From beach vacations to bedtime stories, family traditions are a great way to bond and create memories. Whether you grew up with family traditions or you want to blaze a trail with your own ideas, we’ve got the list for you.
Family traditions are just plain fun — but they’re also good for the health and development of everyone involved. They give people a sense of belonging and boost kids’ self-esteem and well-being and having a familiar experience can offer comfort in stressful times.
Having your own unique traditions can also strengthen bonds by helping family members connect. In many cases, family traditions help create a family identity and pass on culture and values to the next generation.
How to Start New Family Traditions
A family tradition is simply a repeated activity that holds some special significance. As you consider what activities would be best for your family, consider how well you’ll be able to keep them up. Simple is usually best — even small things can make great memories and are easier to budget for and schedule.
Talk to the whole family and make sure to choose activities that everyone is interested in. Remember that it’s okay to scrap an idea if it doesn’t go well, and be open to unexpected and accidental traditions. A rained-out baseball game might become a fun exploration of the mall down the street or a movie date. You can still have a great bonding experience and a fun story to tell.
Family Tradition Examples
Family traditions can come in many forms. Here are some unique examples of family traditions to get you started!
Daily, Weekly or Monthly Family Traditions
Plenty of simple family traditions are things you can do regularly. They provide a great reason to get together and set aside time for activities. Some traditions you can do every day, week or month include:
Family dinners: Sitting down to eat together is an excellent opportunity to connect with family members. Go around the table and have everyone share something, like the highs and lows of their day or something they’re grateful for.
Meal days: Dedicate certain days of the week to dinner themes, like Taco Tuesday or Sundae Saturday.
Show and tell: Have everyone gather around and show something off, like a recent art project or a cool fact they learned at school.
Game or movie nights: Cozy up in the living room with some games or a movie once every week or month.
One-on-one outings: Pick a specific day where a kid gets a one-on-one day out with one of the parents. You can let the child pick the activities for an extra-special experience.
Happiness jars: Write down the happiest part of your day every day, week or month. Put the papers in a jar and read them all at the end of the year.
Paint or craft nights: Build those creative muscles with a night of artistry. Play a follow-along video, have a friendly competition or create whatever comes to mind.
Book clubs: Foster a love of reading with family book clubs. You could all read the same book, but it might be easier to have everyone read their own age-appropriate books and share them in a show-and-tell style.
Lunch or backpack surprises: Sneak loving notes or treats into your kids’ lunchbox or backpack as a little surprise during the school day.
Birthday Family Traditions
In between the cake and presents, make some memories with these birthday family traditions:
Birthday interviews: Create a list of questions everyone answers on their birthdays. Ask about their most memorable moment of the year, favorite thing to do, favorite food or what they’re looking forward to in the next year.
Birthday dinners: Have the guest of honor pick their favorite restaurant for a nice family meal on their special day.
Inside jokes: Birthdays are an excellent time for inside jokes. You might give someone a gag gift every year or a card referencing an old joke.
A year in photos: Print out pictures from throughout the year and hang them around the house.
Decorate for the birthday person: Have the rest of the family decorate under cover of night to surprise the birthday person with balloons and streamers when they wake up.
Outdoor Family Traditions
Get some fresh air with these outdoor family traditions for all seasons:
Family walks: Take a stroll with the whole family once a week.
Camping: Book a spot at a campground to get away from it all and teach the kids some important outdoor skills.
Vacations: Get adventurous or relax with a trip to a new spot. A place like Ocean City, New Jersey, lets you squeeze in a little bit of everything, like beach days, fishing, shopping, thrill rides and great restaurants.
Orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes: Fall is the perfect season for cozy family activities like apple and pumpkin picking.
Winter activities: Grab a cup of hot cocoa and spend the day sledding, skiing or making snowmen.
Holiday Family Traditions
Holidays are the perfect opportunity to get together as a family throughout the year.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another wintertime holiday, you have tons of cozy, family-friendly options, including:
Baking treats: Spend a day baking or buying treats as a family and give them to friends and neighbors.
Living room sleepover and movie night: Grab some sleeping bags, cozy up in the living room with all your holiday decorations and watch your favorite movies.
Gingerbread houses: Work together or have a competition to see who can build the best gingerbread house.
Matching pajamas: Get everyone matching pajama sets to wear while you celebrate.
Light tours: Hop in the car — with everyone in PJs for extra cozy points — and drive around town to look at holiday decorations and light shows.
Some unique holidays you can celebrate as a family include:
Memorial Day: Memorial Day is a great time to teach kids about their ancestors and family tree.
New Year’s Eve: Make some non-alcoholic cocktails and toast New Year’s Eve with the whole family.
Here are a few other unique family traditions to try:
Sporting events: If you’re a sports family, turn it into a tradition. You could host a Super Bowl party every year or head to a stadium for opening day.
Family photos: Take a family photo every year. You can go for classic photos or add a twist and make them as goofy as possible.
Scrapbooking: Scrapbooking is a great way to re-experience events like vacations or a whole year.
Shopping sprees: Support local businesses with a family shopping trip and create care packages for people in need. Or do some back-to-school shopping and follow it up with a fashion show.
Community service events: Look for events like environmental clean-ups, fun runs and fundraisers you can do as a family.
Bring Your Next Family Tradition to Ocean City
Known as America’s Greatest Family Resort, Ocean City, New Jersey, is the perfect setting for memorable family traditions. The Ocean City historical Boardwalk has everything from shopping and restaurants to live music, a water park and amusement park rides. Head to the beach for surf and sand, visit the shopping district downtown or hit the water for fishing, boating or kayaking. With hotels, campgrounds and rental homes, you can find the right stay for your family and budget.
See what memories you can make at Ocean City to start the next family tradition!