Family traditions are a fabulous way to unify your family. Whether your kids are one or 18, now is the time to start planning.
Here are some year-round traditions any family will enjoy.
1. Brother or sister day
This is a great tradition for a family of any age. On the designated day every year the brothers or sisters, depending on whose day it is, receives small token gifts, breakfast in bed and the activity of their choice.
2. Daddy dates
When our kids turn 12, they get a special date with a parent. If it is a girl, Daddy dresses up and lets her know what time to be ready. Showing up with a bouquet of flowers, he escorts her for an evening of good food and fun. If it is a boy turning 12, he gets to dress up and tell mom when to be ready. Dad helps him pick up some flowers and take mom on her evening to remember with her little gentleman.
3. Birthday letters
In the days leading up to a family member's birthday get out some stationary and write a letter telling exactly what he means to you, his strengths and talents. Each family member can add to the letter, and you could even get the grandparents involved. Save the letters in a special place and return them when your child finally leaves home.
Traditions for the Spring
1. Welcoming the full moon.
The Farmers Almanac has a great article detailing each full moon, its name and meaning. The spring time is a wonderful time to bundle up without too many bugs and take a nighttime stroll under the full moon.
2. Valentine Love
We put up a paper tree without leaves on our wall every February. The kids get to pick a paper heart out of a basket and write a note to a family member detailing what they love about them. We fill the tree by the end of the month every year and spend an evening taking them down one by one and reading them to each other.
1. Summertime cinema
Grab the laptop or projector and head outside under the stars with your favorite treats and a few snuggly blankets for an outdoor movie. This great tradition can be held as often as you like for giggles and great fun. You can now buy a projector that hooks up to an iPad or tablet.
2. Board of Review
At the end of the school year, have a night the kids get to quiz their parents on things they learned in school. Can Mom find the square root of 150 without a calculator? Can Dad remember the state capitol of Maine? This is a fun tradition sure to conjure up some smiles and laughter.
3. Treasure Hunts
Buried treasure is sure to lure your buccaneers out of the house and onto the hunt. Create a treasure map. You can do this by ripping the side off a paper bag and crumpling it up until it resembles an old parchment. Lay out a map of familiar land marks. This can be as small as your backyard or park or as large as a road trip or trip across town. Create clues hidden at each landmark to lead your pirates to the next one. At the end, hide a stash of fun treats or even a picnic. Sure to please small scallywags.
Traditions for fall
1. Service with a smile
Service can help your family develop a deeper connection and greater character. As a family, research your community needs and find a way to do service each quarter. Some ideas include:
Gathering items for the local shelters.
Volunteering at a retirement community or children's hospital.
Collecting donations for a charity.
Joining a 5k or other run for charity
2. Turkey ShootNo real turkeys are harmed in this hilarious activity. The day of Thanksgiving line up turkeys made of water balloons in the yard. The turkeys are constructed by blowing up a small balloon, ideally a water balloon, and taping on a few feathers and drawing a face on the smaller end of the balloon. Each child gets a hand full of rubber bands and "shoots" the turkeys. This is a great game to play while waiting for your real turkey to cook.
3. Annual fall leaf collection. Each fall when the leaves are at their brightest, arrange a family walk to collect all types and colors of leaves. Be sure to take lots of pictures. When you return home, press the leaves between two paper towels and two plates. Microwave for less then 30 seconds and let them cool between the plates. They should be pressed and dried. You may have to adjust the time depending on your microwave. Make a picture collage using the leaves and pictures taken from the walk.
1. Picture contests
When you take a family trip, vacation or even just a walk or hike hand over the camera to the kids. At the end of the outing, print off a few photos each child took for the photo contest. Have a silent vote and announce the winner. Not only will you end up with great printed photos of your trip but great memories with your kids.
2. Monthly game night
I adore this tradition. We do it weekly, but if your kids are older and have families of their own, monthly might be a better option.
3. Ultimate sledding
This is a great trip for the family. Pick a hill that works for your difficulty level and let the fun begin. At the end of the day, cast your votes for various awards such as most snow in the face or best belly flop.
Your family will thrive when traditions are involved and looked forward to every year. Start planning now for fun traditions this year.
Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.