Family traditions strengthen family bonds and creates lasting memories. Here’s a list of ideas you can start this year.
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Family Traditions Create Lasting Memories
While I have plenty of great memories from my childhood, fun family traditions are the ones I think about the most. They’re also the most discussed between family members when we all get together. We always crack up while we reminisce about the good times we all had together.
In fact, I considerer one of our family traditions to be talking about certain traditions of ours, every time we get together. Also, saying “good times” over and over again as we laugh is all part of the tradition.
That’s the thing. Traditions don’t have to be a huge event. They can be little things you do together that don’t need a ton of planning. As long as you are creating memories that bring you together as a family, you’re doing it right.
Family traditions bring the whole family together in a special way that creates an unbreakable bond. They create a sense of ‘specialness’ to any family unit. When you have something that your own unique group, experiences together, it makes you feel a part of something and everyone needs to feel that.
Family Traditions Ideas
We had some fun family traditions growing up and now that we have our own families we’ve come up with some of our own fun rituals. Here’s a list of Shane family traditions that we enjoyed while growing up and some new ones we’ve added to our own families.
Hopefully, these customs give you some ideas on how to create your own fun, family traditions and shows you that they don’t have to be complicated to create.
1. Highs and Lows at Family Dinner
This is actually a new tradition we are starting this year in my family. We always try to have a screen-free, family dinner. Now, we plan on starting dinner off with a highs and lows of the day conversation. I always tend to ask the generic question, “How was your day?”. Often, I get the, “good” response.
Answering the highs and lows question takes a bit more thought and encourages more of a discussion. It also helps kids become more comfortable talking with you about the lows of their day, especially when they hear that the adults in the family have lows too. They don’t feel so alone in them.
I’ve also noticed that I have a lot more highs in the day. So, even though I try to think of the best one high, my mind still runs trough a lot of them from that day. It helps me feel grateful for all the good things that happen to me every day.
2. Read Together Every Night Before Bed.
When my son was little we always read books before bed but as we got older that kind of died off for a bit. My husband really wanted to pick that tradition up again so we started reading the Harry Potter Books together about 30-45 minutes before bedtime. We were able to finish the whole series.
Now, we still read every night together as a family. It’s fun to read books that mean something to us and that we want to share with our son. It’s also a great way to wind down at the end of the day as a family.
3. Family Prayer
Once my son is in bed, we all go in and cuddle on his bed and pray as a family. We take turns each night. It’s helped our son learn how to pray, helps us remember what we’re thankful for, and makes us feel connected as a family when we hear each other pray for family members by name.
4. 8 second Hugs
This is a new tradition that was started after hearing Collin Kartchner talk about humans needing “8 hugs a day that last 8 seconds”. That first 8 second hug felt way too long but they’ve gotten easier and even welcomed.
My son was giving some pretty weak hugs until we started doing the 8 second hug. Now, I get real bear hugs that feel like they have meaning behind them. We don’t always give 8 hugs in a day but the hugs we do give are mean so much more then they used to.
5. Family Year Book
This is another tradition I plan on starting this year. I noticed my friend had year books for each kid on her book shelf. She has all their accomplishments from the year, some photos of their art, and fun things they did that year.
You can do separate books for each kid or do one for the whole family. Take all the photos from the year and make one photo book with them.
Make sure you put the date in the book title. You can keep this pretty simple or add some fun year book type pages in, like best smile and best dressed. Don’t let your favorite family photos sit on your computer where they aren’t being enjoyed.
6. Family Laughs Jar
Many years ago we started writing down the funny things our kiddo said when he was little. We’d throw them in a jar for safe keeping. Now, we write down anything funny that is said, who said it, the date and then add it to the jar.
We get the jar out on New Year’s Eve and take turns reading our funny quotes from the jar. It’s so much fun to sit around and crack up.
7. February Fondue
We always do fondue in February. We either do it for Valentine’s day or for our anniversary at the end of Feb. We pick which ever date fits better with our schedule that year. It’s a family event and we love to take our time talking and listening to music while we dip our foods.
Want to start your own fondue night tradition but aren’t sure how? Check out this guide for easy fondue at home!
8. First Day of School Treat
When I pick my kiddo up from his first day of school we always get a treat on the way home. He gets to pick the spot. It’s usually Dairy Queen for some ice cream. It gives him something to look forward to at the end of that difficult, first day back and we get to talk about how the day went.
There’s a small park by our DQ so we grab our treats and then walk over to the benches and talk. I get to hear about his day and it gives us some time together.
9. Birthday Lunch
If my kid’s birthday lands on a school day then I bring him lunch that day. Bringing in a special lunch he’s picked is a fun way to make him feel extra special. He gets to pick a friend to eat lunch with us and we get to sit at a different table.
He has a great time and I get a little peek at what his school lunches are like and how he acts with his friends.
10. Birthday Dinner
On your birthday you get to pick dinner and what type cake you want. Sometimes that means a dish I make and other times it means going out to a favorite restaurant.
We did this growing up and the tradition has stuck. It’s an easy way to make the birthday person feel extra special. I know I look forward to picking dinner on my birthday!
11. Late Night Summer Kick-off
The last day of school is always exciting but it’s also fun to do something extra to kick off the beginning of summer. No school usually means sleeping in so we kick off summer with an extra late night.
