The holiday season is behind us for another year and we’ve had over a whole month to recuperate. Let’s all breathe a collective sigh of relief, shall we?
As much as I enjoy the holidays, there is much that seems compulsory about them. It’s the time of year when you break out Great Grandma’s recipe folder. Your beloved decorations go up. Each house presents their display of lights, and city centers host time-honored events.
While these customs are fun, exciting, and definitely fit the description of tradition, there is much to be said for the quiet recognition of personal family celebrations. Family traditions that don’t center around cultural holidays make a bold statement: In this family, we celebrate our unique bond.
Here are a 25 ideas for family traditions that mark time, solidify family ties, and give your children something to look forward to besides the big holidays.
- Make ice cream on the first day of summer.
- Go to a movie as a family on the last day of school.
- Go to the opening-day sports match of your family’s favorite team each year.
- Go through old photographs on Grandma’s or Grandpa’s birthday and relive your childhood memories with your own children.
- Work at a food bank or shelter as a family once per month, quarter, or year.
- Go on a family hike or bike ride on the first day of autumn.
- Take a weekend road trip the same weekend each year and discover something new-to-you that isn’t too far away.
- Create a secret family handshake that you use as a greeting after sleepovers, camp, or any other time apart from your kids.
- Make one night per month a game night. Board games, not computer games!
- Create a Happiness Jar. Encourage everyone in your family to fill it all year long. Open and read what everyone added on a specific day each year.
- Make a yearly purge day. Clear out the clutter from corners and closets as a family, then donate old items together at the shelter or charity of your choice.
- Make a weekly big breakfast or dinner. Come together at the table, without devices, and enjoy good food and great company.
- Write a family funny book. Add the silly things your kids say. Go through it from time to time and laugh together.
- Go on full moon hikes or walks each month.
- Research antiquated holidays from ancient civilizations and choose one to celebrate each year. Make traditional dishes and take part in ancient celebratory practices.
- Pick a day each year that is your child’s Yes Day. Do all the fun and silly things she wants to do!
- Celebrate half-birthdays in simple, fun ways.
- Make a growth chart for your child on a wall in your home. Mark their height once or twice per year. If you rent or plan on moving, make sure to put your growth chart on a portable piece of wood or paper!
- Organize a neighborhood block party once per year.
- Once or twice per year, make care packages for the homeless in gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Add non-perishable food items, socks, and travel-size tissues, deodorant, mouth wash, shampoo, toothbrushes, Band-Aids, etc. Keep these in your car so you they can be randomly distributed as needed.
- Have a letter-writing day once or twice per year. Write a family newsletter together and encourage the kids to color pictures and make cards for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other distant friends and family.
- Make cookies for your neighbors and distribute them when it’s not a holiday.
- Pick a couple days per year to write loving messages to your children and spouse on their bathroom mirrors using dry-erase markers. Let them see themselves through your eyes!
- Make a yearly “try something new” day. Maybe your family has never gone camping, or you’ve never eaten sushi. Perhaps you haven’t ever flown in a helicopter or visited a working farm. Pick something as a family that’s a shared new experience and go do it!
- Make a summer activity calendar. Mark the days that you know are available for family fun, and then fill it up all year long with ideas that you brainstorm as a family. When summer comes along, you’ll be ready for adventure!
Whether your personal traditions are big or small, it’s family connection that counts. Putting even a few of these non-holiday celebrations in place gives your family the excitement of anticipation and the joy of connectedness.
What traditions does your family celebrate beyond the typical cultural holidays?