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How to develop meaningful family traditions

Decide what is most important to you and your family. Often times, we spend wasted hours preparing for a tradition that no ones wants to have. Evaluate as a family what is important to you.

  • Realize traditions can be any time of the year. Holidays are great times for traditions, but remember family traditions can be daily or weekly.Such traditions can include family prayer, family home evening, scripture study and journal writing.
  • Make it a memory. The home of my mother, Margrette M. Romer, is too small for her 38-member family on Christmas day. Therefore, she chose to have "Christmas in June" where we all celebrate outside.

She has activities for all ages of family members, from the youngest having ice cream cone-eating contests to the older family members playing horseshoes. She has games with a prize table. She passes out Christmas presents. She also makes beautiful homemade quilts that are drawn for.

We all help by bringing food and then by cleaning up. We have had this tradition for 12 years. We now call it "Grandma Romer day" - a memory we will have for years to come. - Vickie R. Anderson, Sandy, Utah


What we did:

Encourage testimony

We were counseled while serving as stake missionaries to teach our children the missionary discussions for family night. Our eldest son was 7 years old at the time, and we spent the year using the discussions to teach gospel principles and urged him to gain a testimony for himself. He developed his testimony at age 8, and I believe it was due to following the counsel we received as stake missionaries.

We are now using the discussions to teach our second son, who just turned 7. We have decided to make this a tradition in our family. - Dave and Susan Udall, Mesa, Ariz.

Keep traditions alive

My mother and her two sisters are extremely close, and our families spent many holidays together. When the cousins started to have families, we had to make some changes for convenience sake but we still try to keep family traditions alive.

We developed a birthday club. Each family member is then given a card and a set amount of money for his or her birthday from the Maxfield Birthday Club.

The Saturday before Easter we have an Easter egg hunt and lunch. The Saturday before Memorial Day, we decorate graves and then have a picnic. The younger children love to wash the headstones and listen to the stories about the people.

On Halloween, we gather the Friday before and have dinner and assign grownups to different rooms. The children, dressed in costumes, knock on the closed doors and yell "Trick or Treat."

Christmas Eve, we gather for dinner, a Nativity play and talent show. We don't see each other as we wish we could, but look forward to these family gatherings. These times have created memories with the younger generation and built a close-knit extended family. - Cindy Carlson Carson, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Many years of sharing

I am from the western part of the United States, and my wife is from the eastern part of Canada. When our first son arrived, we sat down to talk about what we wanted our family to learn and share about traditions. We wrote down our most cherished memory of growing up in our families. After we shared with each other, we then combined what we both felt was to be our own family traditions.

Today, with three sons, our family traditions are very special to us. They mostly occur on Church achievement days, birthdays and holidays.

One of these traditions happens on Christmas day. Since our very first Christmas with our son, we have placed a new pair of tennis shoes under the Christmas tree. We have taught our sons that these new tennis shoes are to help us with a new year in walking the path that Jesus walked, and we should renew our love for Jesus and walk in righteousness.

Family traditions are very important. We look forward to many years of sharing and developing new family traditions as our family grows. - Steve Crespin, St. Albans, Vt.

Serving others

My family and my wife's family have long had some family traditions. One of the most popular in my home is that the boys do the dishes on Sunday. Some of the best traditions are found in serving others. Another is certain foods on certain holidays. Of course, turkey is for Thanksgiving, but we do tacos and root beer floats on New Year's Eve, and chili with hot apple cider on Halloween. Traditions can be fun and meaningful. - Brett Miller, Rexburg, Idaho

Unique, special

In our family, we have a small brass plaque engraved with the word "repentance." The plaque is fastened to our dining table. This way, we can always call everyone to "repentance."

I sometimes ask which shoe an individual put on first when getting dressed, the left or the right. When asked what difference it makes, I say that they should always put the right shoe on first and think, "Shoes the right!" When our son returned from his mission, he said he finally understood and appreciated the meaning of "Shoes the Right."

We had a board painted with the word "Thanksgiving" and the reference, "Alma 34:38." The scripture says, "We should dwell in Thanksgiving." So we named our house "Thanksgiving."

None of these traditions is significant, but each belongs to the family and is something which makes us feel unique or special in a positive way. - Robert B. Merrill, Cottonwood, Ariz.

Binds family

Soon after our eldest daughter was married, we began a family tradition that has lasted for more than 25 years. Twice a year, in April and October, for the priesthood session of general conference, all the priesthood bearers of the family go together to one of the family's stake centers and listen to the general priesthood session of conference. As our sons and grandsons reach the age of 12 years, they look forward to attending with the brethren.

The women and children join in this special time by gathering at our home for a homemaking type of activity. One of the women plans and prepares the event, from teaching calligraphy, doing ceramic painting, stamping occasional cards, etc.

Taking turns preparing homemade pizza is part of the activity, so when the men arrive home from the priesthood session, we all enjoy a delicious pizza dinner. Our numbers are growing, but it is a tradition that helps bind our family together in a meaningful experience. - Verda Jensen, Salt Lake City, Utah


  1. Evaluate what is important to your family; including spiritual, cultural traditions.
  1. Realize traditions can be daily, not just on holidays.
  1. Be creative; have special foods on certain days, have activities for all ages.
  1. Ensure traditions bind family together, create memories.

WRITE TO US:

July 20 "How to help children cope with the death of a loved one."

July 27 "How to ensure you are not worshipping 20th century false gods."

Aug. 3 "How to help yourself and your children support your bishop husband."

Aug. 10"How to find time in a busy schedule to keep a journal."

Aug. 17 "How to most wisely harvest and preserve produce from family garden."

Aug. 24 "How to help LDS youth have social opportunities when they are few in number."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: [email protected] Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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