As family traditions go, this one is multi-purpose. Not only does it foster closeness and create a shared sense of purpose, but it also teaches kids valuable life lessons like sacrifice, responsibility and -- in some cases -- job skills [source: Dowshen]. Volunteering has even been shown to improve psychological health [source: Schwartz, et. al].
So if you're considering creating a helping-oriented tradition, all you need to do is pick an organization or cause that best matches your family's interests and schedule. If you want to make volunteering a weekly activity, consider showing up at your local animal shelter each Saturday morning to walk dogs. Or if your work week doesn't allow for frequent volunteer opportunities, use holidays or summer vacation as a chance to give. Serving food to the homeless on Thanksgiving or visiting nursing homes during the Christmas and Hanukkah season are activities you and your family can look forward to every year.
And don't think volunteering together is out of the question just because your family has small children. Even 2- and 3-year-olds can help pick up litter or cheer up an elderly person. Just make sure at least one adult family member is always supervising the youngsters.
Our next family tradition is all fun and games.