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Creating a Christmas Themed Local Community

04 December 2023



One surefire way to build a tourism base is to provide unique themes. Christmas is one of those holidays and themes that work well.  By infusing festive a spirit into every aspect of the town, from activities, decorations, and unique traditions, you will build a magical winter wonderland that will draw for years.  Here are a few simple considerations that can be done frugally or otherwise if the funds are available. 


Festive decorations are the first place to start. Many communities are inspired by the festive decorations of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, New York, where homeowners go all out with extravagant light displays, their streets are adorned with twinkling lights, oversized ornaments, and life-sized nutcrackers. Each neighborhood competes in a friendly Christmas decoration contest, fostering community engagement.


Taking a cue from Leavenworth, Washington, or Ottawa, IL, try creating a charming Christmas market reminiscent of European traditions. Wooden stalls line the town square, offering handcrafted ornaments, local artisan goods, and seasonal treats. The scent of roasted chestnuts and mulled cider fills the air as carolers stroll through the market, creating a festive atmosphere that attracts locals and visitors alike.


Nothing spells Christmas like a winter festival. One could draw from the Winter Festival of Lights held in Niagara Falls, USA. The town organizes a grand kickoff event with a tree lighting ceremony, a parade featuring themed floats, and a spectacular fireworks display. Visitors from neighboring towns flock to Niagara Falls to witness the magical spectacle that marks the beginning of the Christmas season.


Depending on the climate and location, a community can embrace the winter chill with an outdoor ice-skating rink akin to the iconic Wollman Rink in Central Park, New York City. Families and friends gather to glide across the ice under the twinkling lights, creating joyful memories. The town provides rental skates, and local businesses offer hot cocoa and seasonal snacks to keep skaters warm.


Everyone enjoys a good Gingerbread house. You can create a Gingerbread House Competition like the one they hold in Asheville, North Carolina, Residents, businesses, and even schools participate in crafting intricate gingerbread houses displayed throughout the town. The competition not only showcases the town's creativity but also provides a delightful stroll for visitors.


Many communities such as the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina, organize holiday home tours. Residents open their festively decorated homes to visitors, showcasing unique traditions and decor styles. The tours provide a glimpse into the warmth and hospitality of many of the residents within the community.  This has become quite the tour in many communities around the country.


There is nothing like an entire community that displays dozens of Nativity scenes throughout the community. Individuals, churches, and various organizations can each build a nativity scene that is on display throughout the community. Provide a printed and online map for visitors to drive through the various areas of the community that have nativities, light displays and so forth. You could go one step further like they did in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, and provide a trolly, horse-drawn trailer, or even buggy’s that transport visitors through the town, stopping at key locations where local choirs and carolers perform classic Christmas tunes. The nostalgic trolley rides add a touch of old-world charm to the holiday experience.


Follow the example of Santa Claus, Indiana, by encouraging community giving initiatives. Residents can participate in toy drives, food donations, and charitable events to support those in need during the holiday season. This fosters a sense of community and goodwill, embodying the true spirit of Christmas.


Creating a Christmas-themed small local community accomplishes many objectives. When done right, you create an environment driven by a festive and enchanting destination. The town's unique traditions, festive decorations, events, and community spirit come together to make a place where the magic of Christmas is celebrated and shared with residents and visitors alike. Secondly, it draws your community closer together as they work together to celebrate the season and bring about goodwill to both those from within and outside the community.


John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Speaker, & Publisher. He consults with Chambers, Communities, Business & Media. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column appears in 60+ newspapers and media outlets. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists chambers, communities, media, and businesses in creating synergies that build vibrant communities. He can be reached at: John@Truly-Local.org.