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Article: Are you Missing out on Christmas in July?

Are you Missing out on Christmas in July?

People across the world celebrate Christmas in July for a whole host of reasons, and here in Australia (and New Zealand – shout out to our rellies across the Tasman), we often crave the beauty and joy of a white Christmas. So, what better time than mid-winter to enjoy a northern-hemisphere style festivity, complete with a faux snow-covered Christmas tree, the full traditional turkey roast with all the accoutrements, and an evening of gift giving in front of a roaring fire?

Even for those in less chilly climates, like us here in Brisbane, an indoor feast and entertainment can be a lot more appealing in July than in the heat of a mid-summer Christmas!

And delicious food is just the start of it! At the half-way point in the year, Christmas in July is a fantastic time to get together with family and friends, some of whom you mightn’t have seen for a while, and just have fun!  There are any number of ways to celebrate … and it’s our pleasure to bring you five of our favourites below! 

All about Christmas in July

A Themed Feast

How could we not start with the Christmas in July feast?! With the winter chills having set in, you really can’t go astray with the traditional roast turkey and loads of delicious baked seasonal vegetables, followed by a plum pudding and all the works - custard, brandy cream, double cream, ice-cream …

Or why not change things up this year and host an event inspired by our northern-hemisphere counterparts, such as Finland, Alaska or – with a nod to Santa – Lapland? 

For the fun of trying something new and because of close family ties (shout out to son Chris in Gothenburg!), we’ve chosen Swedish Christmas fare as our culinary theme for 2023. 

As in many European countries, the Swedes eat their main festive meal on Christmas Eve. But since we’re talking about Christmas in July, we’ve taken the liberty of overlooking this custom and started planning our big event for the 23rd July (a family-friendly Sunday rather than Tuesday the 25th).

You might not be surprised that the typical Swedish Christmas meal is a smorgasbord (Sweden is where it originated, after all!). Known as the julbord (literally ‘Christmas table’), it’s generally an elaborate affair with a large selection of different dishes set out on a decorated dining table. Two big advantages – people help themselves to what they like, plus the work involved can be shared out among the hosts and guests. No slaving over a roast turkey in a hot oven! 

There are usually lots of courses (five or so), which typically include pickled herring, other fish, cold meats (think the French ‘charcuterie’ – but, no, I digress!), hot dishes and desserts. To drink, try a glögg (mulled wine), julöl, a dark brewed-for-Christmas beer,  or the non-alcoholic julmust, made with malt and spices. 

As for the main fare, why not try the suggested menu for first timers available at Swedish Food? Recipe links are provided and, if you struggle to find some of the ingredients, consider a visit to IKEA who generally have a wide range of staples in stock. 

We’ve opted for the small group menu this year and can’t wait to share this welcome spread: 

  • Fish course – gravadlax and knäckebröd

  • Cold meats – Swedish ham and beetroot salad

  • Hot course – meatballs with sweetened lingongerries; Janssons frestelse (Jansson’s temptation)

  • Dessert – rice à la Malta ; pear tart with star anise

Yum !

A Swedish Christmas

A Swedish Julbord

Credit: Swedish Food

DIY & BYO Christmas Tree Ornaments

Since we’re all chipping in by bringing a plate this Christmas in July, why not make the Christmas tree decorating a shared experience as well? There are so many novel ideas available for DIY ornaments, which add a unique personal touch to the tree aesthetic and bring a real vibrancy to the dining room. 

When it comes to inspiration, we found it hard to go past the large collection of tree character-building ornaments suggested by Better Homes & Gardens. There are 63 to choose from and most are fairly easy to make. Plus – an added bonus – many can be hung around the house afterwards as everyday decorating touches. Here are several of our favourites …

Sticking to the Scandi theme, the wood bead ornaments are best using unfinished wood for a minimalist and timeless look. Amy at DIY Candy provides a fool-proof method, involving four simple steps, 15 wood beads, floral wire and hot glue. Taking a maximum of 30 minutes to make, you might get on a roll and make a whole collection!

Wood Bead Ornament

Wood Bead Ornament

Credit: DIY Candy

Captivated as we are by paper crafting this year (see our April blog), this super-cute quilled paper ornament immediately caught our eye! The feature material is twirl cut cardstock plus wood beads to finish (nice match for the wood bead ornament above!). Then it’s a matter of following the seven steps and quilling your way to this gorgeous embellishment to the tree. 

Wood Bead Ornament

Quilled Paper Ornament

Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

Our final pick for this year are the colourful Fabric Cutout Ornaments. Not only are they straightforward to make, they’re a great way of recycling odds and ends of fabric lying around. Fabrics with bold shapes and bright colours work best, as you can see in the pic below. You’ll also need some fusible batting (readily available in craft shops) for layering, some pinking shears and your best decorative stitching around the edges - easiest on a machine but, IMO, more fun by hand!

