Traditions

Some of my best childhood memories are of our family traditions, especially the ones we made up on our own.  I always knew that when I had my own family, traditions would be a big part of our life.  Not only do traditions provide a sense of family unity, but they’re usually fun for everybody as well.  If you want to incorporate more family traditions, I would ask all family members to start to come up with ideas (hint: kids come up with the best and most fun ideas).  Here are some of our family traditions to get you started – feel free to try them with your family!

Children’s Birthdays: Since I try to live a minimalist lifestyle, we like to buy our kids one nice gift for their birthday instead of multiple gifts.  However, I still like to make their birthdays special, so I came up with birthday traditions.


  • Birthday cake pancakes: For breakfast on their birthday morning, make special pancakes depending on what your child likes and put a candle on top.  My daughter is a chocolate lover (just like her mama!), so I make her chocolate pancakes – Paleo chocolate pancakes of course :)
  • Decorate their room: While they’re sleeping the night before their birthday, decorate their room with balloons, streamers, and anything else you’d like.  This only takes ten minutes and costs about $3.00, but just might be your child’s favorite part of their birthday.  Here’s my daughter’s room on her birthday: ).
  • Mixed CD and dance party: Every birthday night after dinner, we all make a CD with 3-4 of the child’s favorite songs and have a dance party.  I keep all these CDs so they can go back when they’re older and see what their favorite songs used to be.
  • Questions: I ask my children the same questions each year on their birthday and save their answers.  It’s fun to see how their answers change over the years.  Here’s my Birthday Question List: BDay Questions

Holidays: The holidays are the prime time for family traditions.  I’m sure you already have some of your own.

  • Philanthropy: As a family, decide on a philanthropy to which you’d like to contribute each major holiday.  You can buy toys for Toys 4 Tots, or serve meals at a food shelter.
  • New Years: Throughout the year, write down your favorite events, occurrences, and inside jokes that happened that year.  Put them in a jar or in a book and go through them on New Years Eve.  This is also a good time to write down your goals for the next year.
  • May Day: This was my favorite family tradition growing up.  My mom would make May Day baskets with us kids (filled with homemade gifts, candles, tasty treats, and other goodies).  Then we’d put the baskets on the doorstep of a friend or family member, then run and hide.  Not only is this a fun traditions, but it teaches your children the power of anonymous giving.
  • Veterans’ Day: There are endless options of traditions to start for Veterans’ Day that will help your children learn about the sacrifice of our service men and women.  You can write a letter to a soldier, send care packages, or read a book about our fight for freedom.
  • Earth Day: I believe it’s important to teach children about respecting the environment, and Earth Day is the perfect chance to do this.  You can plant a tree, pick up trash at the park, or “upcycle” something around the house (here’s some upcycling ideas: 100 Upcycling Ideas).
  • Labor Day: All of our garden veggies are perfect for eating right around Labor Day.  We pick them all and make a huge batch of salsa (last year we made 19 jars – this year we’re going for 40!).
  • Valentine’s Day: We like to do “Secret Valentines” in our family – just like Secret Santa, only for Valentine’s Day.  We exchange really small gifts, or just nice handwritten notes.

Invented Holidays: There’s always a good reason to celebrate, and we probably don’t do it as much as we should.  Here’s some of our own holidays that we invented.

  • Last Day of School: We like to go to the lake by our house on the last day of school each year.  Some other places you can go are an amusement park, an ice cream shop, the zoo, or miniature golf.
  • Last Day of Summer: This is just for my daughter – on the last day of summer we like to have a relaxing “get ready for school” day.  We get manicures and pedicures, and buy an outfit for the first day of school.  To save money, you can do at-home mani/pedis – in fact, these are even more fun.
  • Family Olympics: Every year during Olympics time, we compete in backyard competition games.  This is a great event for neighbors, friends, and family to attend as well.
  • First snowy day of the year: On the first day that it snows every year, we go to the store and pick up hot chocolate and a new game.  There’s usually not enough snow to go sledding or build a snowman, but it makes a fun winter day and the kids look forward to it.
  • Half Birthdays: For my kids’ half birthdays, we don’t do any gifts, but I make them half a birthday cake and serve it on a paper plate, cut in half.  It always makes the kids laugh.

Recurrent Traditions:

  • Quote of the week: On our family white board, we write a quote of the week every Sunday.  Anybody who has one they’d like to write is free to write one.
  • Red Plate: We received a Red Plate as a wedding gift.  It’s simply a red plate that says “You Are Special Today” on it.  When somebody has a special day, they get to eat dinner on the special Red Plate.  You can purchase one here: http://www.redplatestore.com/ or make something similar at a paint-your-own pottery store.

Spontaneous Traditions:

  • Craft Day: Whenever we don’t have plans on a weekend (ha), we go to the craft store and try out a new craft.  We’ve tie-dyed clothes, made jewelry, and decorated household items.
  • City Photo Scavenger Hunt: We like to do boys versus girls teams for this.  You should be able to find a photo scavenger hunt list for your local city online (if you live in or near a major city).  If not, the parents can create one. This is a fun activity during summer break when the kids are bored.
  • Books at the Park: A few times a year, when it’s warm out, we will go to the library and pick out a bunch of books.  Then we go to a local park with a blanket and some snacks and just read outside for hours.