If you're not from a place that swelters through Christmas and New Year like us, the idea of celebrating a Christmas in July probably sounds as weird to you as it being positively freezing on Christmas Day sounds to us.
You see, the Christmas period for us is less this...
And more this...
Which means that salads, seafood and ice cold drinks are more the order of the day than roast meats and vegetables for December 25th.
Or it would be for smart people. Our Party of 11 still does the traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and ham. The oven going for days on end, keeping the house not warm and toasty like our northern hemisphere friends, but more like you're sitting inside it at full heat with the fan blowing in your face.
But weather appropriate eating be darned. There is nothing like lugging a huge Christmas ham in and out of the oven in 42 degrees of heat, losing 6 gallons of sweat in the process. It's Christmas after all - we're all suffering in one way or another!
So, Christmas in July was invented to give us folks in the southern hemisphere an opportunity to experience a traditional Christmas in the coldest part of our calendar year. Or, if you live in our house, to eat ham and pudding without having to wait another full year.
This year, I was hoping to really go for the full cold winter Christmas. With the heater going full ball, steaming hot food and hot chocolate and marshmallows. However, like all best laid plans, the hottest July in 150 years came to Sydney and that was that.
We ploughed on nonetheless with our glazed ham and roasted veg, and some touches that were a little less Christmassy but still festive. I mean, the last thing you want to do is put yourself through two full blown Christmases in one year!
So, instead of the traditional fruit pudding and cake, which my sister usually makes from scratch, I hunted down a Pudding Lane Date and Toffee Pudding, which was delicious with custard.
I made the star cake with just a plain sponge from the supermarket, which I cut into the star shape and slathered with some leftover milk chocolate ganache I had. Then I stuck Cadbury chocolate fingers around the outside and filled it up with some strawberries and gold buttons.
All was going well until the chocolate fingers decided that it wasn't in their life plan to be stuck to the side of a star cake and all fell off at the same time.
Let me repeat that for you in case you were only skimming this page. All those chocolate biscuits that you see stuck to the side of that cake fell off. At the same time. Like a little chocolate fence being blown away by a Christmas tornado. Thankfully I was able to talk them round and they eventually co-operated.
Which was great because I must say, I love how this cake turned out. So simple and effective. And don't let me put you off trying it either, just make sure you cover all of the cake with icing or ganache and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes at least after you stick the biscuits on.
The table decorations were also very simple and came out lovely. I hit up Typo last week and got the paper chains you see hanging up below and the broderie lanterns, which I spread out over the table instead of using candles. The flowers are cheapies from Woolies and I used some of the paper from the paper chains to tie in the milk bottle vases, which I got from my local $2 shop. Too easy.
My favourite part though was the little present favours, which made fun centrepieces as well.
See, the funny thing about holding a Christmas in July is that there aren't any Christmas items in the shops for your celebration. Strange I know! So, when I eventually remembered that we should have Christmas crackers and it was too late to hunt some down on eBay, I came up with the idea of putting out the little presents instead. I filled them up with knick-knacks from the $2 shop and some mini chocolate bars. They were such a hit that they could quite possibly replace the humble Christmas cracker in the P11 house from now on. (If I get my way. Which I probably won't.)
So, what do you think about having a Christmas in July? Do you celebrate it? Are there any other celebrations where you're from at funny times of the year? Leave a comment below or check out the P11 Facebook page here.