Christmas in July Ideas: How to celebrate with all the trimmings

by | Jun 28, 2022 | Gatharing Ideas, Menu Inspiration

If you’ve noticed a few festive sweaters being pulled out of the cupboard and have suddenly been invited to a Christmas-themed party, it’s no coincidence. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… in July!

Christmas in July is gaining popularity each year here in Australia (and for some of our Southern Hemisphere friends) with more people choosing to embrace the chilly weather and host a mid-year Christmas-inspired ‘gatharing’. 

Hosting a Christmas in July dinner party or long lunch is the perfect excuse to lock in those long-overdue catch-ups with friends, get the family together at the tail-end of school holidays, or celebrate the end of the financial year with your team. 

If you’re thinking about making Christmas in July a ‘thing’ this year, here’s how to do it.

So, what is Christmas in July? Is it the same as Yuletide?

Let’s get this one out of the way first: Christmas in July doesn’t literally mean celebrating Christmas in July instead of December. You can double the fun and do both!

What it does mean is embracing those classic, Christmassy feels associated with the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, using our mid-year winter to roll out some Yuletide traditions usually enjoyed by our friends in Europe and North America: cosy sweaters, hearty dinners, crackling fires… delicious.

Speaking of Yuletide, you may hear Christmas in July referred to as Yuletide or Yulefest in some parts of Australia that have adopted the idea with gusto, but most often it’s simply called Christmas in July.

Silly question but… when is Christmas In July?

This actually isn’t a silly question! Six months before Christmas Day is June 25, so why do we celebrate in July? The simple answer is: the weather. July is peak winter, when even the warmest reaches of our sunburnt land get a bit of reprieve.

If the thought of celebrating a ‘proper’ Christmas with all the wintry trimmings appeals, the most logical date to celebrate is July 25. That said, there’s no ‘official’ date for Christmas in July so the choice is really up to you and what date works for your group.

How did Christmas in July get started? Is it just an Aussie thing?

The origin story behind Christmas in July is a little sketchy on the details. 

The first known mention ‘Christmas in July’ can be traced back to an 1892 opera, Werther, based on the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by the German poet and playwright Goethe, where the phrase is uttered: “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.” 

But how do we get from here to eating trifle in the middle of the year in Australia? Jump forward to 1933 in North Carolina, where a group of girls at Keystone Camp decided to turn July 24 and 25 into an all-out Christmas celebration, complete with cotton-ball snow, a tree loaded up with gifts underneath, and even an appearance from the big man in red.

Let’s hit fast-forward one more time to July 1980 in the Blue Mountains where, rumour has it, a group of Irish tourists convinced one of the local publicans to celebrate Yulefest due to the wintry weather and the idea stuck. However it got started, we’re just glad it did! 


Choose your Christmas In July food

What’s on the menu?

‘tis the season to bring out all your favourite holiday fare, including delicious dishes you may not usually indulge in at Christmas (nobody wants to sweat through a three-course roast lunch in the middle of December).

Whether you’re planning a Christmas in July lunch or dinner, a classic roast pork or roast turkey with all the seasonal sides never fails (think loaded mashed or roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, peas or beans with bacon…) It goes without saying, it’s not a Christmas party without a show-stopping dessert.

Here are some of our top Christmas in July menu ideas, borrowed from our favourite festive menus our chefs have created over the years. Of course, you can always leave it in the hands of the pros and book a Gathar private chef to take care of your Christmas in July catering! 

