Florida holiday travel

Why build a snowman when you can build a sandman? Just watch out for the waves! (Photo: iStock)

Couples + Family

Tips For a Festive (And Successful) Family Christmas Vacation in Florida

Why build a snowman when you can build a sandman? Just watch out for the waves! (Photo: iStock)

Even when your winter destination is the gorgeous Sunshine State, keeping holiday travel with the kids holly and jolly is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. To maximize holiday joy and reduce the “bah humbugs,” follow these 5 tips for a successful and festive family holiday escape to Florida.

Pack It Up

You can almost guarantee Florida won’t be “cold” this time of year. So, bring the shorts and lightweight fabrics to keep everyone comfortable.

With a slight chill in the air, light jackets are a necessity. And while living in a swimsuit might be a bit optimistic, bring them anyway.

Our aquamarine pools and breathtaking beaches are irresistible, even if it means turning into Frosty minutes after emerging from the cold water. The good news? If cannonballs and seashells are involved, kids have no sense of temperature.

Plus, many hotel pools are heated. Don’t forget your festive sweaters, too!

Get Everyone Excited

Isn’t the anticipation of the trip half the fun?

Get everyone excited for the holiday a few weeks early by having each family member choose one activity they’d like to do during the trip.

I also love reading kids books to create trip excitement such as Good Night Florida by Adam Gamble and Mark Jasper; Good Night Miami by Lisa Bolivar Martinez and Matthew Martinez and My First Airplane Ride by Patricia Hubbell.

Gaylord Palms
The Gaylord Palms raises the bar for holiday cheer with decor and kid-friendly activities. (Photo: Dan Ham Photography)

Festive Florida Fun

You may not see snow falling from the sky, but we still know how to have festive fun during the holiday season. The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center celebrates with their annual ICE! Indoor Winter Wonderland.

This frozen fantasyland is kept at 9 degrees and boasts two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, a 54-foot-tall Christmas tree, alpine rush snow tubing, On The Blocks ice bar, two-story ice slides and more. Trust me, it’s a family favorite for the holiday season.

Visit www.ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com for more info.

Once you’ve gotten your chilly winter fix, head to The Orlando World Center Marriott to warm up with cider, hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies while listening to carolers in the lobby.

Kids and grown-ups alike will be wowed by the resort’s 8-foot chocolate train display made from over 1600 lbs of chocolate, and little ones feel the wonder in the Winter Wonderland. Here they can write letters to Santa Claus, dive into poolside nightly holiday movies, or give a listen to Santa reading “‘Twas the night before Christmas.”

Bring Holiday Magic With You

Hear of The Elf on the Shelf or The Mensch on A Bench holiday traditions? Well, bring those rascals along for the adventure.

When kids discover them in a new spot each morning, it creates wonder, spurs giggles, and helps the tots get moving faster than you do after a Venti Peppermint Mocha.

For other on-the-go entertainment, visit the dollar store for holiday coloring kits, gel clings and word searches that can be hidden around the hotel room or stashed away for fun later on.

Anti-Scrooge Them

Diverging from normal routine can throw kids off on vacation. When this happens, and their inner Scrooge begins to appear, have a surprise ready for them.

An unexpected treat can help kids switch gears and instantly turn from naughty to nice. Consider these festive surprise ideas: Magical 3-D Holiday Glasses and a tour of the holiday lights in town, a coffee shop run just to get them a Christmas cookie, the latest family holiday movie, or animated Santa hats that dance on their own.

With these five tips, your family holiday vacation should be merry and bright!