Celebrating Christmas in July

You may have heard of Christmas in July… maybe you even celebrate it. I’d heard the term before, but I had never thought to actually do anything to celebrate before this year. Our neighborhood had a few fun events planned for last week–holiday virtual trivia and a mini parade–and it wasn’t until Monday that it occurred to me that we could have even more fun celebrating as a family if we extended the fun to our home. And I am SO glad we did! It was so much fun to bring little, simple bits of this holiday I love so much into our lives last week, so I wanted to share in case it inspires you to celebrate this week yourselves!

Don’t love Christmas, or don’t celebrate it? Choose any holiday you love, and bring little bits of it into your day or week!

First: Keep it Simple

If you want to go all out, feel free, but for me, I decided to reel in my approach to actual Christmas as I planned what we’d do for “Christmas in July.” My initial ideas were:

  • Do a random act of kindness
  • Donate to a charity
  • Make a holiday craft or two (this ended up being overly ambitious for our family)
  • Bake a holiday dessert
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Have a scaled-down version of our Family Christmas Olympics
  • Put out a few decorations
  • Read Christmas stories

I decided we would aim to do just one fun, holiday-themed activity each day, so as not to overdo it. As it turned out, we decided to bake Christmas cookies, and because we made so many (to give some to our neighbors), we spread that activity out over four days, haha! Some days we squeezed an extra treat in, in addition to whatever activity we did. Some days we didn’t.

If you’re worried about this being stressful, or too much extra work, then my biggest tip is to only add as much “Christmas” to your day or week as you have time for. Don’t feel like you need to pack all of your favorite traditions into one day or one week. Just choose even 1-2 things to bring a little bit of Christmas (or any holiday!) joy into your life. I promise, it will warm your heart and will be worth it!

Ideas from Our Week-Long Celebration

I’m going to walk through what we did each day, along with links, but again, these are just suggestions. Do you love caroling? Do that! Love Christmas Eve church service? Recreate that at home one evening. Whatever brings you joy or is special to you, do that!

All Week: Decor, Music, and Movies

  • Decorations. The first evening, I pulled out a pre-lit, three-foot tree from one of my kids’ closets, and put it on the coffee table. Immediate happiness! I didn’t want to get lots of decorations out, so I checked our under-the-stairs closet to see what we had stashed away there. (Does that happen to anyone else, or are we the only family that inevitably misses putting away a few decorations after (any) holiday, so instead of going into the already-package-taped-up-storage bin, those leftover items get stored somewhere else?)
    Thankfully, one of my favorite decorations, a metal reindeer centerpiece, was in the closet, so it went out onto the kitchen table. I also saw the holiday wreath my daughter had made a few years ago, so that got hung up on the outside of the closet door. I pulled out our Christmas craft storage box and set it out for easy crafting access. Lastly, I had purposefully stored our handmade stockings in the closet, just to keep them extra safe. So those got hung up on the staircase. Voila! Decorations complete.

Xmas July - decor collage

  • Music. We had our Amazon Alexa play holiday music all. day. long. My husband was not a huge fan, but hearing holiday music for one week is a small price for him to pay in exchange for my great happiness :). You could of course play your own collection of music, but for us that involves using Apple TV to connect to our iTunes account, and I just wanted to keep it as simple and low-effort as possible.
  • Movies. I remember, way back before quarantine, to a time when we really only let our kids (ages 5 and 8) watch movies on the weekends. But back in March, we decided that they could watch a movie every day, alternating who got to choose the movie. So last week they only got to choose holiday movies. They loved this, and it definitely helped keep up the Christmas mood. (Almost all of their choices were movies they hadn’t seen before: The Search for Santa Paws, Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups, How The Grinch Stole Christmas (live action/Jim Carrey version), Mickey’s Christmas Carol, He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special, and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.)

IMG_0618

Days 1-4: Making Cookies

We made sugar cookie dough on Monday, with the plan to bake and decorate them the next day. Well, we decided that cutting out nearly 80 cookies (!!) took a lot of time and effort, so we left decorating them for Days 3 & 4. We used this soft sugar cookie recipe. The dough was delicious, the cookies were pretty yummy. One challenge we had was that the dough was VERY sticky, even with moderate flouring of the surface, covering the table with wax paper, and moderate flouring of the rolling pin and dough. The cookies were hard to pull up, and it was basically a total mess. But… once we piled the dough back into a ball and rolled it out a second time (with another round of flouring the surface and pin), it worked beautifully. This happened with both of our balls of dough.

We considered using this method for frosting the cookies from Something Swanky, but we decided to go an even simpler route of just using straight up frosting with food coloring and no piping. {A note: my personal preference is to use natural food coloring, like this or this, but when I pulled out our cookie decorating supplies I saw that ours had sadly expired. So we went with standard food coloring.} We had two different kinds of frosting, so we used this one for the colored frostings and this one for the plain white.

The kids had so much fun being creative with their cookies, and I had fun decorating alongside them (I of course had to make a few Hamilton-inspired cookies, haha! #obsessed). And I’m totally okay that their cookies don’t look fancy or polished or like a grown up made them… because a grown up didn’t make them. They also worked really well together, shared well, and complimented one another throughout the decorating, which made this mama’s heart extra happy.

baking cookies

Day 2: Trivia

In addition to cutting and baking cookies on Tuesday, our neighborhood hosted a Christmas in July edition of their weekly virtual trivia, which was lots of fun. A quick search on Pinterest will give you lots of options for pre-made holiday trivia games you can download for free and play at home.

Day 3: Holiday Jammies Day

We wore Christmas pajamas all day on Wednesday. I loved seeing my two little cuties in their matching holiday jammies from last year! This was our first day of decorating cookies, so as I mentioned, this was lots of fun and kept us all busy for a few hours. Since we had decided to make the full recipe for 70-80 cookies, so that we could share the with our neighbors, we needed to take a break and finish up decorating the second half the next day.

