A few of our weird and accessible family traditions.

A few of our weird and accessible family traditions.

Back in June when we celebrated our fifteenth (!!!) wedding anniversary, we celebrated like we usually do (when we’re not in a strictly gluten-free year, that is). We picked up a couple of pieces of wedding cake and enjoyed them with the kids.

But not just any wedding cake. Our wedding cake.

When we got married, we ordered our cake from a local bakery with a storefront. We didn’t think for a second about the ramifications then, but now we can drop in on our anniversary every year and pick up a few slices of Italian cream, chocolate raspberry, and carrot—the three flavors we had for our wedding—and bring them home. (If the owner is in she gives them to us for free and asks how the kids are doing.)

Our kids love the tradition, and I don’t think it’s just because of the icing.

I posted a picture of our cake cutting to Instagram without thinking much of it, but your comments made me realize that this isn’t a typical tradition. We didn’t set out to create it; we just stumbled into it. (Those might be the best kind of traditions.)

That got me thinking about our other traditions—not the big ones, like turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve at Grandma’s—but the quirky but unremarkable things that make our family unique.

These things don’t take much time or effort, but they’re nevertheless special. They make us us:

• We eat dinner together. (Ordinary, see?)

• We have special breakfasts on Saturday or Sunday mornings. (But rarely both.)

• For family birthdays, we fire up the White Album and play Birthday over and over again for a living room dance party.

• We do birthday donuts. 

• We do Friday pizza night. (I love/hate how many of our traditions involve food. I try to make sure not too many of our traditions revolve around sugar.)

• We have a really indulgent breakfast on the first day of school. Think pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Or better yet, apple crisp a la mode.

• We take evening walks. (After the recent jaw-dropping blue moon, a friend mentioned that a family she knew took full moon walks. I love this.)

• We bike ride, we hike, we take the dog on long walks on any weekend with halfway decent weather.

• We seek out and browse the local independent bookstore whenever we’re on the road.

• When we’re traveling, we leave before dawn—at least if the kids get their way. They love to leave home when it’s still dark out.

• We watch funny, entertaining, and just plain strange YouTube clips together.

• We have family game nights. Now that my youngest is five, we’re just entering the stage where this is actually fun. We love Taboo, Uno, and Word on the Street.

We all could use some good ideas: I’d love to hear YOUR quirky but accessible traditions in comments. 

P.S. Making it yours, and how to live with kids.

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111 comments

  1. Beth Anne says:

    We enjoy walking through cemeteries and reading old headstone inscriptions. This was the first thing my kids asked to put on our summer list (they are 6, 4, and 1, so they have no idea this doesn’t sound strange!). My husband also proposed to me in a graveyard because it was one of my favorite quiet places in college.

  2. Addie says:

    – if its your birthday, you get to pick whats for dinner and anything goes
    – at Christmas, we have an advent box, and each day it has something fun for you to do (go get a frosty from wendys, have a paper airplane race, etc), and it has something nice to do for someone else (hold the door for someone, take cookies to the fire department) – the kids look forward to finding out both every morning
    – during summers, their dad always reads a book to them at lunch (weve been working through Narnia the past two summers)
    – usually april fools day involves some sort of eating dessert for dinner
    – dinner together every night involves a question of the day and a catechism
    -Halloween always means dressing up as a family costume (last year was the Addams family, year before the Avengers, etc)

  3. Angie S says:

    I like the idea of evening walks; I wonder if I can convince my family to do that? 🙂 Unfortunately most evenings either dh or one (or four) teenagers is not home.
    We do eat most meals as a family (dh is a pastor & usually home at noon). We also have pizza on Friday nights–sometimes with a movie, sometimes not. Birthday kids get to choose the menu, and on their baptismal birthday they have a lunch date with mom & dad. On Easter, the older kids are in charge of hiding eggs for the younger kids (often the plastic eggs are filled with Lego bricks instead of just candy). We celebrate St. Nicholas Day, so we stuff stockings on December 6 (many gifts have become traditions too, such as a new toothbrush, a box of fun bandaids, socks or underwear. . .).

    • Jessica says:

      Legos in Easter eggs?! That’s brilliant! I’m not crazy about all the candy, but the only alternative I’ve seen is junk toys from Oriental Trading and sticker, which become trash within a week.

      • Liz says:

        My parents used to put spare change in our Easter eggs — a couple dimes, a quarter, etc. We would pool all the change together after the hunt and split it between us siblings. Then just our Easter basket had candy. Helped with the sugar a bit at least 🙂

    • Anna says:

      I like the idea of legos in Easter eggs. My kids love the little plastic animals, so I have done those in the eggs, but it’s hard to find ones that are nice, but small enough for the eggs.

  4. Hannah says:

    On each child’s birthday, we look at his or her “baby scrapbook” something I put together for all three of them. We read their birth announcement clipping–and even marvel at the ultrasound pics I put in there.

