Traditions help families strengthen bonds and make treasured memories. While we often associate annual customs with the winter holiday season, there’s no reason to wait until next December for family fun. Below, you’ll find suggestions for twelve different traditions to start in 2016.
Let it snow in JANUARY.
Bundle up for a snowman-building extravaganza! Those living in a snowless climate can improvise by using boxes, cotton batting and other household items in lieu of actual snow. Be sure to photograph the results to watch your construction skills improve from year to year.
Celebrate your family in FEBRUARY.
Start a tradition of creating and sharing homemade Valentine’s Day cards and/or small treats within the family. Take your celebration to the next level by exchanging them during a themed dinner featuring spaghetti, strawberries, or other red and pink delicacies.
Visit a museum in MARCH.
Whether your kids are into art, science or history, you’re sure to find a museum to entertain and educate your family. Schedule an annual trip to the same museum or sample a different one each year.
Get active in APRIL.
Take advantage of warmer temperatures by signing up for a family-friendly 5K walk or run in your area. Training for the event will give family members a shared goal plus plenty of chances to enjoy quality time together.
Go fly a kite in MAY.
Kite flying can be fun for adults and downright magical for children. Let your kids pick out basic character-themed kites at your local drug store, or upgrade to one of the fancier ones available on Amazon.com. You can get a surprisingly beautiful kite for less than $20.00.
Dine al fresco in JUNE.
Enjoy a picnic at a nearby park. Whether you source elaborate recipes from Pinterest or just pack PB&Js and chips, everything tastes better outside. As your kids grow, they can assist in the menu planning and food preparation.
Eat fair food in JULY.
Schedule an annual trip to your state or county fair to eat cotton candy, ride the Ferris wheel and admire prizewinning livestock. If your kids love to craft, cook or garden, most fairs also offer competitions for everything from flowers to woodworking. Check your fair’s website well in advance of the start date for rules and deadlines.
Try for a hole-in-one in AUGUST.
Enjoy some friendly competition during a family game of putt-putt. To level the playing field, allow each player under 18 a handicap based on age.
Eat locally in SEPTEMBER.
Early fall is a great time to visit your local farmer’s market. Shop for produce, bread, spices and more while introducing your children to some of the folks who make the food they eat. Then, enlist their help to prepare a meal using the freshest ingredients your hometown has to offer.
Pick pumpkins in OCTOBER.
Let each family member choose his perfect pumpkin, then devote an afternoon to decorating them for display. For kid-friendly alternatives to carving, consider paint, stickers or plastic push-in pieces.
Give back in NOVEMBER.
Use this season of thankfulness to teach your children about giving to others. Take Christmas cards to a nearby nursing home, shop for gifts to contribute to your local toy drive, or contribute financially to an organization whose work is meaningful to your family.
Create a mouthwatering masterpiece in DECEMBER. Gingerbread is an underappreciated art medium. For around $10, you can buy everything you need to build and decorate a candy-coated castle, house or train. Family members of all ages will have a blast working together to create this sticky seasonal craft.
Whether you use these ideas or come up with new traditions of your own, have a fun and fabulous 2016!
Michelle Shirk is an Indiana-based attorney and freelance writer. She writes about family, travel and seasonal events for parenting publications across the United States.