Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrate a Florida Christmas with your dog

Sometimes it's really tough to get into Christmas in Florida.

Remember in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when Kevin's Mom tells him he can decorate a palm tree. THEY ACTUALLY DO THAT HERE!

Christmas isn't really about the cold, but if you grew up in New York (like I did) and are used to that kind of Christmas, Florida is not the same. Lulu doesn't get to play in snow. There's no need for doggy jackets, really. The flora and fauna are different.

You can do things in Florida that you can't do up north. Which is weird, but if you embrace it, it's also kind of neat.

Here's how you celebrate Christmas in Florida with your dog!

FIRST, a little fashion --


The guayabera is a very traditional four-pocketed shirt worn among Hispanic and Caribbean communities for hundreds of years.

Some independent designers have created ones for dogs. You can buy one off IndieShop, for instance. Then pair it with a Santa hat (because Santa hats are non-negotiable no matter how hot it is).

Of course you could also always go with a little Tommy Bahama. That works too.


Residential Christmas Display in Miami.
Yeah, I know, you've got Christmas lights in up north. But I PROMISE you, it's not like we have them down here. According to the Florida Retail Federation, Floridians spent $800 million on Christmas decorations in 2012. Americans in general spend around $6 billion on decorations. Do the math.

Maybe we don't spend the most, but we spend a lot. Especially on outdoors stuff. We don't have to worry about snow. We build CRAZY Christmas displays, with large moving things, and garage displays. We decorate cars and planes and boats. Neighbors get together and coordinate their displays so You have street after street of Christmas lights.

Take a look at these neighborhood displays in the Tampa Bay area alone.

Looking for Christmas lights by you? Check out this website for locations.


A boat at the Jingle Eve Boat Parade in Orlando.
Lots of Floridians have boats, and there's no ice to worry about. It's not uncommon to see boats all dressed up for the holidays. And in Florida you can always find a boat parade nearby during the holidays. Find a boat for you and your dog to ride in, or watch from the shores.


That is "snow" on the ground in Celebration, Florida. Every year "snow" falls in the town center at Christmas. Your dog can visit, if they stay on the sidewalk.

It's not real snow. It's a foamy substance that mimics snow. Lots of places in Florida try to recreate that classic Christmas feel with fake snow. Some places do let the dogs play in it. Some of the fake snow substances are safe for dogs to be in, though they probably shouldn't eat it.

If I were you though, I would make sure the dog uses the bathroom beforehand. Snow being a rare commodity in Florida, the yellow variety is definitely frowned upon.


Key West is very pet-friendly, and every year they have a big holiday fest. There's lights, historic house tours, parades, concerts and more. Bring your pet for the tours, and even get their picture taken with Santa on select nights.


It's awful. It's warm enough to go to the beach. And people do it. There are surfing Santas and eveything.

Lots of beaches allow dogs (mostly leashed). One is Smyrna Dunes Beach in New Smyrna Beach. Head to the beach for the day, then check out Christmas on Canal Street in NSB. The city is very pet-friendly.

Here's just a few ideas. You can find more at The New Barker magazine, which I write for from time to time.

Before I go, here's a warning --


Yes, those big flashy, noisy things that are meant for July Fourth come out at Christmas time in Florida (New Year's too). So remember all the tips about helping your dog through the fireworks.

PLEASE SHARE: Do you have any great "Florida Christmas" ideas? Comment below.


  1. We've had Christmas in Florida, it is fun to see once, but we prefer cold and snow for a white Christmas. I guess since we are used to it, it is hard to change.

    1. I know the feeling. Being able to go to the beach is weird.


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