This is one of my favorites from the Kidoinfo archives. (First posted 12/30/11.)  Please share your favorite family traditions in the comments.


At every family meal, we go around the table and each person says what he or she is thankful for. - Mark

We love to play short round robin games of either Boggle or Bananagrams at the end of the day.  It's a family event.  We are all in our pajamas, sitting atop the parents' bed with either of those games.  - Josefina

Our family has a basket that we keep full of books in the living room.  Whenever a holiday is approaching, we go to the basement to find the kids' books we've accumulated about that particular holiday, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day or Christmas, and we bring them up and put them in the book basket.  Reading them together gets us all excited for the approaching holiday, and because they only come out once a year, they are extra special.  - Lori


My wife and I have two kids, aged five and eight. We have a few nice traditions emerging around birthdays. We found it impossible to have birthday parties without getting gifts, so rather than saying “no gifts” we got specific. “Bring a photo of yourself” worked well, “bring a photo of an animal” too, and “no bigger than a grapefruit.” The past few years we have asked for pet food and toys to bring to Providence Animal Rescue League. Our pets have all come from shelters so there is a nice connection for our kids. The REAL tradition becomes loading it all into the car and bringing it down to the shelter. We then hang around, pet some kitties, distribute the toys, and when the staff is not too busy they lavish attention on us. Turns into a nice afternoon. - Geoff

After blowing out the candles on the birthday cake, the birthday person gets “buttered”.  A few family members put butter on the person’s nose as good luck.  It helps them slide through the next year.  Sometimes it gets carried away with the birthday person’s face getting quite a greasing! - Amy

Our favorite family tradition is going hiking on New Year’s Day.  This is a great way to confirm the importance of exercise in our lives and spending our free time outdoors and together as a family. - Veronica

My favorite family tradition is one from when I was growing up. Every Valentine's Day (and whenever my parents went away overnight) my mother would use Hershey kisses to make a big "I" and then a giant heart and a "U" on the kitchen table. We used to slowly take kisses out and move the rest around to keep the design for as long as possible. I can't wait to start this for my kids. - Heather

We have an annual tradition of a neighborhood Halloween Party and parade. It’s a great family and neighborhood tradition we all love it b/c we all love socializing with our neighbors while watching the kids play and have fun. - Cheryl

One of our favorite family traditions is carving the pumpkins on Halloween, toasting the seeds, and boiling the pumpkin meat to have some fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pies, breads and muffins. Yummmm!!!!!!!!! - Joan

Every November we create a tree from craft paper on our hall wall and each day a family member adds a leaf for something we are grateful for.  This way before the crazy holiday days we have grounded ourselves in gratitude. - Sunny

We have many traditions! Our favorite holiday tradition is threefold, we always donate and bring to a needy family a complete turkey dinner (with pie);  we always see a holiday show (The Nutcracker, a children's performance, anything really) and we always whip our cream for our holiday pies!  One year we made whipped butter when we were talking instead of paying attention to the whipping cream. - Stacey

Our favorite tradition is that we make my grandmother's Portuguese stuffing every Thanksgiving.  This is a family favorite and everyone gets involved from tearing the bread (for the little kids) up to the actual cooking (performed by Grandpa). - Meribah Dean

Our favorite family tradition at Thanksgiving is to gather for a special breakfast of Apple Cottage Cheese Pancakes in the morning, made by my husband. It is one of the only things he makes, but we are always SO excited for this breakfast. Then the pie baking begins! - Barbi

Every year the day after Thanksgiving we take off to New Hampshire with our son to ride the Polar Express from North Conway.  He loves the magical ride where all kids are in pajamas heading into the mountain to reach their final destination, The North Pole. -Amy Sullivan

Every year during the weekend of Thanksgiving, we head over to Meme & Papa's house for "Grandies PJ Night". Activities include decorating their Christmas Tree, good food and drinks and a matching set of PJs for all the grandkids or "grandies". We start snapping pictures and sooner or later my mom has her Christmas card photo! I think the tradition originally started because my parent's wanted help decorating the tree. Now, the grandkids (ages 3-9) look forward to this fun night and subsequent family gatherings when all of the cousins "just happen" to have on their matching PJs!  - Bethany

