Family Traditions for the New Year

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 – start these 12 traditions now.

by Michelle Shirk


Let It Snow Bundle up for a snowman-building extravaganza! In a snowless climate, improvise by using boxes, cotton batting and other household items. Be sure to photograph the results. Though you can’t count on snow in Atlanta, you can play in the snow at Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain until Feb. 22 and at SnowWorld at Lake Lanier Island Resort until March 1. Information at and


Spread the Love Start a tradition of creating and sharing homemade Valentine’s Day cards and/or small treats within the family. For extra love, exchange them during a themed dinner featuring spaghetti, strawberries, or other red and pink delicacies.


Visit a Museum Whether your kids are interested in art, science or history, you’re sure to find a museum to entertain and educate your family. High Museum of Art, Atlanta History Center and Fernbank Museum of Natural History are just a few. Take your younger kids to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta or Interactive Neighborhood for Kids (INK).


Get Active Take advantage of warmer temperatures by signing up for a family-friendly 5K walk or run. Training for the event will give family members a shared goal plus quality time together. Try the Zebra Dash at Noah’s Ark ( or The Color Run (


Go Fly a Kite Kite flying can be fun for adults and magical for children. Let your kids pick out basic kites at a local store, or upgrade to one of the fancier ones on You can get a beautiful kite for less than $20. Great places for flying kites are Stone Mountain and Piedmont Park.


Dine Alfresco 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. Take a picnic to free concerts at Centennial Olympic Park, Piedmont Promenade and more.


Eat Locally Visit your local farmers market or sample weekly farmers market events to shop for produce, bread, spices and more while introducing your children to people who make the food they eat. Then, enlist their help to prepare a meal using fresh ingredients. Also explore a pick-your-own farm for berries and vegetables.


Try for a Hole-in-One Enjoy some friendly competition during a family game of putt-putt. To level the playing field, allow each player younger than 18 a handicap based on age. Try a themed course like Pirate’s Cove (, Monster Mini Golf ( or the Great Locomotive Chase Adventure Golf (


Spend a Day at the Fair Schedule an annual trip to your state or county fair to eat cotton candy, ride the Ferris wheel and admire prize-winning livestock. If your kids love to craft, cook or garden, most fairs also offer competitions for everything from flowers to woodworking. The North Georgia State Fair ( in Marietta and the Gwinnett County Fair ( in Lawrenceville are two great regional fairs.


Pick Pumpkins 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 Use this season of thankfulness to teach your children about giving to others. Take Christmas cards to a nearby nursing home, shop for gifts for your local toy drive, or contribute financially to an organization whose work is meaningful. Find volunteer opportunities with PebbleTossers, an organization that matches families based on their interests, at 


Create a Mouthwatering Masterpiece 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.

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