These last few weeks have been amazing for me. I took most of the last 3 weeks off from blogging so that I could fully enjoy the holidays with my fun little family (as well as our big extended families). Not only have I eaten way too much good food, but I think I played Settlers of Catan at least 5 times. Each time it lasted over two hours. This is the only time of year that we can get away with playing games that many times, and we have loved it!
Most of all though, we have enjoyed watching our traditions start to create some magic with our daughters. Traditions are really what make the holidays special for me. I majored in Family Studies when I went to college, and something that was always hit hard in my classes was the importance of traditions for a family unit. When families have traditions, it helps kids to have a sense of belonging, and they bless their lives in so many ways!
I decided I want to share a little of what matters most to me, by sharing some different traditions that my family enjoys. I also did a poll on my Facebook page asking different families what their favorite traditions are. I got so many fun ideas for 2015, and I wanted to share some of those with you too! Hopefully if you don't already have a ton of traditions, you will be inspired with some new ones to start this next year!
At home with the kids? Instantly access any of these printable activity bundles to keep them learning!
- Sugar Cookie Tradition: Buy a big container of cookie cutters that have lots of shapes for the different holidays, and make cookies for each holiday. Kids anticipate simple traditions like this a LOT! It's the simple things 🙂
- Adventure Day: On the same day every year, one family lets their kid pick a spot on the map (in their local area) and they go explore with no pre-made plans.
- Family Day: We started this last year. There are so many silly holidays made up for everything imaginable, why not a special holiday just for your family. For us, it consists of spending the day together, and we picked a day in the summertime so that we can go camping together!
- Balloon Attack: For their kid's birthday, one family always sneaks a bunch of balloons in their room so that they wake up to the fun surprise on the morning of their birthday.
- Birthday Lanterns: One family suggested the idea to send birthday lanterns into the sky for your kid's birthday (one for each year they are old).
- Love Boxes: One of my blogging friends does this and I really want to adopt the tradition this year. She makes a family mailbox each Feb 1st and they spend the next two weeks writing love notes to each other. The kids LOVE this (both giving and getting)!
- Family Love Day: My husband and I started this with our girls and we all love it. Rather than going out together as a couple, we save that for the weekend and spend Valentine's Day together as a family. We call it Family Love Day and usually go out to dinner as a family or make pizza, and then we play games or watch a movie. I did this because I want my children to always feel like they can celebrate Valentine's Day NO MATTER WHAT. I hated in junior high or high school when girls would get depressed because they thought Valentine's Day was just for those with a “lover.” So dumb. Valentine's Day is for everyone!
- Mystery Dinner: Get together with other couples and do a mystery dinner, or do one with your family!
St. Patrick's Day
- Treasure Hunt: Leave little clues in your kid's backpack, and get them excited to come home and find the “rainbow” (that you have printed, and taped up somewhere), where a special treasure or chocolate coins will be waiting!
- Mischievous leprechauns: Every St. Patrick's Day, the mischievous leprechaun turns the milk green, as well as the toilet water! You might find other silly mishaps, like pictures upside down, and other fun pranks!
- Sneaky Easter Bunny: Easter bunny hides the basket in a new spot each year and the kids have to search for it. The kids speculate all year-long where the Easter Bunny might hide their baskets!
- Special Eggs. My mom has started a tradition of doing special eggs in our egg hunt. Sometimes it's one “golden egg” that everyone is trying to find, other times she fills all the green eggs with money.
- Gratitude Leaves: Pass around decorative leaves and have everyone write what they are grateful for. Before the meal, go around the table and have everyone share what they wrote. Get printable leaves here: Family Gratitude tree
- Gratitude Tree: We did this with our kids this year and it was pretty fun. I gathered some branches/twigs from our trees in the backyard and put them in a vase. We wrote on paper leaves every night (something we were grateful for) and taped them to our family gratitude tree. It was fun to look at it everyday and watch it grow as we added more and more leaves!
- Lifetime of Ornaments: Each year, each of the kids get their own ornament for Christmas. Usually it represents something from that year: a talent they developed, a trip they went on, a favorite show or toy, etc. When they grow up and move out, they will have ornaments of their own for decorating their tree!
- Christmas jammies: I've heard various ways to do this tradition. Some families go look at lights on Christmas Eve and come home to the pajamas, some go out for a Christmas Eve dinner and find them under the tree when they get home, or in our family, we spend New Year's Eve with family and wait for Santa's Elves to doorbell ditch the jammies with some hot cocoa and slippers!
- Care Packages: One of my friend's does care packages every Christmas Eve to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. The care packages consist of things like scarves, gloves, long johns, McDonald's gift certificates, etc.
- Santa's Treasure Hunt: I have heard of several families that do a fun treasure hunt for the kids (either for their biggest gift, or for the family gift). One friend starts the first clue in everyone's stockings.
- Christmas Song Project: One of my readers suggested this one and I LOVE it! She sends part of a song to each of her family members (no matter where they live), and they send back a clip of them singing/acting it out. She then combines all the clips together and sends the whole song to everyone on Christmas Day. HILARIOUS tradition!
- Movie Day: I remember going to the movies on Christmas Evening with my dad. We hardly ever went to the movies, so it felt really special. I've known other families that do this on Christmas Eve or New Year's Day.
- Awkward Family Selfie: One of my friends does an awkward family selfie every Christmas morning before anyone has a chance to brush their hair or teeth. Everyone gets to just smile and be awkward, and no one gets left out!
- Shepherd's Dinner: I have heard several variations of this. Some families eat what would have been a typical meal in Bethlehem back when Jesus was born, and another family said they eat stew in bread bowls or shepherd's pie by candlelight. This is the perfect time to read the Christmas story.
- Mother Goose. One of my readers has this tradition and it came from the Dutch line in her family. Every New Year's Eve, Mother Goose comes. Every member of the family leaves a shoe by the door, and Mother Goose leaves them a surprise inside!
- Countdown Tree: One family redecorates their tree with balloons that are filled with fun prizes. They pop one per hour to countdown to the new year. Some contain prizes, activities, money or fun treats. This sounds really fun!
What are Your Favorite Traditions?! I would love to find some good ones for the 4th of July and Halloween!
Thank you all for you great ideas! Traditions remind us that family is what matters most!