Christmas in Florida - How to Celebrate in a Warm Weather Climate
Christmas Gifts and Gators... Gotta Love It!
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
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!
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
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
- magnolia leaves
- sand sculptures
- manatees & dolphins
- oranges & citrus fruit
- 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
Tropical Holiday Shirts are a Trickled-Down Southern Tradition!Click thumbnail to view full-size
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
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?
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!
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
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Disney's Magic Kingdom Park
November 8 - December 18 (Select Dates)
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
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
LegoLand - Winter Haven
Weekends in December
Nights of Lights Festival
November 21 - January 31
November 27 - December 21
Key West Holiday Fest
November 25 - December 20
Light Up UCF
University of Central Florida's CFE Arena
November 13 - January 3
Illuminated Boat Parade & Holiday Festival
Christmas Celebration of Lights
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
December 19 - 24, 26
Santa's Enchanted Forest
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
Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Houses
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
December 7, 13-15, 17-23, 26-30 (6:30-10:00pm)
Busch Gardens Christmas Town
November 27 - December 31 (Select Dates)
Holiday Cookie Tour of Bed & Breakfast Inns
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