15 Easy and Fun Family Traditions
A beautiful way to build those core memories as a family is through loving traditions, whether it’s something you do every year, like baking a special cake recipe passed down from your great-grandmother, or something you do every week, like a silly game night with lots of laughter and fun snacks.
Family traditions don’t need to be connected to holidays, just something that brings your family joy and togetherness. Whatever way you choose to be together or spend holidays, these sweet family traditions can keep your family connected throughout generations.
A Special Book
Reading the same book every holiday becomes such a sweet and loving tradition for many families, like The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. This is one family tradition that can continue on to grandchildren, becoming a long-standing tradition.
It’s wonderful to use the same copy of the book each year, but you can also gift copies of the book to family members in on the tradition as sentimental keepsakes. (You can also do this with a movie you watch every year, complete with popcorn, cozy blankets, and jammies!)
A “Family Bake”
Baking is a delicious way to enjoy a special family time together! You can use a tried-and-true recipe handed down between generations or find a new fancy cookie recipe to tackle together every year, but the act of baking together time and again will create warm and cozy memories. You can even bake extra for friends and neighbors.
Or, host a Holiday Bake-Off, where everyone bakes a batch to be judged by the esteemed panel of children.
Make Ornaments or Decorations
You don’t need to be crafty for this one! You can make them as simple or as complex as you want. You can buy kits or make things with air dry clay and cookie cutters.
One cool idea is to make an ornament that sums up your year as a family. Say you got a dog that year, make an ornament in the shape of a dog bone. Don’t forget to add the year to each ornament!
Making decorations can be a simple task too, and one that can be repeated every year. Depending on how crafty you are, you can make decorations for all the holidays you celebrate together.
Or you can make this low-maintenance by doing things like painting store-bought lanterns for Lunar New Year or making festive fringed napkin rings with just a scissor, construction paper, and glue for Cinco de Mayo.
This can be done anytime, even as a nightly ritual! One fun way to keep it as a special tradition is to gather together and add your favorite books that you read over the year. Try it for NYE, and after you add your leaves, make your TBR list for the upcoming year. This can lead to great book discussions and conversations.
A Book Party
On International Book Day, we have a book-themed dinner at home. We pick a favorite book and create a meal based on the book. We even play a game based on the book after dinner! You can do a book-themed celebration as a fun family tradition.
We do a whole craft weekend at the beginning of December to prepare for the winter holidays. It’s a great way to make some presents for others or create new holiday decor. If you aren’t crafty or are not a fan of homemade gifts, make it craft 101. Get easy craft kits or coloring books and just keep it simple and still creative.
Volunteering as a family can build empathy, and it is especially wonderful to start at a young age! You can choose a place to volunteer each year, or pick something different as your family grows and evolves. It’s a beautiful way to spread love!
Holiday Pen Pals
If you have loved ones who are far away on the holidays, turn them into Holiday Pen Pals! Write each other letters or cards that you can each read at the same time on the holiday. It will really bring you together in spirit! Then if you can talk “face-to-face” via the computer (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) you can talk about what was written in the letters.
More Holiday Letter Writing
Every year around Valentine’s Day, my children and I write letters and cards to elderly people who are otherwise alone. You can do this by contacting your local retirement or nursing homes, hospice care centers, or hospitals or through the organization Love For Our Elders. (That’s how this tradition started for us.) A side note, if you go through Love Your Elders, there are deadlines for when they need the letters and guidelines for what to write, which is helpful.
Holiday Photo Shoot
Take the same photo every year and watch the evolution of your family. You can take a family photo in front of the Christmas Tree every Christmas Eve or after lighting the Menorah on the first night.
You don’t have to wear the same clothes or recreate the photo exactly each year as long as it’s the same basic idea and place. Watch how your family has grown and changed, get or make a special photo album just for these photos, and look through it every holiday.
Time Capsule Notes
Every New Year’s Eve, your family can get together and write a “time capsule note” of all the things that they want to remember from the year. You can write this as one note from the family, or as individual letters that you can read to each other after writing. Once they are finished, you can seal them in an envelope, write the year on the outside, and store them in a safe place to read in the future. (I am too sentimental for this, so I don’t seal the envelopes. That way, I can revisit them with my kids whenever I want!)
One Minute Of Gratitude
This isn’t a yearly tradition, but a weekly or even daily tradition! Start the day with one minute of gratitude together. Everyone can share a few things they are grateful for that day or week. This is a family tradition that has been shown to bring more joy into your life. You can even get a special journal to record everyone’s gratitudes.
A Traditional Gift
Traditional gifts give everyone something to look forward to each year! Whether it be pajamas you open on Christmas Eve or fancy chocolates on the first night of Hanukkah, it’s something you know and love to receive. We have traditional gifts in my family, and they are some of my favorite things about holiday gift-giving.
You can play the same game every year or change it up, but always have it on the same night. It can be once a week, once a month, or every St. Patrick’s Day, whatever works in your family schedule. But having this tradition can really help bond everyone and create lasting memories of fun and laughter.
I know a lovely family that used to have a communal height chart in their house. Everyone who came in had to be measured, adults and children alike. If you got a spot on the height chart, you were welcomed into the fold. It’s such a sweet little tradition that you can incorporate into your life however you want, either by measuring your children (and the adults!) once a year, or every time family or friends from far away come to visit, or anytime a new friend enters your abode.
Though I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a traditional sort of person, I love the special family traditions and rituals we share throughout the year. They really feel like I’m creating something magical for us to experience together. I treasure every one, even during the years when I feel like maybe it’s possible that I’ve created too many traditions and need to scale back in order to get it all done! Whether you have one family tradition or a million and one, they are a beautiful way to bond.
About Meredith Bartolo PappasMeredith is a licensed teacher with almost twenty years of experience in education. Her specialties are holistic learning, early literacy, and social-emotional development. She is also a reading specialist, artist, and mom of two. She loves all things bookish, magical, and cozy. Find her at Sharing Circle Education sharingcircleeducation.com and on Instagram @sharingcircleeducation.