Here’s the backstory behind this out-of-season Christmas celebration, as well as how you may participate this year.
Christmas does not have to be a once-a-year event: that is the idea behind Christmas in July. But you’d be mistaken if you assumed that shops or greeting card companies came up with the notion of Christmas in July to increase sales during the summer lull.
What is the meaning of Christmas in July?
Christmas in July was originally celebrated in 1933 at Keystone Camp in Brevard, North Carolina, when the camp chose to dedicate two days (July 24 and 25) to the holiday—complete with cotton fake snow, a decked-out tree, a gift exchange, and, of course, Santa. (The origins of Christmas in July are detailed in Southern Living.)
It was originally popularized in 1940, when the film Christmas in July was released in theaters. What’s the story? A man’s coworkers dupe him into thinking his work earned a $25,000 prize, and he embarks on a generous binge (including finally proposing to his longtime love). Retailers had figured out the concept by the 1950s, and now Christmas in July sales are a huge hit.
How to Have a Christmas Party in July
Early birds take advantage of Christmas in July deals to get a head start on their December holiday gift shopping. But, even without the gift-giving, Christmas in July may sound particularly appealing right now—especially if you missed out on enjoying the holidays together in person this year. It’s now safe to gather and deck the halls for the holidays in July, thanks to vaccines and the freedom to enjoy outside. Not only that, but reading The Polar Express and channeling snowy weather may really help you fight the heat this summer. Really.
“Reading about cold may take your attention off the temperature, invoking one’s personal experience of ice and snow,” says Walter A. Brown, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown and Tufts Universities and a placebo specialist. “It’s a little self-hypnosis as well.”
If you want to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones on July 24 and 25, here’s how to do it properly:
Make your halls seem festive. You don’t have to bring all of your holiday decorations out. Throughout your trees and backyard, as well as around your living room, string fairy lights. Decorate a tiny fake tree with fun and festive summertime decor, such as seashells, flip-flops, colorful cocktail umbrellas, and a starfish on top, if you have one.
Make your Christmas in July meal as unique as possible. Consider a grilled turkey with more casual summer sides like panzanella salad in place of stuffing and corn on the cob as an alternative to the typical Christmas food. Raise a glass of a festive frozen beverage, such as strawberry daiquiris or margaritas. Desserts such as cookie ice cream sandwiches and snow cones are ideal for the holidays.
Bring the Elf on the Shelf back for a visit this summer. Your elf is capable of engaging in a variety of exciting interior and outdoor antics (hanging out by the pool, making a snow cone snowman). Who, after all, couldn’t use a little more help keeping the kids in line right now?
With your Christmas in July presents, keep things simple. Christmas in July doesn’t have to be a gift-giving extravaganza. Pool floats, sidewalk chalk, bright beach towels, a new pair of sunglasses, or lovely hues of nail paint for a summer pedicure—give your loved ones some unique, cheap products that will make their summer more fun.
Look for alternative ways to inject some Christmas cheer into your summer. With graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, make s’mores “gingerbread” houses (and then eat them!). Instead of sledding, get out an old Slip-n-Slide (or construct your own!) Prepare a batch of frozen hot chocolate. Play your favorite Christmas tunes while watching some of Netflix’s finest Christmas movies. No matter how hot it is outdoors, you’ll get into the festive spirit.
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