We always have a family TV show or two, we watch during the summer. It’s usually Avatar: The Last Airbender followed by The Legend of Korra. They are both great family favorite shows we love to re-watch. We set up camp in the living room and watch late into the night.
Now that my son is a bit older, he likes to pull an all-nighter. Once my husband and I go to bed, he stays up and continues to watch his own stuff and then sleeps through half of his first day of summer.
12. Water Balloon Fight with the Cousins
Every summer when we visit family, the cousins have a big water balloon fight. It’s always something they look forward to. Aunt Lauren bought a bunch of balloons one year and the kids had so much fun that it’s become a must every summer visit.
13. Road Trips
Summer road trips are always a tradition. These don’t have to be a big vacation either. Sometimes it’s fun to pick a new destination in your home state and can check it out.
For our family, it’s always about the food. Kristy’s family likes to make snack stops along the way. I’m cheap and buy special snacks before we go to save money.
Either way you can’t have a road trip with out certain snacks. For me, it’s Chile Picante con Limon corn nuts when ever I can find them.
A road trip sound track is also a fun tradition. For us, it usually has our favorite musicals when my husband drives and hip hop and pop songs when I’m at the wheel. We also download some podcast to listen to.
14. Special Breakfast
I’m sure lots of families already have special breakfasts to celebrate certain holidays. Kristy’s family does breakfast burritos from Betos on Christmas day while Katie’s family does cinnamon rolls. For Easter breakfast, Katie makes stuffed French toast. Waffles are a big deal in my brother’s family.
I don’t tend to make anything special on holidays but I do Sat morning breakfast. Really, I sleep in on Sat so it’s more like brunch. I like to make hash browns from scratch the way my dad used to make them or tater tots and eggs.
15. Mother’s Day Make-over
Once you hear what this one’s all about, you might not want to start this tradition. The point is to have fun with these family rituals and you never know which ones will stick.
When Katie’s daughter was 8, she asked Katie if she could do her make-up before church as her mother’s gift to her. At first, Katie wasn’t going for it but as her daughter kept asking, Katie started to feel bad so she let her do it.
Now, every year for mother’s day Katie gets her makeover. It’s become a fun tradition that brings a smile to everyone’s face because you can’t not smile at how sweet the tradition is and how bad the make up can be.
16. Memorial Picnic with Loved Ones
My husbands family always had a picnic at their grandma’s grave on memorial day. This is a special way to remember those who have passed on and keep the holiday about loved ones.
17. Opening a Gift on Christmas Eve
Okay, so this probably isn’t a new concept or tradition for anyone. I know lots of people who open pjs or a movie to watch that night, but you can change it up to fit your family better.
Kristy lets her kids open the smallest gift on Christmas Eve. Our family loves to play board games so we open a new game and then play that night. We have tons of fun and get a new game to add to our collection.
18. Christmas Traditions
Just like Christmas Eve, every family has their own Christmas day traditions. My favorite traditions are the ones that just happened and then stuck.
-Katie’s family wears flip flops on Christmas day because they live in Texas and it’s usually in the 60s. They also get Slurpees from 7- Eleven and watch Harry Potter.
-My dad makes his famous fudge every year. It’s always fun to have a special treat you make or eat just for Christmas.
-Our family gets Chinese food for Christmas dinner. I can’t remember when that started but it’s a fun tradition to keep up. This could have started when we lived in New York. Many Jewish Americans eat Chinese food on Christmas because they are some of the only restaurants that stay open on Christmas.
While we’re not Jewish, my husband loves to learn about other cultures and loves Chinese food so he thought it would be fun to do. I love the idea of not cooking on Christmas so I was totally down for it.
19. Taking Down Christmas Decorations
Everyone has their timeline for taking down Christmas decorations. Kristy always takes them down before the new year. She once heard that leaving them up into the new year brings all the bad luck from last year into the new year.
If there was ever a year to start this tradition in your own home it’s 2020.
20. New Year’s Family Traditions
-Katie’s family spends New Years playing games and eating junk food with the cousins. The kids get to stay up until 10 and do the Netflix kid’s count down.
-My husbands family bangs pot and pans at midnight. I’ve heard this tradition comes from warding off the bad spirits and vibes for the new year. They just like the tradition of it. To them it’s like fireworks on the 4th of July. It’s to celebrate and make noise.
-I already mention that we read the funny quotes from our jar. We also eat a lot of junk and finger foods and we each pick out a glass bottle of soda.
21. Flipping the Bird Photos
Katie and her husband started the tradition of taking photos in awesome places and flipping the bird. I’m pretty sure it started on a beach in Hawaii and they framed it for my parents.
Then the hubs and I took a flipping off the camera photo in NYC. We continue to send each other photos like this.
It revolves around food a lot too. If one of us gets to eat at a family favorite place while on a trip then there’s usually a photo of us eating the food while flipping the camera off. It’s our fun family way of being punks and saying, “Look what I get to eat!”
Now, I don’t expect anyone to pick up this family tradition but there is a point in sharing it. It’s ours! It creates a weird bond in our family.
Since we’re all adults and living away from each other, this tradition keeps us connected. It reminds of us of our favorite foods growing up and we all get to reminisce together about some of our favorite places.
Some of the best traditions aren’t traditional ones. It’s the rituals we come up with on our own. The ones that keep the family and fun memories together.
What are your favorite family traditions that you look back on with fond memories? What new ones have you created with your family now? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.