Ideas for Starting a Family Tradition

Family cooking togetherFor many people, the holiday season is steeped in family traditions that bring loved ones together. Whether using Grandma’s gravy recipe or inherited table settings, or making a pumpkin or apple pie from scratch, or watching football or going for a walk after the big meal, family traditions can run the gamut.

For children, traditions can provide a feeling of stability and consistency – something to look forward to. Traditions can also build a sense of family-history pride in a child, or present an opportunity to create memories that can last a lifetime.

Traditions, however, don’t necessarily have to be passed down from generation to generation. You can start one around any activity or event that’s important to your family, whether holiday-related or unique to your family.

Here are some ideas for starting family traditions:

Turkey Day Parade (traditional and homespun)

Since 1924, the Macy’s department store chain has been hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Your family could make it a tradition to watch the parade on television together, before the final hustle-and-bustle for the big feast.

Or, you could take matters into your own hands by having your own Thanksgiving parade. For example, when it’s time to bring the food to the table, turn the occasion into individual gratefulness by having people take turns bringing in one of the dishes and announcing who made it (“Sweet potatoes with brown sugar, a culinary delight from Aunt Sally” or “Store-made pecan pie, lovingly selected by our 4-year-old Billy”).

Young or other family members who are musically inclined could provide a musical tribute of thankfulness for the arrival of each dish.


Thanksgiving is often viewed as the kickoff to the winter holiday season. Why not start a tradition of counting down the days until the holiday you celebrate? There’s no shortage of countdown activities that you could do with your children, such as this Countdown Chain idea from PBS Parents.

Countdowns don’t have to be reserved solely to the holidays. A countdown to your child’s birthday or another significant date could be a great tradition to start, as well.

First Snow / First Day of Winter Celebration

Around this time of year, as the weather changes, some areas might get a snow flurry or two, while other areas may already be coated in white. To commemorate the first snowfall of the year, you could start a family tradition of making a certain dish or watching a specific movie.

Live where it doesn’t snow? Celebrate the first day of the winter season instead!

The key to starting a family tradition that can stand the test of time is to do something that is important or meaningful to your family. It doesn’t have to be grand or large-scale. Anything that brings your family together could become a tradition over time.

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Categories: Parenting Tips
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