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A Guide to Celebrating Christmas in the Caribbean

It’s more than the beaches, Baby!

Want to escape the cold this Christmas and head to a tropical paradise? I can tell you for certain that there’s nothing quite like waking up to the sound of surf on Christmas morning and spending the day on a white sandy beach staring out at the turquoise ocean while sipping on a piña colada. Talk about heaven!

Merry Christmas!You might think you have to give up your favorite Christmas traditions when you make that decision to head south for the holidays, but here’s something else I can tell you for certain – you’re wrong! If you plan carefully, you can have the best of both worlds – your favorite Christmas traditions paired with a beautiful Caribbean vacation.

How to celebrate Christmas traditions in the sunny south

Here’s how to make the most out of your Christmas in the Caribbean, while never letting go of your favorite traditions. Go ahead, find your happy!

  • bring some seasonal comfortsDecorate your hotel room – Nothing screams Christmas like festive decorations and lights. Pack a few (non-breakable decorations) and decorate your room and light up your balcony (but be sure to ask the hotel if the lights are OK). You’ll never forget it’s the holidays.
  • Bring the music – For most people, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the classic carols -- it’s the ultimate wonderful sign that the holidays have arrived. If you’re one of those people, be sure to tune into the local radio stations in your room to catch them – or log onto an online music concierge like Songza. If you have your absolute favorites that you must listen to constantly over the holidays, add a playlist to your iPod.
  • Pack your favorite holiday treats – Got your favorite chocolates or candy you just can’t live without over the holidays? Of course you do! Don’t rely on the resort having it on hand – you’ll surely face disappointment. Pack your favorite holiday foods! But be warned that chocolate will likely melt within minutes of arrival, so toss it in the fridge as soon as you get to your room.
  • dress for the holidays!Dress for the season – We see it every December: the Santa hats, the reindeer ears, the ugly Christmas sweaters. All of this, and pretty much anything that comes in the color red, is synonymous with the holidays. So if dressing the festive part is your thing, don’t leave home without your cherished attire. And be sure to include red swimwear and a red dress for Christmas dinner.
  • Exchange gifts – Of course gift giving is part of Christmas. If you’re travelling with a partner you would normally exchange gifts with, you can buy and wrap the gift to bring with you before you leave for the holidays, or you can wait and buy the gift from a local vendor or gift shop on vacation. If you do this, be sure to bring some wrapping paper or a gift bag.

Making the most out of your Caribbean Christmas holiday

Traveling to the Caribbean for Christmas is special and it’s a good opportunity to enjoy things you wouldn’t do at home. Follow these steps to avoid pitfalls.

  • try a new excursionAvoid the same old – Every day of vacation can look and feel the same – you do the same thing in the same place at the same time every single day. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with falling into such a wonderful relaxing routine, it becomes impossible later on to remember what you did to celebrate an occasion if you don’t do something out of the ordinary that day. So on Christmas day, get out of your routine. Go on a cool excursion or participate in some events you wouldn’t otherwise participate in. The resort will likely hold special events and activities to celebrate the holidays, so get a hold of the itinerary so you don’t miss a thing. You’ll surely remember what you did to celebrate the day when you look back later on.
  • Get a picture with Santa – If Santa makes an appearance at your resort (chances are he will), be sure to get your picture taken with him under the Caribbean sun. Guaranteed it will become one of your favorite vacation photos – I bet you’ll even frame it. It’ll always bring back awesome memories of your Caribbean Christmas, and you might make a few people jealous when you share it on Facebook! 
  • enjoy the local traditionsExperience local traditions – Obviously wherever you are, the Christmas traditions will be different from back home. Take the time to find out what those traditions are and take part in them, wherever possible. Instead of hunting down a turkey dinner on Christmas night, for instance, order the local culture’s traditional Christmas dinner.
  • Celebrate with new friends – Christmas is an easy time to meet new people and make friends on vacation. Everyone’s in a festive and cheerful mood, and who doesn’t want to share the holidays with friends? Make a point to meet new people around the resort and ring in Christmas or the New Year with your new best buddies.
  • Help the staff celebrate – While you celebrate the holidays on this luxurious vacation, think of the staff members on the resort giving up their holidays with their families to cater to you and ensure you have the best vacation ever. Show your appreciation by thanking them for taking care of you or by spending some time with them and talking about their Christmas traditions. You could even consider giving your favorite staff members a small gift, like chocolates or a thank you card.  

Your Christmas packing list …

If you want to bring your traditions with you, add a few fun items to your packing list:

  • Decorations
  • Holiday treats (for example, chocolate or candy)
  • not your normal H0H0H0 ...Red swimwear
  • Red dress
  • Other traditional attire (for example, Santa hats)
  • Christmas carols playlist
  • Gift for your travel partner
  • Greeting cards for staff
  • Gift wrap or gift bags

So you see – just because you’re not at home surrounded by snow, frigid temperatures, and the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the Christmas traditions you cherish by spending the holidays in the Caribbean. Chances are you’ll even pick up some new traditions you just can’t live without when December rolls around the next year.

Have you ever escaped a cold, snowy christmas and headed south for the holidays? How did you bring the season with you to the tropics? We'd love to hear about your "island christmas" ... drop a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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