Family traditions are those activities that happen day after day or year after year, inside or outside of the home. Traditions can reflect a family’s values and beliefs, and in many cases, family traditions hold deep importance and are passed down from generation to generation.
Laura Linn Knight, author of “Break Free from Reactive Parenting" told TODAY Parents that not only are family traditions fun for families, but traditions also contribute to a home environment of stability, safety, joy and consistency.
"Just as many children find safety and belonging within the structure and routine of a classroom, family traditions provide this same sense of familiarity and structure," Knight said.
Knight explained that as a family continues — over a long period of time — with their traditions, the traditions become part of the family culture and teach children what is valued within the home.
"Traditions can stem from holiday traditions, but a family tradition can also be a small daily activity that the whole family engages in together," she said, sharing a personal family tradition she calls "Rose, Bud and Thorn."
With the "Rose, Bud and Thorn" activity, each family member shares at dinner what they are grateful for from their day (rose), what they are excited about that will “bloom” soon (bud) and what felt prickly from the day (thorn).
"The 'Rose, Bud and Thorn' family tradition allows a family to hear about everyone’s day in a fun and supportive way — celebrating the good moments, looking forward to what will come, and offering empathy in the difficult moments," Knight said. "This is an example of a simple family tradition that can happen year round and doesn’t involve any cost."
Knight explained that family traditions, like pumpkin carving, can revolve around seasons and holidays — but those can also come with pressure and stress.
"If you do have traditions around the holidays that feel overwhelming, I encourage you to take time this year before the holidays begin to evaluate the 'why' behind what activities you do," she told TODAY Parents.
Knight emphasized that family traditions should be adding value to your life and be something that you look forward to.
"If you find yourself spending out of your means or stressed about an upcoming family tradition, now is a good time to think about how things can be modified to make the tradition enjoyable for everyone, including you," she said.
Family traditions are meant to be joyful and continue for generations.
"Examine the 'why' behind your traditions, get clear on areas where traditions can be tweaked to support the entire group, and remember that what children really want is to feel seen, heard and loved more than they care about the sparkles and the grandiosity of events," Knight said.
30 family traditions to start
- "Rose, Bud and Thorn" at family dinners.
- Friday board game night.
- Friday movie night.
- Sunday potlucks with family.
- Yearly family photos.
- Fall leaf nature walk.
- Make a family scrapbook.
- Fall picnics at the park.
- Family bedtime stories.
- Holiday tea party.
- Holiday pie and/or cookie baking.
- Favorite family vacation destination.
- A summer camping trip.
- Swimming on the first day of summer.
- Annual family BBQ.
- Weekly gratitude jars.
- Spring flower walks.
- Spring gardening.
- Solstice hike.
- Start a new activity as a family.
- Use a birthday plate for birthdays.
- Read gratitude jar on New Year's Eve.
- Cook family recipes.
- Begin a souvenir collection.
- Decoration days before holidays.
- Say a family prayer.
- Go on parent-child dates.
- Celebrate birthdays with a special recipe.
- Watch the Groundhog Day celebrations.
- Share Valentine's Day cards.