Traditions. We all have them. Some are near and dear, handed down from parents to children for generations within a family. Some traditions are intentional, while others occur quite by accident. And some have yet to be discovered.
Not all traditions have to cost a lot of money. In fact, many believe the best family traditions are the ones that focus on the moments and the memories, rather than the material. They rarely cost a lot of money, but the memories they create a priceless treasures for the family.
What are Family Traditions?
One of the great things about family traditions is that they are whatever you decide they are. Ultimately, they are the things you do again and again to bond, build memories, and share experiences that will last lifetimes for you, your children, your siblings, and/or your spouse or partner.
A real beauty of family traditions is that they can become family treasures children will share with theirs one day. These traditions can be as simple as turkey or ham for Christmas dinner, and as complex as getting the entire family together to make tamales for the festive meal.
They can be about food, clothing, and even getting all family members together to snap a photo year after year, wearing matching outfits or pajamas, for example. Even pencil marks on walls, marking off years by the inch is a family tradition for many.
Family traditions can occur at any time of the year, not just during the holidays. For instance, maybe they involve bringing a scoop of sand back from every beach you visit as a family to fill your family jar. Regardless of when they occur, they provide some great memories to reflect upon for years to come.
Benefits of Family Traditions
The benefits of these family traditions are much deeper than once thought. The important thing is to note that they run deeper than just holiday traditions. There are many who believe that these traditions help to form personal identity. They certainly help to solidify the bonds of family, and strengthen the family as a unit. They offer security and comfort, and can connect generations within the family.
Other benefits family traditions include the following:
- Experiences bring more happiness than possessions, according to The Atlantic.
- Traditions build better bonds with families and those we love, per ChildHelp.
- Family rituals may lead to better adjustment emotionally for all involved, reports the The New York Times.
- Well thought-out and planned family traditions help to create well-adjusted children by providing stability and keeping generations connected, suggests Best Medicine.
The potential benefits of family traditions are profound, making it well worth the effort to create small, inexpensive family traditions for your family. The biggest benefit of all, though, may very well be the closer family ties these traditions create in an increasingly disconnected world.
Budget-Friendly Ideas to Create Family Traditions
Remember, the best family traditions are about spending time with the people who matter the most in your life. Try to make them fun moments that are memorable and enjoyable.
These a few great budget-friendly ideas to help jump start your next family tradition in 2020.
- Go on a family drive. This is something you can do any time of the year. It can be anything from going to see the foliage each fall, visiting at least one new state park each year, or going to see the holiday lights during the Christmas season. Pack a few snacks, and confiscate the electronics, so everyone can take in the wonder around them and talk to each other along the way.
- Visit a dog shelter as a family. The animals at dog shelters are often lonely and afraid. Visiting these animals is great for them, especially if you can wrangle up some dog food to donate, blankets, or even pet toys. It’s also a teachable moment for your children to teach them to love and care for the animals of the world.
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. While many people do this during the holidays, there are many more months of the year where volunteers are lean, and needs are high for local soup kitchens. Homelessness and hunger are year round problems for people who have fallen on hard times, and volunteering in this capacity together teaches gratitude, humility, and helps to build strong bonds for the entire family.
- Attend a paint class together. Big and small communities alike have family-friendly paint classes that invite families to paint projects together. This is something you can do each year for an important anniversary or birthday in the family. Be sure to display these treasures to show how the family evolves over time. Many communities offer low cost paint classes once a month or more to keep the costs down.
- Spend at least one night a week (or month if necessary) cooking together. Some of the best memories are made in the kitchen. This room is the heart of the home, and cooking together once a week allows you to build great memories, share family secret recipes, and come up with new family favorites.
- Have a weekly family movie and/or game night. This is a night devoted to family. It can correspond with the night the family cooks together if you’d like, but it may be best to make this an easy dinner and cleanup night — perhaps a weekly pizza night. The idea is to devote the night to spending time together, and doing something enjoyable as a family.
- Give pajamas and a book for Christmas Eve. This offers amazing photo opportunities for bedtime and Christmas Eve, especially if this is the one night a year all the kids tend to pile up in one comfortab le bed. This one can get costly, but consider this part of the Christmas expenses for the family, and skip a toy or two. The memories and moments this tradition create will last far longer than yet another toy or trinket in a sea of many.
- Participate in community clean-up projects. These projects are important tools for teaching your children the importance of sustainability, recycling, and being better stewards of the Earth. Educating your children is always a good plan. Letting them see your beliefs about sustainability and cleaning up the planet in action is even better. More importantly, it is a family tradition they’ll someday pass down to their children.
- Create a happiness or gratitude jar. Keep the jar in plain site to encourage every family member to add a note of what made them happy or what they were grateful for that day. Then, choose a specific day (weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually) to sit around as a family and read the notes.
- Annual cartwheel or hula hoop contest. This one is a great way to work a little fun and fitness into the family tradition. Make it the same day each year, perhaps Independence Day, and see which child (or adult for that matter) can do the most cartwheels in a row. If cartwheels are too strenuous, consider having a hula-hoop contest, and see who can keep their hula hoop going the longest.
As you can see, most of these traditions are things that cost very little, but can mean the world to your family over time. Use one (or all) of these, or use these as inspiration to create meaningful traditions for your family to adopt.