Whether you like the holidays or not, how you dress yourself for holiday events reveals a lot about what is important to you. For example, if you dress formally (eg slacks and a festive tie) for Christmas Eve mass with your family, you probably care a lot about maintaining your family relationships and keeping your dear old Nana happy, even though she always calls your Lutheran girlfriend a protestant whore, and then scolds you both loudly for living in sin. Oh, Nana!

On the flipside, if you stumble drunkenly into the sanctuary halfway through the candlelight service wearing your old college sweatshirt and reeking of bourbon, chances are your family is refusing to talk to you again ever since you pawned Nana’s engagement ring for beer money, and you probably have slightly different priorities.

We’re hoping most of you fall deep into the gray area between the two – you want to express your own style at holiday functions without upsetting Nana, but also without looking like a boring chump. Here’s our best advice to walk the line:

WHAT TO WEAR WITH FAMILY

Look, your first gut reaction might be that this sweater is totally inappropriate, that it’ll offend your Nana’s sensibilities and corrupt the minds of your impressionable nieces and nephews. Sure, you’re probably right. But hey, this is Christmas! Take a risk!

Besides, you’d be surprised at how raunchy older folks can get, especially after a few drinks. Once they reach a certain age, they pretty much only think about mating. So rest assured, your ancient grandparents will get a kick out of it. Your parents will roll their eyes, and your various little cousins and siblings will giggle and make dirty jokes. Win-win-win.

WHAT TO WEAR WITH FRIENDS

See, you thought we’d put the mating reindeer sweater in this category right? Your friends are probably all millennials like you, and have seen 10 different versions of that sweater in the last week alone. It will no longer be funny or original to anyone besides you. Dress the fuck up and posture a little bit. Friends-only holiday parties are a chance to show off that new Express suit you picked up for 60% off on Black Friday.

The clear exception will be if you’re having an ugly sweater party – in that case, you still shouldn’t wear a mating reindeer sweater. Go to Goodwill and find something genuinely hideous, to help cover the puke stains you’ll have the next morning after all that eggnog. Happy Holidays!

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