My favorite tradition is baking holiday cookies.  I still have the kitchen island that I made cookies on with my mother and sisters as a little girl.  It is such a joy to share the island, the memories, and the cookie recipes with my kids now. - Valerie

Our favorite holiday tradition is our daily "Christmas Magic" Christmas countdown (Similar to the idea of an advent calendar.)  And to answer the question why we celebrate this holiday in our house, we say: “We celebrate Christmas magic because this is a magical time of year...We describe how, at its best, it is a time of extra excitement, celebration, generosity and kindness that, in itself, is magic.  It is a time that people connect with their spiritual beliefs and enjoy the abundance that comes from both giving and receiving.  And it is also a time to be especially compassionate to those who do not have people in their lives with whom they can share celebrations this time of year.” - Marta

The Christmas Imp, a little man with a red peaked cap made out of pipe cleaners who my husband and I hide in a new location in our house every day December  1-24. The idea is that he's there to observe the kids and report to Santa if they've been good. The kids love to find him. On Christmas Eve, he's in the Christmas tree and on Christmas Day he's gone, presumably having left with Santa. This is a tradition that's been in my husband's family for three generations, and each nuclear family makes their own Imp. - Esther & Daniel

We don't always associate springtime with tradition, but every season is an opportunity. Here are 5 ways to celebrate create spring traditions with your family. Pick one of these or make your own.

1. Food. Is there something you make every spring to celebrate the season or special holiday (Passover and Easter are right here, but Mother's Day is on the horizon, as well as May Day)? Share its origin with your children by creating a special recipe card including a photo, the recipe and where the recipe originated from (e.g. family member, friend, etc.). Ask your child to share a memory about eating the food.

2. Collect. We like to collect things from nature to commemorate the changing seasons. We have jars of feathers, rocks, shells and seadpods. Take a walk at the beach, in the woods or your neighborhood and see what you find.

3. Take a picture to record a point in time. The photo could be of the family dressed up for the holidays, family meal or simply a photo of your child standing next to same tree every season to show how quickly we all grow and change.

4. Write a poem. April is National Poetry Month. Write a haiku, limerick or poem.

5. Go on an adventure. Our family has certain spots we like to visit each season. This time of year, we say goodbye to winter and hello spring by taking a walk on the beach and visiting our favorite ice cream shop.

Read more on GoLocalProv. Every week I share tips on how families can make the most of their family time – including helpful hints that make parenting easier and connecting you to great local happenings.

Meet Teny Gross. Read his Meet-A-Parent (MAP) interview here.

traditions: tips / resources

1. Jewish stories from the PJ library program
2. Temple Emanuel website:
3. We read to our kids every night.
4. We go on nature walks.
5. We work in our garden.
6. We go to peace events.
7. We vote together.
8. We have an annual block party and community pot lucks.
9. The kids see us sharing with neighbors.
10. We have an open garden and open home philosophy with our neighbors, sharing food and cultures.
11. Our kids go to the International Charter School where they learn to speak Portuguese and are immersed in Portuguese culture.
12. We do not hit our kids.
13. We are not afraid to set limits, bed time, homework time, appropriate behavior etc.
15. We incorporate traditions from multiple cultures in our family by doing Jewish, Christian and secular stuff, and spending time with people from many cultures.

alternatives to participating in traditional holidays and commercialism:

- Set limits and establish a sense of proportion. Holidays always evolve, and are a mix of traditions (Christian holidays for example are a mix with Roman traditions). Our kids write letters to Santa and know that they will get 1 gift from Santa only and a few from us.  (Luckily for the kids, their grandmothers do not always comply.)
- We get our Christmas tree on the weekend of our anniversary to share this special time with the kids.  We buy the tree that we think no one else will pick.  We choose the one that is crooked or homely so it has a home for the holiday.
- We do not give presents for Channuka.  We celebrate the Jewish traditions in a noncommercial way.