    On our wedding anniversary, my husband and I look at our wedding album and try to remember details about that (blurry) day. It helps keep our stories alive.

    • Lisa says:

      I like this idea of looking at the baby books. I have lots of scrapbook stuff for my son, including the book, but never got them all put into the scrapbook. I’m going to work on this and see if I can have it ready for his birthday in December. Thanks for sharing your idea.

  5. Catherine says:

    Some of our traditions….We have birthday cake for breakfast. My daughters and I make the cakes. They fly solo when it comes to my birthday. We light candles each night of Advent, and read a devotional. We go to Christmas Eve service at church, and unwrap our gifts to each other afterward. We stay in our pjs until noon on Christmas. Friday nights are make-your-own pizza nights followed by a family movie. We take pictures the first and last days of school in front of the porch railing so we can see how much they’ve grown. I love family traditions.

  6. Emilee says:

    I love your traditions! I don’t think any of them are weird actually! When I was a kid and we went on vacations, we would always have to go to the independent bookstores in the area. Somehow I always left vacation with more books than I started with 😉

  7. Dawn says:

    My maiden name is Anderson, and when we got together with the extended Anderson family, we would all get together in a giant hug around our grandma hold the short A as we bounced up and down. It comes out like “ah, ah, ah:” The Anderson Ahs. As a kid I just loved it, but now that most of my cousins and I are married our spouses have dubbed it the weirdest thing they have ever seen.

  8. steph says:

    We went out to lunch after we eloped at a restaurant where we were friendly with the owner. It was his anniversary of opening, so they had red velvet cake! He later catered a reception/celebration thrown by friends. My mom asked if we wanted to freeze some cake. Of course not…we could always go back to the restaurant for our anniversary! We’ve since divorced and the restaurant closed, but it was a good tradition!

  9. Melanie says:

    We have “Snacks-giving” for Thanksgiving. It was always really a lot of work to make a turkey and all the fixings for just our small family so we started having finger foods instead. We make up a bunch of appetizers and graze all day long while we have movie and board game marathons.

  10. Dineen says:

    When our children were 4 & 3, we took them to the local dollar store a few weeks before Christmas and gave them $20 each. We told them to find one thing for everyone that comes to our house for Christmas dinner (2 grandmas, 1 grandpa, 1 great-uncle, an aunt & an uncle). They also had to buy for mom & dad and each other. It turned into a hysterical outing and a fun family tradition that we continue each year (they are now 13 & 12). Everyone in our family would look forward to what things the kids picked out – one year my son picked out toothbrushes for everyone! But the best thing about it is seeing how much the children do pay attention to their family and the things that they like. The year my daughter was 5, she picked out “a box of the pink sugar” (Sweet n’ Low) for one of her grandmas because she remembered that was the one she uses for her coffee when we go out to Sunday morning after-Mass breakfast. The “dollar store gifts” get handed out after Christmas dinner and we all have a great giggle over what the kids have picked out this year!

  11. What a fun list! For our anniversaries we read our wedding homily and look at the album. For my birthday (2 days after Christmas), I get to pick a fun movie to go to in the theaters (something we almost never do otherwise.) For my husband’s birthday I always get him a GK Chesterton book (good thing they are so many of them and all out of copyright!) For my godkids birthdays they always get a book and a stuffed animal. When I was in college by brother and I used to go shopping together and pick out what we each wanted for Christmas and the other person bought it.

  12. I resonate with many of these! Especially the big breakfast on either Saturday or Sunday. Such a great list of simple ways to make family time intentional. One thing my husband and I will often do (also food related) is after an especially hard day or long week, we’ll whip up some chocolate chip cookies, pour glasses of milk, and eat them in bed. It isn’t *that* indulgent, but feels like it! Also, we’ve been known to pull out our mattress on to the living room floor for a movie night.

  13. Kam says:

    Okay, so this is a weird tradition but my son and I like to go on Trip Advisor, find hotels with very low ratings, read the comments that people have posted, and laugh hysterically. (Before you think we’re snobby, I will tell you that we have stayed at a couple of those places ourselves and, though painful at the time, they have become funny memories.). We have been doing this for about eight years and now my son is getting ready to go off to college. We still enjoy reading the crazy reviews and it is a great way to connect and laugh together.

  14. Sassy Apple says:

    I started giving my brother & SIL a Christmas picture book on their first Christmas and continued the tradition, shifting the giving to my nieces. They now have a wonderful collection of Christmas books to get out for the holidays. I make sure to write a personal dedication in each one.

    I also give my nieces a Robert Sabuda pop-up classic for their birthdays. They have a nice collection of ‘special’ books. One niece gets a stuffed animal character to go with the book, another niece gets a charm. It’s a fun tradition.

    My husband and I met through Match.Com, and on the anniversary of our first date, we go back to that same neighborhood bar for a drink and a burger, then reminisce about those first weeks of getting to know one another and realizing ‘this is the one.’

