Many family traditions are passed down through the years and are a great way to connect the generations. For my family, I like to incorporate traditions from our childhood and create new family traditions together. I believe traditions help us focus on experiences rather than things. Here are some ideas to help you make a lifetime of memories:
Kindness or Service Elf: Our twist on “Elf on the Shelf” is more about giving than receiving. Each day, the elf leaves an act of kindness or service for the kids to do. It can be anything from making their sibling’s bed to taking a sweet treat to a neighbor.
Santa Bag: Ask your kids to choose a few of their gently used toys and put them in a Santa bag. We place the sack full of toys under our tree on Christmas Eve. Santa then takes the toys back to the North Pole (aka donation) to fix them up and deliver them to other children in need. As recognition for the kids’ goodwill, Santa then leaves new, unwrapped toys or gifts in the bag. This is a great way to teach your kids about giving while you de-clutter.
Family Meetings: I got this tip from a mommy blogger and I love it! Schedule a weekly 20-minute family “board meeting” with everyone present. You ask three questions: What worked well this week? What didn’t work well this week? What will we agree to work on in the week ahead? The idea is to help everyone be open, feel like they’re contributing and agree to certain expectations.
Themed Meals: Pick a day of the week to have the same meal. Examples: Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, Saturday morning pancakes or “Breakfast for Dinner.”
Birthday Privileges and Responsibilities: Birthdays are a good time to remind kids that with age comes more responsibility and new opportunities. In addition to presents, give your children two envelopes, one labeled “New Privilege” and the other labeled “New Responsibility,” with a card inside describing each. A new privilege might be to open an Instagram account or start getting a weekly allowance. A new responsibility could be a chore such as walking or feeding the dog.
Daddy/Mommy Date: My husband and I take turns taking our girls out on a monthly “date.” My husband recently took our 5-year-old, Sofia, to dinner and a game room. Another time, I took her for ice cream and we got our nails painted. It’s special because the child gets to be the center of attention.
Friday Family Funday: Every Friday is our night together, because during the week we’re consumed with school, work and other activities. Our weekends are filled with birthday parties, soccer and ballet. On Friday nights, we do something fun that brings lots of laughter. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can make s’mores at home, go bowling, play animal charades or karaoke night at home. The important thing is that it’s a standing date with your family.
Kids Make Dinner: For us, this happens on Monday night. On Sundays, Sofia and I look through recipes to pick her dish. I’ve always dreamed about cooking with my daughter so I started this tradition in hopes she’ll fall in love with being in the kitchen. We make it pretty easy with simple ingredients, but enough for her to learn something and have fun in the kitchen.
Remember, this is not meant to stress you out or give you more work. Pick the ones that best fit your family and have fun with it. Happy memory making!
Daniella Guzman is the anchor on NBC4 Southern California’s “Today in LA” weekday morning newscast, 4:30-7 a.m. A mother of two, Daniella’s column, On the Record, brings her views on parenting, fun family activities and her take on work-life balance. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @daniellanbcla.