Starting and Keeping Family Traditions

Each family has a personaltiy all its own. You may have funny inside jokes about birthdays or holidays. Maybe you still talk about that cool family vacation at the lake when Grandma went water skiing. There might be hilarious family photos or videos you like to see at annual holiday events.

These memories can be the beginnings of great family traditions, and can even spark new customs!

Check out some of these ideas for starting or keeping family traditions.
  • Ask each person in the family to write down three (3) things he/she loves about your family OR his/her favorite memories. Use this list as a starting point. Ask everyone in the family to vote for their favorite traditions or build on the ideas to create new ones.
  • Consider holiday celebrations that you honor every year. Is there something your family is already doing that has become a tradition? Make it a bigger deal by making up special invitations and decorations to celebrate.
  • Start something new! This is especially exciting for a month that doesn't alreayd have an observance. Why not celebrate Absolutely Incredible Kids Days (March 15), The Great American Backyard Camout (June 25), or Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)? You pick the holiday (or look to Mead's Project Recipes for other ideas), and then brainstorm with your family about how to celebrate in style.
  • Ask your friends! Find out what other families do to smile together. Do they have an annual trip to an amusement park or the beach? Do they have one Friday night a month dedicated to board games? Do they have a special gift-giving tradition? See if any of those ideas worke well for your family.

Ages 0-2:
So much is changing at this stage of life!
  • Take lots of photos to show your child how fun-filled her early years were. Be sure you take lots of photos with family members so she can learn their names and faces.
  • Get outside and take photos in particularly photogenic spaces, like pumpkin patches or fields of tulips.
  • It's not too early to start reading to your child every day. This daily practice instills a love of books that will last a lifetime.

Ages 3-5:
This age group is ready to learn!
  • This is a great age to add the library, zoo, and children's museum to your list of monthly or annual outings. Children at this age are full of wonder and questions ... feed that hunger for knowledge!
  • Don't forget to go back to some places where you photographed your child at ages 0-2. You'll love to see how different he looks in the scene!
  • Talk to your child about what makes your family great and the fun things you do together.
  • Keep up your tradition of reading together every day. You may notice that your child has started to identify letters and words!

Ages 6-8:
These children are on the go!
  • Hiking, biking, and learning to use a camera are great for 6- to 8-year-olds.
  • This is a good age to try a camping or fishing trip.
  • Let your child be in charge of decorating an area of the house for a family holiday -- maybe the dining room table, entry way, or living room. You might be pleasantly surprised with the new use of decorations.

Remember to KEEP those memories alive!

Once you establish a custom, make sure you record it so everyone can enjoy the memories later. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Blog about it! Establish a website for your family. Aske different family members to be "contributing editors." Be sure to include descriptive narratives and photos. Update regularly and encourage feedback.
  • Turn those digital photos into books. Many retailer (both online and brick and mortar) let you design a book for printing. These typically are no too expensive, and make great gifts.
  • Don't forget about audio memories. In addition to photos, capture videos, and even audio recordings for your children to enjoy the sounds of your family in action.
  • Create a keepsake collection. Decide on a collectible you can build over time, like post cards, t-shirt or car magnets. Then create a meaningful display or item from your collection (like a collage with post cards or a quilt with t-shirts).