    Growing up, Christmas Eve dinner was always soup and ‘munchies.’ Then we got to choose one present to open (mom usually steered us away from specific presents). We’ve continued that tradition into the next generation. Potato soup for our vegetarians with lots of bacon to top it with for our carnivores 😉

  15. liz n. says:

    –Waffle cake for breakfast on your birthday (waffles layered with fruit and whipped cream, topped with a candle).

    –Six Degrees of Harry Potter: The theory being that every actor in the world is somehow connected to the HP films. We play this game far too often!

    –Our nativity scene has become rather a hodge-podge of figurines over the years as growing children, pets, and moving have wreaked havoc on the pieces. I think Mary, Joseph, and the manger are the only original pieces left. Baby Jesus is now Lego Luke Skywalker, the angel is a Polly Pocket doll with felt wings glued on, the cow is four times the size of every other character because we borrowed her from my daughter’s set of plastic farm animals. One of the Three Kings is a Transformer…so every year, when we set up the nativity scene, we tell the stories of how a beautiful, hand-carved lamb was replaced with a pom-pom and pipe cleaner lamb with googly eyes, and so forth. Last year, my oldest son explained to my grandson that it doesn’t matter what anyone looks like or is made of, because Jesus cares for everyone. So that’s a completely unintended tradition that I happen to think is pretty cool.

      • liz n. says:

        One day, I forced, er, invited my children to watch the ’95 version of “Sense and Sensibility,” which they treated less like torture when they recognized Trelawney, Snape, Madam Pomfrey, and Umbridge. I mentioned that Emma Thompson was married to Gilderoy Lockhart, Snape had once been a badder bad guy, and so forth. It just went from there and has become a regular thing. We have way too much fun seeing who we can connect with the HP actors!

  16. Katrina says:

    – Every summer and Christmas season we make a poster board list of activities to check off. The activities themselves have become traditions in their own right (the same ones make it on the to-do list annually) and it helps build the excitement around these times of year
    – We do no tv on school days, so our Friday night movie night is more special
    – We live on a small farm and take pictures of our four kids on a bale of hay every year when we cut the field. I have a collection of photos starting when my oldest was a toddler to mark how much the kids grow.
    – every birthday, we start the day by marking the birthday kid’s height on the growth chart.
    – At Christmas we do Christmas light scavenger hunts. We make a long list of things to look for in lights, load everyone in the van in pjs with festive snacks, and don’t come home until every item is checked off.

  17. Valerie says:

    Even though my daughter is 18 I still put eggs out with notes and make her find her basket. We have done this since before she could walk, I would draw pictures before she could read.
    Christmas I have 8 graduated boxes, which our daughter was not allowed to open until her grandfather came in for dinner. He passed away a few years ago and she still waits until just before we sit down for dinner to open her boxes.
    Have always sat down to dinner every night, she still likes me to read to her at night(even if it’s just a magazine ad), use to send her off to school the first day with a card tucked into her backpack. As long as the weather cooperates we have midnight swims in the summer. One more and this is my favorite: Daughter and I dance in the rain once a summer. Have pictures of me holding her as a baby and now we hold hands running down our driveway.

  18. Bekki says:

    Awww. I love the cake tradition! We buy a Christmas ornament as a souvenir to commemorate any family vacation or trip. Trimming the yree is a walk down memory lane. Also, we have the time change bunny who leaves treats in your sock drawer when he changes the clocks twice a year. The keester bunny sometimes travels with him and brings new underwear…

  19. Shannon says:

    We have the same anniversary tradition! We wanted our cake to taste fantastic and the caterer told us the best they’d served was from a storefront bakery and boy was he right! We all love going back each year for it. 😀 😀

  20. Jennifer says:

    OH MY GOSH! My family did that with the White Album too! We did it all growing up…before you could even put a track on “repeat” and we would have to keep going back to the player and hitting “back” over and over.

    That makes me happy.

  21. Jennifer says:

    OH MY GOSH! My family did that with the White Album too! We did it all growing up…before you could even put a track on “repeat” and we would have to keep going back to the player and hitting “back” over and over.

    That makes me happy.

  22. Adrienne says:

    We have family game night on New Years Eve. We’ve done this since my daughter was 5. She’s 13 now. Everyone picks a game and we stay up until all the games are played. We get snacks and finger foods to eat all evening. We stop at midnight to drink fizzy juice and toast the New Year. Then we keep on going.

    We also have a special plate. If it’s your birthday or some other special occasion, you get to eat off the red special day plate.

  23. We do so many little family traditions, which to me are more like routines. One of my favorites is coffee with the littles every Sunday morning. My seven and nine-year-olds think it is such a treat to have half a cup of coffee with me before church. They look forward to it all week!

    We look at baby books, wedding albums, etc. on those days. I write a letter to each child on his or her birthday. We make lots of reasons to be together!

  24. Gabriel says:

    Fun to read yours!
    –birthday person picks menu for dinner
    –Friday night is Star Trek night (shorter than a movie!)

