Christmas On A Superyacht: Making It Shine For Guests And Crew

Given a little effort and planning, Christmas on a superyacht is truly wonderful for all involved. There are lots of ways you can dress up the yacht to feel Christmassy and create the festive spirit for everyone — including those crew missing family back home. Here are some ideas to freshen up Christmas on a yacht for both guests and crew.

By Sam Jurgensen • 15 December 2022

Christmas Lights. Let there be light! Christmas lights can’t help but lift the spirits, and nothing looks quite as breathtakingly beautiful as a superyacht lit up in fairy lights. This year, Hanukkah (the Jewish Festival of Light) also falls over Christmas, so any Jewish crew or guests can also celebrate this aspect of the festivities.

Projector Lights. You can also light the yacht and surrounding sea with a laser light projector pre-set with colourful patterns. This option also saves you from having to store boxes of Christmas lights year-round, and if you choose a generic light display rather than one that is Christmas-specific, you can also use these projections for other yacht parties. 

New Traditions. Ask the crew about their Christmas traditions to try to build them into your yacht Christmas— whether that’s pancakes for breakfast or opening a present on Christmas Eve. Don’t forget to include the nationalities that don’t celebrate Christmas! Many cultures have a tradition for this mid-winter/mid-summer solstice period —whether it’s food, a drink, or a song.

Decorations. Deck the decks in boughs of holly, tra la la la, la la la la. Go as festive as the captain or boss will let you. Just be mindful of having to store the decorations year-round. You might consider using a combination of natural decorations — maybe palm fronds for a tropical Christmas, or homemade pine wreaths. Alternatively, order dried flowers from your florist and create some stunning wreaths and garlands. This look manages to be both festive and classy —often a rare combo at Christmastime!

Avoid Glitter. Did you know that glitter is a microplastic and is considered a leading cause of marine pollution? Many global retailers are skipping the glitter in their decorations this year, and given how one little breeze will have your stray glitter blowing straight into the sea, you should too.

Christmas Pyjamas. A cheap set of Christmas pyjamas put on the crew’s pillow before they head to bed on Christmas Eve can really set the festive mood for the morning, as everyone comes out to open their presents.

Christmas Rashies. Want something different? Christmas rashies can be fun if you’re allowed to have a group swim off the yacht on Christmas morning. (Cool pressie for the guests too!) Check out the ‘Ugly Christmas Rashie’ line from Cancer Council Australia and support a great cause.

Christmas Markets. Hit the Christmas markets as a crew outing during the pre-Christmas period. Get the crew in the spirit!

Skip the Junk Presents.  Silly joke presents are sometimes good for a laugh on Christmas morning —but that’s about it, and they almost invariably end up in the rubbish bin at the next port. Be thoughtful when it comes to your Secret Santa. Organisers, please ensure the draw is done well in advance so people have time to shop!

Be Respectful. Not everyone likes Christmas; for some people, it brings up memories they’d prefer to forget. So, if you find that a crew member doesn’t seem to be feeling the Christmas spirit or is even being a bit grinchy about the whole thing, don’t try to jolly them into participating. Just get them a great, thoughtful present and leave them be.

Staging Santa’s Visit. If there are young children onboard, don’t forget the Christmas scene staging! Whether it’s reindeer hoof prints or Santa footprints dusted in flour across the deck, you’ll make everyone happy with an extra dose of Christmas magic. Lots of ideas on Insta and Pinterest for this!

Christmas Pudding Hunt. Take the kids ashore to hunt for Christmas puddings or other treats buried in the sand. This was a tradition set by surf lifesaving clubs in Australia, and it’s great if you’re looking to create memories that are really different to the norm.

Festive Drinks. Mulled wine IS Christmas in a glass, and the smell of it wafting from the galley is guaranteed to set the mood. A glass pitcher of sangria filled with bright fruit will create the same festive feeling if it’s too hot for that. Jazz up your water jugs too—think scatterings of pomegranate seeds and lime slices in fizzy water.

Crew Mess Christmas Tree. Can’t fit a Christmas Tree in the crew mess? Don’t go without! Buy a flat-to-the-wall one, complete with lights.

Table Decorations. Whether for guests or crew, push the boat out a little here. Check out Pinterest for inspiration —and don’t forget how much magic can be added to a table with lights! Whether you’re going for ‘festive formal ’ or ‘tropical fun’, a well-set Christmas table can make people beam with happiness. 

Christmas Playlists & Movies. Music elevates all occasions, so have different playlists ready for different times of the day. Also, have a selection of Christmas movies downloaded — don’t rely on the yacht’s Wi-Fi to stream them unless you want to risk unhappy guests or crew.

No One Misses Out. If you have guests on, be aware of any crew members missing out on having the crew Christmas lunch with everyone else because they’re on watch/driving the boat/serving the guests. Bring them treats, sing them silly songs, or just hang out for a chat about how they do Christmas back home. Also, ensure every crew member gets time to call their family. Make it happen.

Tropical Christmas Swim! As an Australian, I don’t think Christmas feels like Christmas without a swim at the beach. Northern Hemisphere crew might disagree, understandingly missing their snowy Christmases and frosty air, but believe me, a Christmas swim at the beach or off the yacht will get everyone realising there’s a lot to be said for a hot-weather Christmas!

Unique Crew Tree Decorations. Ideas might be theming the tree on the place you’re visiting or getting the crew to order one tree decoration each that reminds them of home. Maybe write little messages for the crew, or everyone writes their favourite memory for the year and puts that on the tree.

Festive Touches in Cabins. Remember to put small festive touches in the guest cabins: a little vase of decorations, and a glass of fairy lights. Why stop at the guest cabins…carry on into the crew cabins too.

Christmas-Themed Cocktails and Food. Pinterest and Instagram are your friends here. Do your research ahead of time so you have plenty of time to order what you need. Don’t forget little touches like a Christmas stencil for dusting chocolate snowflakes or Christmas trees on cappuccinos or hot chocolates, or for icing sugar patterns on dessert plates.

You can do much more to create an incredible Christmas on a yacht. Let your imagination run wild and create a Christmas that no one will forget.