List of Traditions

Today I’m supposed to be posting a “Helpful List” with the Mini Blog Challenge over at Rx Fitness Lady.

I can make lots of lists, but usually they are only helpful if you can complete them for me! But to GIVE a helpful list? More of a challenge.

I decided to write a list of the top 10 favourite traditions we have in our family that they all seem to love (so that’s helpful, right?)

1. Family Night
Every single week, we try to have a Family Night. Families are a big thing in our faith and we are encouraged to hold weekly family home evenings as an opportunity to share and teach. We run ours in a particular structure, starting with one of the kids welcoming everyone and then “chairing the meeting.” We share and discuss our “Quote of the Week, then discuss “family business” (who has tests, what activities are going on, who’s going where) and then discuss some sort of topic. It can range from something spiritual, to something practical (we have been reviewing social media and social skills in recent weeks). Then finally, the part that everyone really waits for, family night treat. It’s got to be something special too – my kids are pretty strict on that!

2. Quote of the Week
Every week, I try to post a blog post on our “Quote of the Week.” Every week, I try to find a quote that jumps out at me, or sometimes the kids will find one and text it to me or tell it to me. I write it on a card, then on the other side of the card explain what I think it means, or write a little message to them. We read it during family night, then it gets posted in our kitchen for 2 weeks (we always keep 2 up at a time). In the month of December, we put ALL of them up on our wall,  and everyone re-reads them and picks their favourite for the year.

3. Surprise Dinners
I’m not sure how this one got it’s name, but basically every second Sunday one of the kids finds a recipe they want to cook (they used to use cookbooks, but now they use Pinterest), and we cook it together to serve to the family. They get to pick whatever they want – even if I hate it. Trust me, we have had some strange meals (spaghetti tacos, anyone?), but some amazing ones too. Some of the kids go over the top. Josh for example always picks a main to make, dessert and usually some kind of snazzy drink too! Just this past Sunday Gabe made a really good Mexican Tortilla Casserole.

4. Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s is a biggie in our house; you can read all about it here. Let’s start with the romantic duo: Rob and me. We celebrate on the weekend closest to Valentine’s on a night with no kids and find a hotel right here in the city that we have never stayed in and spend the night! It honestly feels like a total getaway!

With the kids, we do a few things too. Firstly, I make them each a yearly photobook that captures all their memories of the previous year. In the book, I also include a little summary of their year (who their teachers were, what sports they played, what kind of cake for their bday etc.) and Rob and I each write a little letter to them. We then write on little heart post-its little things that we love about them and plaster them all over the kitchen. Finally, we serve them up a steak and poutine dinner.

5. Vacation Traditions
We have tried to start the tradition of heading to the Outer Banks, and hope that this tradition carries over for many years to come. We have our traditional meals, traditional nighttime routines, and traditional favourite beaches!

6. One on One Dates
This is one that all the kids love (and we do too), but life gets busy and it is hard to stay on top of it (although the kids like to remind us of this one). We each try to take out each of the kids individually for some one on one time. Usually it is out for lunch, or dinner, but occasionally it has been to a movie, museum or excursion. It’s great to have time just the two of you, especially when it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of a big family.

7. CDF Tennis Tournament: Our annual Tennis tournament is always a hit! We just recently had it and I talked about it here.

Around Christmas, we have a ton of traditions. From Christmas cookies, to acting out the Nativity of Christmas Eve. We all love to take our wagon down to the local church and pick out a Christmas tree and a small Charlie Brown tree for the big boys’ room upstairs (they share a loft on our top floor which is often a main “play space” for everyone). We love our Christmas Eve buffet and the traditional dinner. But here are some specific faves:

8. Pyjama Drive, Christmas lights and hot  chocolate
A couple of weeks before Christmas everyone gets some new pyjamas, puts them on, piles in the car with some yummy hot chocolate and we go deliver some Christmas cookies to friends. We love to head over to one of my best girlfriend’ s homes because across the street she has neighbours who do the craziest Christmas decorations! They are always voted the best (or the worst, depending on how you look at it). We like to head to different areas and ooh and ahh (and boo) all the lights.

9. Quiet Elfie
The Elf on the Shelf has created quite a controversy in the media in years past, but let me tell you, our Elf rocks!! We named him Quiet Elfie and he has been known to bring some new movies or a new series of Gilmore Girls (which we have made a tradition of watching together). He hides in the best places – in trees in our yard even! Last year, he was mistakenly pushed and ended up breaking his arm! He has listened to many secrets and always been the kindest Elf ever.

10. Secret Santas
The advantage of a larger family (although more kids would have made this one even more fun) is that we can do things like draw names to play Secret Santa. The kids draw a name at the beginning of December and have to do special things for their Secret Santa (make their bed, put toothpaste on their toothbrush, do their chores) and give them little things (little treats, make them something cute, leave a little note). Then, for Christmas, they buy their Secret Santa a gift and reveal themselves. Of course, by then it is not a surprise (by day 2 it is usually not a surprise anymore!) They really do love the excitement of both giving and receiving!

