6 Family Traditions You Can Start With Your Kids

Are you a tradition-loving parent?

Wondering how to celebrate everyday life, and not just the big moments?

Create some new family traditions.

In this article I’ll share how you can start traditions, based on ‘The Book of New Family Traditions,’ by Meg Cox.

The book shows that traditions aren’t just about celebrating big occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving, but also about everyday life and the daily rituals that make life fun, meaningful, and rich!

Start new family traditions that can create lasting memories to celebrate the everyday with rituals that make life fun, meaningful, and rich.

Why Practice Family Traditions?

Family traditions are things that families do together. In a busy society where everyone is bombarded with all sorts of activities and distractions, traditions offer a sense of belonging and identity to every member of the family.

Children raised with family traditions—especially those who have watched their parents invent new ones—learn that they can respond to life in active, creative and extremely personal ways. They grow to be resilient, confident that they are loved, and knowing how to express love to others.

In The Book of New Family Traditions, Cox highlights several non-traditional, everyday opportunities to create new traditions with your family. I’ll share my favorites, below.

Family traditions are things that families do together. In a busy society where everyone is bombarded with all sorts of activities and distractions, traditions offer a sense of belonging and identity to every member of the family.

  • Strengthen family bonds
  • Provide comfort and security
  • Help navigate change
  • Teach values
  • Pass on cultural or religious heritage
  • Teach practical skills
  • Solve problems
  • Help keep the memory of departed family members
  • Help heal from loss or trauma
  • Generate wonderful memories

    book cover and author

    Family traditions lend a certain enchantment to everyday life, according to author Meg Cox in The Book of New Family Traditions.

Introduce some of these fun, everyday traditions from the book into your family.

#1: End-of-School-Year Traditions

The last day of school is the perfect opportunity to start a new family tradition that your kids will look forward to each year.

schools out

Every kid looks forward to the last day of school. Make it special by adding a family ritual. Image source: iStockPhoto.

It’s not just an occasion to celebrate their hard work; it’s also a time they can look forward to doing something extra-special with family or friends. Here are some ideas:

  • Kids’ Choice Dinner—Let your kids pick the menu and also where and when to eat it. One nine-year-old boy decided he wanted to eat Chinese takeout on the steps of his elementary school—at midnight! “It was wild and crazy,” confessed his mom, “and he loved it!”
  • Welcome Summer Party—Let your child celebrate the last day of school by hosting a huge watermelon fight in the backyard. You might choose a different activity or food, as long as you serve cold lemonade or ice-cream cones! If it’s sunny, start the party off with a water game such as squirt guns or a water balloon battle.
  • Encourage gratitude by having your children write and decorate a thank-you note for their teacher. Ask them to list specific areas where they learned a lot and maybe even include a small gift such as a picture frame or flowers.

#2: TV Rituals

Lets face it: Your kids are going to watch TV, unless of course you don’t own one. However, there are several ways to mitigate any negative influences from the “idiot box”:

  • First, TV-watching doesn’t qualify as a family ritual or tradition unless everyone shares the experience. So bring everyone together to watch a family-friendly show regularly. If you have older kids, you may also want to let them watch their favorite show alone (to give them a little space).

    watching tv together

    Watch TV together as a family and then talk about the show afterwards. Image source: iStockPhoto.

  • Limit the amount of screen time that kids have (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two have no screen time at all, and kids over two watch no more than one or two hours of quality programming per day).
  • Teach your kids to be media critics by discussing what they see during and after a TV show. Teach them how to challenge assumptions and talk about whether what they see is realistic or not. This website provides trustworthy ratings and reviews about shows and gives great insights on how to evaluate a TV show.

    family diary

    Keep a family diary where each family member can review TV shows watched together. Image source: iStockPhoto.

  • Keep a family diary so after you watch a program, every family member can decide how many stars to award it and write a one-sentence review. Alternatively the whole family can just have a short discussion of what you just watched.

#3: Coming of Age Ceremonies

Although some ethnic and religious communities have deeply meaningful coming-of-age rituals, most of America has nothing like it.

For Jewish children, there are the bar mitzvah and the bat mitzvah. For many Native Americans, the vision quest is still a strong practice.

kids laying in a circle

It’s important to acknowledge and honor the fact that your children are growing up. Image source: iStockPhoto.