Wood Bead Ornament

Fabric Cutout Ornaments

Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

White Elephant Gift Exchange

If you’re looking for something different when it comes to gift giving, why not try a White Elephant Gift Exchange this Christmas in July? Promising lots of fun and laughs (plus less tapping of the credit card!), this popular part of the day is where people vie to end up with the best present. There are lots of different methods and variations (aka game rules) but, for us, simplest is best. And where better to go than the site for the Official White Elephant Gift Exchange Rules?

White Elephant Rules

Here’s our summary of the rules, which you should feel free to manipulate …

  1. Nominate a gift exchange organiser (self-nominations encouraged), henceforth the ‘GEO’. 

  2. The GEO sets a gift theme and price limit (subject to being exceeded, if you’re feeling flush).

  3. Every player brings one gift-wrapped present to add to the common pool (lavish-looking gifts allowed, just remembering that precious things often come in small parcels).

  4. The GEO puts numbers in a hat (pretty old-school but definitely in the spirit of the game) and players draw numbers to discover which order they’ll go in. 

  5. Players sit in a circle or, for that matter, any formation where they can see the gift pile. They might sit in number order but that feels a bit fussy for us.

  6. The first (#1) player chooses a gift from the treasury of gifts and opens it, displaying it so everyone can see (no subterfuge tricks allowed, albeit tempting if it’s a coveted item!)

  7. The following player can (a) choose an unwrapped gift from the pool or (b) steal a previous player’s gift (maybe not altogether in the Christmas spirit, but revenge is afoot …). 

  8. Anyone who gets their gift stolen by a game rival can do the same – choose a new gift or steal from someone else.

  9. And so the game goes on … the following players can pick an unwrapped gift or appropriate a previous player’s present.

  10. To keep things moving, and depending on the number of players, you can limit the number of rounds, e.g., three or four, and then, voilà! the gift in your hands is yours to keep! (I was once so disappointed not to win a beautiful French-style cup that I’d been eyeing off, and hung on to for one round before it was nicked ☹, that a dear friend Ellen later went out and bought me one!).

So, why not try this cost-effective fun exchange-game this year? And, if you decide to do a bit of gift re-distributing after the fact, we promise we won’t tell!

White Elephant Gift Treasure Trove

White Elephant Gift Treasure Trove

Credit: Truly 

Host a Christmas Movie Marathon

Once you’ve exchanged presents and had your fill of magnificent Christmas-in-July food, what could be more relaxing and low-key than a few hours’ (or more) watching a bunch of Christmas movies? As movie buffs will tell you, most festive films are set in winter, so how very fitting it is to watch favourites like Love Actually, Elf or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when it’s cold and maybe even snowing outside!

So, throw on your favourite Christmas-themed jumper, grab a bowl of popcorn and a mug of steaming hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows (if you have room!) and settle in, ready for some movie screening entertainment! There’s plenty of variety to suit everyone’s taste – from light-relief comedies to corny melodramas to gripping tear-jerkers. Bonbon Fusion founder Nick Mclean is actually a fan of bad movie nights, so he’s bound to have fun (check out Rotten Tomatoes’ Worst Christmas Movies).

For viewing inspiration, check out the forty G and PG-rated Christmas movies for kids and families on the Christmas in July site. Many are available on one streaming service or another and avid collectors will probably have a nice selection in their DVD collection (looking at you, son James McLean!)

Our line-up for this year includes The 12 Dogs of Christmas because we can never go past a dog star-studded cast and just look at those adorable faces on the DVD cover!

Christmas Dogs

And then onto the classic Home Alone because of the fun-filled, non-stop escapades of its eight-year-old hero Kevin McCallister and because (gulp!) I’ve never watched it.

home alone christmas

And to cap the night off, we’ll be watching Disney’s A Christmas Carol because it’s such a humorous interpretation of Dickens’ classic tale. Plus, it has a fantastic line-up of actors, including Jim Carrey as the stingy and oh-so-miserable Scrooge.

a christmas carol

Of course, if you truly want to get into the festive movie spirit, there’s no going past the 1940’s classic, Christmas in July, starring Dick Powell and Ellen Drew. Our regular readers will remember we wrote about this charming film in last year’s June blog, relating how instrumental it was in propelling Christmas in July into popularity. 

Christmas Karaoke

If movies are not altogether your thing, how about trying some Christmas karaoke this year? Sure, you can always take the more chilled-out approach and spend some time listening to Christmas songs (there are almost limitless choices!), but why not throw in some extra sing-along spice? 

Karaoke machines are widely available for purchase, but we find that simple is best. All you need to get going is your TV, a Blu-ray or DVD player and a dynamic microphone that connects with your sound system. Or – even simpler – just sing along with a playlist on your favourite digital music platform! Spotify has lots of options, including a Sing-Along Christmas album with karaoke versions of 12 famous Christmas songs and carols. 

Christmas Sing Along with Karaoke Songs

Sing Along with Karaoke Songs

Credit: Spotify

Let the fun begin!


However you celebrate Christmas in July this year, we hope you have a wonderful time surrounded by family and friends. We love this chance to come together in the cooler weather when indoor activities and fun beckon! Not to mention the health benefits of celebrating and leaving behind the busy-ness and concerns of day-to-day life. In short, it’s good for the soul 😊!

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