprinted with “You Miss You Drink!” on the front and various penalties on the back — all of which amount to drinking. Thursday’s flash sale offered shoppers 20 percent off all Christmas apparel.

 

For the undecided, the National Day Calendar site offers style tips to embrace the unofficial holiday — such as “Over-embellish! Pom-poms, bells, felt, tinsel, or any other glittery, jingly items lying around the house.” and “Electrify it! Put Rudolph to shame and go to the head of the team with bright, flashing lights!”

Other guidance can be found via Instagram and Twitter, thanks to posts of ugly sweater-wearing city employees in Newnan, Ga., and Arizona’s Goodyear Police Department, as well as media types like Fox News Channel’s senior meteorologist Janice Dean, ABC7’s Brandi Hitt in Los Angeles, WDRB’s Candyce Clifft, and staffers at WBTV.

Extra points are in order today for city employees in Lewisville, Tex., for what is the 50th annual employee ugly sweater contest. After a half-century, there are sub-categories like “All Around Ugliest Sweater” and “Ugliest Animal-Themed Sweater.”

Nonfashion companies are also getting into the ugliness of the day. Alaska Airlines is offering priority boarding to anyone wearing any kind of holiday sweater on Friday on all Alaska and Horizon Air flights.

Even Baskin-Robbins Canada, a 103-unit operation, got in on the celebration this morning by tweeting: “Nothing says ‘it’s the holiday season’ like an unfashionable knit. Throw on your ugliest holiday sweater to celebrate .”

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