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What is a family ritual and how can you use them to bring your family closer together? Even if you can’t think of any family ritual examples off the top of your head, you probably perform some of them in your home without even realizing it!
While family rituals can look different across generations and cultures, most of them have customs and traditions that are special to them, which is important in forging strong and loving bonds.
So if you’re looking to add some more family rituals to your family’s routine, this is a good jumping point to get inspired. Let’s dive in!
What is a Family Ritual?
Family rituals can best be described as routines, habits, traditions, or activities that you do on a consistent basis with your loved ones.
How often the family rituals or routines are repeated can depend on the family and the nature of the ritual; some family traditions might be performed once a year or only on certain holidays and others are done every single day!
Kids will grow up loving these family rituals and may even pass them down to the next generation.
Why are family rituals important?
Family rituals are important because they help bring families closer, teach kids important life skills and help them feel safe and secure, as well as pass on cultural traditions and values. A lot of fun and loving memories are created in these shared moments!
Family rituals can follow seasonal celebrations, rites of passage, family traditions, and everyday interactions you have as a family. You define your own rituals!
Most importantly, creating these family rituals strengthens bonds between all family members. It allows you to connect in shared experiences and spend more time with one another.
During busy times, they work as powerful organizers for family life. When things get stressful or during transitional times, they provide comfort. As kids get older, these family rituals become integral to their personal identity.
How to Create Family Rituals
For something to qualify as a family ritual, it needs to meet two requirements:
- It must be done together as a family.
- It needs to happen regularly.
Anything your family holds as special can be considered a family ritual. Yes, using a cute nickname can be a ritual. And so can Sunday night dinners. It can be new, or it could be passed down from older generations.
This guide and list of family ritual ideas below are meant to be a starting point for you in creating your own family rituals. The most important thing about creating rituals is that they are unique to your family.
Overall, they should be those special moments that you’ll look back on fondly, and your kids will remember as some of their favorite childhood memories.
Here are some guidelines to make them part of your family routine.
1. Incorporate Family Values
Not only are rituals meant to be fun, but they should also center around your family values. What does your family prioritize?
For one family, that may be as simple as spending more quality time together. For others, trying new things may be their goal, or perhaps spending intentional dedicated time outdoors.
In my husband’s Asian culture, taking off your shoes when you enter the home is an important ritual – it not only helps keep your house clean but it’s also a way to show respect for the house and the people in it. You can read more about our shoes-off routine in this blog post.
2. Create a Routine
After identifying what you love most as a family, create routine and rituals around that. Ask the whole family for their input about what they want to do. This way, everyone stays interested and involved in creating the rituals.
3. Make Time for Your Family Ritual
Set aside time for your rituals and prioritize that time with your family. Below are ideas for daily, weekly, monthly, and annual family rituals you can do, as well as for special occasions.
They can be as simple as a moment or as extensive as a whole trip.
4. Be Flexible
Lastly, remember to be flexible.
As the years go on, you may need to alter the family rituals. People often feel sensitive about sticking to rituals and keeping things unchanged to uphold the sanctity of these rituals. In reality, they should evolve with us as and move through life!
daily Family Ritual Examples
In just about every home, dinner becomes a must-have time to be together as a family. A part of every day, it’s a no-brainer way to integrate routine into your family. Get everyone involved by giving them a task to do, such as setting the table, doing dishes, chopping the vegetables, etc.
While eating, you can also add in rules such as no electronics and daily check-ins to keep everyone engaged and connected.
You may not think of chores as a family ritual, but not every activity is going to be one that has your kids leaping for joy!
Chores are important for teaching responsibility and establishing a routine in a child’s life. You can try creating a chore chart to keep track of everything that needs to be done.
Designating times for the family to do all chores together (every day or every week) also helps make it an activity everyone can participate in.
3. TIDYING UP
It’s a lot easier to tidy up when there’s more than one person doing it.
You can teach kids to start tidying up after themselves no matter how old they are. You can even make it into a game to see who can put away their toys faster or get their room the tidiest for a prize.
Organization gurus also recommend incorporating tidying resets into your daily or weekly schedule. Carve out some time before bedtime to pick things up, put objects away, clean the countertops, and refresh your living space. It makes a big difference!
If you want more tips and help with this, be sure and check out this list of the ten most popular organization blogs for families!