    I’d like to have regular game nights as well. You’d should try Forbidden Island or Forbidden Desert. They are cooperative, and even our 5yo can play given that you discuss the moves.

  25. Marne says:

    I love these! We’re a “dinner together” family, too. A tradition I will add to the list: we say prayers together every night. On our knees, the whole shebang. The dogs even know this – we call out “prayers!” and they go running to our daughter’s bedroom and hop up on the bed to listen. If we’re apart, we still say prayers together – we just use phones or Skype. And we end each prayer by taking turns saying what we’re thankful for that day (well, not the dogs). Yesterday, my daughter said, “I’m thankful ya’ll got married” (it was our 20th wedding anniversary). That was my thankful, too.

  26. Suzanne says:

    When the kids started to get involved in MANY activities with middle and high school plus outside of school volunteering, baseball, etc we had to gather as a family every Sunday evening after dinner to plan the week activities, drop offs, pickups, items & money needed for each day of the week etc. To make it a bit more “exciting” we called it the “Sundae Family Meeting.” The meeting never started until after I had returned from the local Dairy Queen with an Ice Cream Sundae for everyone present.

  27. Mary Jane Biltz says:

    Every birthday each person gets their favorite meal and dessert. Between Christmas and New Years we put together a 1000 piece puzzle with everyone helping. Every December 6th, the kids leave their shoes by the door for St. Nicholas to fill with candy and coke. One year we got bottled coke and a new tradition was added. My kids are now in their twenties, two still living here and they still put their shoes by the door.

  28. Janet says:

    What a great tradition. I mean cake? There’s nothing better!
    We moved away from the town we met, married, and birthed our son in. I feel like we’ve done a really bad job of making new traditions in our new city. Our son is only three, so we’ve been caught up in the whirlwind of babyhood, toddlerhood, out-of-state moving, new jobs, and home buying. Now that we’re settled, I hope we can start making some new traditions of our own here. I’m going to use your list for inspiration. Thank you!

  29. Allison says:

    My husband is Danish, and it has been his family tradition (and now ours) to provide a huge Scandinavian style breakfast spread on birthdays. Fancy cheese, fancy bread, jams, croissants, fancy deli meats, fruit, pickled herring (not for everybody, but very Danish), etc. It sets the day off on a happy note. We love it!

  30. I just wanted to share a story that speaks to the success of these traditions. Recently, while on vacation, we (me, hubby, girl teen-18 and boy teen-15) had dinner at a quirky,fun, non-chain pizza restaurant. We joked and laughed and sang along a little with the 80s music that was being played. The owner happened to be the one that took our payment and when he brought back the receipt to our table he said, “You guys have a great family thing going here. A lot of families are just watching the tv’s or staring at their personal screens. You can tell you all really love each other.” Best compliment ever!

  31. Erin Grassie says:

    Having grown up in a family with little interest in tradition, I’ve had the liberty to create new ones with my own girls. Birthdays should be special – you’ve survived another trip around the sun! Wake up to balloons in your room. These are fun for days and days after. Presents at breakfast – start the day right! Then a lit candle and the birthday song at every meal- even if you’re at school and that candle gets jammed into your sandwich or thermos of spaghetti. Lastly, bundt cake and getting measured on our wall to see how much you’ve grown. It all makes for a great day for everyone.

  32. Susan says:

    The night before our daughter’s birthday, we sneak into her room (after she’s asleep) and leave roses on her nightstand – the same number of roses as the age she’s turning. On Christmas Eve, she’s allowed to open one gift – it’s always new pajamas and a book. I love that we’ll be able to keep doing that for her when she’s grown.

  33. Ana says:

    I love some of these so much! We haven’t really settled into any special family traditions yet. We wanted to create our own, and trying to force them wasn’t working, so I’m trying new things and hoping one will stick!
    we do have a lot of what I consider “routines” (like the bedtime song, or saturday AM at the park in the summer) but I imagine those will change as the kids grow and their activities & interests evolve, so I don’t consider them “traditions”. Next month I want to do a full moon walk, and I love the idea of a birthday dance party to a special song, or birthday cake breakfast.

