Forget snow angels and crackling fireplaces. On Guam, the festive Christmas spirit is as warm as the tropical breeze. Whether you're a visitor or newcomer navigating the local traditions or a seasoned islander, get ready to celebrate the holidays Guahan style — with laughter, love and the irresistible aroma of uncle Tony’s BBQ ribs.
1. Island-style Invitations: Come One, Come All
Get ready for invitations to more holiday potlucks and BBQs than you can count. Guam’s hospitality is as warm as our weather, and we love to extend that invitation to everyone. Your sister, your uncle, your twice-removed awkward cousin visiting for the weekend and maybe even your par’s ex’s brother-in-law’s baby mama (hey, the more, the merrier!). Be prepared for a laid-back atmosphere where everyone’s welcomed and contributions are appreciated. Just bring your appetite, dish and island spirit and experience true Guam hospitality!
2. BBQ and Balutan: Let’s Feast
Speaking of potlucks and BBQs…balutan EVERYTHING. Even the sad daigo salad in the corner nobody touched. Balutan is a cherished tradition where leftover food items from a potluck are expertly wrapped and packed to-go. Locals are masters at this, sandwiching the food between paper plates and meticulously securing it with aluminum foil. It’s a practical way to ensure you have your favorite island dishes to enjoy even after the festivities have ended. And what do we love more than meat? More more meat, of course. Especially when it’s auntie Mary's classic shrimp kelaguen or uncle Tony’s legendary marinated ribs, piled high on top of red rice, made with extra butter and bacon bits. Read more about local food here.
3. Winterwear on Guam: Zories
Obviously, winter on Guam doesn’t require scarves because it’s hot. More importantly, they look ridiculous with our zories and we’re not trying to start a new fashion trend. Although occasionally, you might see someone walking around in a sweater in 90-degree weather (you know who you are). No, we’re not trying to look cool with our pumpkin spice latte — it’s because Guam is hot AF and the office aircon is blasting like it’s winter wonderland. We’re still thawing from being inside, let alone venturing outside. Break out those special holiday zories, island wear and even make your own Ugly Christmas Tanktop!
4. Baby Jesus is Lit: Nativity Scenes
On Guam, Baby Jesus is the undisputed rock star of the season. Nativity scenes, known locally as belens, are practically everywhere, reflecting the island’s deep Catholic faith. From traditional representations in churches to elaborate residential displays, you might even see one in front of a mom-and-pop store so elaborate that it would put your neighbor’s Christmas lights to shame. Aside from admiring these beautiful setups, it has become a tradition to oogle over the dazzling lights and spectacles at various hotels, the government house, neighborhoods, and other establishments. You might catch a few events and festivals dedicated to celebrating these lighting ceremonies.
5. Four Beautiful Words: All-You-Can-Eat
Book your buffets early. We know Guam is a small island, but don’t underestimate our love for a good spread. Buffet offerings on island are extra epic during the holidays and you'll find us huddled around the carving station like a watering hole. As mentioned earlier, gathering together with food is a major pastime on island, and our buffets (only second to fiestas) are the ultimate way to our hearts and literally, our stomachs. These four words: all you can eat — are poetry to our ears. Check out our list of top buffets on island.
6. Kmart May Be King, but Ross is Yasss Queen
There’s an 80% chance that at least one of your gifts this holiday season will be from Ross. While Ross on the mainland might be a bit meh, Guam’s Ross is a shopping haven. Open until the wee hours, it’s the perfect place to get some late-night steps in and snag some last-minute gifts for your Christmas list…or yourself. There are even some Guam Ross Facebook groups where you can join for intel on restocking schedules and finds. Sorry if you’re one of those brave souls that are reluctantly dragged along as shopping companions, but you might find some comfy chairs in the furniture section or random cool stuff for yourself. Ordering online? See our shipping guide here.
So, whether you’re a seasoned local or newcomer, embrace Guam’s unique holiday spirit. Come with open arms and an empty stomach. And don’t forget to dance your way through Mariah Carey’s song (you know the one), because let’s face it, that’s the unofficial soundtrack to the holidays, whether you’re overseas or here on Guam.