Meet Wendy Lawton. Read her Meet-A-Parent (MAP) interview here.

traditions: tips / resources

- Every night at bedtime, we ask our kids to tell us about the favorite part of their day.

- Apple picking at the same orchard and buying pumpkins from the same farm every year.

- Making baklava. This Middle Eastern recipe was handed down from my father's family. I love making this dessert around Christmas time because it represents my multicultural upbringing, reminds me of when I made it with my parents as a kid, and is one way I can share my culture with others.

- We celebrate, discuss and honor many religions and cultural celebrations in our home. We decorate a Christmas tree, light Hanukkah candles, attend a Seder annually at a friend's home, and when my father fasted for Ramadan, we made a paper chain to symbolize how many days were left in his fast. Our kids are growing up knowing that people have different beliefs, religions, and traditions.

- Advent word calendar and storybook: We count down the days to Christmas with a word calendar instead of with candy. I hang little envelopes filled with a single word numbered for every day in December. My boys take turns opening an envelope each day. My original idea was for each boy to use the word during dinner for fun. The boys decided a few years ago to make a book with the words and drawings. Each day of the month, the boys take turns writing and illustrating a page of the story. By Christmas, we have a new book that has been co-written by the family. It is fun to reread the stories from past years and see how much language, storytelling, drawing style and interest have changed–or not–over time.

- Family dinners and conversations: We try to eat together as a family as much as possible. Everyone has a turn to talk about their day, ask questions and share ideas. When extended family comes over, my boys ask a question for everyone around the table to answer. We call it "pass around the table" and it’s become a tradition at family gatherings. Questions have included: "If you were president, what would you do first?" "If you made a movie, what would it be about and who would star in it?" "If you could have your own museum, what kind would it be and what would be the first exhibition?" "What is your favorite book and why?" "If you could invite anybody to dinner from past or present, who would it be?" Besides being revealing and fun, this is a great way to get younger kids talking to relatives of all ages.

- We believe making things is important, and our kids have grown up making some of the gifts and most of the cards we give to family and friends for special occasions. It can be a simple drawing or an elaborate project planned in advance. We also enjoy shopping local craft shows and buying directly from the artists. This teaches our boys the value and uniqueness of items that have been made by hand and helps temper the commercialism and mixed messages around the meaning of many holidays.

Meet Sarika Parikh. Read his Meet-A-Parent (MAP) interview here.

traditions: tips / resources

1. Monthly or seasonally, set aside time to engage in an organized tradition with your children. It could be as simple as a nature walk or as complex as a family reunion, but be sure to make the time and mark your calendar.

2. Create opportunities to share stories/experiences from previous generations.

3. Read the local newspapers and Kidoinfo to see what is happening in your town or city in relation to cultural events.  Learning about other traditions and cultures may broaden what you do with your own family.

4. Organize a family night.

5. Track your children’s growth by creating annual hand/ foot prints and by measuring the height of your children. They will love seeing how much they have grown in a given year.

6. Celebrate milestone birthdays for your children.  1st b-day, 5th b-day, double digits — 10th b-day, etc.  Plan something special such as doing a project together, go for a special bike ride, cook a favorite meal, etc.

7. Donate time annually or monthly to a local social service agency as a family.

8. Create a collection of favorite stories from your childhood or folktales reflecting your culture.  Incorporate them into your children’s reading routine.  Discuss how things have changed or stayed the same.

9. Create a flickr site ( with photos from past and present. Ask your parents to post photos and see if your children can guess who they are.  Flickr is a great way to preserve old photos and a wonderful vehicle to build relationships with extended family members.

10. Set up a time to skype ( with distant family relatives.  Another fantastic way to facilitate relationships across generations!

11. Create a collection of artifacts/special items for family members.

12. Set aside time for leisure activities as a family.  Snuggle, read a book, make pancakes on Saturday morning, go apple picking, take a walk, see a movie, play a board game, teach your child a game/activity you loved - jacks, four square, hopscotch, shooting hoops, yo-yoing, whittling, knitting, yarn games, etc.  Everyday routines can turn into traditions.  Share your time!


