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Christmas in Florida - How to Celebrate in a Warm Weather Climate

Updated on November 20, 2015
Glenda Motsavage profile image

Glenda has been a Florida Resident for 17 years and delights in publishing travel articles from her journeys throughout the South.

Christmas Gifts and Gators... Gotta Love It!

Christmas Gifts and Gators... Gotta Love It!
Christmas Gifts and Gators... Gotta Love It! | Source

Getting in the Christmas Spirit... Southern Style!

You know you're in Florida when... you've just heard the latest weather report announcing a coming cold-front wherein the high's are only going to be in the mid 70's! As a transplant to Florida fifteen years ago from a northern State, I was not used to such mild temperatures during the Holiday Season. As much as I'm a warm-weather-kinda-gal, wearing tank tops and capris to decorate the tree just didn't seem right. Though I loved most everything else about the Sunshine State, sweating profusely while preparing for Santa was not on that list! Christmas shopping in shorts? Come on. In an effort not to get depressed and homesick, I knew I had to deal with this daunting dilemma. To my amazement, I not only learned how to cope with this quandary... but I conquered it!

Whether you're a full-time Floridian, or traveling here for the Holidays, this article will give tips and recommendations for getting in the Christmas spirit... Southern style!

Pine Trees are Replaced by Decorated Palms in Florida

The Lit Causeway at Disney's Swan & Dolphin Resort Hotels at Christmas!
The Lit Causeway at Disney's Swan & Dolphin Resort Hotels at Christmas! | Source

TIP #1 - The Power of Perspective is Key to a Merry Christmas in Florida

I have come to learn that attitudes, not circumstances, make the difference in any situation. My first (and I believe the most important) recommendation is The Power of Perspective. In order for me to have the same level of excitement and joy that I was accustomed to in Pennsylvania, I had to adjust my way of thinking. Initially I thought I couldn't have a great Christmas simply because the weather was warm, no chance of snow, and all my relatives were back home in the Keystone State.

My perception was becoming stronger than reality. The more I meditated on what I didn't have, those negative thoughts clouded my vision to the multitude of blessings all around me. What I needed was an attitude adjustment! Since millions of people live in Florida, and millions of people have a Merry Christmas every year, then it's possible for me. I realized that Christmas, like any other day in my life, would become whatever I made of it. When I stopped basking in my self-made pity party and changed my perspective, I was on my way to an awesome Yuletide.

Creativity Flows from the Warm Winter Weather in Florida!

A Private Residence Decorated for Christmas in the Town of Celebration, Florida!
A Private Residence Decorated for Christmas in the Town of Celebration, Florida! | Source

TIP #2 - Warm Weather Deserves Dazzling Decorations

As I began to think only positive thoughts, my whole demeanor changed. I decided to decorate! After all, if I could brave the frigid temps, the snow, sleet and ice in my thermals to put up my Christmas displays, then I should be able to do better in the cozy warmth of Florida. My chunky, fleecy coats were replaced with festive tee-shirts, my boots with boat shoes - was that such a bad thing? I never really liked putting on all those layers of clothing anyway. In fact, I had a passionate dislike for it!

So, I decided to take advantage of the warm weather, rather than allowing it to take advantage of me. Yes, warm weather deserves dazzling decorations. When frozen fingers on the verge of frostbite are set free from moisture-ridden mittens, it's amazing what they can create. So, go ahead, take it off, take it all off - the winter wardrobe that is! Eliminate the extra weight and decorate, decorate, decorate.

