How to Start a New Family Tradition

Generations of families connect through their traditions - the events that grandpa and little Susie can both count on. Yet many families lack a bond that lasts from year to year. Here's how to fill your gatherings with treasured memories...


  1. Image titled Start a New Family Tradition Step 1
    Begin by making a list of the things that are important to your family. This list can include people, places or events. For example, several family members may already participate in the local town's parade. Grandma may be a fantastic cook, or Uncle John may be an ice fishing fanatic. Once you have your list move on to step two.
  2. Image titled Start a New Family Tradition Step 2
    Review your list and look at ways that you can start small. If three of the grandkids happen to play in the marching band, consider making it a tradition to attend the parade together. If your choice is more of a "thing," than an event, it's up to you to make it one. For things that are not scheduled by third party (like the town parade), make a date that is set from year to year. For example, everyone can gather at Grandma's house on the first Saturday of every December to make her famous gingerbread cookies and pecan pies. Knowing when the next gathering is, 365 days in advance, leaves little excuse for missing the next big day.
  3. Image titled Start a New Family Tradition Step 3
    Build upon your traditions to make them magical. Traditions are by definition meaningful customs passed down through a culture or family. To make yours go from an obligatory get-together to a fulfilling gathering, enhance them by adding a pre-event meal or a post-event charitable service. In other words, once a small affair starts to snowball, consider turning it into an all-day or even all-weekend thing. This will ensure that there is something for everyone - from the foodies to the shoppers to the philanthropists in the family.
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    Remember them from year to year by designating a record keeper. The family record keeper could create a log or picture book. He or she could be in charge of taking photos or delegating the duty. To make the years even more memorable, consider chronicling attendees' emotions and experiences of the day.


  • Ensure that your tradition is passed on, long after the initiating family members are gone. Get the youngest in the bunch to embrace specific elements. For example, an accidental holiday tradition in one family started when the grandpa let the child stuff the sweet potatoes with marshmallows when the child was young enough to love getting messy. Now, there isn't a Thanksgiving that's complete without Papa's famous "sweet potato croquettes." And, it might become the duty of the oldest grandchild to make sure that all the other grandchildren after me were expert marshmallow inserters.
  • Consider looking for help in finding a tradition. Go to websites that offer help in matching folks with volunteering organizations. Look up your local area event calendar and choose events to attend - or better yet, select which things you can help with.
  • Make sure everyone likes the tradition and is willing to take part.


  • Get ready to go a few rounds. Your pick for a tradition may not be a perfect match for your family. Through trial and error though, you will find something workable.
  • Naysayers will abound. There will be those who fight your desires to knit a closer family. Eventually though, these cries will subside as your clan learns who they are and grows snug.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen or Pencil
  • Paper or Notebook
  • Optional: Camera or Video Recorder
  • Optional: Scrapbook or Log Book

Article Info

Categories: Family Traditions