4 things not to do when hosting your Christmas in July party but why you should do it anyway

One of my absolute favourite things in life is learning. No matter whether you flopped the cake recipe or invited more into your life than you could handle, there is always richness in retrospection – appreciating what did and didn’t work. So in the name of learning, I’m going to share our Christmas in July party learnings with you – what we did wrong and what maybe you could do better. Best case scenario – you’re inspired to host your own imperfect, but none the less fun event. Second best case scenario – you get to know us all just a little bit better. 

Don’t forget to check your weather app

This one may sound obvious, but with South Africa’s wonderful climes nothing is ever obvious. Remember how your gran always made you pack an anorak on route to a December holiday sunset picnic? And you would think she wasn’t playing with a full deck of cards but then out of nowhere the wind would pick up and you’d be the sucker shivering as the sun went down?

Well, our winter months like to keep us on our toes too. We arranged our in-house Christmas in July party around everything from agendas, team timetables and general human behaviour, yet completely neglected to consult Windguru. Turns out, while we served Glühwein, our team was overheating in their bauble-adorned knits and scarves in the balmy 24-degree sunshine.

Don’t be too strict with the dress code

Of course at an ideal ugly sweater party, everyone is wearing a readily available hideously kitsch knit dug up from the depths of their wardrobe. But because the southern hemispheres don’t actually experience the collision of winter wardrobe with Christmas iconography, the general brand of ugly sweaters, perhaps thankfully, haven’t really penetrated our particular fashion scene.

Never the less, labeling the dress code as ‘come in your ugliest sweater, might alienate those who don’t have one or intimidate those who aren’t creative and able to adapt something from the reams of inspiration on Pinterest.

While we did enjoy a hilarious spectacle of fairy lights pinned in the form of Christmas trees, bauble earrings and reindeer antlers cleverly tacked to brown tops from those who did attend, our learning from this one is this. Rather create a ‘kitsch up your costume’ station and offer to help guest get into the vibe with an assortment of props.

Don’t deck the halls with bells of holly

While the wardrobe will always lean towards the more cliché side of Christmas decor, that doesn’t mean your event decor has to too. In fact, it’s rather nice to keep it more winter focused. We decided to adorn our kitchen with mini hanging wreaths made from penny gum branches and our tables with fynbos cuttings from a fellow Yuppie’s overgrown garden. We are still in South Africa, so it’s nice to embrace the flora authentic to our winter months. It is a hybrid event after all.

Don’t overdeliver or under cater

We would have loved nothing more than to cook up a feast consisting of our recipe inspiration this month, but feeding a gathering of ± 50 people with such fare can become rather costly. And since it’s a light post work event we could have ended up with mounds of uneaten food. If you’re only hosting an intimate, sit-down crowd, these recipes will make for a splendid South African inspired Christmas in July spread:


Since it’s not about the food, but more about the people coming together to celebrate the best of winter, we opted for simpler crowd snacks:

  • Cinnamon dusted caramel popcorn
  • Glühwein (we suggest making one batch spicier and dryer and the other rather sweeter and fruiter to suit differing tastes)
  • Bruschetta slices
  • Marshmallow hot chocolate station
  • Ginger biscuits
  • Cinnamon sugar roasted nuts

Do it anyway

The best learning in all of this is, no matter how grand the picture in your head, or how many things could likely go awry – the end result is always worth it. Why? Because you wanted to do something nice for the people who matter and those people never see perfection, they see the wonderful sentiment behind it. And it will always leave you feeling a little bit braver, a little better connected to those who matter and a bit more prepared for the next time round.

Enjoy your Christmas in July parties, people. Celebrations of any sort are always a wonderful gratitude to life. We would love to share some of your pics of your parties throughout the rest of the month on our social media feeds so please tag us if you do host an event.