4. Daily Reflections
When things get busy, something as simple as making sure to check in with one another is a great way to stay connected. Choose a time of day that works best for your family (bedtime, dinner, the car ride home from school, etc.) to talk about what happened that day.
Ask fun questions and make sure to listen rather than guide them through what to say. Also, talk about how your day went and your feelings. It’s good for kids to hear that their parents have thoughts, feelings, struggles, and triumphs as well.
Adding in daily gratitude can also make bad days feel a little less sour.
5. Activity Time
Part of the day should always be dedicated to getting a little bit of physical activity in. So why not do it as a family?
Put aside time every day to be active together. Go on a family walk, play at the park, toss the ball with the dog in the backyard, or do other fun and simple activities you can all enjoy together.
6. Meaningful Interactions
Sometimes, families can have their own little secret codes. Having this with your family brings a sense of belonging and a unique thing to share with one another.
This can be anything from cool handshakes, kisses before bed, cuddle time on the couch, or even a special way of saying goodbye.
Just a small moment can mean a lot to a family.
In the same way that you should be active every day, you should also have a moment of peace and quiet.
Meditation can mean any quiet moment of reflection. AKA, it doesn’t have to be your traditional closing the eyes and deep breathing (though it certainly can be). Others may also use this time for prayer as a family.
So many fond childhood memories come from cuddling up and reading books together. You may have favorite picture books to read together, new ones from the library, or a chapter book series you read aloud.
Even just five minutes of reading together can make all the difference in learning and is a great opportunity to spend time together as a family.
Examples of BED AND NIGHTTIME Rituals
Do you brush your teeth before PJs or after? Does the evening consist of a goodnight song or bedtime story? Do you tuck them in and check for monsters under the bed?
Establishing a bedtime routine is a must for little ones and becomes an important part of the day for families to be together with their full attention.
Here are some ideas for bed and nighttime routines to start as a family.
1. Soothing bath
Warm baths are not only relaxing, but they also help prepare the body for sleep. Add some soothing aromatherapy or lavender bubble bath to the bathtub to create an even more calming atmosphere.
The “Lavender Lullaby” 3-in-1 kids soap below is our personal favorite; its body wash, shampoo, and bubble bath all in a single bottle!
2. NIGHTTIME HYGIENE routine
Routines teach kids important life skills and make good hygiene a habit. Most nighttime hygiene routines include a combination of the following.
- bath or shower (optional)
- brush teeth
- wash and dry face
- moisturize skin
- diaper change
- use the toilet one more time before sleep
Don’t forget, depending on the age of the child, there should be one last diaper change or potty break before bed to reduce the likelihood of nighttime accidents.
3. read a Bedtime story
This is a great way to wind down before sleep and spend some quality time with your child. If you don’t have time to read a whole book, try reading just one or two chapters. You can also take turns reading with your children if they’re old enough.
Another option is to listen to an audiobook together. This is a great way to keep book clutter to a minimum while still enjoying lots of books! You can just snuggle up and listen to the story.
FIND OUT MORE: Parents can test drive this hack for themselves with a free 30-day trial of Audible and get access to popular series like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, How to Train Your Dragon, and more.
4. Turn on the nightlight
This is another bedtime ritual that helps both kids and adults sleep better!
A small nightlight in the room can help ease fears of the dark and provide a sense of security. If your child is old enough, you can even let them choose their own nightlight.
Kids will feel safer and less scared, which means they’ll be less likely to call out for you in the night. Believe me, been there, done that, and lost a lot of sleep!
Our personal favorite is the Lumipets soft bunny nightlight.
Not only does it have plenty of color options that kids love, but it’s soft and squishy enough for them to play with and not hurt themselves! It’s a nightlight that doubles as a play friend – super fun!
It even comes with a remote control and timer setting so you reduce battery wastage. This handsome gentleman often comes out to play with my boys during the day and also made this list of the ten best minimalist toys for kids if you want to read more.
5. tuck them in
This is a family ritual that can be done every night without fail. It’s a great way to end the day on a positive note and gives you some quality one-on-one time with your child.
Get your kids snuggled into bed and then pull the covers up tight, tucking them around their sides. Don’t forget to tuck their favorite stuffy in with them!
6. sing a song
Singing is a great way to bond with your child and it’s also a fun way for them to learn! Choose a simple song that you can both sing together.
You could even make up your own family song!
