Have a Creative Southwestern Desert Christmas

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December 20, 2018


Southwest Desert Holidays — enjoy the season from a regional perspective.

The trappings of a traditional American Christmas include wrapped presents under a decorated fir or spruce tree, pumpkin pie, and the singing of Christmas carols and stockings “hung by the chimney with care.” But, if you live in — or visit as a snowbird — the Southwestern deserts for the holidays, you’ll notice that the season is celebrated with a regional twist. Join the fun with a few simple decoration tips.

Tumbleweed Tree

Starting with the decorated tree, in the desert, the “tree” can be styled from the ubiquitous Russian thistle, or more commonly known as the tumbleweed. A single large tumbleweed secured to a solid base (such as in a box of sand) becomes the tree. To decorate, first wrap the tree with brightly colored ribbons, to which you can add glitter, curl them with the blade of a scissors, and wind them through the tree “branches.” Include a string of popcorn or red pyracantha berries.

southwest desert holidays

Out-of-the-Box Ornaments

Make ornaments by drawing Native American petroglyphs on various shapes cut out of colorful art paper or shiny foil. Scour the desert around you for unique objects as well to use as ornaments. These could be small pieces of twisted wood from desert plants, and the skeletal parts of dead cacti to hang on the tree. Use water-based paint or felt-tip markers to draw designs or to color the other treasures you find for your southwest desert holidays.

Luminarias Light Up Southwest Desert Holidays

Mexican Christmas traditions as celebrated in the Southwestern Deserts are very different from those involving Santa Claus and Christmas trees. Christmas in Mexico is influenced by Spanish culture, such as the lighting of luminarias, which are candles set in sand in the bottom of common paper lunch bags and placed along walkways much as you would use solar lights. These are easy to make and can really light up a campsite.

Pretty Poinsettias

southwest desert holidays

Red Poinsettia flowers have also become a tradition in the Southwest, where groupings of them often replace the traditional Christmas Tree. Piñatas, made of paper and filled with candy treats, are also a well-known Mexican custom. At Christmas parties, the most typical piñata is the Christmas star,  when children will put on a blindfold and take turns hitting the piñata with a stick until it bursts and the candies shower down to the floor to be shared with everyone.

And don’t forget eating. Tamales are particularly popular in the region at Christmas time and will often be served as part of dinner on Christmas eve. There are a wide variety of recipes for tamales available online.

Find a southwestern RV park and start your Holiday celebrations today.

Bob Difley

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