Meaningful Christmas Traditions – No Religion Attached


Without getting too theological, my family decided to take a step back from a lot of the religious Christmas traditions we were raised with this year. We have a 2-year-old who is definitely forming attachments to repetition and may be experiencing her earliest memories soon. I really want Christmas to be a big deal for all our children for as long as they can remember, so here are some non-religious Christmas traditions you can easily start with toddler-aged kiddos.

1. Christmas tree decorating

This one seems obvious, but I have found it’s really easy to get stuck doing everything myself. Moira is 2 and extremely capable of performing simple helpful tasks around the house (when she feels like it). So this year, since she has the finger dexterity, core balance, and interest in the pretty Christmas tree, we decided to have her help put up the non-fragile ornaments on the low lying branches. She likes to take them off and put them on again and again, which is super fun if I let go of control.

2. Snow Day fun

She helped build it and wanted no photo credit

We just had our first snow day from school this week and some of my fondest winter memories of playing for hours in the snow with my friends. Moira isn’t really old enough to go tromping through the streets to her friends’ houses, so we kept it local in our backyard. We got all bundled up, rolled around in the snow, built a snow person (fully decorated with a scarf, hat, and two eyes made out of pinecones). She and Daddy threw snowballs and I took pictures. When we were close to done, I came inside early to make hot cocoa and peanut butter toast to dip in it.

3. Baking goodies

The whole holiday season is synonymous with delicious baked goods to me. So I have been baking breads and muffins and pies (some totally failed). Now that I’ve broken in our new kitchen, I’m excited to include Moira in the traditional Christmas cookie baking extravaganza! We’ll have Christmas tree and snowflake and Santa shaped cookie cutters with red and green frosting and sprinkles and classic old tins to fill and give to friends, teachers, and enjoy with family. I know 2 might seem a little young for doing much in the kitchen other than making a giant mess, but once again, she’s surprised me. We made chili together the other night and she dumped the teaspoons of spices into the bubbling mixture on the stove without injuring herself or spilling the spices everywhere. So I know she’ll do great at dumping cups of flour and sugar into a bowl. She might even feel like mixing it together and I know she’ll love pouring the glittery sprinkles all over the cookies.

4. Light Looking

Image result for flagstaff little america lights

The magic of Christmas lies in a whole world of people agreeing to decorate their homes, businesses, and yards with colorful lights and fun decorations. I love driving around the especially Christmasy neighborhoods and looking on in awe of the effort and creativity. We’ve already done a light show drive through and a light parade in Prescott with Moira this year, and we plan to do more light looking at Little America and around Flagstaff. Check out this guide for a list of Holiday Lights. 

5. DIY ornaments


I have great memories of making ornaments with my mom and grandma at Christmas time. Many of them have survived the years and still hang on our trees. Many of them became gifts to friends and family in honor of my childhood cuteness. Moira will be the star of that tree this year. Again, considering her finger dexterity and lengthened attention span, I anticipate her moderate involvement of lacing red and green beads onto pipe cleaners, gluing puff balls together to make bears, and painting glass ornaments with her handprint or other toddler-esque depictions.


I’m sure I could go on and on, which is comforting to me to know that there are meaningful special Christmas traditions I’ve always partaken of and can now include into my daughter’s psychological script for the holiday season.

What traditions do you remember most from childhood? What have you passed on to your kiddos?

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Karli Haviland
I am a Flagstaff local from toddlerhood. I went to FALA for high school and graduated from NAU with a BA in Secondary English Education. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we’re building our life with our toddler Moira, whom I stay at home with full time. My passion is working with pregnant people during their journey to and through birth and post partum as a birth doula and birth photographer, and I work with another doula in town to provide those services to the Flagstaff community. I dance and perform with a Modern Dance company several times a year, and I teach baby & me music and dance classes around town weekly. I enjoy reading, hiking with friends, and playing Zelda in my spare time.