The need to initiate kids into adulthood is so important that if it doesn’t happen consciously, it will happen unconsciously—often in a dangerous form, experts say (e.g., street gangs, college fraternities or drinking games). Here’s a great way to celebrate your son’s or daughter’s coming of age:

Plate-breaking ritual for turning eighteen—In some cultures, “breaking the plate” is done to symbolize the break in the dependency relationship of child to parents. Mom and dad are no longer the meal ticket and from this point on, “Everything we do for you is because we love you, not because we have to.”

broken plate

Plate-breaking is a fun coming-of-age ritual adapted from Greek culture. Image source: iStockPhoto.

A special plate is prepared with a saying painted on it, such as: “Childhood… when you know where your next meal is coming from.” After a nice meal jokingly called “The Last Meal,” the family goes outside where parents and the child coming of age engage in a comical tug-of-war involving the plate. The child pretends to refuse to let go of the plate and they continue to tug until the plate smashes to the ground.

The party continues with cake and ice cream and gifts for the 18-year-old. Each of the other kids saves a piece of the broken plate as a memento.

#4: Snow Day Celebrations

When you’re a kid, having a snow day is like an unexpected gift from heaven—there you are with one WHOLE day in the middle of week with no school! Just pure joy!

child in snow

Snow days are like a gift—make them memorable by turning them into a family tradition. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Here are some ideas for when school is closed unexpectedly:

  • Make gingerbread with light lemon frosting. Gingerbread is quick and easy to make, and the cinnamon and molasses smell wonderful when you come into the house after sledding and snowman-building.
  • If the snow is coming down so hard you can’t even drive anywhere, hook up with your neighbors and cook up a big potluck dinner. Everyone can bring whatever food and drink they want, and you can all sit around the fireplace and get to know many of your neighbors you don’t normally get to hang out with.
  • For extra pizzazz, there should be some sort of Snow Day Dance, as shown here.

#5: Everyday Problem-Solving Practices

All kids bicker and fight, especially siblings. But sometimes a creative ritual can calm down the combatants, inject humor and teach kids to avoid violence.

child with sword

If they must fight, let them bring Shakespeare back to life. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Liz Hawkins, mother of four, had some fridge magnets decorated with colorful insults taken from William Shakespeare‘s writings. When her kids were young she would say, “If you’re going to fight, then you have to hug,” but as they got older this became a losing strategy.

She got the idea to tell her warring children that they could use only Shakespearean taunts if they were going to insult one another. At first, her kids thought she was nuts, but soon they discovered it was impossible to keep a straight face after calling their sibling, “Thou crusty batch of nature!” (using their best British accent of course).

If your kids are too young for that kind of talk, get creative and think of something else that will make them laugh at the very thought of fighting.

#6: New Year Celebrations

Why not celebrate the new year with a family-focused party either on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, depending on the children’s ages.

fireworks display

New Year’s Day is one of the best times to create lasting memories with your family. Image source: iStockPhoto.

If your kids want to ring in the new year, but can’t stay up until midnight, turn the clocks ahead and celebrate early. Here are some fun activities to pay tribute to the past year and welcome the new one:

Review the past year—Ask everyone to say, “My most embarrassing moment this year was when I…” or “You guys can be annoying, but you really came through for me when…”

Also give family awards for “best athlete” or “worst school picture” or whatever your imagination allows.

Fill out this same family survey every year. It’s fun to compare notes with the previous year and see what everyone loved and hated in past years. Here’s an example:

  • Best thing that happened to you?
  • Worst thing that happened to you?
  • Best thing you accomplished?
  • Best movie you saw? Worst movie?
  • What will you remember most about this year?
  • Name three things you hope for most in the New Year.

Some Final Thoughts

Meg Cox has done a great job pulling together some fantastic ideas for creating lasting family traditions. All of them take some effort, but if you can incorporate one or two of these traditions into your family life, there’s no telling how much you will impact your children’s sense of identity and strengthen the family bond.

Every parent can benefit from reading this book to reinforce family connections that might otherwise disappear in an age of mass distractions and busyness.

My Kids’ Adventures gives this book a 4.5 star rating.

What do you think? What kind of family traditions do you have? Which of these ideas are you most likely to incorporate into your family life? Please leave your comments in the box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She helps business owners craft content that sells. Her blog provides healthcare industry content marketing advice. Other posts by »


  1. Crystal Foth says:

    Great ideas to make notable memories! Thank you!

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