Q&A: Holly Rainey, Host of the Third Annual Tacky Sweater Party

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Holly Rainey, marketing and promotions manager for the Downtown Grill & Brewery and social media volunteer at the Love Kitchen, will help host the third annual Tacky Sweater Party to benefit The Love Kitchen at the DGB the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 23.

How does this event help the Love Kitchen?
It is actually part of a larger fundraiser DGB managing partner Dan Goss has planned; this is the third year for the sweater party. Volunteers at the Love Kitchen prepare and deliver seven meals a week, 52 weeks a year, to hundreds of people in the greater Knoxville area, and they serve warm meals twice a week for those who need it in East Knoxville. They also provide emergency food bags to 60-100 people every week. This whole month, DGB is collecting donations, and guests who donate receive 10 percent off their entrée. We will really encourage donations at the event, and part of the proceeds from that night’s reservation-only Bourbon Tasting and Dinner will go to Love Kitchen.

What are some things the Love Kitchen really needs?
They depend on donations to make every meal possible and they will use what they can get! For the kitchen meals, they need large cans of vegetables. For the toiletry bags, they need soap, towels, shampoo, toothpaste, hand lotion, razors, and such. And then any food for the emergency bags that is non-perishable and can stay on a shelf for a bit. People don’t really think about donating boxed food as much, but they can use mac and cheese, ramen noodles, peanut butter crackers, that sort of thing. And DGB is a convenient place downtown to drop these items off.

Will there be contests that night?
Every single person who wears a tacky holiday sweater, or should I say outfit, will receive a prize. Discounts, gift cards for free queso, and even cold, hard cash will be among the prizes randomly given out during the evening. Our own bartender Jason Staats and his band Audio Wallpaper will play starting at 6:30, and I will be Periscoping and snapping photos in the festive photo booth throughout the night.

Does it have to be a Christmas sweater?
Not at all. It can be a holiday outfit of any sort, or you can just come in ordinary clothes. Rumor has it there will be a tacky tuxedo running around that night, too.

What’s your best Christmas sweater?
My sister Heather and I have joint custody of our mother’s collection of holiday sweaters from the ‘80s and ‘90s so I have a lot to choose from. My favorite is one with a sequined Christmas tree my mother made when I was probably like 5, and we made matching ones for my sister and I.  We grew out of ours but hers still fits us. It is so sequined and so perfect that sometimes when you sit down the tree will poke your chin.

Any advice on finding a sweater to wear?
Be wary of overpriced holiday sweaters at vintage and thrift stores. I’ve seen sweaters for 40 or 50 bucks and that’s a lot of money to be spending! The sweaters become magically less expensive after Christmas has passed. If you don’t have a sweater, I recommend getting creative and making your own with an old sweater or plain thrift-store sweater. Use puffy paint and feathers, or whatever your crafty heart desires.

Why do tacky sweater parties seem so popular these days?
I think it’s just fun. Everyone loves to get dressed up, but this isn’t much pressure. You get to wear something a little bit different and be casual and carefree.

What do you think makes a tacky sweater tacky?
I don’t really think any of them are tacky—I love them all and I wear them all the time. When other people look at a sweater and are like, “So tacky!” I am thinking, “That is so fabulous!”

Follow KnoxDGB on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Periscope. Find out more about The Love Kitchen, how to donate and to sign up to volunteer: thelovekitchen.org

Featured photo by Jamie Greig

Rose Kennedy

Rose Kennedy came to Knoxville to work as an editorial assistant on 13-30’s Retail Appliance Management Series and never saw a reason to leave. Her “so uncool I’m cool” career among the alt weekly newspaper crowd has led to award-winning articles on Dr. Bill Bass and the Body Farm and cyber-bullying at West High School, and treasonous food columns about preferring unsweet tea and feeling ambivalent about biscuits.

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