How to make most of holidays in a two-season state

Sophie Rodriguez and Ellie O'Donoghue

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

While other states are preparing to watch their luscious green trees to turn auburn, the weather to drop to a freezing temperature and the first few snowflakes to descend, we Arizonans, members of the torrid Southwest, do not have the pleasure of experiencing external evidence of the holidays.

Instead of sweating in your jeans and wishing you were in the snow, have fun in the sun with these holiday suggestions, celebrating fall and winter to the max even in a state with no seasons.


  • Turn down the temperature and up the spirit


To counter our deadly hot climate, we Arizonans are gifted with strong air-conditioning units.

Since we are still in the midst of 90-degree-temperatures and it feels more like July than November, use this simple trick to kick up the holiday spirit: simply find your air-conditioning control box and crank down that number as low as you dare.

As the temperature drops, cuddle up in some comfortable P.J.s, fuzzy socks, and blankets then turn on your favorite Christmas movie. Once it reaches your ideal level of chilliness, warm up with a hot cup of hot cocoa and make use of that idle fireplace.

If the prospect of high utility bills is a deterrent from this plan, jump into your car and create a small-scale atmosphere of crisp air. Sam Barrett, senior and holiday enthusiast, frequently practices this Christmas tip: “Just last week I listened to “Baby it’s Cold Outside and turned down the AC to make it feel more like winter.”


  • Play a game of flag football with friends


Now that the temperature is tolerable, feel free to enjoy this all-American fall tradition.

Gather up a few friends for a football game on the weekend. If you can recruit enough players for several teams, organize a tournament. It’s fun that can last the whole season!

For you NDP students and alumni, the organization has already been taken care of. Just gather a team, decide on a uniform and join the annual Bemis Bowl.

It is a great opportunity to commemorate Coach Bemis, to reunite with graduated students or just to play the game. Who doesn’t love playing on Bemis field?

If your team’s got what it takes to win, you may even be able to play on Thanksgiving morning against teams of alumni, battling it out for the title and definitely working up a appetite for a turkey dinner.


  • Prepare your favorite fall fashion items


Whether you’ve long awaited this moment or are pleasantly surprised at its arrival, it is now time to trade in those shorts and flip flops for something a tad bit warmer. Sweater weather is in full swing.

Senior Morgan Quagliata looks forward to fall fashion and uses the season to create chic outfits. She explained her go-to combination of dresses and high boots. They fit the season but still accommodate for Arizona’s not-so-chilly weather.  

Don’t hesitate to go on a shopping spree this season; it’s the perfect pretense! Stock up your wardrobe with the latest styles and prepare to debut your new looks.

Also, remember to keep a few cozy sweaters and sweatpants on hand. They’ll come in handy when you’re cuddling close to a fire or curled up watching Christmas movies.

Senior Morgan Quagliata celebrates fall with her fashion choice.
  • Take a hike!


The cool, crisp air is calling to you. The open trails invite you to traverse them. Countless mountain peaks beg to be reached.

Now that it’s fall, you can take advantage of Arizona’s most majestic natural attractions without fear of heat stroke.

In addition to hiking, Mrs. Cynthia Barberio, NDP math teacher, loves to play golf and tennis once the temperatures drop. She enthusiastically explained that “everything’s significantly better during this time of year.” The weather is gorgeous “every single day,” and a perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.

So get outside and take a hike!


  • Bake the day away


Baking is a vital activity during the holiday season.

From pumpkin pies to Christmas cookies to gingerbread houses, there are endless opportunities to preheat the oven, put on your apron and partake in some good old-fashioned baking.  

Barrett, secretary of the Baking Club, is also a baking extraordinaire.  

“I love to make pumpkin pies! I bake it with no recipe from scratch, I wing it and hope it turns out okay. It always does,” Sam said.

Her other baking favorites are snickerdoodle cupcakes, gingerbread and Pizzelle cookies, which is her family’s recipe.

