How to Create and Maintain Fun Family Traditions.
I am a lover of all things traditions.
My little family of six has so many traditions that I could probably fill a book with them!
I consider a tradition to be something we do three times or more.
How did we decide on our traditions? How do we keep them going? And how do we not break the bank doing it?
Using Traditions From the Past For Your Own Family
When you first start your own family it’s natural to reflect back on your childhood.
This is a great chance to recall some of the traditions you had growing up.
Which ones were special to you? Which do you enjoy?
Which did you hate as a child but appreciate now as an adult?
Which ones do you never want to participate in again?
Remembering the traditions from your childhood is a great way to begin traditions with your children.
Growing up my mom played a special birthday song for each of us on a cassette tape for our birthdays.
It was a personalized song and we only got to hear it on our special day.
When my first baby was born I hunted around online and found out the company is still around but now they make personalized birthday
This is a tradition I LOVED growing up and have really enjoyed seeing the joy my children have on their birthdays with their special song.
Creating New Family Traditions
While it’s great to use traditions from your own past, it’s also important to start new traditions that are special just to your little family.
We never sat down and said “ok! time to create traditions!”
Instead, we let them happen naturally.
One day you have an idea and you try that idea out. When everyone enjoys it you then start a tradition!
When my husband and I were dating we went to St. Augustine, Florida on the 4th of July to see the fireworks show.
We loved it and decided to go back that following year.
Once we were engaged we talked about making that our very first family tradition.
We now go to St Augustine every year for the 4th of July.
It’s one of our very favorite vacations each year and is a tradition we created simply because we visited once and enjoyed it!
Keeping Family Tradition Ideas Affordable
Just because something is important to you and your family doesn’t mean it has to be expensive.
When you start a new tradition, keep cost in mind.
It’s easy when you only have one child to go all out and overboard with things.
But then when you have more children…will you be able to afford to keep that same tradition going for them?
I strive to do the same things for each of my kids that I did for their older siblings.
I knew when we had our first child that we would have more children in the future so I kept that in mind when we started traditions.
Each Halloween we pick out pumpkins to carve as a family.
With just one child it would have been easy to let him get his own pumpkin to carve.
But now that we have four children that would be very expensive and
Instead, we chose a large family pumpkin to carve and let our son pick a mini pumpkin to have in his room.
We have continued that tradition and still just get the one large family pumpkin and each child gets a mini one.
Our cost has only gone up a couple of dollars rather than $20 or more!
Keeping Tradition Ideas Simple
In our Pinterest world it’s easy to overthink things and take things to an extreme.
When it comes to traditions, simple is best!
Most of my family traditions revolve around picture taking. Taking photos is free!
Taking photos is simple! Taking photos gives you something to enjoy for years to come!
We take a ton of “tradition” pictures. The first day of the start of a new school year, Christmas morning before seeing what Santa brought, Easter photos, Santa pictures, etc.
It’s a quick, easy way to capture the moment and I love having comparisons each year of our kids in the same place or doing the same thing or at the same time of year.
When we first started traveling with our first son we had the idea to buy him a shirt from everywhere he traveled.
My plan was to keep all the shirts and then make him a t-shirt travel quilt someday.
Great idea right? Well, the reality of the tradition was not so great.
First, it was hard to find shirts everywhere we went. Especially ones with the date and the location on them.
And it was expensive. And then if he wore the shirts, they got worn out and wouldn’t look so great on a quilt anymore.
It wasn’t a simple tradition and it became more of a hassle than it was worth.
So we dropped it and instead we now buy a Christmas ornament every place we visit.
It’s SUPER simple, very affordable, and it makes decorating the Christmas tree so fun!
It’s a chance to look back over all of our trips and talk about the memories we made together.
It’s also a fun experience to choose the ornament as a family while on our trip – what do we want to remember most about this vacation? We all choose together which makes it even more special!
I always make sure to put the year on the bottom of the ornament so we can always remember when we visited that location!
Much simpler than the t-shirt idea and much more fun too 🙂
Keeping Traditions Going with the Whole Family
By making traditions around major events, holidays, etc it’s easier to remember to keep them going.
No one forgets that it’s Christmas time so our Christmas traditions happen naturally without much effort or thought.
We know it’s that time of year to decorate Christmas cookies, drink hot cocoa, and cut down our Christmas tree.
If a tradition becomes something you’re having to remind yourself to do then it’s probably not one you really truly enjoy doing
Some of our traditions do take more effort to remember than others.
One of my favorite travel traditions is that we take a picture of my husband
This started before we even had children…my husband and I always snapped a pic when we arrived at our hotel to remember it by and it was always with him laying on the bed!
Now we pile the kids on with him and it makes for a cute picture.
It’s a tradition that takes more thought than most though because when you first arrive at a destination (especially with four kids) you’re frazzled and in a hurry and it’s easy to forget to take a picture among the craziness.
I have only forgotten our traditional picture once though which isn’t too bad!
Letting Go Of Traditions That Don’t Bring Joy
Just because you decide to start a tradition, doesn’t mean you are locked in it for life.
