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RV Tips & Tricks for Celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas


When I hear The Twelve Days of Christmas, I immediately think of a partridge in a pear tree (and all of the other gifts) in the iconic Christmas song we all grew up singing. Are you singing it in your head now? In addition to being a song, there is an actual Twelve Days of Christmas celebrated in Western Christianity. It marks the time between the birth of Christ on December 25th and the coming of the three wise men on January 6. The last of these 12 days marks the end of the Christmas holidays.

However, we’ve changed it up to celebrate our own Twelve Days of Christmas using the days before December 25th. It all started when I was younger and our family was stationed overseas with the US Army. We had never been so far from our extended family and that first Christmas away was hard for us all. My parents decided to spread out the holiday by doing a special activity for each of the 12 days along with giving us small gifts. It was a great way to slow down and truly savor the season, enjoy our time together, and be mindful of the spirit of joy that abounds this time of year.

If you are traveling in your RV this holiday season, maybe away from family and friends, you can follow these 12 daily ideas to help you enjoy that Christmas magic on the road. Twelve Days of Christmas activities can be done in any order you choose. Spread them out throughout the month of December or stick to the twelve days leading up to Christmas. Any way you do it, you’ll find that holiday spirit you’ve been looking for. Feel free to add new ideas to the list and make it your own. Many of these items are low or no-cost to make the fun that much easier.

Guest Post by Robin Buck 

One of the first things I like to do is to have a Christmas movie night. It helps me to get in the spirit of the season, especially if it doesn’t feel “Christmassy” because I am not in an area with colder weather. Some of my favorite classic movies are It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Carol. Other more modern choices include A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause, Elf, Home Alone, and Love Actually. If your RV park has a community room, pop some corn and invite your neighbors!

Another fun thing to start your holiday is wearing matching Christmas pajamas. In the evening when you are lounging in your warm and cozy PJs, you will be reminded of the season. Snuggle up for that movie or read a good Christmas book in front of the campfire.  Don’t forget the hot cocoa and marshmallows too!

No matter where you are, you can take a tour of holiday lights in a local neighborhood/campground. Some towns also have a drive-through light show where millions of lights dazzle kids young and young at heart. One of our favorites is the Concho Christmas Celebration along the Concho River in San Angelo, Texas. Here are just two of many online listings of some of the best Christmas lights displays in the country from US News and Country Living. After seeing all of the creativity, you might be inspired to put up some lights outside your RV and get out your own decorations.

Speaking of decorating, trimming your Christmas tree is sure to get your holiday started right. Depending on the size of your living space, you may have room for a regular sized Christmas tree. If not, there are still many options for Rvers. We used a smaller tabletop sized tree one year and then a narrow 4-foot tree another year. If you don’t want a tree, a live wreath can still give you that wonderful fresh smell. I love to put on Christmas tunes while we decorate our tree and especially like revisiting some of our travel memories through special ornaments we purchased in various locations.

Find a holiday event near you for a fun day out. We look for Christmas craft fairs and holiday markets to help with our shopping. Even small towns often have several choices of holiday Christmas concerts and other singing performances by school groups, church organizations, or community bands. Christmas parades, caroling, and tree lighting ceremonies are great ways to get outside and enjoy the brisk weather.

While holiday shopping might seem like a chore to some, I always enjoy the sights and sounds of small-town main street all decorated for Christmas. Take advantage of your location to explore a new area’s offerings. Being away from family can make it harder to buy and ship presents—try drawing names so that you can focus on one or two special things for your selected someone. If you don’t buy a lot of gifts, consider purchasing a toy to donate to Toys For Tots or take some items to a local nursing home for residents who are alone at Christmas.

Who doesn’t love the smells of holiday baking? I have recently gotten into making sugar cookies—the kind where you roll out the dough and use cookie cutters. It’s fun to have different holiday shapes and come up with creative decorating ideas to share with RV friends and neighbors. Another idea is to buy a ready-made gingerbread house kit for an afternoon of artistic fun. Of course, there are always your favorite pies or breads too — whatever sweet you choose, the RV will smell amazing!

It’s not Christmas if you don’t visit Santa at least once! While you can find him in most shopping malls, some towns have whole events planned around him.  One town we visited had a Christmas parade with Santa’s arrival as the grand finale. Afterwards there was a tree lighting ceremony and caroling. In Colorado, there is a tourist attraction called the North Pole which has amusement rides, holiday shopping, shows, and the big man himself all nestled in the beautiful Colorado mountains.

After you’ve made your gift purchases, plan a day to wrap them. If you are feeling creative, look for unique ways to cover your gifts. You can decorate with craft paper, use fabric bags, or glue on items like buttons or figurines. Pinterest has many cool ideas –one I really like stacks gift boxes up to form a snowman. We also like to use funny sayings and silly nicknames on our tags for a little laughter on Christmas morning. Don’t forget the festive bows and ribbons to top it all off.

Get tickets to a performance of The Nutcracker ballet. Even if you don’t know much about dance, this beloved holiday tradition is fun for the whole family.  The story takes place on Christmas Eve where a young girl’s favorite toy, a nutcracker, comes to life and takes her to a magical kingdom. The ballet is full of beautiful music, dance, and costumes that will delight those of all ages. It is an all-time favorite for us, and we can usually find a version of The Nutcracker wherever we happen to be for the holidays.

Plan a game night either in your RV or invite others to join you in on the lawn. Card games, board games, or even party games are good choices for the evenings while corn hole, flag football and relay games are ideal for Christmas Eve. Wear your best ugly Christmas sweater and bring some of those homemade goodies along. Playing Christmas tunes will liven up the atmosphere as everyone awaits Santa’s arrival.

If you are lucky enough to be in an area with cold and snow, go outside for sledding or ice skating fun. All ages can help build a snowman right in the campground.  Have a contest to see who can be most creative with their snowman decorations. If you don’t have winter weather where you are, find an indoor ice rink or eat a snow cone! The Gaylord Hotel has locations in different cities and hosts a wonderful winter wonderland with lots of activities, including ice sculptures, snow tubing, and ice skating all inside their buildings.

Whether you are at home or traveling in your RV, celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas will really allow you to savor the holiday. It gets you out of the hustle and bustle and lets you focus on the joy of the season. Spreading out the fun with twelve daily holiday activities can be fun whether you are with ten lords a-leaping or two turtle doves at Christmas this year!