Here's a Great Resource to Help You Add Your Southern Thumbprint to Your Holiday Home

A Photo Tour: Florida Sunrooms, Screened Porches and Outdoor Areas Provide Perfect Places for Holiday Displays - Limited Only by Your Imagination!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dazzling Decorations in a Florida SunroomAn Outdoor Gazebo Decorated for Christmas in St. Augustine FloridaA Floridian Front Porch Decorated for Christmas A Picnic Table Decorated for the Holidays in Historic St. Augustine FloridaA Festive Florida Sunroom for the HolidaysA Southern Sunroom with Simple Holiday TouchesA Florida Sunroom - A Tiny Table for Two Provides the Perfect Place for a Christmas Eve ToastScreened Porches in the South are Ideal for Creative Holiday Displays
Dazzling Decorations in a Florida Sunroom
Dazzling Decorations in a Florida Sunroom | Source
An Outdoor Gazebo Decorated for Christmas in St. Augustine Florida
An Outdoor Gazebo Decorated for Christmas in St. Augustine Florida | Source
A Floridian Front Porch Decorated for Christmas
A Floridian Front Porch Decorated for Christmas | Source
A Picnic Table Decorated for the Holidays in Historic St. Augustine Florida
A Picnic Table Decorated for the Holidays in Historic St. Augustine Florida | Source
A Festive Florida Sunroom for the Holidays
A Festive Florida Sunroom for the Holidays | Source
A Southern Sunroom with Simple Holiday Touches
A Southern Sunroom with Simple Holiday Touches | Source
A Florida Sunroom - A Tiny Table for Two Provides the Perfect Place for a Christmas Eve Toast
A Florida Sunroom - A Tiny Table for Two Provides the Perfect Place for a Christmas Eve Toast | Source
Screened Porches in the South are Ideal for Creative Holiday Displays
Screened Porches in the South are Ideal for Creative Holiday Displays | Source

How to Easily Add Southern Accents to your Holiday Home

Incorporating just a few of these Florida-favorites with your existing Holiday décor can help 'Southern-ize" your Holiday home! They can be purchased in almost any color. And although the items signify a casual and relaxed motif, they can be made into some gorgeous, elaborate Christmas decorations!

  • palm trees
  • sea shells, starfish & sand dollars
  • pineapple
  • magnolia leaves
  • flip-flops
  • flamingos
  • sand sculptures
  • manatees & dolphins
  • oranges & citrus fruit
  • alligators
  • barefoot Santa
  • And, of course... the infamous 'Mouse Ears!'

TIP #3 - Add Some Savvy Southern-style Accents to your Holiday House

After my perspective changed, and I realized I could create some pretty dazzling displays outdoors, my focus turned inward. This part was relatively easy... and familiar. Up north I was used to decorating almost every room of my house for the Holidays, and with the same Old-World color scheme here, I was able to use many of the identical decorations. (I was surprised and pleased at how well they handled the move.)

With the addition of a Florida-room and formal dining area, I had the pleasure of purchasing some new decorations. This allowed me to introduce some Southern-style Holiday accents to my home. The selection of palm-tree-themed and beach-themed Holiday housewares were beyond my expectations - not tacky as I had imagined, but rather formal and classy. My Florida home was beginning to look like Christmases past... only better!

Slideshow: A Florida Christmas is not Complete without Citrus, Shells, Starfish, and those Festive Flamingos!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Festive Flamingos are Perfect for a Floridian TreeChristmas at the Beach Themed TreeShells and Pastels for a Southern ChristmasPastels are Perfect for Christmas in the Sunshine StateCitrus Accents are Sensational for the Holiday Season
Festive Flamingos are Perfect for a Floridian Tree
Festive Flamingos are Perfect for a Floridian Tree | Source
Christmas at the Beach Themed Tree
Christmas at the Beach Themed Tree | Source
Shells and Pastels for a Southern Christmas
Shells and Pastels for a Southern Christmas | Source
Pastels are Perfect for Christmas in the Sunshine State
Pastels are Perfect for Christmas in the Sunshine State | Source
Citrus Accents are Sensational for the Holiday Season
Citrus Accents are Sensational for the Holiday Season | Source

Tropical Holiday Shirts are a Trickled-Down Southern Tradition!

