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Family traditions and crafts

Family traditions or rituals are our link to the past, to our family present enjoyments, and to the hope that this special family will continue on in the future.  Patterns of the way we do things does simplify life.  Many of these are the ways we celebrate certain holidays.  But these traditions can be the way you spend certain “family nights” together or just the ritual we always put the kids to bed every night.  You probably have noticed your children enjoy the repetition of the same bedtime story over and over, the same video, or the same game they like to play.  Kids love traditions for these reasons.

Keep these rituals simple and centered on people or values that are long lasting.  If they are too elaborate or expensive, you will not continue them for very long.  Be sure you have everyone’s agreement (or most everyone) because if only one persons wants to do it, it will not be continued.  Ask your kids what ideas they might have.  And be sure to be flexible for there may be some years where you just cannot do the usual tradition.   Be sure to take pictures or videos of these traditions because they will be cherished later, and they will linger longer than the memories.  Traditions and rituals will make us richer from having celebrated them together.

This is a list of suggestions for your family traditions or things to do to stimulate creativity in kids (and adults).  From this you will get other ideas of your own.

1. Make Christmas ornaments every year.   Use colored markers, glue and glitter.  Have the adults make one too and show them how to be creative by getting wild with your ideas.  "Wow I want some stars here and stripes there!" You can have the small infant put their hand prints on them by putting finger paint on their hands and put their hands around the Christmas ball.  Get a clear ornament and put their picture inside and their hand prints on the outside. Then you put their names and date on them and keep them.  They are most cherished items when they pull them out when they are 16 yr. old and hang them on the tree.  Also make an extra set and wrap them up for a gift for grandma.  She would rather have that than anything you can buy her.

2. When they are 4-7 yr. old range, you (or better yet another adult so you do not know what is inside) ask the child what they want to be when they grow up, who they will marry, and where they will live, etc.  Then you write it down and put the prediction inside an ornament and glue it closed with a string to hang it on the tree.  Put a label on it "My predictions for the future ... open me up when I am 17 yr. old.(or senior in high school.)  You can use a wall nut hollowed out and put it inside.  They are excited for years each Christmas waiting to see what is inside. 

3. At Easter you can do the same as ornaments.  Get the raw eggs and blow out the insides.  Use colored Sharpies or marks-alots that go out to a fine point and let the kids color and draw on the eggs.  You can use plastic eggs too.  Put their initials and the year.  Varnish them.  Keep them in an egg carton and put them out on the mantel each Easter. 

4. Take a picture of them in their Halloween costume in front on the front door of the house/apt. and keep the picture in one separate album for Halloween only.  Try to take it in the same location every year.

5. As soon as they can write their name, have them sign their name and cut it out.  Paste them into the baby book each year from 4 to 12 years old.  It is a cute collection of signatures from child to adult on one page.

6. Have them draw cute pictures of flowers, house, people, etc. and have them put their name and the year on it.  If they write letters backwards, that is normal till 6 years old and is OK and cuter. Then take it to the store/mall where they put the child's picture on a coffee mug/tee shirt.  Have them put the camera on the drawing and have it on a coffee mug for Dad or Grandma, or on a tee shirt for grandpa.  Great gift and appreciated more than most things you can buy.

7. Bring a big cardboard box home and make a house.  Cut doors and windows and small peak holes in it.  They love playing in it.  When older, they can design the doors and windows, and you do the cutting.  Let them be creative and if they want weird shaped windows or doors, it is OK.  Let them be creative.  Then let them use markers to decorate it.  Eventually it gets destroyed and you bring home another box and do it differently.  Get several boxes for different rooms.  And it is cheap!

8. Save the toys, shoes, blankets, and stuff from their childhood as you probably will.  Then when they are 25 years old, you can wrap up the doll they carried around, their baby bottle, letters from camp, etc. and each year give one of them back to your children as Christmas or birthday presents.  It will put some of the excitement back into getting the gift because they will be anxious to see what they will get each year.

9. When you camping or just a picnic day at the lake.  Every one in the family make a boat out of natural objects in the forest.  We tried it with paper products but it trashes up the lake.  Use bark for the boat, twigs for the masts, and dried leaves on the twigs for sails.  When every one has made their boat, set them in the water at a starting point and have a defined finish line.  Then everyone runs along the shore cheering for their boat as the wind blows them.  The winner gets a predefined prize and if the parent wins, they get the prize.  This teaches good sportsmanship if that other child or parent wins.  Let the child design their own boat and as weird as it is, that is their creation.  Some of my kids built some funny boats that ended up beating mine.  Let them be creative.  It makes a fun family afternoon, and teaches creativity, and sportsmanship, and physics.  And cheap.

10.  Have a family night that is dedicated to just the family doing stuff.  No business or sports or friends.  Just family only.  It keeps the family more together.

Dr. Knapp