  34. Dana says:

    We go out for a Sunday brunch the 4th Sunday of each month on the same Sunday that our church celebrates communion.
    My husband and I met in a bookstore so our weekly date nights always includes a trip to the bookstore. We call it “Going Booking.” ( Sadly the indie store we met in has closed).
    On our vacations and trips we always scout out the indie bookstore/ use bookstore and spend an afternoon. We have favorites in our traditional get-away spots, but we love exploring new ones. We buy Christmas ornaments on all of our trips. It is so much fun remembering all the great times when we decorate the tree.
    For all occasions: anniversary, birthdays, Christmas, we give each other books. We each compile an ongoing “wish list”, but leave room for surprises and serendipity.
    We take the dog and go for twilight/ moonlight walks and look for constellations and planets. The other night we watched the space station fly over. On the NASA website you can find out when it is flying over your area.
    On nice summer evenings we take our vintage convertible out and do a progressive dinner/midnight ride. We go out for salad/appetizer in our town, drive to our favorite restaurant in the mountains 2 hours away for dinner and then drive back home in the dark with the top down and have late dessert ( always deep dish apple pie) about midnight.
    On road trips we listen to an oldies ( 60s music) station and sing at the top of our lungs. On really long trips I pick out a book that we both want to read and I read aloud as he drives.
    We prefer this to audio books because we can stop and discuss or stop to look at interesting sites along the road.
    When we go get a Christmas tree we always pick up Chinese takeout at our favorite little place. We play Mannheim Steamroller music as we go. The first night we eat our Chinese then get the tree in the house and put on the lights. The decoration occurs the next night accompany by homemade Chex Mix, cookies and fudge.
    For looking at Christmas lights we bundle up, put the top down on the car and stop at Starbucks for large hot chocolates and play Manheim Steamroller ( again). We have a lot of favorite streets and neighborhoods that we always hit.
    We have a stock of Christmas DVDs that we always watch: Muppet’s Christmas Carol, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause.
    Christmas Eve we attend the Preschool Pageant which is always so cute and heartwarming. Then we go out to dinner and come home for dessert and open presents. It was a tradition in my mom’s family that Santa came on Christmas Eve. We stay up really late playing Scrabble.
    Christmas morning we sleep late and have a big brunch. We always have Pillsbury Cinnamon rolls. It is pajama day all day. After breakfast we open Christmas stockings. Then we read new books all day.

  35. Wendy says:

    We purchase a new Christmas ornament during each family vacation then it’s so much fun to put up the tree each year and remember all of those special times. Every Christmas Eve we have a spread of finger foods and watch Elf which is our favorite Christmas movie. We eat dinner together each night and have a big breakfast together on either Saturday or Sunday morning each week.

  36. Here’s a funny clip that had my kids rolling yesterday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-z7bAfDBNo

    Our kids are still young (5, 3, and 1) so most of our traditions are just getting started. I think one of my three-year-old’s favorite traditions is running errands with me because he’s always asking to “go to Costco, Target, and The Fresh Market”. It truly is the little things 😉

    I’m good with food traditions. I make homemade donuts for birthdays, I always make fresh bagels for road trips, and my husband has a standing reservation with an extremely decadent and delicious (but time-intensive) cake for his birthday every year. It’s actually the only time of the year I will make it, which keeps it special.

    We also try to make camping a family tradition– taking a week-long trip every fall. This summer was also the first time that a “guys trip” was instituted, when my husband took my two sons on their first trip without mom.

  37. Charyse says:

    When a grandchild is born, my dad buys a tree and plants it on their farm. Each year, close to their birthday, the kids get their picture taken with their tree to see how big they and the tree have grown.

  38. Jamie says:

    I love this topic! And yes to: Regular family walks/bike rides, funny YouTube clips, and often stumbling into traditions.

    When you’re 5 in our house you get an official allowance. When you’re 6 you get a BB gun. I’m thinking when you’re 8 you should make a meal one night a week like I’ve seen you mention on here.

    We also do Friday night pizza (usually), make Fall, Christmas, and Summer Bucket Lists, and watch the Charlie Brown movies for each holiday. My husband is huge into family traditions and it’s one of my favorite things about him. We love to celebrate!

  39. Lisa says:

    My son’s birthday is December 18th, and so all of his celebratory, “gift-getting” days happen at the same time of year. When he was about 5, he said to me, “Mom, you get Mother’s Day, and Dad gets Father’s Day . . . . when is Boy’s Day?” So we started celebrating Boy’s Day around July 18th (half a year from his birthday). I would have a couple small gifts for him, and we would let him choose a restaurant for lunch/dinner, we would have a couple of his friends over to play or go bowling or to a movie, and maybe have a special dessert. In general we played up the Boy’s Day theme. This lasted several years, and he still remembers those celebrations, in this, his 15th year.

  40. On Valentine’s Day my husband and I have a “fancy” dinner where we dress up and have dinner at home, complete with a white tablecloth, runner and flower vase from our wedding, china and nice glasses, and take-out for dinner!

  41. Angela says:

    I adore your cake tradition! And will remember it for when I get married someday. I love traditions with food and books. There’s a lot I would love to start with my own family someday. One I would love to do is a Filipino tradition called Noche Buena, a big Christmas Eve feast at midnight (so I guess, technically Christmas Day!). It’s a big family dinner and in the Philippines, neighbors pop into each other’s houses sharing the dishes they cooked. My family tries to do it, but since we’re all grown up, we’re all pretty much too tired to stay up so late 😀