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Holiday Shirts - Florida Style!Tropical Holiday Shirts are a Trickled-Down Southern Tradition!
Holiday Shirts - Florida Style!
Holiday Shirts - Florida Style! | Source
Tropical Holiday Shirts are a Trickled-Down Southern Tradition!
Tropical Holiday Shirts are a Trickled-Down Southern Tradition! | Source

TIP #4 - Spread the Christmas Spirit in Your Tropical Attire!

Just like your northern counterparts, tis the season to sport your Holiday attire. Don't think for a minute that Christmas clothing can't be worn here. Of course, we've traded our festive fleece-lined sweatshirts for Tori Richard embroidered tropical Camp Shirts, and our velour skirts for Tommy Bahama shorts - but it works! Our unique winter wardrobe may show Santa barefoot on the beach, and our partridge hiding in a palm tree, but it's a fantastic and fun way to spread the Christmas spirit everywhere we go! And... did I mention they look terrific with a tan?

Everything the 'Mouse' Does is Mammoth!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The 45-foot-tall Holiday Tree in the Lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel!   Mammoth 16-foot-tall Victorian-themed Gingerbread House at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!
The 45-foot-tall Holiday Tree in the Lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel!
The 45-foot-tall Holiday Tree in the Lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel! | Source
Mammoth 16-foot-tall Victorian-themed Gingerbread House at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort and Spa!
Mammoth 16-foot-tall Victorian-themed Gingerbread House at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort and Spa! | Source

ONE MORE 'BONUS' TIP: How to Decorate with Disney-Designed Displays

There's no better way to unleash the decorating Diva in me than to visit the myriad of upscale hotels and resorts that are synonymous with the Sunshine State. I must say, more than anything else, I look forward to this annual tradition we've begun fourteen years ago. Wearing our Tommy Bahama Christmas threads, and with camera in hand, we choose a day in early December to take the tour. Always awe-inspiring, to say the least! It's the best way for me to see the latest trends and decorating techniques. I'm continually amazed at the mix of [non-traditional] materials used to create their masterpieces.

Of course, no one does decorating better than Disney! With twenty-nine hotels and resorts to choose from, we usually spend an entire day just on Disney property, going from hotel to hotel. Always imaginative, intuitive, and impressive! After a few hundred (or so) photos, I extract the ideas that appeal to my taste and incorporate them into my Holiday home - a fail proof way to transform my drab displays into something dramatic every time.

Certainly, other hotel brands have a professional portfolio of displays. But, I haven't found any as mind-blowing and memorable as Disney - capable of getting my creative juices flowing. The 'Mouse' always motivates me!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But...

Have You Ever Spent the Holidays in a Warm Weather Climate?

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A Bit of Winter in Summer-like Conditions!

Okay, so you've changed your perspective, donned some dazzling [Disney-inspired] decorations, added some Southern charm, and picked that perfect tropical shirt to spread some Holiday cheer. Additionally, here are a few more seasonal suggestions to fuel that festive feeling while craving a bit of winter in summer-like conditions.

