From Better Homes & Gardens
For families trying to juggle work and home, it can seem that life is too busy for any special occasions. But establishing family rituals can bring excitement and joy for everyone. Rituals are also a way of personalizing events that everyone experiences: they make events more special and meaningful. The rituals suggested here may help turn an ordinary event into a special tradition that you’ll all come to cherish, and perhaps even pass on to future generations.
Have a half-birthday celebration.
Celebrate your kids twice a year by having a party six months to the day after their birthday. Bake half a cake and serve half-cups of juice. Sing half-songs (every other word) and play half-games (hide but no seek). Give half-presents, such as puzzles with pieces missing, or half dollars.
Play movie critic.
After you see a movie together as a family, ask each person to give his or her opinion. Each member of the family gets to voice their thoughts and share their feelings, which can also be an important reminder that everyone in the family has a voice.
Make going back to school special.
The first day of school, whether at the end of summer or after the long holiday break, can be jarring for kids. Make it easier to deal with by making it a little bit special. Have a little party with doughnuts and juice at the bus stop. At the beginning of each school year, take a photo on the front steps—anything that’s fun and marks it as a day to look forward to.
Host a pet birthday party.
A party for your pooch emphasizes to your kids that your pet is an important part of your family. It also gives your pet a lot of attention and love. Put on the party hats and serve snacks or cake to the kids. For your four-legged guests, serve treats such as dog-bone-shaped cookies.
Savor each season.
In the winter, take a quiet moonlit walk after dinner. Especially in the crush of the holidays, it can be refreshing to walk together in the snow. Come up with similar simple celebrations during the rest of the year. In spring, try planting seeds in a window box. In the summer, have a picnic. In the fall, celebrate nature’s harvest by baking breads together, gathering leaves or carving a pumpkin for Halloween.
Celebrate sister or brother day.
Any time a new sibling enters the house, set aside a special time for the older brothers or sisters to celebrate their part in the family. This can be especially helpful to make older kids feel important and loved when they become a big brother or sister for the first time.
Have a “yes” day once a month.
Next time your kids can’t do what they’d like, whether it’s wearing a tutu all day or playing a game at dinner, have them write it down on a slip of paper and put it into a “yes” jar. Then once a month on a Saturday, empty the “yes” jar and use those slips of paper to construct a perfect day when “No” is a no-no.
Light a candle on Thanksgiving.
Pass around a plate of tea lights or put a votive candle on a plate in front of each person, and have everyone say what they’re thankful for as they light the candle. You could also do this at Christmas or New Year’s, with each family member expressing a holiday wish or a hope for the coming year.
Let your kids play Santa.
Make it a pre-holiday tradition for your kids to go through their toys and donate some to charity for other children. Not only does it make room for new toys, it also teaches your kids the value of generosity.
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