  42. Shar says:

    Every year for the last day of school, we have ice cream for dinner. It’s the only day we do this. Sometimes homemade, sometimes from a store like Cold Stone. Toppings fully loaded either way, of course. One that I love is at Christmas, we don’t do a lot of regular presents, but each kid gets 5 books. We hide each child’s stack somewhere in the house, tie each stack with a different colored yarn and then string the yarn all around the inside the house. Over and under everything and then tie it to that child’s door knob. When they wake up Christmas morning, they collect all the yarn, over and under, until they reach their stack of books. (This also keeps present peekers tucked into their beds since they can’t get to the tree with the yarn everywhere.) We also do pizza and movie night on Friday nights, on tv trays in the living room. I always make either a new dessert or some new drink for us to have with it. We are military, and no matter where we are stationed, we always have a full table at Thanksgiving. My husband always invites the single soldiers that don’t travel home to our house. I just can’t stand the thought of having someone who serves our country, having to sit alone in a barracks room eating microwaved pizza or burger king for dinner that night. We started this while married and in college, not all college kids get to travel home either. You can always find someone to join you, and since they don’t get to be home with their family, they are always full bellied and happy when they leave.

  43. Alison says:

    When we were kids:
    -living overseas for a couple of years, we always had Friday night tacos. Being from Texas, that was something we loved but wasn’t a food staple in Australia.
    -Sat morning pancakes that my dad would cook while Mom got to sleep in.
    -leftover birthday cake for breakfast the next day
    Now:
    -my sister and I have become Thanksgiving rebels, and have done pizza, breakfast for dinner, and tacos in lieu of the traditional dinner.
    -pizza and a movie on Fridays with my sister’s kids. Even on vacation they ask if we’re still going to have it.
    -giving the kids “coal” in their stockings every year. My dad gave me some once as a gag gift and they thought it was hilarious. Now I give it to them.
    -grandkids pic every year, in age order because we have 5 ages in a row

  44. Nolo says:

    We have pumpkin pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition I borrowed from my aunt. No need to save room to try all the desserts after dinner b/c you’ve already had one of them! Plus, pie for breakfast!

    We have other traditions but this is one of my favorites.

  45. Katherine says:

    My sister has a tradition that I have continued and LOVE…bake a very decadent cake on your due date. If you have the baby, you have a “birthday cake” which you can also offer to friends and family who come to visit the Little One. If not, the mama gets to eat the whole dang thing herself. Seeing as how I’m pregnant with my third and last baby, I just wonder how I can keep this tradition going without adding more munchkins to our home…
    Also, on Christmas morning we all had to make our beds and brush our teeth and then sit at the top of the stairs before we could go down to see the presents. Dad had to go “inspect” to make sure Santa even came. (Usually he was making a pot of coffee since we were all up about 5:30am!) FINALLY, when he yelled, “Wow!!! There are a lot of presents here!!” we knew it was our cue to run down to see the traces of Santa. Also half-eaten cookies, nibbled carrots (for the reindeer, of course) and a bit of eggnog left on top of a note from Santa. Every year there was one gift for the three of us, always a new board game the three of us could play together.
    Finally, my young family (hubby with ages 4 and 18mo) have Family Movie Nights with popcorn and walks after dinner every night in the summer. We also take the first Saturday in each holiday month to decorate the house and make a festive “Fall” (or whichever holiday) meal. I obviously love the idea of traditions and look forward to having lots with our kids in the years ahead.

  46. Cameron says:

    I love traditions! Growing up my family was big on them, like Chinese takeout while watching Whose Line is it Anyway? on Thursday nights (remember that show?) With our family of 5 we do a seasonal bucket list (usually involving many food items); weekly trips to the library and neighborhood farmer’s market (shop, snack, and cool off in the lib AC- except this year when it’s been sooo hot); a roundup of the same dishes we can make each year with our veggie garden and apple, plum, and cherry trees, as well as our wild blackberries– the favorite of which is “soup in a pumpkin” from a Bon Appetit recipe of years ago, whereby you make a soup inside a roasting Cinderella pumpkin with lots of Gruyère cheese, pretty fab; cutting down our Christmas tree at the same farm; matching Hanna Anderson striped pjs for the kids on Christmas eve; advent activities; the full spread on Christmas and Thanksgiving no matter how many people are coming; and Christmas morning in this order- stockings by the blazing stove (or fireplace, when we had one), big breakfast, rest of the presents, nap (for the youngest), make dinner, THEN get dressed. &)

  47. Janna says:

    A few of our traditions are:
    My husband and I do a one night bed and breakfast getaway once a year. We love breakfast and like the relaxing atmosphere of a bed and breakfast.
    I make a photo book for my son each Christmas with photos throughout the year and a letter to him about his year. He is 4 right now.
    We live near my parents and on Saturday mornings my son and I do chores-feed the cattle with grandpa.