  • Mail Your Christmas Cards, Holiday Letters and Pretty Packages from Christmas, Florida! Christmas is a tiny town east of Orlando, on Highway 50. The small and otherwise peaceful Post Office becomes a popular destination during the Holidays, as scores of people want that coveted "Christmas" postmark on their mailings. (And while you're there, why not visit the full-size replica of Fort Christmas in this historical town?) Christmas also hosts an Annual Festival the first weekend in December.
  • Create Custom Cards, Letters, Postage, and Gifts! I've never liked anything 'typical.' If everyone else has it or is doing it, I don't want it! When it comes to my Holiday cards and gifts, that's no exception. I'm a camera-buff. I never leave home without it. With so many incredible photography opportunities beneath the Florida sun, they make for some outstanding personalized Christmas creations. And with user-friendly websites like Zazzle, I don''t have to have a Bachelor's Degree in Design to create a masterpiece. I've designed cards, letterhead, postcards, postage stamps, calendars, posters, canvas art, caps, shirts, phone cases, and much more, with images I've captured year-round in my sub-tropical domain. I can assure you, they never get re-gifted!
  • Participate in a Neighborhood Progressive Dinner! My husband and I attended one last year and it was a blast. This is one of the best opportunities for a group of friends or neighbors to get together during the Holidays. It can be done with a Christmas or New Years-theme, in the afternoon or evening. Not familiar with the concept? Here's how it works: Several neighbors volunteer to be a host home for each of the designated courses of the meal - a different home for each course. Typically, there are 3 - 5 courses chosen. The most popular are appetizers, salad/soup, entrée, and dessert. You may want to add a cheese course or cocktail/beverage stop if desired, depending on the interest level and time constraints. Neighbors either walk (yep, we're immune from treacherous ice) or carpool from house to house. Details and food donations are worked out in advance. And, for you decorating Divas, what an incredible avenue to showcase your talent!
  • Host a Holiday Open House! This is another great social event, not only for neighbors, but friends, relatives, church groups, co-workers, etc. The invitation list for an Open House can be much larger than the Progressive Dinner since the guests will come and go as they please and will not stay for the entire time listed on the invite. For food, you may choose an elaborate buffet or simply show off your blockbuster baking skills with colorful cookies and creative candies. In Florida, it's fun to do a Beach-theme or Southern-theme and encourage guests to dress accordingly.

Season's Greetings from the Sunshine State!

ICE @ Gaylord Palms Resort in Florida!  I'm enjoying the frigid 9 degree temperature!
ICE @ Gaylord Palms Resort in Florida! I'm enjoying the frigid 9 degree temperature! | Source

Snow, Freezing Temps, Ice Skating, Real Reindeer... in Florida? You Bet!

Think snowfall and sleigh rides only occur north of the Mason-Dixon line? Think again! From Key West to Orlando to Amelia Island, and everywhere in between, the beauty and wonder of wintertime abounds! There are no unemployed elves here. Annually, evergreen enterprises deck the halls to deliver a 'cool yule' to its residents and visitors from around the world. Certainly, I've discovered there is no shortage of season's greetings in the Sunshine State. The following is a list of my favorite Holiday happenings... and, just in the "Nick" of time!

Florida Holiday Calendar of Events ~ 2015

Holiday Event
Location
Dates
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Disney's Magic Kingdom Park
November 8 - December 18 (Select Dates)
Candlelight Processional
Disney's Epcot Resort
November 27 - December 30
Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Mid-November to New Year's
Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights
Disney's Hollywood Studios
November 6 - January 3
Festival of Trees
Orlando Museum of Art
November 14 - 22
ICE
Gaylord Palms Resort - Kissimmee
November 24 - January 3
SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration
SeaWorld Theme Park - Orlando
November 21 - December 31
Grinchmas @ Islands of Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
December 5 - January 2
Macy's Holiday Parade
Universal Studios - Orlando
December 5 - January 2
Christmas Bricktacular
LegoLand - Winter Haven
Weekends in December
Nights of Lights Festival
St. Augustine
November 21 - January 31
Pensacola Winterfest
Pensacola
November 27 - December 21
Key West Holiday Fest
Key West
November 25 - December 20
Light Up UCF
University of Central Florida's CFE Arena
November 13 - January 3
Illuminated Boat Parade & Holiday Festival
St. Petersburg
December 4
Christmas Celebration of Lights
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
December 19 - 24, 26
Santa's Enchanted Forest
Miami
October 29 - January 3
Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate
Bok Tower Gardens - Lake Wales
November 27 - January 3
Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
Fort Lauderdale
December 12
Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Houses
Fort Myers
November 27 - January 3
Ride the Rails - Jingle Bell Express
Seminole Gulf Railway - Fort Myers
November 21 - December 30 (Select Days)
Wild Wonderland - Lowry Park Zoo
Tampa
December 7, 13-15, 17-23, 26-30 (6:30-10:00pm)
Busch Gardens Christmas Town
Tampa
November 27 - December 31 (Select Dates)
Holiday Cookie Tour of Bed & Breakfast Inns
Amelia Island
December 12
Holiday Tour of Bed & Breakfast Inns
St. Augustine (Includes 24 Historical Inns)
December 12 - 13

Weather Forecast for Celebration, Florida: 100% Chance of SNOW

© 2014 Glenda Motsavage

Please Share Your Experience, Tips or Suggestions for a Sensational Southern-style Christmas!