If you change your mind about enjoying something or decide it doesn’t work for your family then just stop having that as a tradition!
I know that sounds like an obvious thing, but it wasn’t for me.
When my first son was born we took him to meet the Easter Bunny before his first Easter.
It was the ugly (creepy!) mall bunny and it cost $20 for the photo.
But all kids have to have those pics with the Easter Bunny, right?
I mean it’s a must-do tradition!
So each year I kept taking him.
And when my oldest daughter was born, I took them both.
It was a hassle. It was expensive. It wasn’t even enjoyable for any of us.
I mean that mall bunny even creeps me out.
I had a friend tell me that it’s okay to stop that tradition.
Traditions are supposed to be something you look forward to, not something you dread.
So guess what? No more Easter Bunny for us! And I don’t miss him one bit 🙂
Last Easter Bunny photo!
Staying Flexible with Family Traditions
It’s also important to stay flexible with your traditions.
Yes, I LOVE traditions. But life happens.
For example all of my kids visited Satellite Beach, Florida for their first time seeing the ocean and feeling the sand.
I loved taking them to the beach where I grew up as their first experience and loved that tradition.
But our fourth kid? The weather was bad on the day we’d planned to go to the beach for his first visit.
It didn’t work out. It couldn’t happen.
So his first beach visit was in St Augustine, Florida and that’s okay! It was still special and still a great memory, even if it didn’t follow our exact tradition.
I try very hard to be flexible when it comes to our traditions because someday my children will be grown.
Yes, as their mom I’d LOVE for many of our traditions to remain intact even when they get married and have their own children.
But that’s not realistic. When they are adults they will be starting their own fun family traditions with their spouses and their children and I want to encourage that and not be so stuck on OUR traditions that I make it a miserable experience for them to “have to” participate in things with us.
None of us want to be that dreadful mother-in-law who is dead set on doing things that no one really wants to do and the only way to prevent from being her is to put flexibility into practice from the start!
Having Traditions as a Couple
A big way to ensure you won’t be the nagging mother in law or grandmother someday?
Keep creating and sharing new traditions together as a couple.
All of the fun traditions shouldn’t JUST be about the whole family.
It’s important to create special moments between husband and wife.
Every year we go away together before Christmas.
Just a short weekend the two of us. We get massages, do some shopping.
It’s a tradition that is ours and one we can continue even when we enter the empty nest phase of life.
Family Traditions Don’t Need to Include the Whole Family
A beautiful thing about being flexible about traditions is that you may find that some traditions work best with groups within your family and not your family as a whole.
Having traditions one on one with each child or even in groups of children can be even more special and meaningful to the kids than the ones as an entire family unit.
My girls LOVE having “girl time” with Mommy. Our oldest son adores doing “dude stuff” with Dad.
It creates special connections between parent and child as well as between siblings when breaking off into smaller groups and making a tradition about that time together will ensure it happens again and again!
Traditions are intentional and purposeful and by establishing an event “as tradition” it allows for planning and anticipation knowing the event WILL happen again!
Something we’ve started doing is during our family beach trip each summer the girls and I go shopping and my husband and oldest son go golfing.
We all love that time together and the kids look forward to a break from their siblings for some quality time with Mom and Dad.
It’s also totally fine to start a tradition with an older child and include younger siblings once they reach a certain age.
My oldest daughter and I get our nails done every year before our beach trip and once my youngest daughter was close to being five, she started joining in the tradition too.
Getting older has it’s perks and getting to be included on “big kid” traditions is one of them!
Starting New Fun Family Traditions
Traditions don’t have to be established from day one of marriage.
It’s great to come up with new fun family traditions as your family grows and changes.
We are constantly adding new traditions for our family. As kids get older they have their own ideas and start having different interests and that can lead to different family traditions that we all enjoy.
It is also fun for the children to be part of the tradition creation and they are more likely to enjoy the anticipation of a tradition that they helped create.
Older kids have more capabilities so some traditions make sense to wait until kids are a little older.
Maybe you want to start making salt dough ornaments? Def don’t start that with a toddler!
Maybe you want to do a treasure hunt for Easter baskets on Easter morning? A younger child won’t understand the concept!
We never have done anything for celebrating a New Year but our kids have started really loving “family feasts” where we have a “fancy” meal in our dining room and use our nice wedding china.
We decided to start a new tradition every New Year’s Eve where we eat a “feast mode beast mode” fancy meal and talk about the year behind and make plans for the year ahead.
It’s a new tradition we all look forward to!
How We Celebrate Each Holiday
As I mentioned earlier, holidays are the perfect time to have set traditions.
We have several fun family traditions for each holiday – and many more than aren’t even celebrated on a specific day each year!
I’m sharing details of how we do each one in hopes that it helps to inspire others in deciding on potential new traditions for your family too!
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is a tough one to celebrate with kids because who wants to keep little ones up until midnight, right?
I have seen many fun ideas about doing a “midnight” celebration at lunch time.
But we have our fancy dinner feast and that’s enough for our crew!
The kids all choose whatever clothing they want to wear and can get as fancy as they’d like.