  48. Karrie says:

    My kids are now in their early 20’sand our quirky,invented family traditions are among their most cherished and talked about memories. You will be so glad you had these special moments! I remember being surprised at how even in their late teens/college age; the kids would cancel plans with friends to be home for “pizza and a movie” night that we had always done. Another favorite was on the last day of school I would make each kid a candy poster. I would spell as many words as possible with candy bars and try to reference something memorable from that school year. Looking back at the pictures of them holding them up, and reading what was important for each year is something we all enjoy. At the time they loved the rare treat of a sugar binge on the last day. Once a year I also surprised them with a “mom and me day”. I took just one child on a school day and we spent the whole day doing things they especially enjoyed and talking. Part of the fun was that it was always a surprise. I just showed up at school and signed them out. Obviously it would be different for homeschoolers-but they loved the unexpected aspect of it.

  49. Oh! Oh! If you are interested in full-moon walks, you MUST read this book!!! My grandmother got it for us when I was in elementary school, and we were inspired to take at least a half-dozen full-moon walks over the next couple years. One time we spotted our cat, half a mile from home, picking dead flowers in his mouth and then carrying them away in a bouquet–apparently he had a secret life?

    We have a tradition of taking turns opening Christmas gifts so that the festivity lasts longer and we all see what everybody gets.

    My partner’s family has a big Thanksgiving gathering which includes The Show in between dinner and dessert. Anyone who chooses to perform may do so: music, magic tricks, jokes, etc. It’s a very silly time, and dessert is more enjoyable after the pause.

  50. Julie Ousley says:

    Every St. Patrick’s Day, my husband would make Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast (food coloring aided, while he maintained a mysterious silence on the subject)… if we were lucky, a friend, who knew our tradition, would save her fresh Araucana chicken’s eggs (blue and green on the outside naturally) for us to add to the story…. Reading the Dr. Seuss book was optional..

  51. Jennifer says:

    My best friend, my mom, and I cook Thanksgiving dinner together every year for a big group of family/friends. We love it, but it’s a lot of work and we’re tired once dinner is over. Years ag, we started a fun tradition to gather just our two families and my parents together the night before Thanksgiving for pizza, games and movies. We use paper plates and plastic cups so there’s no clean up.

  52. KR says:

    I love so many of these ideas. Some from our family:
    .In the winter we have fireplace picnics with the kids. Spread a blanket and serve finger foods in front of a roaring fire. It started when the kids were little and we insisted they not run around when the fire was lit. They’re in middle school now and beg for a FPP as soon as the weather chills.
    .We have a quick family hug (huddled together, everyone touching each other) on any remotely special day before leaving the house…first day of school, big test, birthday, because Mom feels lovey today. My teen groans about it but when me or hubby call “family hug!” everyone show up.

  53. Pam says:

    Two of our favorites (and easy ones too!). We get up early and go out for breakfast on our way to school once a week (usually just a hot chocolate and a muffin). The second is that whenever we travel we search out the local coffee shop and have a mid-afternoon break.

  54. Jennifer says:

    When our boys were 2 & 4yo, I overheard the older telling the younger about Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. The younger piped in, “When is Brother’s Day?”. It was brilliant! They are 9 & 11yo now and tomorrow we’ll be celebrating our 6th annual Brother’s Day. We choose a Saturday in mid-August (a month woefully lacking in holidays) and spend the day enjoying a special family activity of their choice – this year we’re playing at a water park. Besides having fun, the focus of Brother’s Day is to appreciate having a brother, being a brother, and how special it is that of all of the people God has created in all of history, they are the only two uniquely chosen for this particular relationship with one another. It’s a family tradition we stumbled into and one that our boys (and mom & dad too) look forward to every year and we hope they will continue to celebrate it together throughout their lives.

  55. Anna says:

    The tradition we do the most often is movie night on Fridays. When we’re in the US, that’s usually movie/pizza night with homemade pizza.
    We have some that are tied to Christmas, like opening one present Christmas Eve, stockings Christmas morning, presents in the evening of Christmas Day. Some depend where we are at the time, but in Congo, we do Christmas caroling around our compound before opening presents. We do advent reading each year- I do a devotional one along with our school work, and my husband does a story that goes through advent in the evenings. We also do an advent calendar with a treat or activity for each day.
    For Easter, I try to add something meaningful to their Easter basket, like post-it notes printed with scriptures, a Bible, or something spiritually significant that will last longer than the candy.
    This year, my daughter and I started “chocolate day” for our birthdays. All chocolate, all day. 🙂 We’re going to keep that one going for our future birthdays.
    Other traditions are more about the place than the time or date. For example, when we go to Brazzaville (capital city), we always have schwarmas from Noura Noura once we arrive. Certain drives we do, we have a place we always stop.
    We have such a vagabond lifestyle that I always try to find some things we can do consistently. I’m hoping that will add some permanence to some of the memories.

  56. Kat says:

    >>Santa doesn’t come to our house, but St.Nicholas does! He brings nuts, fruits, a few chocolates, and money.
    >>On Christmas after Midnight Mass we have a picnic of cookies and milk under the Christmas tree. It’s the best way to get excited children to calm down and to bed at 3 a.m.
    >>Each child once they turn 2 receives a patron saint necklace on a ball chain necklace. My children are all in their 20’s and they still have them. I don’t think they wear them anymore, but I know they are carried in their pockets.
    >>Family Easter Basket. All of the candy is put into a large basket and shared.
    >>Read a louds!
    >> Now that the children are grown, they come home for Sunday dinner. It actually starts after Mass as brunch with scones and “fancy*” coffee and ends with dessert after dinner.

