Saturday, April 16, 2011

Developing Family Traditions

I am a big believer in family traditions.  It only takes a small gesture to bring your family closer.  Family traditions help you to connect and maintain family ties. 

Here are some family tradition suggestions from Emilie Barnes.  Select a few that interest you and try them on your family members.  It's never to late to start a new tradition!

  • Double Desserts - Once a month, surprise your family by announcing double-dessert night.
  • What's the Best Thing That Happened to You Today? - Ask this question during dinner each night.  We always do this and it is fun hearing what each person has to say.
  • Mom's Canned Questions - Have a jar of 150 questions that are great for the family to answer during mealtime.  This can even be fun when friends come to visit. 
  • Cooking Class - At least once a month set aside a special afternoon where the children are invited to the kitchen to prepare a meal or a portion of a meal.  Desserts are always a winner.  Bring out the aprons and chef hats!
  • You Are Special Today - We have a special birthday plate, some families have the large red plate inscribed with "You are Special Today".  It's so much fun to honor a member of the family at dinner.  You can even take your special plate to restaurants, picnics, the beach, etc.  Go around the table and have each person tell the honored one why they think he or she is special.  It's amazing what can happen through this tradition.  
  • Sharing a Secret - You can have a lot of fun by sharing a secret and then keeping up the suspense until Christmas or a birthday comes.  It's also good training to teach the children how to keep a secret.  
  • Kid Fix - Request a "kid fix", a hefty hug and big kiss whenever you feel the need.  Let your youngsters know it makes you feel much better.  
  • Ice Cream Run - During the summer when the kids don't have to get up to do school the next day, go into their rooms just before they fall asleep and announce an "ice cream run".  They will think you have flipped out, but they will always remember those special times when you got them out of bed and went to get some delightful ice cream.  
Here are some more family tradition suggestions from our family...
  • Make special posters and signs on birthdays.  Hang them all over the house. 
  • Put Valentines for each family member in a special mailbox.  Open during breakfast on Valentine's Day.
  • Wrap up 25 little gifts and open one each day of December until Christmas.  (We rotate children each day since we have 5. One person opens each day.)
  • Allow the birthday child to choose the breakfast, lunch and dinner menu on their special day. 
  • The birthday child also chooses their birthday dessert each year.  Sometimes it is a birthday cake, sometimes it is a pie or some other dessert. 
  • Pack a special picnic on the 4th of July and watch fireworks.
  • Write special notes in birthday cards and pick a special bible verse for each child each year.
  • Pop popcorn and make a thermos of hot chocolate and either attend a Christmas parade or ride around to look at Christmas lights.  (We don't run the heat in the van so it will be cold and we take blankets.)
  • Read an Advent book during the Christmas season and light candles each night while reading.
  • Make an all red dinner on Valentine's Day and an all green breakfast on St. Patrick's day.
  • Make special posters on Thanksgiving covering every square inch of the poster with words and pictures telling what we are thankful for.
  • Go see a movie on Thanksgiving night.  (a favorite tradition)
  • Make a big event out of putting up the Christmas tree.  Make special treats to eat, play Christmas music and reminisce as each ornament is placed on the tree.  (Our tree is as much a memory tree as it is a Christmas tree.) 
  • Make a special craft each Christmas to give out as a gift to neighbors, church friends and others.  (We've done hot chocolate mix, Christmas tree ornaments, etc.)
  • Make Friday night Family Fun Night.  (We do yummy snacks and board games or we watch a movie.  The kids love Friday nights!)
  • Make construction paper chains to "count down" to a special event. ( This has worked great with younger kids.  Instead of asking how long until...they can count the number of links left on their chain, tearing one off each day.  We've done this to count down to Christmas, birthdays and even to count down the days until we leave for vacation.)
  • Read a special book aloud as a family each night.
  • Give the birthday child the day off of school on their special day.
  • Have special foods that you only eat on certain holidays, like sausage balls or fudge at Christmas. 
Anything you do with your family that is special and unique to your group will make wonderful lasting memories and draw your family members closer together.  Children love to say, "Our family always......fill in the blank".  Even the little things are special to kids, so let's start now!

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