“Pizzelle is an Italian Christmas cookie. My grandma passed down the recipe and she was 100 percent Italian,” Barrett said.

Whether you buy dough premade and just stick it in the oven or spend hours caked in flour creating the perfect pastry, baking is an activity readily available to everyone in Arizona.

Two of the pies made by senior Sam Barrett.
  • Splurge on a couple of Christmas drinks at coffee places


Before the sun rises over the Valley and raises the temperature to the high 80s, Arizonans find solace in the early hours of the morning that bear chilly temperatures that can drop to the high 50s.

While freezing in your car, trying to figure out how to defog your windshield, indulge in a hot coffee or tea.

AJ’s and Starbucks, hotspots among NDP students, provide a variety of hot drinks like hot chais, lattes and the notorious pumpkin spice latte.

“The dirty chai latte at Village Coffee Roastery is like Christmas in a cup,” said Sam.

Brave the cold, early mornings and enjoy a hot cup of something delicious at your nearest coffee shop.


  • Take a day trip to Flagstaff


Although snow has only made a few short, miraculous appearances in Scottsdale during our lifetime, snow is a much more permanent factor in some parts of Arizona.

Only a two-and-a-half-hour drive North, Flagstaff is a city full of snow and cold weather in late fall and throughout winter.

Senior Jenna Glovsky loves taking spontaneous trips up to Flagstaff to enjoy the snow and snowboard at Snowbowl, a mountainside resort for skiing and snowboarding.

“It is so pretty up there, there is normally a lot of snow, but just recently they found that they can make snow, too,” said Glovsky.

Jenna has been going to Snowbowl for 12 years and even learned how to ski there.

“I go up as much as I possibly can; I do day trips and always try to get my mom to get a hotel room or rent out a cabin for the weekend,” said Glovsky.

Glovsky definitely recommends trying to make Snowbowl to ski and snowboard. Her only condition is to make sure that “everyone wears helmets, which are $10 to rent.”

Seniors Cassidy Mannier, Jenna Glovsky and Sam Hertle take a break from snowboarding at Snow Bowl in Flagstaff.
  • Go grass sledding


Even if you can’t make it to Flagstaff, you can still experience the fun of snowy excursions at home.

With nothing more than a piece of cardboard and a grassy hill, Arizonans can enjoy the activity of sledding without that fluffy white stuff.

Using a piece of cardboard as a sled and the hill of grass like a hill of snow, all you have to do is settle yourself on the cardboard and have a friend push you off the edge.

There is no need to worry about pounds of snow gear or freezing temperatures, and you can recycle your cardboard sled when you are finished.

Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, let’s go! With just a piece of cardboard and a strong imagination, you’ll be riding as if in a wonderland of snow.


  • Take a trip to Bath and Body Works


During your next Christmas shopping errand or trip to the mall, stop inside of Bath and Body Works. Better yet, let your nose guide you there, following the aroma of forestry and holiday cheer.

Spend some time smell-sampling candles. Their new scents, such as mahogany balsam, spiced apple toddy, winter rose, fresh sparkling snow and holly berry balsam, will surely transport your imagination to a place much more colorful and seasonal.

Purchase your favorite ones at an affordable price; there are an abundance of holiday deals and sales. Fill your house with the pleasant seasonal fragrances or gift these aromatic experiences to a friend or loved one. Difficult-to-buy-for relative? This is an easy way to check that name off the list.

  1. Trim the cactus

You’re probably hoping to find that perfect tree. You want it to be your favorite variety, whether Douglas fir, Virginia pine or white spruce, abundantly full without any bald spots and just the right height for your living room.

After searching through the inventories of the many vendors throughout the Valley, if you have trouble finding a tree that meets all of your criteria, look no further than your very own yard.

If you have a cactus of any shape or form, now is the time to put it to good use. By trimming it with tinsel, ornaments, lights and your family’s traditional star or angel, you can be satisfied with a unique Christmas plant full of character.

“O Cactus-es, O Cactus-es, thy needles are so pointy!”