10 Traditions to Boost Your Family’s Bond Through the Holidays—and Beyond

‘Tis the season to celebrate family, friends, and the memories we make and cherish together. These 10 touching, fun tradition ideas can make it easier than ever to create moments that matter.

All the (Memory) Trimmings

Each year, add an ornament to your tree that marks a special occasion from the past year—a family vacation, special anniversary, new home (or new hot tub!), etc.

Schedule Story Time

This winter make hunkering down with a good book a family affair. Choose a favorite classic or a newfound treasure and go old-school with story time. Get everyone involved by alternating readers, or assign the most animated of the bunch to bring to life a tale you’ll enjoy—together.  

Get to Giving

During the holiday season of giving, choose a day, week, or all month long to commit your family to random acts of kindness. Some ideas: Keep spare change in the car so you’ll have it hand for those fundraising cans; bring a handful of quarters to the grocery store to pre-pay the prize machines for lucky little recipients-to-be; and have the kids reorganize the pantry and start their own food drive collection bag

Bottle Up Your Joy

Throughout the year, stash mementos like movie tickets, branded napkins from your favorite restaurants, concert wristbands, corks, and more in a large Mason jar (a vase or simple box will also do). Empty it out onto a table on New Year’s Eve to review and relive the fun times shared, and then commit to repeating your “Joy Jar” collection year after year.

Say Cheese!

Pick a day to coordinate grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, pets—and wardrobe colors—for a photo shoot of fun. Set the timer or ask a shutterbug friend to help you create an image everyone can cherish.

Family “First”

On the first of each month, choose something you can do together for the very first time—make sushi, rent and ride a tandem bike, grow an herb garden, paint a collective family masterpiece—the list is endless.

“Dear Self…”

Choose an annual day to set out some stationery and have kids write letters to themselves about various topics: goals, their dream job, favorite activities, funny stories, challenges and hopes, and more. Upon high school graduation, have a read-aloud party to reminisce and reflect.

Movie Marathon 

Schedule a movie night each month, complete with themed flicks and snacks for award-winning family bonding time. Here are some calendar suggestions to start you off: Schedule a RomCom February, a patriotic-perfect July, and a haunting October spook-fest.

Birthday Surprises

Why settle for a routine birthday celebration? Customize your crew’s Happy Birthday tune, or get creative with candles. Here’s one fun idea to count on: Invest in a set of numbered candles, 1 through 10, so you can double- (and triple-) duty them for double-digit celebrations throughout the years. For a loved one’s 18th birthday, for instance, you would use 4 + 6 + 8.

Ditch Day

Following a particularly busy season (holidays, school exams, etc.), schedule an unofficial family day-off—no school, no work, just fun! You can score off-peak tickets to a popular performance, visit a local museum, or just have a PJ day of notable nothingness.