I admit it: I’m a Christmas-a-holic. I can’t get enough of the festive season. I love the Christmas tree, the Christmas lights, I love wearing an ugly Christmas sweater (or an ugly Christmas rash vest for beach days in Australia!) and more than anything, I adore cheesy Hallmark channel Christmas movies – the cheesier and more soppy, the better! For this reason, I LOVE the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in July in Australia! Yes, you read that right, in Australia, we get to celebrate Christmas in December AND Christmas in July when it’s our wintertime.
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Australia Christmas in July
When I lived in the northern hemisphere, Christmas time was cold, dark and cosy. Christmas season was filled with Christmas traditions like drinking hot chocolate by the fire, snuggling under a blanket to watch classic holiday movies, being together with my whole family for some quality time and celebrating with a lot of Christmas cheer. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day were about spending time with family members and friends, baking, cooking up festive feasts and enjoying the delicious food together. It didn’t matter if it snowed or not – winter in the UK was so cold that the ground was often white-over in the mornings with frost and the canal outside my parents’ house would freeze over so it felt like a winter wonderland (when it wasn’t grey and raining that is!)
Christmas in the southern hemisphere in the summer months is still amazing (I really do love it!). But it’s just so different. Here we get to wear a Santa hat in the summer sun. It’s more about eating hot dogs and burgers from the BBQ rather than roasting a turkey (it’s so hot cooking a roast even with the air conditioning blasting out – although saying that I do still usually cook a turkey on Boxing Day as you can take the girl out of the UK but you can’t take the UK out of the girl!), eating ice cream and icy poles and it’s about wearing a Christmas rashie instead of a Christmas jumper! I get full-on into the summer Christmas spirit here, but it doesn’t feel festive in the same way.
We’ve cultivated our own new Christmas traditions in Australia so that we don’t try to compare the occasion with the Christmases we used to know and so we don’t spend our days missing our family members. I think that’s the key to enjoying it – focus on enjoying what makes a hot and sunny Christmas special rather than what you don’t have here. However, it is still awesome to be able to celebrate Christmas AGAIN when the weather is cooler.
I think now we get the best of both worlds – we get to celebrate the holiday season twice a year! Yay!
What is the history of Christmas in July?
The idea of Christmas in July was first mentioned in a French opera dating back to 1892, but the first recorded Christmas in July event apparently began in 1933 at a girl’s summer camp called Keystone Camp in North Carolina in the US. July in the US is summertime, so they celebrated a hot and sunny Christmas feast and the concept caught on. A Hollywood movie titled Christmas in July followed in 1940.
While the idea of Christmas in July has been around for quite a while (and it may no doubt have been embraced by marketing companies to generate more sales) in the southern hemisphere it makes perfect sense to those of us who relocated here to enjoy mid-winter festive celebration to make the most of the cold temperature.
Christmas in July: Australia festive traditions for expats
In Australia, Christmas in July is really about bringing the concept of Christmas to the winter months. To those of us originally from the northern hemisphere, winter weather automatically feels Christmassy! I can’t say that most of my Aussie friends would understand what it’s all about but many of my UK friends here embrace the tradition.
Every year it seems to grow in popularity though, with a few restaurants and cafes creating a Christmas in July menu, groups gathering at parks to share a Christmas in July picnic (we’ve even been involved in meetups to enjoy a full traditional roast Christmas dinner at the beach with people cooking and heating the meal on the BBQs!) and even Christmas-themed winter markets taking place.
Of course, Santa Claus doesn’t come down the chimney twice a year (he’s way too busy for that!), but it’s a great excuse to celebrate Xmas in July with a Christmas party! I associate holiday cheer with the cold weather, so the month of July is the perfect time for a festive July party.
When is Christmas in July?
Unlike December 25th, Christmas in July is an unofficial holiday so you don’t get a day off work for it, unfortunately. Technically, Christmas in July should be celebrated on 25th July. However, given that it’s an unofficial celebration, I like to choose a free weekend to celebrate this July tradition and hold it at a time that it suits us (celebrating on a school day wouldn’t be as fun as a weekend where you can really embrace the fun).