That’s a list of my faves! What traditions do you have in your family?


List of Traditions — 24 Comments

  1. What great traditions, Leah! We also drive around and look at Christmas lights in our pj’s. I’d like to start the dinner tradition – I’ll have to talk to my family about that one. We also go to Disney every other year – next year will be our 6th visit! And it may be the last 🙁

    • I love Disney ! We have a been a few times and thought we were done, but my son mentioned the other day how cool it would be to go and be able to go on all the rides. It would be a different experience with older kids!

  2. Seriously awesome traditions Leah and love them all, especially the quotes and the secret santa. Our immediate family isn’t as big, so secret santa wouldn’t work here probably, but the quotes may and truly love that. Might have to try in the future!! 🙂

    • I never thought the quotes would work- but it has. It has been 3 years now! You will never hear a quote in the same way again – you always think of whether it would be applicable to your kids!

  3. WOW!!! This list is truly amazing!! I love the family night with the business first and fun 2nd – we have gotten bad about family nights. We have done something similar to the surprise dinners but not consistently and not in quite some time – need to add that back in!
    I pinned your list because I really want to add some of these awesome traditions!!

    • Sounds like we share some of the same traditions. Family night is seriously the best. It’s so good to hear all about what everyone is doing – makes everyone feel valued too.

  4. All of these are awesome, but I LOVE the quote of the week! I love the picture of all of them up at once! It’s just SUCH a fantastic idea! I’m totally doing this! I just love it, and all of the things you do do make your family life special. Your kids are blessed indeed! –Lisa

  5. I use Pinterest in place of a cookbook too. And can I please come hang out with your family one day??
    We did Secret Santa while growing up. It was fun to write notes to each other in our parent’s handwriting so they wouldn’t know it was us. Then we’d leave small gifts and candies for them for weeks leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Day would be the big reveal and a big present. It just got too expensive to buy presents for all four siblings.
    (We still do Secret Santa as adults and now include spouses in the mix)

  6. We have a few traditions too! Elf on the shelf is one, and vacationing every summer at the same beach house is another. I may have to add in a few others, these are the only two I can think of….other than we also do a big family photo shoot once a year, and always try and do it for a different season.

  7. So many great ones!! I love the quote wall and we have “Johnny” Elf in our house and the boys love him. The biggest thing for us right now is giving the boys alone time – and we only have TWO. But, especially because they’re twins, we try to give them individual attention whenever possible. It makes a huge difference and it’s so much easier on me when I only have ONE!!

  8. I love your family night routine, your surprise dinners and Valentine’s. I might have to incorporate some of your ideas in my family’s as our son gets older 🙂

    Right now, the biggest, most consistent, routine that we have is bed time – our son gets a bath, warm bottle, and down time with Mommy, then he goes to bed and soon after, so do I 🙂

    Otherwise, we have a “sort of” tradition where my family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve and Greg’s family celebrates on Christmas Day. It works well that way, but it doesn’t mean it will always be the case.

    Greg’s family has a tradition that on Thanksgiving day – everyone in the family writes his/her name on a piece of paper and they list 3 things they would like for Christmas. The paper gets folded in half so nobody can see the name. People pick a name and that’s who you buy a Christmas gift for on Christmas day. It works well, because Greg comes from a very large family.

    • Bedtime routines, I think, are some of the most important traditions around! We still do some of the same things even though my kids are so much older. They crave the routine! I like Greg’s family’s Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition!

  9. I love all your family traditions, especially the surprise dinner 🙂

    I didn’t grow up in a family who had many traditions, and neither did my husband, so we came into this marriage, sort of empty-handed, and determined to start new ones with our boys!

  10. Leah, thanks so much for sharing your list of awesome family traditions. I love the idea of making each of the kids a book every year — I think I might steal that one! This list also made me so excited for Christmas. Last year was a little tough because it was our first Christmas together as a family and we had only been married for a few months. Our two oldest kept referring to the way each family had previously done things and it was a bit awkward and stressful. This year everyone is so much more accustomed to each other and doing things in different ways that I think it will be a fantastic time to launch some new traditions! 🙂

    • The first year was the hardest for sure. We basically created our own traditions from scratch. It was weird for the first couple of years because it did not feel like traditions – but then all of a sudden,they are. And they are OURS. Time is a beautiful thing!

  11. I see why it’s so easy to be successful blending. You all have so many traditions that nurture familial relationships! I absolutely love and think it necessary to have the one on one date time and the surprise dinner meal that each person gets to choose sounds super fun! The recaps from the outer banks were amazing, I hope to have a vacay spot for my family one day. Excellent list Leah!

  12. I just love reading about your family–it’s nice to see a family-centric family! I may have to print out some of these ideas to use in my own family. I used to have a lot more traditions before my divorce (BD), but now with our busy schedules, it seems like I don’t do as many. You’ve inspired me to create more traditions, Leah! Great post–as usual!

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