For children just beginning to discover the world around them, every day brings new knowledge, new skills, and new surprises. It’s an exciting time—but it can also leave kids uncertain about what to expect. Having daily, weekly, and yearly routines can help them feel rooted in a big, unfamiliar world.
If you’ve been wondering, why are family traditions important? Remember that for kids, they’re more than just fun—they help build a sense of safety, security, and familiarity.
Family traditions can be a holiday feast or a board game that involves the entire family. We’ve put together five meaningful family tradition ideas you can use to build special memories together.
The Importance of Family Traditions
Family traditions are not only a way to make room for quality time. They’re also a cornerstone of childhood development linked to stronger social skills and emotional regulation.1 Traditions can provide:
- Structure – Stable family routines have been shown to be connected to better health and emotional regulation in children.2
- Identity – Whether your traditions are rooted in your cultural background or simply reflect what your family values, they help your child understand their family identity.
- Connection – Traditions give kids a sense of belonging and security in their family life by showing that you value and prioritize spending time together.
What Are the Benefits of Having Family Traditions
Traditions serve many purposes when it comes to social and emotional learning. Here are four key benefits:
#1 Mark the Passage of Time
Children don’t have the same perception of time that adults do, so traditions can help them build a better sense of:
- Calendar time – Yearly events like holidays and birthdays provide tangible markers to track months and years. Try using an advent calendar or other seasonal countdown activity to talk about days and weeks.
- Seasonal time – Traditions that are linked to the seasons help kids grasp the flow of time in the natural world. Try a fall walk to look at changing colors, or an annual summer kickoff picnic.
#2 Explore Cultural Roots
Consider adding some new traditions related to your family’s culture or background. This can help kids:
- Foster a sense of identity and connection to extended family and heritage
- Develop a greater understanding of world cultures and faiths
If your family hasn’t passed any specific cultural traditions down, take a trip to the library and research the countries your ancestors came from. You may find traditional customs, foods, or costumes to try. There’s also the opportunity to create new traditions by exploring your current area or making one that feels meaningful for your family.
#3 Strengthen Family Bonds
Those special traditions you enjoy together create lasting memories your kids will treasure long after childhood ends. Traditions are an ideal way to create deeper bonds and a sense of connectedness between family members.
#4 Provide a Sense of Identity
Through traditions, you can teach your child in a hands-on way about your family’s beliefs and values. This helps them build their own sense of identity too. Traditions can teach values like:
- Giving back to the community
- Spirituality or faith
- Respect for elders and ancestors
- The importance of learning
- Unique aspects of the family culture
- Having fun together
How to Come Up With New Family Traditions
Family traditions don’t have to be handed down through the generations to be memorable. To create a meaningful new tradition this holiday season, think about the core values you want to teach or celebrate. You could focus on:
- Giving back – Participate in a monthly community improvement project
- Disconnecting – Plan a weekly back-to-nature day where all screens are left at home
- Trying new things – One weekend a month, the whole family tries a new activity
5 Family Tradition Ideas to Start
Traditions don’t have to be linked to holidays or limited to once-a-year activities—anything can become a joyful family routine. Here are some ideas that are sure to inspire:
#1 Storytelling Night
Don’t wait for a campfire to enjoy a traditional storytelling circle. Instead, have a storytelling night monthly, on the first snowy night of the year, or any other time you choose.
Gather cushions and blankets in the living room and get cozy around a few battery-powered candles. Try:
- A storytelling game where each family member adds to a shared story
- Retelling favorite fairy tales
- Sharing family memories
#2 Family Cooking Adventure Day (or Night)
Choose a weeknight or weekend day that’s set aside for the whole family to cook a special new meal together. It’s an exciting way to teach kids kitchen skills while encouraging more adventurous eating.
- Borrow new cookbooks from the library for inspiration every week
- Together, pick a new recipe for breakfast, dinner, dessert, a picnic lunch—anything that strikes the family’s fancy is fair game
- Try exploring different cuisines from around the world
- Get kids involved with washing veggies, mixing, measuring, setting the table, etc.
#3 Nature Adventures
Spending time in greenspace is proven to have mental health benefits for kids and adults.3 Start a tradition of getting outdoors for an hour or more one day a week. If the kids grumble about leaving screens at home, you can make it more engaging with a simple activity such as:
- A family game of Capture the Flag
- A trip to a local nature reserve
- Looking at the stars
#4 Craft Day
Crafting together is an excellent way to bond, encourage imagination and creativity, and practice fine motor skills all at once. Once a month, set aside a Saturday morning for family crafting. You can try:
- Setting out a range of craft supplies so kids can come up with their own creations
- Using a Slumberkins Kinspiration Kit to get the ideas flowing
- Choosing a specific material to explore (clay, paints, collage, etc.)
#5 Bedtime Gratitude
Special traditions can also happen every day, and daily gratitude activities for kids is an excellent place to start. After bedtime stories, take turns with your child saying a simple “thank you” aloud to:
- A loved one
- A friend
- A teacher
- Anyone or anything that made the day a little more special
#6 Simple Daily Family Activities
Yeti to Shine is great for new traditions for families. Parents and kids can do daily activities together leading up to the holiday they celebrate. It helps create special memories inspired by creativity and imaginative play.
Create Magical Family Moments with the Wonder of Slumberkins
Family traditions aren’t just routines—they’re an essential part of forming a sense of shared identity in your family. No doubt your family already has some unique traditions all your own, but it’s never too late to create new traditions to enjoy year after year.
The world of Slumberkins is full of inspiration for joyful new traditions you can start any time.
Begin by browsing our Caregiver Resources for tons of free activities to share every day, and be sure to check out our Building Connections collection for more ways to strengthen bonds with family and community.
- Infants and Young Children. Family routines and rituals: A context for development in the lives of young children. https://depts.washington.edu/isei/iyc/20.4_spagnola.pdf
- American Psychological Association. A review of 50 years of research on naturally occurring family routines and rituals: Cause for celebration? https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/fam-164381.pdf
- British Journal of Psychology International. The importance of greenspace for mental health. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-international/article/importance-of-greenspace-for-mental-health/EEFD7077B5E3823086FB187FABE535C2