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    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Allain Christmas Wow, a quarter-century of warm weather Christmases. I'm guessing you're not merely surviving them, but thriving! You've authored a beautiful selection of Christmas Hubs (articles) that I would recommend to anyone searching for a little Christmas spirit! I appreciate you visiting today.

    • Allain Christmas profile image

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I've lived in warm places for 25 Christmases now. Am used to it. Enjoyed your article.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @Kailua-KonaGirl I've become a warm weather woman myself. Now, when the temperatures drop into the 50's I'm freezing! Appreciate your visit today. Blessings to you this Holiday Season - may your travels take you to some place warm and wonderful!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @teaches12345 My sentiments exactly! In the last 14 years I've only been away for Christmas twice. And, apart from seeing family and old friends, I didn't like it either. I actually found it somewhat boring compared to all the festivities here in Florida! Plus, I was so cold I had to wear a scarf and gloves... INSIDE their homes! Blessings to you whatever you choose to do this Holiday Season!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 3 years ago from New York

      I am not a fan of cold weather and am usually traveling to somewhere warm during the winter.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      When we first moved to Florida I had my doubts as to how festive it could be in the neighborhood. I found it was even more so here than up north in the snow. I have been to Disney during Christmas and it is decorated so beautifully and well worth visiting. Thanks for posting the calendar of events. I will keep it handy for planning purposes.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      Not silly at all - that's exactly how I felt my first Christmas here! The Canary Islands... oooh... ahhh! Now that I'm used to sweating for Santa, I'd like to go there for the Holidays! Thanks so much for the visit, Giovanna!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      Wow they really do know how to celebrate over there! I went to the Canary Islands for Christmas a while ago and I swam in the warn sea on Christmas day - it was fun but I must admit it didn't feel right!! The decorations were up and everything but the warm weather made it all seem a bit odd. Isn't that silly of me!! Great hub.

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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @ReviewsfromSandy Even though I've become accustomed to the warm temperatures here in Florida, I must confess... I do find myself praying for a Christmas Day miracle of 50 degrees! If only for ONE day! Appreciate your visit today.

    • ReviewsfromSandy profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Wisconsin

      I live in the Polar Vortex region. 90 seems too warm but I would love to see 70 degrees at Christmas.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @favored Appreciate this comment, favored, as you have no idea how long it took to compile that information. Even though they are all major annual events, many of their websites do not show updated information and dates for 2014. I had to dig DEEP to extract current info from old, outdated stuff. Someone should tell them the Holidays are right around the corner, and people like your Sister may like to plan their itinerary in advance. Thanks for passing this pertinent information along to her. And, oh yes, the HubPage Share was such a blessing as well!

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @favored Yes, it took me a while to wrap my 'northern' brain around the 'Gator and Gifts' concept as well. But, over the years, I've adjusted so well, that the few times I've spent Christmas elsewhere, I've actually missed my Southern Christmas! Thanks so much for reading about the Holidays in my neck of the woods. As always, blessings to you and your hubby!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Forgot to say thanks for including the activities list. My sister will be in Florida over the holidays and I know she'd love to see some of these events. Passing it on to her.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image
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      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      @CoeGurl Yes, once I got rid of my stinkin' thinkin' I was free to introduce some new Holiday traditions into my life - things I have come to love! Thanks so much for visiting and leaving kind comments!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      You have painted such a different picture for me when it comes to Christmas. All your ideas are fun and certainly usher in the season. I have to admit though, the intro photo with the gators was strange. Can't honestly say I've ever considered them as a holiday decoration :)

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 3 years ago from USA

      What a marvelous, informative lens. Thanks for pointing out that it's an attitude adjustment.