At our new home, we realized how much fun it was to watch the bats fly around together and eat insects in the darkening evening sky. We made up a cute little song about them that we sing together as we watch them. 🙂
7. Say a prayer together
Saying a prayer together is a great way to show your child how important their faith is to you. It’s also a great way to teach them about the power of prayer.
Choose a simple prayer that you can both say together; Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a popular choice for young children.
8. Share sleep sand from Dreamland
This is something that my grandfather used to do for me after he tucked me into bed at night when we had sleepovers at their house.
He would sneakily reach into his pocket, pull out the imaginary “sand” that he got from The Sandman, and then pretend to toss it into my eyes. How we would giggle about it together!
Grandpa always told me that the sand from Dreamland would help me sleep better and you know what? It always did!
Weekly, Monthly, or annual Family Ritual Ideas
1. Game Nights
Some classic games like Clue, Life, Charades, Pictionary, and Monopoly just never go out of style. No matter the age of your kids, there are plenty of games you can enjoy together as a group. Game nights are a good way to entertain everyone, all while unplugging from electronics.
Plus, it’s a low-pressure activity for those who are stressed or overwhelmed, as all you need to do is focus on the game.
2. Connecting with Relatives
If you have loved ones who live far away or that you don’t see often, it can be great to talk to everyone as a group. Set the same time every week or month (such as Sunday night or the first Monday of the month) to talk with some of your loved ones all together.
Not only does this strengthen family bonds with immediate family, but it keeps yourself and the kids connected to extended family as well.
3. Weekend Activities
Celebrate the weekend and all the extra time that comes with it by doing something together as a family. Make an effort to do something every weekend.
This could include a special pancake breakfast, a trip to the local pool, a hike at your favorite family spot, or any other activity that you may not find yourself able to do during the week.
4. Themed Food Nights
Make dinner slightly more special by adding a theme. This can be something like taco Tuesday or Pizza Friday. You could also assign specific days of the week to different family members, giving them the responsibility to cook dinner or the opportunity to choose what to eat that night.
Or, you can designate certain nights for experimenting or trying new dishes from around the world. There are so many fun ways to make dinner a memorable family ritual.
5. Movie Nights as a Family Ritual
If you’re going to do screen time, you should do it all together! Take turns picking the movie and make sure that everyone has their input about what to watch. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to let everyone expand their movie-watching horizons a little bit!
After the movie, talk about it. What did they like? What didn’t they like?
6. Self-Care Day
We often don’t think of self-care as a group activity, but as it often gets ignored, doing it all at the same time ensures that you remember to dedicate time to it.
Self-care activities could be as simple as a quiet time for reading or playing or even a full day dedicated to having a digital detox challenge.
If you want to teach your kids the kindness and power of volunteering, lead by example.
Volunteering together allows your kids to truly see the importance of being selfless and dedicating time to helping others. As a family, you could volunteer at a nursing home, food bank, animal shelter, recreation center, and more.
8. Family Reunions
Gathering the whole family together can get complicated. Finding a time and location where everyone can meet can be difficult for large families who live in different areas. Therefore, family reunions work wonderfully to encourage everyone to get together at the same time.
To execute this, plan in advance.
Give everyone lots of notice so that everyone can make it. This allows the extended family to see everyone in person. And then make it known you plan to do it again the following year, so everyone recognizes it as a new family ritual!
9. Talent Show
Talent shows are a fun way to bring the family together for a special night. Let everyone prep their own activity such as singing, comedy, dancing, puppets…you name it!
Or, it could even be as simple as show and tell. Let everyone in the family present one of their most prized items so that everyone can appreciate it.
Talent shows can be hosted without notice or after weeks of preparation. Both are fun, either chaotic or perfectly performed.
10. Annual Trip
Nothing brings people together like traveling. Yes, there are moments where you’ll take the wrong turn and stop for bathroom breaks every five minutes, but you can also see amazing sights and faraway places together.
Make an effort to go somewhere together as a family at least once a year, whether that’s on a plane, to see the grandparents, or on a quick camping trip out of the city.
- 50+ Best Experience Gifts for Kids for Memories That Last FOREVER
- How to Travel Like a Minimalist: 20 Genius Tips to Pack Less for More Fun
11. Invent Holidays as a Family Ritual
Just because it’s not on your traditional calendar doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. These ‘invented’ holidays often are the most fun to celebrate as a family. It can be the dog’s birthday, the first full moon of the year, international pizza day, the first day of spring, or even the anniversary of when you first moved into your house.