  57. Carrie Phillips says:

    I love family traditions. We have a few that go back many years: on Christmas morning nobody gets to come to the living room until you hear Gene Autrey’s “Here comes Santa Claus” blasted over the stereo (this was started in the 60s by my grandad), my husband’s Memaw bakes treats whenever anyone goes camping and sends it with them (along with some sparklers or other “fun”stuff for the kiddos), on Christmas eve my husband’s family has a long standing tradition that is similar to a “roast”, everyone takes turns making fun of something that happened earlier in the year and even brings props or gag gifts to help explain…for example, my father in law got into the wrong car at the grocery store so his brother got him a big magnet that said “this car, Larry!!!” And one year his brother shot a buck in his back yard one morning in his pajamas so we got him a camo bathrobe!
    We have tried to start some of our own as well. We put the pieces to a puzzle in the Easter eggs so you have to find all of them in order to complete the puzzle (I was tired of all the candy!). I have also put money in them and then we take the money with us as offering on Easter Sunday! We also always read from Luke 2 every Christmas eve together as a family. No matter where we are or whose house…My granddad read it for 40+ yrs and we all cried the year he made a point to pass it on to my dad, who now reads since my granddad passed..one year I read it to my 1 yr old at the Children’s hospital because he was fighting an infection during chemo. But it is a consistent part of our family traditions. Kids need things like this to pass on and even laugh at later!!

  58. Kirsten says:

    The weekend after Thanksgiving, we pick out and decorate our Christmas tree. My birthday is usually the same weekend, so its a nice tradition to trim the tree. We also put up our leg lamp (from A Christmas Story) in the front window.
    On Christmas Eve, we go to dinner at a relatively nice restaurant, then to our church’s Christmas Eve service. Afterwards, we go home, read the Night Before Christmas to our 2 daughters and the dog (we started this tradition with just the dog, as he was our “firstborn”), then leave Santa gingerbread and beer instead of cookies & milk.
    For Christmas, Thanksgiving, & New Years, I make Glogg, a Swedish mulled wine. I start it when I get up first thing, and by lunchtime its ready to go. I also make Ost kaka (Swedish cheesecake) for Christmas. My grandmother was Swedish, and while I definitely don’t make the lutefisk, the glogg and ost kaka are definitely traditions worth keeping.
    The night before Thanksgiving, my family, my parents and godparents get together and make the desserts for Thanksgiving. We usually eat chili, then play a dice game afterwards.
    On Sundays, we pick up kolaches before church in the morning.
    Whenever I get the opportunity to go to London, I purchase a hat at an amazing hat store that has been in business in 1676.
    My oldest is starting school this fall, so I loved seeing the ideas for first/last day of school.

  59. JR says:

    We’ve got lots of the normal traditions (watching a movie after trimming the tree–Christmas Vacation, in our case; birthday person picks dinner–I always have turkey dinner!; Christmas breakfast; etc.), but one that I’ve not heard of anybody else doing is New Year’s Eve Surf & Turf. My dad LOVES lobster, and my parents weren’t always able to easily afford it, so one year, my mom scrimped and saved to buy him a nice steak AND a lobster tail for New Year’s Eve Dinner. We’ve had Surf & Turf for dinner almost every year since. I would gladly be a little late to my friends’ parties so that I could be sure not to miss Surf & Turf with my family. The other important part of the tradition is that Mom absolutely cannot stay up to midnight–she’s incapable of making it that long 🙂

  60. Nicola says:

    I know I’m so late to this game but I’ve loved reading all the comments and wanted to add our traditions!
    There’s this music event each year called Eurovision-it’s a big OTT spectacle full of cheesy music and completely out there artists. Then all the countries rank the artists and points are awarded to see who wins (and hosts the contest the next year) – it takes all evening and the hosts on TV in the UK commentate with a hint of some alcohol consumption before hand. It’s fab! Anyway, when my husband and I had been dating a few weeks it was Eurovision night and he made fajitas (which id never had before!) and we wrote down and scored every entry and we’ve continued to do this every year since.
    We also have a family walk every evening after dinner and our neighbours cat comes with us!
    On certain birthdays my husband and I write letters to our children (1st, 5th, 10th, 13th, 18th) telling them how great they are.
    We live in Ireland so no thanksgiving holiday but we have our own roast (chicken not turkey) the weekend after Thanksgiving and have a meal when we celebrate all the good things in our life.
    Christmas we do the usual family movie time on Christmas Eve watching Elf, eat popcorn and light the fire. We also don’t do presents with my siblings-instead we all go out together, with our spouses as well, for dinner and an activity (eg crazy golf) in January. So much better than more gifts!

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