- The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flourney
- Lighting a Lamp- A Diwali Story by Johnny Tucker
- The Book of New Family Tradition: How to Create Rituals for Holiday & Everyday by Meg Cox

Meet Beth Curtin. Read her Meet-A-Parent (MAP) interview here.

traditions: tips / resources

favorite magazines

favorite books

favorite blogs

recipe: Christmas Roll Cookies
2 cups flour
1/4 t. salt
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine flour and salt with a wire whisk. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed.  Add flour mixture.  Blend until combined.  Do not over mix.  Gather dough into ball and flatten into disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour until firm.  Roll out to 1/4" thickness on floured board.  Cut with floured cookies cutters and decorate with colored sugar.  Bake 13-15 minutes until barely browned.

Last year, I hosted a conversation about Creating Family Traditions. The conversation series is an extension of what Kidoinfo is all about, connecting parents with information and their community, allowing us time to share ideas with others in real life with hopes that the conversation does not end once the evening concludes but continues on with friends online, over coffee, during dinner.

GoLocal Prov Video Kidoinfo Conversation TraditionsThe word tradition comes from the Latin traditionem, which is the accusative case of traditio, which means "handing over, passing on.” So what makes a tradition and how do we as parents choose what to pass on and to preserve? What have we inherited, adapted, valued or created that is meaningful or relevant to our family?

Although I think about and celebrate traditions during every season, this time of year I reflect more on what, why and how we carry on our family traditions. As with previous conversation topics, Traditions came from my own quest for answers around how we raise our children and a curiosity of how other parents make their choices and find inspiration around this idea. Last year’s event was held at Craftland because this space supports, celebrates and inspires artists to create by selling their work and offering craft workshops for kids and adults. The tradition of making things is an important part of many cultures and holidays and showing our children how to make things and teaching them the value of something made by a person we know or identify with through their work makes for a more connected community.

Religion or birthplace may dictate some of the traditions we celebrate and pass on. But on our journey into adulthood we are often influenced by community and life experiences. Sharing households with other individuals and raising children provides opportunity for reflection, contemplation and decision about how we blend, preserve, change, value or create traditions.

When I think of traditions I am reminded of the musical and 1971 film, Fiddler on the Roof and Tevye singing about traditions in the song of the same name. The story centers on Tevye, father of five daughters living in Tsarist Russia in 1905. His life revolves around Jewish religious traditions he had followed and not questioned until outside influences encroach upon his family  life. Tevye must think about their meaning and value once his daughters come of age to marry and rebel against their Jewish faith and customs. Tevye must choose whether to enforce these traditions or how to adapt them to fit his family.

I was raised in a family from many cultures and religions so the religious aspect of holidays did not define the traditions in my home. Reflecting on what’s most memorable from my childhood, it usually involves collecting treasures that come out only at certain times of year, food, making things and gathering with friends and family. Since my husband is also from a many cultured background, it seems we have the freedom and responsibility to create our own family tradition plan. This freedom forces us to think of what’s important; deciding how to create new traditions and which ones we want to carry on. In our family some traditions have become meaningful by the simple conscious or unconscious act of repeating them such as telling our favorite parts of today every night before bed, taking a family foot picture while on vacation, going to the same orchard every year to pick apples, or making the same Breakfast Strata on Christmas morning.

To continue this conversation, I will share excerpts from the 2010 Traditions book. Enjoy these daily updates of favorite traditions from our panel and readers while I take some time off during the holidays. I hope you find these ideas as inspiring as I do.

Please share your favorite family traditions in the comments below.

My December List was so handy last year (and the years before) that I now annually revise it and re-use it again. This summary of articles from the Kidoinfo archives includes craft projects, local events, and books to read, along with tips and ideas to make holidays a little easier, hopefully less stressful–and memorable for the kids. Some of you may be way ahead of me, so pick and choose what you need and please share your own helpful tips and ideas below with the Kidoinfo readers.