Since it’s likely that no one else is celebrating the day but your family, it feels that much more special.
Family Ritual Ideas for Holidays & Special Occasions
From birthdays to Christmas, Easter to the 4th of July, many family rituals revolve around these special days. It can include the specific food you cook at dinner, the decorations you put up together, the people you spend it with, and so much more.
The important thing about holidays is that you make them uniquely special to your family. If you don’t have any specific traditions surrounding holidays, now is a good time to start!
Simply do it once this year and make it a goal to do it again the following year.
Here are some of the most popular holiday rituals, traditions, and ideas for celebrating them to bring your family closer.
1. St. Patrick’s Day
- wear green
- pinch anyone who isn’t wearing green
- eat corned beef and cabbage
- make green foods and drinks
- listen to Irish music
2. Valentine’s Day
- make homemade Valentines
- exchange chocolates – or make them together!
- have a family heart-to-heart conversation
- eat foods that are red or heart-shaped
- watch a romantic movie together
One of the favorite Easter traditions passed down in my family is holding an egg cracking contest – the winner is crowned the egg champion!
To do this yourself, just grab an egg and challenge someone else and their egg. One person holds the egg pointy side up and the other cracks their egg onto that egg, pointy-side down.
Whoever’s egg doesn’t crack is the winner! Repeat until there are no eggs left or people are too full to eat any more eggs.
Here are more Easter ritual ideas:
- dye eggs together
- making jello jiggler eggs (my kids love them)
- have an Easter egg hunt
- create an Easter tree with colorful egg ornaments
- make Easter baskets for each other
- eat lots of chocolate
- go to church
- have a family dinner together
4. Mother’s Day or Father’s Day
- breakfast in bed
- heart-shaped pancakes
- give cards or gift cards
- have a picnic
- do a photoshoot
- make a gratitude list for mom
5. The 4th of July (Independence Day)
- have a barbecue
- eat watermelon
- write with sparklers in the air
- watch fireworks
- go to a parade
- play games together
- have a water balloon fight
- make patriotic crafts
Halloween is one of the most popular holidays, so it’s easy to get into the spirit and celebrate. (See what I did there?)
- carve pumpkins together
- roast pumpkin seeds
- have a Halloween themed dinner
- get dressed up in Halloween costumes
- go trick-or-treating
- bob for apples
- visit a haunted house
- tell scary stories
- watch scary movies
- light a campfire or bonfire
- make pumpkin pies
- teach your kids the “secret” family recipes (in my family, it was oyster stuffing)
- have a big family dinner
- eat turkey and stuffing
- take a nap
- break the wishbone
- watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade
- go for a family walk or hike
- go around the table and have everyone share what they are grateful for that year
- sing Christmas carols together
- drink hot chocolate or eggnog
- put up a Christmas tree together
- make an advent calendar
- make homemade decorations for the tree
- hang the Christmas stockings over the fireplace
- decorate with lights
- string popcorn and cranberries to make garlands
- exchange gifts
- set out milk and cookies for Santa Claus
- light the menorah
- eat latkes (potato pancakes)
- enjoy sufganiyot (jelly donuts) together
- play with a dreidel
- exchange gifts
10. New Year’s Eve
- have a family dinner
- give the kids sparkling grape juice to toast
- write down your New Year’s resolutions together
- watch the ball drop on TV
- kiss someone at midnight
- have a champagne toast at midnight
- ring a bell or set off poppers
11. Lunar or Chinese New Year
As a multicultural family, we’ve adopted quite a few traditions from my husband’s Chinese culture, one of which is celebrating Chinese New Year!
Here are some lunar New Year rituals:
- clean the house from top to bottom
- decorate with red items
- host a big feast together
- eat lucky foods like dumplings and oranges
- give children lucky money in red envelopes
- watch dragon or lion dances
- set off fireworks
- the person celebrating their birthday picks their favorite dinner or restaurant
- give the guest of honor a crown or tiara to wear
- sing “Happy Birthday” in as many languages as you can
- blow out the candles
- eat cake and ice cream
- open presents
- take turns sharing what you love about the birthday person
Final Thoughts on Family Ritual Ideas
Whether it’s a big annual trip or just a small moment of your day, being intentionally together as a unit can easily become a family ritual that will strengthen your bond. Embrace the opportunity to grow closer and know each other more, while making those lasting memories.
Do you have any specific family rituals that you would love to share? Please them in the comments below!