As a family we decide on the meal for the evening and my husband does all the cooking 😉
We use our wedding china and eat in our dining room and spend our meal talking about our memories from the year and what our goals are for the new year to come.
Once the kids are in bed my husband and I spend quality time together leading into the new year!
It’s important to me that Valentine’s Day traditions are super simple.
V-Day comes SO quickly after Christmas that the kids already have way too much stuff and have eaten way too much junk so I like it to be a simple, easy holiday.
We don’t typically go on a date just my husband and I because it’s always so crowded everywhere.
Our local town does a Father Daughter Dance which is a precious idea and concept but the reality is that it’s little girls all playing together and their dad’s just watching.
We really highly value quality time with our kids and that’s just not true quality time.
Instead, we do a nice “date night.”
Daddy and daughters go out one night, Mommy and sons go out another.
We all always look forward to this tradition!
Leading up to Valentine’s Day we have a special V-Day Box we put out in our living room.
All of us put little things in the box for each other and then on actual Valentine’s Day we open the box together and read the notes for each other and little gifts and treats.
We also usually bake some sort of V-Day treat either homemade cookies or a
I love the kids being in cute pjs on Easter morning and seeing their joy as they find the eggs that the bunny has hidden all over our house.
We always leave out our church shoes the night before Easter for the bunny to put one of our eggs in and then the morning of we do the egg hunt and open our goodies in our Easter baskets.
We always go to my husband’s grandmothers house after church on Easter and I always buy coordinating outfits for our family to wear that day!
The “mommy gift” is a picture of us all together 🙂
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
I love the way we do Mother’s and Father’s Day.
Since both holidays fall on Sundays we always devote the entire day the day prior to honoring Mommy or Daddy.
We do fun family things together.
We often go golfing on Father’s Day or go see a movie and on Mother’s Day we always do breakfast in bed and go out to eat.
4th of July
Every Fourth of July we are in St Augustine, Florida for the week for our annual beach trip.
We always spend the day visiting with friends who also happen to be down during that week.
We dress in red, white, and blue (another great photo moment for Mama!) and enjoy a meal together and then will come back to our condo that evening and light off sparklers.
Older kids get to stay up later and go back down to the beach to watch fireworks before bed!
We participate in many traditions around Halloween.
We always have a family costume theme every year that we wear to an annual family halloween party as well as our church trunk-or-treat.
We also also go to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin to carve.
On actual Halloween we have several friends and family members over to our house to go trick-or-treating together and get back home early enough to sort candy and pass out candy to neighborhood kids too!
Thanksgiving is a holiday that has gone through the most changes for our family over the years.
Just recently we decided to start celebrating every Thanksgiving at Disney World (
Prior to this tradition we always ate ice cream for dinner on Thanksgiving 🙂
Now we incorporate the ice cream for dinner during our trip but on actual Thanksgiving we go eat breakfast somewhere on property at Disney World and then make a HUGE feast to enjoy at our rental house that afternoon.
Our Elf on the Shelf arrives on Thanksgiving day and always brings special muffins he makes for us each year and we also always make turkey cookies!
As every other family, we have tradition overload with Christmas.
We usually decorate our tree and home prior to leaving for Disney for Thanksgiving and try to meet Santa while at Disney World.
We always decorate our tree and then drink hot chocolate and watch Christmas movies together.
During the Christmas season we go shopping for gifts for each other and make sure our kids enjoy the gift of giving during the holidays.
A big important tradition for my husband is to spend every Christmas Eve night at his parent’s house.
So we wake up every year on Christmas morning at my in-laws house. Santa comes there too as do all the cousins.
Over the years we have established our own family Christmas on Dec 23rd prior to going to his parent’s house as a way for us to have our own family unit be able to celebrate the holiday with our own traditions.
Our “Core Crew Christmas” is literally my personal favorite day of the entire year.
We do SO many fun family traditions in one day!
We find the pickle hidden in our Christmas tree, we take turns opening gifts, we decorate Christmas cookies, we made reindeer food, we listen to Christmas music, we stay in pjs all day, we drink hot chocolate, we have a big breakfast, we do ALL THE THINGS and it’s so MUCH FUN!
We also spend the whole week after Christmas as a super chill family time week.
We take our time cleaning up all the toys and fun and spend a lot of quality time together at home which is always so nice and relaxing after all the
I try to keep birthdays VERY simple and basic.
Because birthdays change the day of the week every year and it’s tough to set aside a day that changes!
All of us go into the birthday child’s room the morning of their birthday and wake them up for the day by singing to them.
We have a special breakfast (usually just
I also ALWAYS bring along their personalized birthday song cd and play it on repeat in the car on the way to dinner 😉 Is it a birthday if your mom doesn’t annoy and embarrass you?
Creating and Maintaining Fun Family
Tradtions: Final Thoughts
I am what you’d call a “tradition junkie.”
I love traditions. In my opinion fun family traditions are what bond a family together.
Shared memories. Special moments. Anticipation. Planning together. JOY.
Being a mom is my passion and my dream and creating these cherished traditions with my little family is my dream come true!