Christmas in July menu
I like to plan a delicious Christmas meal of a roast with all the trimmings followed by Christmas pudding and a pavlova (we still need to bring some Aussie xmas traditions into the mix!) It can be challenging finding a turkey in Australia though (to be honest, it’s often challenging to find one even in December let alone July), so often I’ll cook another roast instead.
It’s fun creating a Christmas in July menu. I usually find some special Christmas in July recipes to try to make it a real feast. I even buy sprouts!
We bake our favourite cookies that we usually make for Santa on Christmas Eve (which are basically chocolate chip cookies with more chocolate than cookie!)
Christmas in Australia July is basically about cramming in all of the best bits of Christmas into a weekend half way through the year!
Decorations for your Christmas in July parties
You’re going to want some simple decorations for Christmas in July. You don’t want to go overboard (unless you want to) but I love getting some simple things to pop up around the house like fairy lights and setting up the table for an Aussie Christmas in July with Christmas crackers (known as bon bons in Australia), a little central table display and a festive table cloth. Your little Christmas in July party is so much more fun when you really get into the theme of it!
Some people do go all out and put up the Christmas tree though – how far you go is totally up to you!
Here are some simple ideas to get your Christmas in July Australia festive theme going…
Christmas table decorations: Christmas in July Australia
Christmas crackers (bon bons)
Elf on the Shelf
If you’ve got kids, don’t forget to bring the elf back out for the special occasion (hopefully you remember where he’s hiding and he’s not too deeply buried under the tree and tinsel!) Worst case, you can always buy a back up elf – it always helps to have two in case you ever lose one!
Christmas in July ideas to set the atmosphere
Don’t forget your Christmas tunes! Get your Spotify Christmas playlist set to set the ambiance – I always play lots of Christmas music in December, so it’s a great way to get yourself in the mood for the big weekend!
Your Christmas in July event is the perfect time to dig out your favourite Christmas movies. I’m a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, and my daughter has me loving the newer Netflix Christmas movie series’ like the Christmas Prince, Princess Switch and the Christmas Chronicles.
I had family members in the UK who used to say you weren’t ‘allowed’ to begin watching Christmas movies until November. Not that I listened, even then (I used to begin watching them in September!) but now I live over in Australia, my daughter and I begin watching Christmas films during our Christmas in July celebrations AND WE KEEP WATCHING THEM right through until the real Christmas day! This gives us six months to re-watch all of our favourite series. It’s awesome!
Christmas gifts for Australia Christmas in July
My personal view on Christmas gifts is that Christmas in July isn’t about giving big presents. It’s about enjoying a big family feast together and embracing some of the fun parts of the festive season together. We just get the kids a small token gift like some crafts or books to entertain them. It’s more about spending quality time together than having a Christmas stocking stuffed with goodies. The kids will remember the experience of the festive event, not the things they receive so I like to go all out to make it special without spending a small fortune.
Christmas in July outfits: Christmas in July sweaters Australia
As it’s cooler in the Australian winter, you can finally wear your Christmas sweaters in Australia! It’s funny as lots of our relatives have previously sent Christmas gifts over in December that include Christmas jumpers, but obviously we can’t wear them in our summer as it’s waaaaaay too hot in Queensland. So we can dig them out in July instead.
My kids also always get Christmas ugly rash vests to wear in the pool and at the beach every Christmas (I get a new set every year from Best and Less in November but you can find some now on eBay here) so it’s another opportunity to wear those again too. Even though the weather gets cooler in winter, it’s always beach time in Australia!
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You can’t go wrong with some funky Christmas earrings
…and a set of matching Christmas pyjamas (probably not worn together!)
Christmas in July Australia events
There are some fabulous July events and festivals on to celebrate Christmas in July, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any winter-themed Christmas markets near where you live.
Enjoy Australia Chrismas in July
Christmas in July in Australia is such a blast. Why not go all in and celebrate the festive season in mid-winter this year? Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year – why not celebrate it twice?!