Sometimes life gets crazy and we miss out on the moments that matter, like holidays, summer retreats with the extended family, or other family traditions. When that happens, you’ve got to have some fail-safes in reserve—ways to celebrate life and living without specific days or in lieu of the bigger events.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Funny Family Tradition Ideas
- Spring and Summer Family Tradition Ideas
- Fall and Winter Family Traditions
- Old-School Family Tradition Ideas
- Holiday Family Tradition Ideas
- Family Traditions from Around the World
Look, nothing is worse than feeling disconnected from the ones you love the most. If you can come up with some neat ideas to tighten the gap between family visits, then you can make sure you’ll always have something to look back on and forward to.
Check out the family tradition ideas we’ve listed below. Be open to new experiences and say yes to having a good time, no matter the season.
Funny Family Tradition Ideas
Humor is subjective, so here are few funny and sweet ideas to get you brainstorming.
1. Voicemail contests
Whether acknowledging birthdays or announcing the start of the weekend, make it a point to be known as the one who leaves the funniest messages.
Tip: Rush hour traffic is probably not the best time to try to be funny.
2. Birthday British comedies
Streaming foreign television shows and movies has never been easier. Treat it like a mystery grab bag and pick one at random—and without reading the description.
Tip: If British humor isn’t your thing, there are many options from around the world.
3. Mad Libs May
When the kids are so stressed out from school and homework, you could have them work on their storytelling skills by hosting contests for the best Mad Libs results.
Tip: Mad Libs sells age-appropriate options.
4. “Tacky” photo mailer
You’ve seen them: the matching pajamas, synchronized poses, or a boring background at the local studio—right? Be the change and get creative with your family photos so that you laugh with joy.
Tip: You could recreate movie scenes or album covers from your favorite bands. Get creative!
5. Celebrate your pet’s birthday
Maybe this is more sweet than funny, but you get the idea. The furry critters are family, too.
Tip: Invite the neighborhood pups and serve a cake—we make one for the “boys” out of bacon.
Spring and Summer Family Tradition Ideas
There’s something we can all learn from being stuck in day-to-day life and that’s the need to have adventures, so spice up life and head outside!
6. Easter oyster run
Because most people are visiting families on Easter, the beach and oyster houses will likely be deserted. If that’s the case, then bring the pup and let the kids run amok on the beach as long as possible.
Tip: Don’t let inclement weather ruin your day! Bring raincoats, hand warmers, and a change of socks.
7. Visit a new state or national park each weekend
Discovering nature is far more important than a book or television. Plus, nature helps you teach the art of curiosity and imagination.
Tip: Go online to buy a seasonal pass, then plan your weekends before summer begins.
8. 4th of July with grandparents
Skip the 4th of July with your friends and spend it with the elders in the family. Take lots of pictures and build a photo album year after year.
Tip: Send the pictures to the grandparents as soon as the next sun rises so you don’t forget.
9. Bonfire for the last weekend of summer vacation
Celebrate summer’s end with a quick trip to the beach or the neighbors to have a big bonfire. As this becomes a common yearly event, it’ll be one that makes the end of summer seem less sad.
Tip: Elect someone to be on kiddo-watch duty just in case.
10. Backyard camping
If you can’t get to the campsites or they are all booked up, why not set up a tent in the backyard? You won’t leave the can opener behind and you’ll have a reliable bathroom nearby.
Tip: Don’t wait for the weekend to have fun with this one. Seize the moment.
11. Morning volunteer days
There are so many groups that need some stalls mucked or dogs walked. Why not take the kiddos out to breathe the fresh air and help out?
Tip: Start your kids volunteering early so it doesn’t seem like a chore later one, but rather second nature.
12. River floating
Hiring a guide service takes the planning and preparations out of your hands because they have everything you need to float.
Tip: Don’t forget the life jackets and reef-safe sunscreen—even for the dog.
Set an example on how to unplug and unwind as often as possible, all summer long. Nature is life’s instant anxiety-relief, so everyone’s stress will come down.
Tip: Bring enough water and snacks to keep up the energy.
Fall and Winter Family Traditions
Even though it’s chilly out, you can still find ways to get outside and enjoy adventures nearby.
14. Snowball fight tourney
In some parts of the world, this is actually a team sport! So, try it on not just as a family tradition, but maybe a neighborhood one—with both adult and kid-friendly options.
Tip: Build some barriers to hide behind to make it fast-paced and challenging.
15. Snowshoeing on the eve of holidays
Not only is snowshoeing amazing exercise, getting outdoors in the winter can offer some breathtaking views.
Tip: If you’re taking your dog with you, don’t forget about their paws.
16. J.R.R. Tolkien Day
Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien was born on January 3rd? If the kids are old enough, you could have a Hobbit or LOTR trilogy movie-a-thon every year to celebrate.
Tip: Make the same meal each time so that the kids can hand down this tradition to their own family one day.
17. Bread baking
The smell of homemade bread is something that your children will remember fondly throughout their whole lives.