Wintry Entrees

  • Pork terrine wrapped in streaky bacon with cornichons 
  • Classic prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce
  • Charred brioche with lobster in a remoulade sauce
  • Baked brie with roasted grapes, thyme and honey (Vegetarian)
  • Torched fig and goat’s cheese tart with burnt fig vino cotto  (Vegetarian)

Festive Mains

  • Turkey roulade with roasted parsnip puree and baby heirloom carrots
  • Pistachio-crusted lamb rack with pea puree and potato parve and jus
  • Classic marmalade-glazed ham with cider-poached pears
  • Portobello mushroom wellington with wilted greens and cranberry sauce (Vegetarian)

Seasonal Sides

  • Fennel, radicchio and walnut salad with citrus dressing
  • Crispy duck fat roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic
  • Glazed Dutch carrots with woody herbs and charred orange
  • Crusty French baguette with cultured butter

Christmassy Desserts

  • Deconstructed ‘Cherry Ripe’ with cherries, chocolate, coconut, meringue and cream
  • Flamed plum pudding with brandy custard and confit red currants 
  • Strawberry rosewater tiramisu with mascarpone custard and coffee-soaked sponge
  • Sticky date pudding with indulgent butterscotch sauce and whipped cream
  • Chocolate torte with candied citrus and syrup and vanilla bean ice cream

Pick your Christmas in July decorations

Table decorations

You don’t have to go over the top with table décor to give your Christmas in July party a festive feel. Try laying some battery-powered string lights in the middle of the table along with some greenery (eucalyptus leaves are always beautiful) 

For a fun spin on place settings, use a white paint marker to write your guests’ names on Christmas baubles. You can also tie a bauble to a cloth napkin with sprigs of rosemary or cinnamon for an extra festive touch. 

Christmas tree decorations

Whether you go to the effort of setting up the Christmas tree for your July Yuletide is completely up to you, but it definitely adds a level of ‘realness’ to the festivities. If you don’t want to heave the tree and all your decos out of storage, there are some easy Christmas tree alternatives: use sticky hooks on the wall and string lights to create a ‘tree’ shape; stick photos on the wall in the shape of a tree; use wall-safe washi tape to do an outline of a tree; or put some sizeable branches in a vase and add decorations.

Plan your Christmas in July activities

Christmas gift exchange

Christmas gifts are one of the main reasons we all love December 25, but you don’t have to go all-out with pressies for Christmas in July – it’s not the real deal, after all. 

Keep costs in check by doing a Secret Santa where everyone buys just one gift and sticks to a spending limit. You can make it extra fun by playing ‘Bad Santa’ (aka Evil Santa or Dirty Santa). This is where all the gifts go into one big pile and everyone draws a number at random. One by one, people can open presents – the catch is, if you don’t like your gift, you can choose to ‘steal’ the gift from the person who went before you.

Christmas trivia

After dessert is done, that top button on your jeans inevitably popped, and all the corny Christmas cracker jokes have been shared, playing Christmas trivia is a great way to wind down and wrap up your get-together. 

You can find heaps of Christmas trivia questions with a simple Google covering everything from Christmas songs to movies, food, and traditions. Give it a go!

Christmas In July movie night

An extravagant Christmas in July dinner party or long lunch isn’t for everyone. If you’re keen to get the gang together but want to keep it more low key, why not host a Christmas in July movie night? Get your guests to vote on their fave festive flicks and ask everyone to bring at least one snack to share. 

You can still be the host or hostess with the mostest by going to a little extra effort to make the movie night extra cosy and Christmassy: give making mulled wine a go, bake some gingerbread people or Christmas cookies, lay out heaps of fresh blankets, pillows, and add a few garlands of fairy lights to really set the mood for movie magic!

Finally, select your Christmas in July outfit

Slip on that ‘ugly Christmas sweater’

The traditional Aussie Christmas outfit is usually shorts or a sundress slipped over swimmers with thongs or sandals, but this is Christmas in July we’re talking about! The weather outside is frightful, and a cosy Christmas sweater feels so delightful. We don’t have a lot of opportunities to wear our winter woolies Down Under, so now is the time to whip out your comfiest jumper and snuggle in for a festive gatharing with near ones and dear ones.  

Whether it’s a Christmas in July dinner, date night at home, or a special event, the Gathar concierge team is here to take care of all the delicious details, starting by matching you with the perfect private chef for your gatharing! Explore our menus to get started.