On the fourth day of the heatwave, my best friend gave to me … four cans of craft beer, three Christmas cards, two new books and a big burst of holiday cheer.
Christmas in July is a phenomenon observed in the southern hemisphere, where people in places like Australia and New Zealand opt to celebrate the holiday in the months when weather is more like December in much of the north.
The origins of Christmas in July harken back to an 1800s French opera based on Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” but I had to suffer through that book in college so I’m going to spare you that here.
Since then, it has been celebrated by everything from filmmaker Preston Sturges to the U.S. Postal Service to a shopping mall near you.
Most of us wait til at least Black Friday to begin humming along with Nat King Cole and Bing. But face it, kids, the way 2020 is going … well, who had “Christmas Gets Postponed Until 2022’’ in Dystopian Bingo?
Speaking strictly secularly, of course, what better time than now — when we can at least socially distant gather outside around the most sincere firepit or best-decorated inflatable palm tree — to get the holiday party started?
Here, then, are 25 ways to celebrate Christmas in July … just maybe skip the Ugly Sweater contest.
1. Go Christmas caroling: Warm up your singing voice and rehearse with the people you share germs … then serenade your neighbors with the earliest-ever rendition of “Let it Snow.’’ Just make sure you stay on the sidewalk. (Extra credit if then can hear you over their air conditioning and their own “Hamilton’’ sing-along.)
2. Create your own festive hot chocolate bar by laying out whipped cream, crushed candy canes (you know you stashed some leftovers in that mug your kid made at camp), red and green sprinkles and peppermint or gingerbread flavored syrups. Crank up the air conditioner for this activity, so you can enjoy your hot beverage while chillin’ to “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.’’
3. Who are we kidding? This weird holiday calls for icy adult drinks. Find a recipe below. Or watch our video above for Watermelon Mint Mojito.
4. Give the gift of friendship. Without knowing I was going to write this story, my best friend from high school showed up at my house Sunday with a giant box of gifts she had stowed away in recent years and never got around to wrapping. We agreed that, thanks to COVID-19, we may not see each other much once the weather turns cold. It reminded me how grateful I am for her every day of the year, even a bad year. Especially a bad year.
5. Candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. Make sure you have all of those on hand, as well as a big pot of cooked spaghetti when you host backyard movie night and screen “Elf.’’ After all, Bob Newhart and Ed Asner make anything better.
6. Speaking of elves, dust off your Elf on a Shelf, make that dude a mask and … well, he’s used to social distancing. Get creative hiding that little guy around the pool, garden and front porch. Just make sure he stays at least 6 feet away from Barbie at all times!
7. All jokes aside, if you can afford it, it’s not a bad time to stimulate the Main Street economy. Why not also cheer up a few isolated folks — or someone who perhaps suffered a coronavirus-related loss — with some Secret Santa surprises? Dig out that leftover wrapping paper and arrange some curbside pickups and front porch deliveries.
8. Make a wreath for your front door using sunglasses, drink umbrellas, flower leis, flip flops and beach tags.
9. Decorate a potted fern with shells gathered from your most recent beach adventure and pretend you’re ringing in the New Year in the islands.
10. We can’t make it snow, not when the thermometer reads 90 degrees. But if you own a Slip and Slide, you can pretend to be sledding. Crank up “Mele Kalikimaka’’ while you’re at it, if only to annoy the neighbors.
11. We take that back. Don’t be naughty to your neighbors. If we go back into serious lockdown, you may be spending actual Christmas passing turkey and mashed potatoes to them over the fence. Good neighbors are more important than ever these days, so maybe buy them some extra toilet paper and stick a bow on it?
12. The world is divided in two groups. Those who wouldn’t be caught dead bingeing Hallmark Christmas specials and those who wait all year for the privilege of doing so. Only you don’t have to wait. Hallmark started celebrating “Countdown to Christmas’’ earlier this month. They are featuring movies such as “Christmas at the Plaza’’ and “Christmas in Rome’’ through July 26 on the cable channel, and streaming some favorites like “North Pole’’ and “Christmas Train’’ on the app. Visit hallmarkchannel.com/christmas
13. Nothing kills the holiday buzz more than that January credit card bill. Start your holiday shopping now from the comfort of your back deck, avoid the rush and avoid those nasty mailbox surprises.
14. Not quite ready for baking gingerbread men in your shorts and flip flops? How about Melted Snowman Cookies (sorry, Frosty!) instead? Check out this recipe from Betty Crocker and then surprise your neighborhood with some porch drops.
15. Got a watermelon? It’s almost National Watermelon Day, so rather than cube it or slice it, cut out some Christmas tree shapes and nestle them on a bed of fresh mint to your next socially distant barbecue.
16. What the world needs now are more Muppets: Asbury Park Press entertainment writer Alex Biese says, “We need Emmet Otter this year, regardless of the season. Jim Henson’s charming and poignant film ‘Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas’ originally aired as a television special in 1977 and is currently streaming via Amazon Prime. The film is a timeless and tender story of working-class folks just trying to get by with the power of love, community and some great songs by Paul Williams.’’
17. Did your family get their Porch-raits taken during the lockdown? Time to design those holiday cards! You can get some creative inspiration from either SnapFish or Shutterfly.
18. Eat more chocolate. Like your really need a reason? When the sugar rush hits, FaceTime your adult siblings and argue again about why that doll is on the Island of Misfit Toys!
19. Get out of the heat by donning your mask and visiting a Christmas shop. Retire some of your ugliest ornaments. If you find treasures, you can always dangle them from the nearest tomato vine.
20. Stuff some beach “stockings” with sunscreen, beach snacks, water toys and good beach reads for Mom and Dad.
21. Thinking of smoking some brisket or pork shoulder? How about smoking a turkey instead? Serve with some peach compote and a summer shandy.
22. String some Christmas lights outside, host a backyard firepit and roast some chestnuts along with those s’mores. Did Jimmy Buffet ever make a Christmas album?
23. Treat your kids to some “hot cocoa” sundaes with chocolate ice cream, mini marshmallows and chocolate shavings.
24. Have the kids research holiday traditions from their heritage, then let them choose their favorites and plan ahead.
25. Christmas is the season of giving but the world is struggling. If you are doing OK, Santa wanted me to remind you that you don’t have to wait until winter to donate canned goods, volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen (assuming that you are not at elevated risk for the virus) or make a donation to your favorite charity.
Merry Christmas! And our best wishes for a healthier, happier New Year.
Christmas in July ideas were gathered by the features team of the Atlantic Region including The Asbury Park Press, The Record, The Courier-News, Courier-Post, Daily Journal, Pocono Record, the Herald-Mail and The Journal News.
Tammy Paolino is features editor for the Atlantic Region South of the USA TODAY New Jersey Network. She’s an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered the Garden State for more than 30 years. Reach her at [email protected] or 856-486-2477 or on Twitter @CP_TammyPaolino. Help support local journalism with a Courier-Post subscription.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: 25 ways to celebrate Christmas in July, from decorating fun to baking ideas and more