Tip: Top it off with homemade jam from last year’s harvest. You’re in for a special treat!
18. Hayride at the apple orchard
There’s something magical about the smell of thousands of ripe apples on a crisp, autumn day.
Tip: Bring some hand sanitizer and damp cloths in a reusable container just in case you get to feed the animals, too.
19. Make homemade apple cider
Turn the apple orchard trip into a two-part adventure, then you can keep the kids busy and off their phones the whole day!
Tip: Cinnamon schnapps and a dash of nutmeg/cloves might make the adults in the room happy.
20. Christmas lights around town
Hop in the car and take a drive around town to check out all of the holiday lights as it gets closer to Christmas.
Tip: Make some cocoa for the drive.
Old-School Family Tradition Ideas
If you moved pretty far away from the old homestead, then including some traditional ideas into your yearly routine will help you stay connected to your roots.
21. Memory day
Find a specific flavor or pastry or fruit compote and celebrate lost loved ones over a healthy dinner and tasty dessert.
Tip: Teach your kids that a death anniversary is a day to celebrate one’s life with memories and stories.
22. Springtime planting get-together
For those who make their living off of the land, springtime is a season to be hopeful. You could take a page from their book and have your own spring celebration after planting your backyard garden.
Tip: Farmer’s markets will help you teach your kids about farm-to-table labor.
23. Harvest dinners
Back on the farm, a harvest dinner would have included a dozen or so kids, plus some aunts and uncles. Now, you can make it a neighborhood occasion to celebrate the hard work of those tireless farmers.
Tip: Reserve the local pavilion so no one gets stuck with the clean up at their house.
24. Housewarming party
Maybe you’re moving a lot. Having a housewarming party will help you get intimate with your space a lot quicker.
Tip: If you have family or friends that live far away, have a virtual party and show off the new digs.
25. Holidays at your house
Falling short of the iconic Chevy Chase film, you could invite the whole family to your house for the next holiday. You can start a new holiday tradition, too.
Tip: Plan adventures outside of the house just in case you need some breathing room.
Holiday Family Tradition Ideas
Holidays and traditions go hand-in-hand. Here are a few of our favorite holiday traditions.
26. New Year’s
Some celebrate on January 1, while others celebrate the first moon of the year. Choose the one that’s most appropriate to your culture, and then start a new ritual, like a dance party or karaoke.
Tip: Get the whole neighborhood together and make it a party!
27. Holiday eves
Once the kids are old enough, take some time away from your holiday celebrations to share your time with people in need at local shelters and kitchens.
Tip: Bring pairs of warm socks to hand out.
28. Rudolph on vinyl
Scratchy record sounds are having a comeback! That means all your favorite tunes from when you were a kid are available on records.
Tip: Second-hand stores rotate their stock seasonally, so watch for some really good deals on vintage records in the fall.
29. Grandparents Day
Whether or not they are still around, it’s important to remember your loved ones throughout the years.
Tip: Choose a national holiday, like Grandparents Day, over a birthday so that you can include all of your loved ones on that special day.
30. Mother’s and Father’s Day
Wives and husbands have to take some extra responsibility to make sure the kiddos remember these days in particular.
Tip: After a good breakfast, send your spouse off to the local pub so that they can be an adult for a while. Wait for their call, then be their driver, too.
Family Traditions From Around the World
Even if you aren’t from the parts of the world listed below, you can always take these as opportunities to teach kids about life and history in other cultures.
31. Cat Festival
In Belgium, May 12th is the day to celebrate the furry little felines in your life. A few thousand people march in a parade in Ypres every year to celebrate.
Tip: If you don’t know your kitty’s birthday, this is the purrfect day to shower them with new toys.
32. Children’s Day
In Turkey, April 23rd is a day when children take over the government. In cities and towns, kids will get ice cream, movies, and other privileges.
Tip: Turn it into a “yes day” where you agree to do everything they ask—within reason.
33. Braemar Highland Gathering
On September 6th in Scotland, bagpipers, dancers, and athletes gather to toss cabers for the title of strongest.
Tip: If it’s just you and your partner, you could have your own strong person contest. Loser does all the cooking that night.
34. Rainmaking ceremony
On October 22nd in South Africa, the people of the Lovedu celebrate the queen as the rainmaker. The tribe dances until the rain begins.
Tip: Take this as an opportunity to learn about cultures from every country in the world—and open the hearts and minds of your children to them.
The Swedish and Austrian people, for example, used to have some customs to ward off witches like having bonfires or sticking rakes in the ground upside down to catch them as they flew past.
Tip: Reclaim April 30th as a day to learn about different religions rather than persecute Wiccans.
Never Miss an Opportunity
There are 365 days a year to find joy. So, whether you continue traditions from your own family history or glean something from another culture, the ultimate lesson is to spread love to all cultures and traditions.
If you're looking for more family reunion inspiration, read our guides on family reunion gift ideas, family reunion activity ideas, and family tree ideas
- Van Straalen, Alice. The Book of Holidays Around the World. 1st ed., E. P. Dutton, 1986.