Day 4: Cookie Delivery

This was day two of decorating the cookies, and I implemented a few process improvements based on my learnings from the day before. I put the small bowls of frosting and their respective knives onto small plates. This made it much easier for the kids to pass back and forth, and meant they didn’t have to balance the butter knives on top of the small bowls. Plus, it made much less of a mess on the table. Win!

IMG_0255

Once the cookies were done, we got to deliver them to our neighbors, which was very fun! The kids thoughtfully hand-picked the cookies each family would receive, and we put them on paper plates and then into a gallon-size Ziploc bag. {I hate the wastefulness of plastic bags, but we didn’t have enough reusable containers to give away.} Because it’s 2,000 degrees in Florida right now, we didn’t want to leave them outside too long, so we made sure people were home before the kids dropped them off at each house. It was SO fun to spread some unexpected Christmas cheer in July.

cookie gifts
Before the plates of cookies were sealed up in their gallon Ziploc bags

We ran out of time to deliver the two plates of cookies to our good friends who live outside the neighborhood, so we postponed that to the next day.

Our neighborhood hosted virtual Bingo on this evening, and our fabulous hosts were dressed in elf shirts, ears, and hats and had other holiday decorations at the pool where they broadcasted (on Facebook) from. It was fun as always, with a little extra holiday cheer.

Day 5: Reindeer Pancakes & Frozen Hot Chocolate

For breakfast on Friday, I made these adorable reindeer pancakes, inspired by This Vivacious Life. We didn’t have bacon, so I substituted fruit strips cut in half lengthwise for the antlers. I used Marshmallow Fluff and dark chocolate chips for the eyes, and generic Red Hot candies for the nose. I used one of our favorite, clean-eating pancake recipes from Danette May (similar recipe here). {I know, the Fluff and candy makes this not-so-clean, but I liked that at least the pancakes themselves were.}

Reindeer pancake

Then, we finished our cookie delivery and squeezed in two brief social distance visits with our friends, which was wonderful.

As an after-dinner dessert, I made super quick and easy frozen hot chocolate, using a copycat recipe of the famous treat from Serendipity in New York City. I also made homemade whipped cream when I realized that our store-bought tub in the freezer only had about 1/4 cup left. Have you made homemade whipped cream before? It is super quick and easy, and so fluffy and yummy! I love this recipe.

The kids loved having a frozen hot chocolate “bar” where they could choose their own toppings.

frozen cocoa bar

PS – I made my own serving of frozen hot chocolate a little healthier by using cacao and almond milk instead of hot cocoa packets and cow’s milk, but I still indulged and added the whipped cream and sprinkles on top. Delicious!

frozen cocoa selfie

Day 6: Christmas Day in July – Breakfast, Gifts, and a Parade

It just happened to work out beautifully that the 25th of July fell on a Saturday, so we decided to treat that day as the finale of our Christmas in July week.

We kicked off the day’s special celebration with a few of our family’s traditional Christmas breakfast foods: my husband’s family’s egg casserole, my great uncle’s mustard eggs, banana orange juice, fruit, and toast & jelly. We prepped the egg dishes the night before and just popped the casserole in the oven in the morning and heated up the sauce concoction for the mustard eggs about 10 minutes before we were ready to eat. I pulled out our buffalo plaid tablecloth to enhance the holiday vibes.

xmas breakfast collage

The kids had decided they wanted us to give each other small, homemade gifts, so they spent a good part of the day collecting items and crafting away. They even made gifts and stockings for their favorite stuffed animals, who they had dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus. So precious!

Rhino Claus
Does it get any cuter than this?

In the evening our neighborhood had a Christmas in July parade, complete with Santa Claus on vacation and Olaf, too! It was adorable and so fun. We are so blessed to live in such a fun place.

xmas July parade - cropped

As our final celebratory treat, I made homemade egg nog. Honestly, I would have just bought it if the grocery store carried it year-round, but they don’t. So I made this recipe for the first time, and it was delicious! {I heated it up over the stove to eliminate the risks of consuming raw eggs, and it worked perfectly for me! I heated it on low for about 10 minutes until it reached 170 degrees.}

eggnog
Egg nog in a bowl, ready to be ladled into mugs! We topped with more nutmeg (fresh is best, but we went the fast & easy route with ground), and dropped a cinnamon stick into each mug.

The one thing we just didn’t get around to was a scaled-down version of our annual Christmas Olympics. But you know what? It’s okay. We had a wonderful week and so much fun even without it.

The End!

I know this is a long post, and reading about it may seem like we spent a LOT of time on our Christmas in July celebration. But, not counting the movies the kids watched, I’d say we spent just about 2-3 hours each day (mostly on the cookies), and you could certainly scale that back to whatever works for you and the amount of free time you may have.

For example, you could just spend one non-workday, and not a whole week. I have a friend whose family put out a little tree, wore cute felt holiday hats and PJs, listened to some carols, had a “snowball” fight outside with white water balloons, got new pool towels as surprise, gifts from Santa, made a simplified Christmas dinner, watched a holiday movie, and made & decorated a dozen cookies at night. It was a big, fun-filled day that I’m sure will leave lasting memories for all of them!

You could simply watch a Christmas movie and sip on hot cocoa–done!

If you’re inspired to celebrate a different favorite holiday, the same concept works for that, too. Just keep it simple, don’t overdo it, and remember, this is a “light” (“lite”) version of the holiday… it’s just a little sample of it to perk up your spirits and bring some extra joy into your life.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you find some way to bring a favorite holiday into your life even when it’s not in season. Enjoy!


 

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Christmas in July

Share Your Thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: