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Camper’s Christmas is back with a splash!

In this very unusual year, when the holiday season was, let's say... quieter than usual, we thought we deserved a second Christmas, this time in the summer. It's time to bring back Camper’s Christmas! This Quebec tradition of celebrating Christmas in July is pretty corny, right? No, it's fun! Why not connect with your inner child and turn your camping trip into a party for young and old alike!

For the record, it was in 1962 that Camper’s Christmas was celebrated for the first time in Quebec. The origin of this tradition, although disputed, is attributed to Domaine de Rouville, a campground located in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, in the Montérégie region. Even today, many campgrounds make a point of celebrating Camper's Christmas with extravagant decorations, a Santa Claus parade in Bermuda shorts, fireworks, and a program of various activities.

Officially, Camper’s Christmas is celebrated on July 25, exactly 6 months after the real Christmas Day. But Santa has confirmed that it can be celebrated any time this summer! So why not organize a Campers' Christmas during your next outdoor holiday?

Here are some ideas for celebrating Christmas on the campsite with no muss or fuss!

Daph & Nico | © Sépaq

The secret is in the atmosphere

The challenge when you go camping is to restrict the amount of stuff you bring to a bare minimum. And with the car already overflowing, you have to be creative to keep your Camper's Christmas minimalist. So pack a small box with a few items that will brighten up your campsite and recreate the holiday spirit. A few Christmas lights (battery-operated or solar-powered if you don't have access to electricity); decorations (unbreakable if possible) to hang on the tent or on a rope; the family's Christmas stockings to drape on the tent... In short, with just a few decorative elements, the campsite will look very festive indeed.

Decorating the campsite is an activity in itself. Make a game out of it with the little ones (and the oldsters too!), who’ll be delighted to get back into the Christmas spirit for the second time in less than a year.

Besides the site, the easiest thing to decorate is you! Get out your Christmas sweaters and pajamas for evenings around the fire, as well as your elf, Santa, or reindeer hats.

To add a kitschy touch, make Hawaiian-style necklaces... with popcorn. Simply thread plain popcorn (to prevent butterfat from staining clothes) onto a fishing line with a needle for a fun, eco-friendly, edible necklace. A guaranteed success! You can even make popcorn garlands... but eat them before dark to avoid inviting raccoons to the party.

A little extra touch: To make the experience even more magical for the little ones, why not bring back the elves for this unusual celebration? A little bit of pixie dust will work its magic: here comes the elf from the North Pole, letter in hand explaining that he had special permission from Old Saint Nick to come and celebrate this very strange Christmas. Imagine all the tricks elves can play on a campsite!

Summer is for playing

During the day, the choice of activities is almost endless. Use your imagination and your own holiday traditions to entertain the merrymakers.

If you're on the beach, you can have a contest for the nicest sandman, or even the most beautiful sand angels!

The forest is a perfect place for a treasure hunt! Simply conceal clues around the campground, draw a map, and hide a small treasure to guarantee a few hours of fun.

Looking for more of a workout? Why not set up your own Olympic games! A tug-of-war, a wheelbarrow race, a limbo contest, and an obstacle course are easy to organize on a campsite.

For the oldsters, pétanque (bocce ball), Mölkky (skittles), or a horseshoe tournament will certainly liven up the afternoon and stir up the competitive spirit.

One thing is for sure: with the festive decorations and costumes, you’ll not go unnoticed by the other campers. But no worries…just invite the rubbernecks around the campfire (respecting public health measures of course)! After all, Christmas is about sharing the love!

Daph & Nico | © Sépaq
Daph & Nico | © Sépaq

The Christmas feast

Of course, Christmas is also about eating! If your family has a sweet tooth, the meal will certainly be one of the central activities of your Camper’s Christmas. Make sure you prepare a nice table, with a pretty Christmas tablecloth, some small candles, and decorative items that you wouldn't normally bring to the campsite. The aim is to do something a little special.

Obviously, you don't cook a turkey while camping! But in the spirit of the big Christmas parties, a cold buffet will allow you to celebrate in all simplicity. Small crustless sandwiches, crudités, mimosa eggs, macaroni salad, or a sandwich loaf will remind the most nostalgic of hearty holiday meals. Everything can be prepared at home before leaving and kept in the cooler until mealtime. Simple, practical, and very satisfying indeed!

As at Christmas, the highlight of the meal is the dessert (or rather desserts!). Rediscover your mother's, grandmother's, or aunt's classic recipes, the ones that are (usually) only made once a year and that everyone devours with gusto. Plan a nice tray of bite-sized desserts; donuts, Rice Krispies squares, gingerbread men, Queen Elizabeth cake, shortbread, and other creamy treats will really make the day feel like Christmas.

Another idea to combine camping and Christmas: fruitcake energy balls. Candied and dried fruit, nuts, and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) mixed with date puree will make balls that taste like the famous holiday cake. They’re delicious for dessert and perfect as a snack during the next day's hike.

The trick to storing your desserts? Bring them frozen in a fancy metal box and let them thaw slowly in the cooler. When served, they’ll be perfectly soft!

To keep the theme going, fill a few Mason jars with red and green candies or, if you can find some in the middle of summer, candy canes. And bring along some 2-in-1 jars; they’re decorative and foodie friendly!

Maintaining the cold chain is really important. Unlike the real Christmas, this one takes place in the middle of summer, outside, without a refrigerator, in temperatures that often exceed 25 degrees Celsius. So you have to be extra vigilant to keep your food as fresh as possible, only taking it out at the last minute. This is even more important for dishes that contain eggs, meat, or mayonnaise, such as macaroni salad. Here’s a hot tip: fill a large bowl three-quarters full of ice cubes and place the salad bowl in it. And as soon as the meal is over, put it all back in the cooler before resuming the party!

Daph & Nico | © Sépaq
Daph & Nico | © Sépaq
Daph & Nico | © Sépaq
Mikaël Rondeau | © Sépaq

Down the hatch!

In summer, it's important to stay hydrated. Bring a big pitcher of chilled punch to quench everyone's thirst. And Christmas means cranberry punch! This slightly bitter beverage is perfect for cooling down during the day. Add frozen cranberries to the pitcher and plenty of ice to keep the punch cold for as long as possible. Again, the trick is to bring the frozen juice and let it thaw in the cooler. For the adults, why not add a splash of rum, vodka, or gin? It is Christmas after all!

Fire away!

In the evening, the festivities continue around the fire! While the camper-musician plays Christmas tunes on the ukulele or the camper-storyteller belts out a few call-and-response tunes, we can fetch the cooking equipment to grill some goodies on the fire.

Marshmallows, of course (we won't shy away from the classics! ), but also sausages! And not just any sausages: bacon-wrapped cocktail sausages! Line up a few on the spit and grill them over the coals or embers until the bacon is crisp. Use thin slices of bacon to speed up the cooking process.

If there are any crustless sandwiches left, they can be grilled too. We bet that, just like at Christmas, you’ll go to bed with a full belly... to the sound of the bullfrogs!

Has a new camping tradition just been born? So it would seem!

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