Christmas Traditions

What Is Christmas In July And How Do You Celebrate?

Discover the origin of Christmas In July and new ways you can celebrate this fun holiday tradition with summer activities, holiday recipes, and festive party ideas.

by | July 22, 2022

Santa Claus in a Hawaiin shirt to celebrate Christmas In July

December 25th. Christmas Day for most of the world. While a few select countries do celebrate Christmas on January 6th or 7th, December is widely considered to be the month we all celebrate the holiday season.

Except when Christmas falls in July.

You might have already heard of Christmas in July, but likely have no idea what it is or how to celebrate. Don’t worry, the Elf Squad can help you.

Christmas In July Origins

Similar to many other Christmas traditions, the true origin of Christmas In July is not really known, but there are several very different possible origins.

One harks back to a North Carolina girls’ camp in 1933. Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina is one of the first known instances of a major "Christmas In July" event. The celebration there apparently included fake snow (made of cotton), an appearance from Santa Claus, presents, and even carolers. The celebration kept expanding year after year, until it included makeshift stockings (made of laundry bags) and even Elves and reindeer.

Another possibility is that the tradition first found traction in Australia when a group of Irish tourists were delighted with the sight of snow. Legend has it that they talked a hotel owner in New South Wales into holding a “Yulefest,” which immediately caught on; the owner then held a Christmas in July party every year.

Another—more cynical—view is that the celebration was started by marketers and retailers looking to get rid of old holiday merchandise to make room for new, and also to encourage people to start their Christmas planning early. While we are all for planning your Christmas Décor early, we prefer either of the more wholesome and fun origins.

Whatever the reason—or whatever you choose to believe—it’s indisputably a tradition now. After all, who doesn’t sometimes dream of snow and colder temps on a scorching July day? Who couldn’t use a little Christmas-level jolliness at other times of year? There’s something both unexpected and whimsical about this “out of the chimney” festivity; kids, especially, tend to love the sheer exuberance of it.

We’ve got some suggestions below to make your Christmas In July even more festive.

Christmas In July Table Setting with Fruity Red Cocktails and Drinks and Green Decor

Christmas in July Party Ideas

Tired of the same old pool party every summer? Us neither, but that doesn't mean you can't add to the fun. Try turning your next backyard BBQ into a Christmas In July party with the simple addition of some holiday decorations, Christmas music, and a few festive activities. 

Christmas In July Decorations

There are endless possibilities when it comes to decorating for Christmas In July. You can stick with traditional Christmas decorations or throw in some summer flair with items like lawn ornaments and tiki decor. While you can use the decorations you already own, you can also use this as a chance to try something different by renting a funky rainbow tree or some other non-traditional decor. Put a star on a palm tree, and you have a magical Christmas In July Tree!

Even if you don't want to buy or rent decorations specifically for Christmas In July, you can make an impression just by coordinating your paper goods. Start with some traditional Christmas colors but throw in some summer shades as well. For example, use plastic tablecloths in green; add red napkins and sunny yellow paper cups. Scatter little paper umbrellas across the top as decorations.

Of course, you can use your traditional Christmas lights, but it could be fun to change them up for the summer season. You can also use fairy lights as decorations or find some fun novelty lights—we’ve seen them shaped like tacos, flamingoes, and even rubber ducks!

Christmas In July Food

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers may not make sense on Christmas, but they are perfect for Christmas In July. You can also make some traditional holiday favorites or try updating them for the summer. The Elf Squad Kitchen also shared a few recipes of some holiday treats with summer twists that you could check out!

Use holiday cookie cutters to cut out either cookies, fruit, or little sandwiches. Alternately, use summery cookie cutters, such as surfboards, palm trees, sunglasses, and the like. Or a combination!

If you make cookies, save some to string and decorate a sturdy plant in lieu of a traditional tree.

Bring back the coordinated Christmas colors by serving some summery foods in a red and green color scheme. Try some hot dogs with ketchup and relish, for instance, or serve strawberry and pistachio ice cream sundaes and snow cones with red or green syrup, of course.

Have one showstopper dish—crudites in red and green, for instance, with salsa (red) and guacamole (green).

Christmas In July Activities

Supply some summer games—an egg and spoon race with an ornament; a relay race carrying giant inflatable Christmas decor; paper stockings to color and use as decorations (Draw an outline on a piece of paper and have kids design them.)

Instead of having people come in ugly Christmas sweaters (No thank you, not in July), buy inexpensive t-shirts and put out fabric markers and let people design some Christmas In July Ugly Hawaiian Shirts!

Looking for some simple activities with just a crayon and paper? See how many words they can make out of the words “Christmas in July.” For younger kids, print out some holiday and beach-themed coloring pages and have at it.

Try printing out a picture of a palm tree (or have kids draw one) then give them stickers and other art supplies to ”decorate” the Christmas In July Tree.

Christmas In July White Tree with Gone To The Beach Sign

Chistmas In July Movies

How about watching some Christmas movies outside? While its usually too cold at Christmas, July is a perfect time for an outdoor movie night. If you think summer is a silly time to watch some Christmas movies, a surprising number of them were actually originally released in July and August, including Gremlins and Die Hard.

Another perfect film to add to your holiday watchlist is Christmas In July by Preston Sturges. Released in 1940, this classic romantic comedy does not actually have a lot to do with the holiday but is credited with bringing the term Christmas In July to the mainstream. 

For those looking for a true Christmas rom-com fix, Hallmark Channel and Great American Family both host Christmas In July movie marathons the month of July. It is also a great time to get a sneak peak at some upcoming holiday films from both networks.

Christmas In July Gifts

Keep gift giving to a minimum, or have a “Secret Summer Santa” where everyone is assigned someone to give a gift to ahead of time. Make sure everyone sticks to the theme and gives gifts that are small, summery, and inexpensive—a pair of inexpensive sunglasses or flip flops, for example. (Kids can team up with an adult for this one.)

Christmas in July Books for Kids

Read one of the following books aloud to kids (and adults):

Christmas in July — Arthur Yorinks

When Santa sends his pants to the cleaners, they’re given to the wrong person--delaying Christmas. (It all works out.)

Slothy Christmas: A Christmas Story — Jodie Shepherd

There’s a good chance your holiday gifts won’t reach you until July when Santa is a sloth! A look at the real meaning of Christmas.

The Night Before Christmas in Hawaii — Sue Carabine

It probably feels like July when you celebrate Christmas in Hawaii! Join Mr. and Mrs. Claus on their trip to the Aloha state!

 Palm Tree with Lighted Star for Christmas In July

A New Christmas (In July) Tradition

Go on—plan your own Christmas in July festivities. We hope it becomes a yearly celebration and that you come up with a few traditions of your own. We’d love to hear them!

Merry Christmas... In July!

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