University of Illinois Extension
Skipnavigation Nibbles ... Ideas for Families

Kids & Food
Help Your Child Succeed
Your Child's Health
Challenges of Parenting
Learning to Get Along
Playtime Is Fun Time
The Day Care Routine

Traditions in the Family

During the holidays, we see traditions established in families that may have been with parents since childhood or new traditions evolving with a newly formed family. They are a vital part of family life.

As adults reminisce, they remember activities which brought joy to their lives. Baking Christmas cookies with Mom, Friday night pizza with Grandparents, the prayer through generations, all represent family traditions that are treasured.

Traditions are important to the family, not necessarily for what they say or do, but for the kind of results that occur. A sense of togetherness is developed from the shared experience.

Strong families have traditions. These families recognize that traditions provide a sense of continuity, understanding and closeness that bonds families. Traditions give members a reason to feel good about themselves. In the young child this is especially important as children search for their place in the family society.

Look over this list of activities and see if there are some you already do that could become rituals--and/or select some you want to do for happy future memories.

  • Musical activities---A holiday listening session each week; sing - alongs music recitals; concerts with all family members attending; cantatas at church (to participate or to listen).
  • Nature activities---Christmas tree cutting trip; fall and winter hikes; star studying sessions; feeding birds and wildlife; planning your landscaping areas to provide for wildflowers, rock gardens, special trees and shrubs; camping out as a family.
  • Service activities---Doing something for others is a good holiday family activity. Working with groups like Scouts, 4-H, Lions, hospital auxiliary, church service committees; helping with campaigns and fund-raising projects; or just being neighborly is meaningful work for family togetherness.
  • Dramatic activities---An evening of dramatic games; charades; pantomimes; word games at the dinner table could be fun; amateur productions at church, school, community center; or attending plays together are always possibilities during holidays.
  • Social activities---Family entertaining with cards, board games and group activities for all ages; picnics; reunions; and holiday parties furnish good memories for future days as well as for the present.
  • Physical activities---Play together as a family; games, skating, hiking, skiing, hunting, and dancing will be activities young and old alike will enjoy.
Don't forget to get into family projects around the house or on the farm or grounds of your home--building a needed fence or wall, refinishing furniture or cabinets, painting, landscaping the grounds, putting up a new building--all of these can be family projects that build strengths. Families who do things together stay together. Make holiday time family time.