1. Make an advent calendar to count down the days till Christmas or buy one at a local shop (probably on sale now). My boys love this annual tradition. And as they get older I will need to change the words in the advent envelopes - making them more challenging. Download new list here.

2. Mark you calendar with upcoming events and parties for school, home, work, etc. Plan which local events or family traditions you plan to participate in this year. If you plan to see a show, order your tickets and put them in safe place. Subscribe to Kidoinfo and receive our newsletter list of “Weekend Picks” in your inbox every Thursday.


3. Plan your holiday card. Or in our house, a New Year's card. Find an adorable photo of your child(ren) or schedule a professional or at-home photo shoot. Buy ready-made cards or make your own. Use old magazines to make collage cards for family and teachers. I organize my contacts in BatchBook so I can easily print all my addresses on mailing labels.

4. Teach your children about the many holidays celebrated at this time of year.
(Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice). Read books, listen to music, and try new foods associated with the various holidays. We have an international house–our family celebrates Christmas, Eid, and Hanukkah.

5. Make paper snowflakes.snowflake6.jpg

6. Plan as a family or as a class how you will thank your child’s teacher or caregiver this year. (Gift Ideas)

7. Buy and trim Christmas tree. I find it easier–and less frustrating for my boys–to bring out all the decorations and test all the lights before announcing that it’s time to hang the ornaments on the tree. After the decorating is done, we usually celebrate with hot cocoa and popcorn or holiday treats.

8. Take the Buy Local-Buy Handmade Pledge. We believe it's important to support our local businesses and crafts people. They are a vital part of our community. To find awesome handmade work at seasonal shows and local shops, check the Kidoinfo Buy Handmade Guide.

9. Plan to make holiday gifts this year–they’re good for the budget and the soul. Remember that your child’s handprints always make a nice gift for family. Keep it simple–put it on card or ornament; or not so simple–make it into a book. Find more ideas here.

10. Turn your craftiness into an an event. Plan a Craft Exchange and give gifts this year made by you and your friends.

11. Plan holiday baking — for home, for school, for gifts for the community. Check the Kidoinfo Food category for more ideas and cookbook reviews.

12. Write a letter to Santa (if you believe). Did you know if your child sends a letter to Santa and includes a return address, he or she will often receive a letter back via the post office?

13. Make a gingerbread house–from scratch, from a kit, or as in our house, hacked together.

Read books by Jan Brett.

15. Remember to squeeze some healthy eating into the whirl of holiday parties and cookie baking. Here is a list of super foods to eat.

16. Introduce your kids to
the Nutcracker story with books, music, a show, or make it a family movie night.

17. Participate in community giving.
Check your local church, school, and businesses for ideas. Make a plan how as family, we can be more community-minded all year long.

18. Carry on traditions and rituals that matter most to your family and start new ones that are meaningful to you. Record family traditions in a book. Add to it all year long with words or photos.

Now that it’s fall, our family welcomes the change of season and we look forward to carrying on traditions that celebrate autumn, the natural colors and the holidays including trips to favorite spots, foods made from local harvests, and activities rooted in fall.

Traditions connect our children with our personal and cultural history and form the memories they will later share with their friends and families. Stemming from religion, birthplace, seasons, or revolving around a treasured activity or possession, as parents we decide how to carry on, blend or create new traditions. They may be small or grand but it is the repetition and memories around the ritual that make them meaningful to us.

We savor, share and pass along these traditions to our children through our activities, storytelling, recipes, photographs, videos, or saved mementos.

A list of our fall favorites:

Creating your own traditions

I love hearing what and how other families celebrate this time of year. Last year I hosted a Kidoinfo conversation about Creating Traditions and I invited our panel and readers to share their favorites. Here’s a sample below — feel free to borrow, incorporate or pass along.

What are your favorite traditions this time of year?

Read more on GoLocalProv. Every week I share tips on how families can make the most of their family time – including helpful hints that make parenting easier and connecting you to great local happenings.

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